So much can be said about Bobby Heenan, but the first thing we must say is rest in peace.
Raymond Louis Heenan (November 1, 1944 – September 17, 2017), better known as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, was an American former professional wrestling manager, wrestler and color commentator, best known for his time with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He was known for his skill in drawing heel heat for himself and his wrestlers, and for his on-screen repartee with Gorilla Monsoon as a color commentator. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, by Blackjack Lanza.
Heenan was born in Chicago on November 1, 1943. Always a fan of wrestling growing up in Chicago and Indianapolis, he started in the wrestling profession early on, carrying bags and jackets for the wrestlers, and selling refreshments at the events. Dropping out of school in the eighth grade to support his mother and grandmother, his first break in the wrestling business was as a heel manager and wrestler in 1965 when he was known as "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan. His gimmick over the years has more or less remained the same, a tough talking big mouth who cowered in fear when being physically confronted. At the time, heels were often given managers to speak for them in interviews, rile up the crowd during matches, and cheat on their behalf. He went on to manage some of the most successful wrestlers in the world, creating "The Heenan Family", a stable that existed in several different incarnations and wrestling promotions for over 20 years.
In 1967, Heenan became a regular in the Indianapolis-based WWA promotion both as wrestler and manager. He initially managed Angelo Poffo and Chris Markoff. He later managed the Assassins (Guy Mitchell and Joe Tomasso), The Valiant Brothers and The Blackjacks. He also occasionally wrestled with a storyline "brother" Guy Heenan. Starting in 1969, he also made occasional appearances in the American Wrestling Association. In 1974, he left the WWA. He attributed his departure from the WWA to a dispute with owner Dick the Bruiser over his pay for his participation in the first-ever wrestling event held at Market Square Arena, emphatically stating that he never returned to the promotion as a result.
In his first appearance in the AWA in 1974, Heenan announced he was now to be known as "The Brain". He took up managing the team of Nick Bockwinkel and Ray "The Crippler" Stevens, a duo which became several-time AWA World tag team champions under his leadership. While Bockwinkel and Stevens feuded with The Crusher and Dick the Bruiser, Bruiser famously called him "Weasel"; this led to faces calling him "Weasel" throughout the rest of his wrestling career. The AWA was the starting point for his first Heenan Family, which consisted of Bockwinkel, Stevens, Bobby Duncum Sr., and Blackjack Lanza.
In 1984, Vince McMahon lured Heenan away from the AWA to manage Jesse "The Body" Ventura; however, after Ventura developed blood clots in his lungs, he was forced to end his active wrestling career. While most of the AWA talent left for the WWF in this time without giving proper notice (the AWA required departing talent to work a six-week notice for booking and syndication-based reasons, with most talent claiming that McMahon paid them extra notto work out their notices with the AWA), only Heenan worked out his notice in good faith to the Gagne family.
As neck injuries prevented him from taking bumps the way he used to, Heenan retired from managing in 1991 to become a full-time "broadcast journalist". Nonetheless, Heenan crossed the line to managing sporadically. When the WWF signed Ric Flair, Heenan spent several weeks talking Flair up as "The Real World's Heavyweight Champion". He continued to act as an advisor to Flair during his 1991-93 WWF run (and coined the phrase, "That's not fair to Flair" and "You got to be fair to Flair"). Though he nominally managed Flair, Heenan's former protégé Mr. Perfect, who temporarily retired due to injury, would regularly accompany Flair to ringside as his "Executive Consultant". At the 1993 Royal Rumble, he introduced Lex "Narcissist" Luger to the WWF to exact revenge on his former protégé, Mr. Perfect.
In 1986, WWF owner Vince McMahon took full advantage of his microphone and comedic skills and Heenan became a color commentator in addition to his managing duties. He replaced Jesse Ventura on Prime Time Wrestling and All American Wrestling, aired on the USA Network, teaming up with Gorilla Monsoon. He also replaced Ventura to team up with Monsoon on the syndicated All-Star Wrestling, which was replaced in the fall of 1986 with Wrestling Challenge. Heenan and Monsoon's usually-unscripted banter was very entertaining, and inspired many classic moments. Heenan, calling himself a "broadcast journalist", openly rooted for the heels while they cheated or did something under-handed and referred to the fans of the face wrestlers as the humanoids, and babyface wrestlers, especially jobbers, as "ham-and-eggers." Another classic moment between Heenan and Monsoon occurred repeatedly when Heenan went on a long rant supporting the heel wrestlers, until an exasperated Gorilla Monsoon would say either, "Will you stop?", "Give me a break!", or a sarcastic, "Please!".
On January 27, 1994, Heenan made his debut in WCW. He was originally brought in to replace Jesse Ventura, his former client, as the color commentator for WCW Saturday Night and eventually took over Ventura's position as the company's lead commentator, replacing him for pay-per-view events and also taking over Ventura's spot on the syndicated WCW Worldwideand Clash of the Champions events produced for TBS. When WCW Monday Nitro premiered in September 1995, Heenan left Saturday Night to work on the new show full-time and joined former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Steve McMichael as analyst alongside play-by-play man Eric Bischoff.In 1996, during a live broadcast of Nitro on April 1, Heenan made an announcement stating "tonight is going to be my last night on Nitro. I'm retiring from wrestling and I'm retiring from broadcasting". Before the show went off the air, Heenan shook hands with his co-commentators and said his farewells, only to point out that it was just an April Fool. Later that year, Heenan made a one-off return to ringside at the Great American Bash as the manager of two of his former clients, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, in a tag team match against his broadcast colleague McMichael and Carolina Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene. Heenan was instrumental in convincing McMichael to turn on his partner, which enabled Flair and Anderson to win the match, and fill the open spot in The Four Horsemen that Brian Pillman left behind when he departed the company earlier in the year.