Behind every Vince McMahon-and-Eric Bischoff-run promotion, there have been numerous wrestlers who credit one man with helping shape their careers – and his name is not Jim Ross or Johnny Ace but the man known as the mastermind a/k/a Paul Heyman. Now I can sit here and cite all the great stuff Paul has done in his storied career, but the one thing we all remember most as wrestling fans are those three letters that changed wrestling as we know it. Three lettersthat are still chanted to this very day in arenas everywhere. Those letters, for the uneducated, are E.C.W. From the Elks Lodge in Queens, NY to the arena in Philly, Paul Heyman made a group of misfits and outcasts household names. Long before the X-Division, we had guys like Rey Mysterio & Psychosis bringing high flying Lucha Libre to the U.S., thanks to Paul taking a chance on a different style of wrestling. Lucha, Strong and Pro Wrestling styles all resided for a time in a bingo hall in Philly. Now with that said, you are probably saying “ thanks for telling us shit we already know” – but the thing is that during those days we saw some of the best matches and greatest feuds not just from ECW, but WWF/E and of course WCW simply because the two large companies were borrowing inspiration from ECW’s ideas which, lucky for us, led to some kick ass programming. When Paul walked away from WWE and decided to try new projects like “Heyman Hustle” we all hoped and knew that he would be back someday to give wrestling a kick in the ass.
Sadly, that is not the case. Paul is now applying his talents to his various other projects, including MMA which obviously I am a huge fan of. Frankly, I see his influence only helping the sport. Wrestling right now is at a low point in my eyes because there is no real competition. Fans have become a bit jaded about the offerings nowadays. ROH seems to be one of the few promotions that doesn’t utilize the cookie-cutter shitbag stories we all know and “love”.
Paul Heyman’s influence and vision would turn wrestling on it’s head. The man knows how to look past a juiced physique and a pair of implants to see a male or female wrestlers potential. Very few if any guys writing in either promotion possess that skill. Let’s look at a guy like Justin Credible who went from this:
to this . Now of course there were a ton of factors that went into this transformation but behind them was Paul Heyman pulling the strings. Household names like Tazz, Rob Van Dam , The Dudley Boyz, The Franchise, Raven and even guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar can attribute some of their in ring success to Heyman. When Paul Heyman was recently interviewed about TNA and wrestling in general his commentary had the tone of a man who was tired of the bullshit. Here are some of the comments that inspired me to write this post.
“If you were over 40, I'd chop your f-cking head off. I want a guy who is entering the prime of his career and shape him and mold him. Imagine if all they did the entire show was promote the Beer Money vs. Motor City Machineguns match and had Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and the ECW guys saying they needed to see that match and said these guys are the future now. Then, if you put that match in the main event – as opposed to the middle of the card with no follow-up – and produce and present them as the main event. Then, if ‘you buy this product, this is the progressive type of presentation we are going to present to you.' Instead, you have Hulk Hogan in his 50s thanking ECW guys in their 40s before the ECW guys are beat up by a group led by Ric Flair in his 60s.”
His rationale is 100% sound and brings the focus back to the younger players in the game. Take a guy like Jeff Hardy who let’s face it is fucking terrible on the mic and have Paul work with him for a few months and I guarantee you’ll have a heel turn so vicious and a wrestler so hated that you would drop 50 bucks to watch him get his ass kicked. As a fan I feel that companies like TNA & WWE focus too much on the skits and gimmicks that the writers give them instead of telling a story. Let’s rewind back to ECW and the Raven/Sandman feud which was well written and was total mindfuck for the Sandman. From Raven using his wife and son all the way to the bloody finale you were hooked because the story was so deep.
Paul Heyman’s involvement with MMA in general is something I am watching with much interest simply because Paul knows how to make good people great and great people legendary. If you haven’t seen the promotional videos for EA Sports MMA focusing on some of the fighters you are missing out on what I am saying. Paul takes little things like Nick Diaz’s attitude and makes it the star of this video which not only validates that Nick is a bad mofo but adds a bit of lightheartedness to his issues with “Mayhem” Miller.
Same can be said with the videos for Werdum & Shamrock who while are household names in the MMA world greatly benefit from the Heyman touch.
As a fan I miss Paul Heyman’s involvement in wrestling and know that if he ever returned the creative juices his return would generate in rival promotions would be of epic proportions but on the flip side I see his involvement in MMA grasping audiences by their collective balls and saying “ this is MMA and it is the purest combat sport period!”. In closing I want to thank Paul Heyman for making wrestling more than skits and promos and giving it a shot in the arm that still influences the industry to this day. You can follow Paul on Twitter and also subscribe to the Heyman Hustle on youtube.