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Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

He's the Don Rickles of pro wrestling. He's quick to put somebody down rather than put them over. His wit and sarcasm are legendary. He coined the phrases "ham and egger," "humanoid" and "nine to fiver" as putdowns to the average fan. But the contributions of Bobby The Brain Heenan go much, much deeper than just a cheap insult delivered from his microphone. Heenan made a career out of ridiculing the fans --- as well as many wrestlers --- in WCW and the WWF. After more than 38 years in the business as a wrestler, manager and announcer, The Brain (or The Weasel) is in semi-retirement in Florida. He seeks speaking engagements but since WCW's demise he's had only one national TV appearance, that being at Wrestlemania 17 for the gimmick battle royal. Heenan has another foe --- throat cancer. He's been battling this for more than a year and had surgery recently that reportedly went well. "If the late Gorilla Monsoon couldn't shut me up, cancer's not going to either," The Brain said via his Web site in ref- erence to his former WWF broadcast colleague. If he fights the dreaded disease with the same tenacity that he showed as a manager, he might overcome it. Heenan managed Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III in Pontiac, Mich., in 1987, along with handling other big names like AWA heavyweight champion Nick Bockwinkel and tag-team titleholders Bobby Duncum and Jack Lanza. What separated Heenan from other managers was his cunning. What separated him from other announcers was his tongue. Heenan routinely bashed the babyfaces and was one of the first to successfully make it as a "heel" announcer. "I was the first guy to bash the faces and get away with it," he said. Before Heenan became a household name on national WWF and WCW telecasts, he worked in Chicago and for the AWA, first wrest- ling, then managing. He broke into the business in the 1960s carrying wrestlers' bags into the arenas and selling soft drinks to fans. Before he became The Brain, Heenan was known as Pretty Boy Bobby Heenan. He feuded with Hulk Hogan and Dick the Bruiser. He was the classic pretty boy heel in the mold of Gorgeous George before him and Ric Flair after him. Later he was a top manager, earning Manager of the Year honors numerous times. He's worked in 14 foreign countries and most of the United States. Heenan's acerbic comments as a wrestler and a manager made it a natural transition for him to the announcers' table. That's where Heenan will be best remembered. When a heel would get away with something while the referee's back was turned, it was Heenan who chimed, "Win if you can, lose if you must. But always cheat." Those comments incensed the uneducated fan who thought every- thing should be seen by the ref. They didn't understand that turning his back at just the right time was what the man in zebra stripes was supposed to do. Bobby The Brain Heenan's contributions to wrestling are num- erous. His longevity is unmatched and his place in sports entertainment secure. He bridged the gap from "rassling" to sports entertainment. Heenan educated two generations of wrestling fans, and he did so without them knowing it. Maybe that's why he's The Brain and we're just humanoids.

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