We’re coming up on Summerslam and that means we’re going to be seeing Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns all over again. It’s been done multiple times before and the story doesn’t seem to be any different than the other times they’ve fought. It’s been good, but not great. We’ve seen these two fight several times before with Lesnar as the dominant beast and Reigns as the underdog (HA!) fighting against him. I’m as sick of talking about is as you are though so let’s talk about Paul Heyman instead.

I was watching this week’s Monday Night Raw when Heyman had a sitdown interview with Renee Young. Heyman got rather emotional talking about his split with Brock Lesnar and it was the best part of the show. That made me start thinking about Heyman’s career and how awesome of a performer he really is. He’s one of the most fascinating people you’ll see in WWE and wrestling in general. Heyman has performed almost everywhere and done a little bit of everything in wrestling, which is what we’re going to be talking about today.

I’m not going to talk about Heyman’s life outside of the ring or every single thing he’s done because there’s nowhere near enough time and he’s done it far better in his WWE DVD anyway. Instead this is going to be more of a set of highlights and a look at just how diverse Heyman has done over his career. He’s done so much stuff that it’s kind of hard to know where to start. If only there was one thing that stood out above the rest and….yeah you know where this is going.

This got me thinking.

Paul Heyman breaks his silence about Brock Lesnar: Raw, Aug. 6, 2018

Of course we’re starting with ECW, which will forever be what Heyman is best know for in his career. You can argue for days on end about what ECW means to the wrestling business, how much of a success it was, where things could have gone and about a dozen other points, but there are two things that can’t be argued: it had a huge influence on today’s wrestling business and Heyman is the major reason why that wound up being the case.

How many wrestling companies today try to follow a modern version of ECW’s path? It might not be the hardcore, in your face, extreme style but a lot of these smaller promotions try to capture the fans’ imaginations like ECW was able to do. Heyman created something that caught lightning in a bottle and turned it into a promotion that is still remembered (and cheered for) over seventeen years after it went out of business.

WWE even revived it for over three years. They didn’t revive World Class Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, the American Wrestling Association or the Universal Wrestling Federation, but rather Extreme Championship Wrestling. Heyman’s creation struck a chord with an entire generation of wrestling fans and its impact changed the business forever, even if the promotion itself didn’t last all that long. Like it or not, Heyman deserves the credit for that legacy.

How do I not talk about this?

Paul Heyman delivers an extremely harsh message to ECW's own network on WWE Beyond the Ring

Then there’s his on-screen career before he got together with Lesnar. The thing that people forget is just how good Heyman was at cutting promos back in the day. He’s gotten a lot better over the years and is now one of the best ever, but even when he started out in WCW as Paul E. Dangerously, he was one of the best characters around. He could talk as well as almost anyone and when he went into one of his insane rants about whoever he was mat at in the moment, it was pure magic.

Heyman was also a great manager, being in charge of one of the best stables ever put together in the Dangerous Alliance. I mean, having one Hall of Famer after another (the lineup included Rick Rude, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson and a still very young Steve Austin, plus managers Madusa and Heyman himself) didn’t hurt things and their opponents (Mainly Sting and his buddies, including Barry Windham, Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes and Nikita Koloff) made the feud even better. The grand finale just happened to be one of the best matches WCW ever had with WarGames at WrestleWar 1992.

That’s not even counting some of Heyman’s other great times as a manager, including his time with the Original Midnight Express, Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Cesaro and some others. There’s a reason that you hear about people wanting to be called the next Paul Heyman Guy. While it’s not always a guaranteed hit, there’s a very strong chance that it could be the fast track to greatness.

He’s a people person.

Hulk Hogan presents The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Trophy to Cesaro: Raw, April 7, 2014

Speaking of greatness, there is of course the Lesnar era. Lesnar debuted the night after WrestleMania 18 with Heyman at his side. This turned into one of the biggest and most dominant partnerships in wrestling history, with Heyman being the perfect sleazy manager to hide behind this mountain of a man. They had some issues (that tends to be a recurring theme with Heyman) but the look on Heyman’s face when Lesnar is in Beast Mode is great stuff.

It’s a pairing that works so well because Heyman is one of the best talkers of all time, especially when he’s around Lesnar. You hear him talk and he makes you want to see what he’s hyping up. It could be a match, a speech, a show, or probably a stale fruitcake and Heyman can turn it into pure gold. He makes you want to see something happen and that’s the kind of talking that works so well in wrestling.

That’s where Heyman shines more than anywhere else. He knows how to talk and since he’s such a slimy character, you want to see if what he says is right because if it’s not, he’s finally going to get what’s coming to him. However, if he’s right, it allows him to brag, and there are very few people who can boast about a win better than Heyman can. Just listen to him be proven right after Lesnar wins a big match. It’s nothing short of masterful and something that almost no one can do better.

This is one of the best promos I’ve ever seen and Heyman makes it work.

Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar address the end of The Streak: Raw, April 7, 2014

Finally though, there’s that face. Heyman’s face can be described as some combination of punchable, evil, manipulative and telling plus all over points in between. He can smile, laugh, glare or do almost anything else and invoke a response. Those eyes can tell you a story, and that’s where things can get interesting.

There are a lot of examples, but nothing strikes truer for me than Lesnar breaking the Undertaker’s Streak at WrestleMania 30. For weeks, Heyman had bragged about Lesnar being able to break the Streak and made it clear that he thought it was going to happen. Then it actually did happen, and no one was more shocked than Heyman. His eyes bugged out and he screamed that Lesnar did it in complete shock. That’s a great response as it’s essentially Heyman: someone who talks so much that even he is surprised when it happens.

How do you not want to smack him and buy him a hot meal at the same time?

Paul Heyman's greatest insults: WWE Top 10

There will never be another Heyman and I think a lot of people are going to be very grateful for that. He’s a wrestling genius but not exactly the most trustworthy fellow in the world. Heyman has half swindled and half performed his way to a very important spot in wrestling and at a mere 52 years old (that might surprise some of you), he could be doing this for a long time to come. If we can only be so lucky. Or is it cursed? Yeah it’s lucky. I think.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2003 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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