A state of immense sadness engulfed the wrestling world at large yesterday as news filtered through that Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan had passed away. He'd fought throat cancer for over 15 years, with necessary treatments and reconstructive surgeries resulting in drastic changes to his physical appearance and speaking voice.
Though undoubtedly exhausting and particularly cruel on a man who had achieved so much of his success thanks to his incomparable wit and peerless vocal delivery, 'The Brain' still delivered humour, wisdom, and depth in every public appearance he was able to make in later life, offering a prudent reminder of why he was perhaps the most vital cog in Vince McMahon's empiric 1980s wrestling machine.
Heenan was as big a gift to McMahon as he was to every fan that got to witness him in his prime. There were those that perhaps saw him more as a relic from a bygone era during a financially lucrative (but emotionally barren) stint with WCW, but the spell he cast upon millions during his 1980s/early 1990s omnipresence helped create lifelong supporters (and customers) for WWE.
Thriving rather than just surviving under the new 'Sports Entertainment' parameters Vince Jr. was aggressively integrating into professional wrestling, Bobby was one of the first and the finest to understand how to amalgamate the two opposing forces.
In every sense of the word, the industry was richer for his efforts.
10. The Manager
A lost art in the modern product, a genuinely great manager was often a difference-maker for half of the talent that entered professional wrestling. The fact that the role barely features anymore is a permanent source of frustration when such overwhelming evidence exists to support the function.
As one of the industry's shrewder stars, Brock Lesnar realised how beneficial Paul Heyman's presence was to his overall presentation shortly after making his 2012 return, even if the former ECW doyen would rather be labelled as an 'advocate' or 'agent'.
Bobby Heenan, without hyperbole, was the best to ever perform the role.
Leading his 'Family' in a carried-over concept from his prior tenure in the AWA, 'The Brain's assemblage of talent was rarely on the high end of the quality spectrum, but it was a testament to his immaculate displays that few stars he seconded were ever overlooked.
For every Brain Busters battle or Mr. Perfect performance, there were countless duds contested by the likes of Haku, The Barbarian, The Red Rooster, and even The Brooklyn Brawler. It mattered little with Heenan at ringside. Talking the talk for some that could barely walk the walk, Bobby's own capacity to entertain bathed his charges in borrowed spotlight.