Bobby Heenan, legendary pro wrestling manager, dead at 73

Bobby Heenan, the legendary pro wrestler, manager and colour commentator known by his nickname The Brain, died Sunday. He was 73.

Manager, commentator widely praised as one of the best performers in sports entertainment

Bobby Heenan, the legendary pro wrestling manager and colour commentator nicknamed The Brain, has died at the age of 73. (WWE)

Bobby Heenan, the legendary pro wrestler, manager and colour commentator known by his nickname The Brain, died Sunday after having been diagnosed with throat cancer. He was 73.

WWE confirmed reports Sunday evening, saying he was "regarded by many as the greatest manager in sports-entertainment history."

He was widely considered one of the best talkers in the history of professional wrestling, known for his ability to get underneath the audience members' skin with his wickedly sharp wit.

But this was balanced by his willingness to be regularly humiliated on television, like a grown-up schoolyard bully, by audience heroes such as Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior.

"Such was his talent that he often made viewers want to root for the bad guys," writes Deadspin's Dan McQuade.

"His deadpan delivery of obviously buffoonish lines — like when he called himself 'Indiana's favorite Bobby' — is the standard all wrestling commentators must be judged against."

Heenan was the onscreen manager of "villain" wrestlers, including Andre the Giant, throughout the 1980s and 90s. (WWE)

Over his decades-long career, Heenan gained worldwide notoriety as a sneering, onscreen manager advocating for wrestler "villains" such as Ric Flair, Curt (Mr. Perfect) Hennig and Andre the Giant.

He then transitioned into the announcer's booth for World Wrestling Entertainment (then called the World Wrestling Federation) and, later, World Championship Wrestling.

Along with his broadcast partner, the late Gorilla Monsoon, Heenan was perhaps best known as one-half of the WWF's main announcing duo through the 1990s.

Heenan was inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame in 2004.

Two years earlier, he had been diagnosed with throat cancer, which dramatically changed both his physical appearance and his trademark voice. He subsequently underwent reconstructive surgery on his jaw and had dealt with other health problems in the latter years of his life.

Wrestlers, commentators and colleagues have eulogized Heenan on social media, praising him as one of the best performers in the business.