Paul Heyman manages to elevate talent, rile crowds in WWE

Participating in WWE's SummerSlam Axxess in Los Angeles, Paul Heyman continues to prove managers can work well in pro wrestling/sports entertainment.
Participating in WWE's SummerSlam Axxess in Los Angeles, Paul Heyman continues to prove managers can work well in pro wrestling/sports entertainment.
Photo By Scott Fishman

Miami Herald Writer

Paul Heyman is among the most passionate and controversial performers in WWE history, but beneath his bravado and outspoken personality is a big pro wrestling fan.

The legendary manager is also a big proponent of the business’ rich history dating back to his days of taking photos for magazines.

This makes it no surprise to learn how excited he was for the “30 years of WrestleMania” mode in the upcoming WWE 2K14 video game and its stellar roster.

“You don’t have to be a WWE fan to enjoy the video game and hopefully if you enjoy the video game you want to learn about the personalities that are in the video game,” Heyman said. “You want to learn more about Brock Lesnar. You want to learn more about Ric Flair. You want to learn more about Steve Austin. You want to learn more about Hulk Hogan. You want to learn more about Paul Heyman. By doing so, you become intrigued by these larger-than-life personalities and become a fan of the product itself.”

The creative visionary behind ECW worked on the “Universe” mode on WWE’s last video game. This installment featured a look back at the “Attitude Era”, which was a period of the company’s programming that ran from the late 1990s through the new millennium. Even with the addition of a single-player option to relive many of WrestleMania’s iconic matches and moments with WWE 2K14, Heyman doesn’t find the game to be based on nostalgia.

“I find it to be a modern-day game based on the Daniel Bryan’s, the Brock Lesnar’s and the CM Punk’s and the John Cena’s with an homage to the Hulk Hogan’s, the Ric Flair’s and the Ultimate Warrior’s and the ‘Stone Cold ‘Steve Austin’s, The Rock’s and Shawn Michaels’,” Heyman said. “I don’t necessarily see this as a nostalgia trip. Instead I see it as an acknowledgement of those who paved the way in the first 29 WrestleMania events. This is the road to WrestleMania 30.”

Throughout his illustrious career the consummate performer has stood in the corner for some real heavy-hitters from Steve Austin to “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Today Heyman’s clients include the powerhouse Brock Lesnar and current intercontinental champion Curtis Axel. Looking back at the superstars of yesterday he sees the potential of those who could have been a “Heyman Guy”. That is if they followed a few ground rules and criteria.

“It would depend on the individual personalities and acceptance of my greatness and brilliance and my guidance and my piece of the action,” Heyman said.

“I could easily say, ‘Well, Hulk Hogan could have been a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ because who wouldn’t want to make 10 to 15 percent of that money. I would say Roddy Piper could have been a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ because look at all of the controversy he stirred up. Mr. T could have been a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ because who wouldn’t have wanted to be a part of his mainstream products, fool!

“There are a lot of people who could have been a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ if they would have simply accepted the fact that my way is the proper way and the correct way. What Paul Heyman says is as if Moses came down from the mountain with it inscribed on the tablets.”

A fun aspect of the WWE games in general is the chance to put on some dream matches that never could took place or assembling an unheard of card of action. For Heyman, the possibilities are endless.

“You have the opportunity to put the characters in video game situations that in today’s environment you just can’t risk the injury any further,” Heyman said.

“You can have an entire season of Hell-in-a-Cell. You can have an entire WrestleMania where every match is competed in Hell-in-a-Cell. You can do things with the performers in this game that aren’t politically correct nor are they safe in today’s environment. How could you possibly have Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior or Ric Flair at their age fight someone like John Cena or Daniel Bryan or Brock Lesnar? It just doesn’t make sense, but now these guys are in their prime in the game.

“So it would be safe to have a fantasy match-up of Brock Lesnar vs. Hulk Hogan (It did happen.) or Brock Lesnar vs. Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar vs. Ultimate Warrior. You wouldn’t dare do it live, but in the game you can watch Brock Lesnar F5 all of these people.”

Joined by the legends on the roster is an assemblage of some of brightest and technically sound young ring generals in WWE. Although he may not be in the best place with him onscreen, Heyman credits CM Punk for the company turning its focus to work rate rather than just the size of the superstar.

“When CM Punk sat down on the stage and dropped a ‘pipe bomb’,” Heyman said. “I think at that moment just by the reaction from the audience and from the passionate response, not just from online, but from every measure of indication that this truly got the message across. I would totally suggest to you CM Punk’s oratory skill is what WWE noticed, and he happened to be a great wrestler to back it up. If CM Punk was a terrible wrestler, and he delivered that promo, people will still notice him. WWE would say, ‘This guy is a main eventer. It just so happens he can back it up in the ring.’”

Heyman also gives a pat on the back to the company itself for evolving and really working to make new stars.

“You have to credit WWE for it has a true youth initiative,” Heyman said. “It’s starts at the top. You can demonstrate all day how great you are, but if the guys at the top or the executives or the chairman of the board doesn’t sit there and say, ‘I acknowledge this.’ It ain’t happening.”

Heyman has always enjoyed watching Lesnar battle the top talent in a WWE ring, but believes he is the best he has ever been at this point in time. Fans can see the difference, as a retro “Next Big Thing” will be in WWE 2K14 with the current version.

“He is a bit older and far wiser, and probably for the first time in his life, truly 100 percent healthy,” Heyman said. “The Brock Lesnar of today would have smashed the Brock Lesnar of yesterday.”

• Follow Heyman on Twitter @HeymanHustle. Visit

• WWE 2K14 will be released in the United States on Oct. 29. Follow @WWEGames on Twitter for updates.

• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN,!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.

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