While I was never truly old enough to enjoy Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in his prime and most influential years -- outside of his frustrated work with WCW --, it was clear what he meant to the business in both the past, present and future.
I was a tape collecting, DVD-buying, wrestling podcast documentary freak from the time I was 8 years old right up until this moment 20 years later. Heenan died this past Sunday at the age of 73 due to prolonged complications from throat cancer.
I remember watching all of the old WrestleMania's and just loving the fact how much I hated him and wanted to see him get "what he deserved." Whether it was a tongue-lashing from Gorilla Monsoon -- that chill-inducing "WILL YOU STOP" -- or a terrifying beatdown from the Ultimate Warrior, I wanted to see The Brain get owned.
He got stuffed in a Weasel suit, dropped from the sky by the blundering Warrior, tip-toed the line between offensive and hilarious better than anyone and left his mark on some of the people most think of when they think "wrestling legend."
As an adult, I look back on any Hulk Hogan feud that was worth a shit and see the impact that Heenan had. As Peter Rosenberg points out in his finest article for ESPN, Heenan was there with Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, and the "big guy."
That's how good he was. Whether it was holding someone's feet while his client made the pin or pulling some of the most dastardly heel tactics out there, Heenan was a presence that will never be matched.
Whether it was being in Andre the Giant's corner at WrestleMania III or getting the best out of Gorilla, Heenan was a locomotive of frustrating entertainment. His voice or his presence is plastered over the most memorable moments in WWF history, from the early 80s to the mid-90s.
I remember listening to other legends in the business speak of Heenan, as the commentary on his career and influence on the business was clearly genuine and powerful. When it comes to my personal perspective as a 28-year-old who has studied and rewatched this era more times than most, my favorite Heenan memories are, of course, his commentary as a "broadcast journalist" with Gorilla, and his picture-perfect team up with the likes of Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Ric Flair, and so many more. Also, I loved his on-air hatred of Stu, Helen and Bret Hart, as his role in the Bret-Owen feud is easily overlooked.
For some reason, some of my favorite memories of Heenan are his outspoken remarks on the Ultimate Warrior. Oh my, God, seriously, go watch the mid-2000s WWE DVD "The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior," and listen to some great open and honest commentary on the Warrior and some rare insight into the Andre the Giant's mind.
I urge all of the newer wrestling fans that are weak on their history of the business to look back on the impact Bobby "The Brain" Heenan had on the business and those involved in it. Shit, just go back and listen to his commentary any time between 1986 and 1994 and WWF Primetime on the Network.
No one has ever understood how to make people care about a mostly non-active wrestling personality than Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.