World Wrestling Entertainment reports that Bobby (The Brain) Heenan died on Sunday at the age 72.
Heenan, whose popularity coincided with the wrestling boon of the 1980s as one of Hulk Hogan's foils, is regarded by most pro wrestling fans as the greatest manager of all time. He is also known for his loquacious microphone skills that made him among the greatest talkers in the history of the industry.
In a horribly ironic twist, Heenan, one of the soundtracks of pro wrestling for a generation of fans, was stricken with throat cancer in 2002 and his voiced was diminished seemingly by the year ever since.
Many on social media, from WWE chairman Vince McMahon to Hogan to other former and current pro wrestlers, expressed condolences Sunday night.
One of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history. Our thoughts are with the Heenan family. pic.twitter.com/r9A3IJlSoP— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) September 18, 2017
Worked with Bobby Heenan from 1980 until my career ended,learned new things from him ever single day,love u my brother rip. HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) September 17, 2017
Hearing of the passing of Bobby Heenan certainly brings sadness, but, being blessed to witness his genius 1st hand, also brings a smile, RIP— Michael PS Hayes (@MichaelPSHayes1) September 17, 2017
Bobby Heenan died today and it has left me very sad. He was the best of the best in the biz and a friend. RIP Bobby. Praying for you Cindy pic.twitter.com/T8wuFAYuST— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) September 17, 2017
Just heard the news about #BobbyHeenan deeply saddened. My thoughts are with Cindy and Jess. The Brain made Nitro the smash hit it was.— Tony Schiavone (@tonyschiavone24) September 17, 2017
Hard to find words. R.I.P. Bobby Heenan. He was a father, brother, mentor and friend to me. Talent personified. I will miss you my friend pic.twitter.com/cVf9RTkVZj— Bruce Prichard (@bruceprichard) September 17, 2017
Rest in peace, Bobby Heenan. You were the best heel manager/broadcaster ever:https://t.co/f2cpE0WPqr— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 18, 2017
Born Raymond Louis Heenan, he began wrestling in the mid 1960s. He eventually transitioned into managing, most notably standing in the corner of AWA champion Nick Bockwinkle.
Heenan joined the WWE (then WWF) in 1984, just as the company began to marry itself with pop culture. He played the perfect wrestling heel – a loudmouth know-it-all with a quick wit and an excuse for every mistake. His "Heenan Family" stable is a who's who of wrestling bad guys from that era: Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, Harley Race, Ravishing Rick Rude, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair and Curt (Mr. Perfect) Hennig, among others.
His biggest story line came in 1987, when he managed Andre the Giant to challenge Hogan for the WWF championship at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Chided with chants of "weasel" for years for his shrewd antics, he transitioned into a commentator and his chemistry with former wrestler-turned-commentator Gorilla Monsoon is still considered the standard for wrestling announcing nearly 30 years later.
In 1994, Heenan left the WWF for rival WCW, where he continued to announce until 2000.
Earlier this year, George (The Animal) Steele, a.k.a. Jim Myers, another former WWE Hall of Famer who also taught and coached football at a Detroit-area high school for years, died.
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© 2017 Detroit Free Press