MR. TITO: WWE Needs to Appreciate Paul Heyman Submitted by Mr. Tito on 09/29/2020 at 12:30 PM
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Folks, Paul Heyman has done it again!
He has taken a broken WWE superstar, whom the WWE was attempting to push as a Main Event level babyface since early 2014 and has successfully converted him not just into a heel, but is adjusting how Roman Reigns acts and wrestles as a professional. I'd like to suggest that "IT'S A MIRACLE" but Paul Heyman has been helping wrestlers since the 1980s as a manager and then during the mid-1990s when he had creative power. It's no surprise to me that pairing him with Roman Reigns would work BUT all of the Roman Reigns fans are claiming that it's 100% Roman.
Well, then explain January 2014 through February 2020... From the time when Roman was the ONLY member of The Shield to defeat CM Punk in a singles match and finishing as a Runner-Up in the 2014 Royal Rumble to his push to defeat Bill Goldberg for the WWE Universal Title at Wrestlemania 36, which COVID-19 cancelled... The numbers don't lie!
(a) WWE had just over 4 million television viewers through early 2015. Now, we're at or below 2 million viewers per show.
(b) WWE had 400,000 to 500,000 weekly DVR viewers over 5 years ago. Now, they are less than 400,000 consistently.
(c) Without a strongly pushed Brock Lesnar (which ended during 2018 when Roman Reigns badmouthed him and then beat him at SummerSlam 2018), WWE Network subscribers have declined for the past 2 years.
(d) Attendance lost thousands per show for the past 5 years and WWE was beginning to cancel Houseshows through late 2019.
(e) Merchandise sales in the United States has fallen since John Cena took on a more part-time role through late 2015. It is a fact that John Cena remained the #1 merchandise seller through mid 2018. Yes, Roman eclipsed him but the overall merchandise sales have drastically declined through this point.
Those are stone cold facts and can be easily looked up on WWE's financials. The "Buck Stops Here" with whomever is pushed as the #1 babyface.
It's no surprise to me that a guy rushed to the WWE roster with just over 2 years of WWE Developmental experience (no prior wrestling experience before that) and then rushed to the Main Event scene during mid 2014 after years of being a Tag Team wrestler within the Shield would fail. On top of that, WWE Creative carefully scripted every word that Roman said on television while REFUSING to ditch his Shield gimmick. He has kept the look with the bulletproof vest as well as the music while Rollins and Ambrose did not. WWE pushed this inexperienced and heavily scripted guy to headline multiple Wrestlemania events in a row and had him defeat, 100% cleanly, the following big names:
(1) CM Punk
(2) Randy Orton
(3) Daniel Bryan
(4) Triple H
(5) John Cena
(6) The Undertaker
(7) Brock Lesnar
And he has beaten everybody else on the WWE roster several times (Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, etc.).
And yet, he never got over as that #1 babyface. It just never worked. Roman Reigns did NOT naturally become the babyface top guy that the fans wanted. He didn't draw as a midcard singles wrestler that outdrew having the US Title or Intercontinental Title as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, John Cena, Triple H, Randy Savage, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Randy Orton, and many others have... Nope, he was a Tag Wrestler one moment and then receiving back-to-back WWE Title shots on Pay Per View the next during mid 2014 (after he pinned Evolution members on both of those matches).
They tried everything... No other wrestler in the history of the WWE has had such a subsidized and scripted career as one Roman Reigns did from early 2014 through March 2020. Fans saw through the WWE's attempt to force them to like someone and they left the WWE in droves.
Turning a heavily pushed Top Babyface + pairing him with Paul Heyman was an act of desperation to SAVE Roman Reigns's career and to not make Vince McMahon plus his band of Creative yes-men look foolish. That is what normally happens in the WWE when a babyface face push FAILS TO DELIVER... Yet, it took the WWE SIX FREAKIN' YEARS to realize their major mistake!
6 years! If you look back at the career of The Rock, it took WWE Creative about 1 year to realize that the babyface forced push of Rocky Maivia was a failure before trying him as a heel.
And don't tell me that John Cena was given a big leash. As you can see from BEFORE and AFTER numbers from the WWE since 2015 when Cena became part-time, the guy was carrying the company's viewership, attendance, and merchandise numbers. John Cena is a legitimate draw and often SAVED the WWE from ratings downfalls when pushing other goofs to the WWE Title (Miz, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, etc.). When John Cena was the top guy, the WWE offered REFUNDS to wrestling fans when John Cena couldn't appear as advertised. Now, the WWE was beginning to cancel Houseshows during early 2020 because no top guy could draw a house of 4,000 people per show. Merchandise has fallen off the cliff and we've lost 2 million viewers since John Cena was pushed as a serious #1 guy. Wrestling history will prove that his squash to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014 was a HUGE mistake.
POINT BEING - When your #1 Babyface is STILL DRAWING, you DO NOT turn him heel! That's why the WWE have NEVER turned John Cena heel from 2005 through 2014. Why lose millions of dollars per year?
But with Roman Reigns pushed as the #1 babyface, the WWE lost viewers, attendance, and merchandise sales. LUCKY for the WWE, they had declining Cable/Satellite and Network channels who are DESPERATE for Live Sporting Content because streaming services like Netflix, Prime, and now Disney+, HBO Max, and many others are KILLING THEM. I applaud the WWE receiving $200 Million per year from Comcast and that same number per year from FOX. However, in comparison to other sports leagues and promotions, the WWE is getting ripped off badly. Even though in many cases that the WWE receives HIGHER ratings than NHL, NASCAR, MLB, UFC, and sometimes the NBA, their TV deal with Comcast/FOX is WAY LOWER than those other leagues. In other words, LACKING a #1 top drawing babyface has caused the WWE to receive a LOWER TV deal than they could have earned.
So of course, turning Roman Reigns HEEL + placing him with Paul Heyman needed to be done to SAVE Roman's wrestling career.
It's no surprise to me that it is working with Paul Heyman... The guy knows how to get the best out of wrestlers by promoting their strengths and using "smoke & mirrors" to hide their weaknesses. He has been doing this for about 3 decades now.
The CRAZY thing is that the WWE has actually demoted him 3 times, with each being completely ludicrous.
(1) Smackdown Creative from 2002-2004 - If you look at the numbers, he not only increased viewership at times on UPN, but also consistently beat RAW in total viewers on a weekly basis. My sources at the time suggested that Vince McMahon was pissed about Prince Albert's new rebranded "A-Train" not getting over on Paul Heyman (Albert never got over anytime WWE pushed him).
(2) ECW's Return during 2006 - Say what you will, but those ECW One Night Stands, which looked and resembled ECW, were very successful and are applauded as great shows to this day. However, following the 2006 PPV event, there was nothing but Creative interference with ECW from Vince McMahon and the Sci-Fi (now Syfy) Channel. It all came to a head when they disagreed over the December to Dismember Pay Per View which remains one of the lowest bought WWE PPVs in their history.
(3) Executive Director of RAW - Late 2019 through mid 2020. Dealt a bad hand with an already declining RAW product during 2019 and then COVID-19 without fans present. Yet, he was beginning to push many unused wrestlers, like Apollo Crews, who were NXT call-ups years ago but the WWE just used them as midcard fodder. He was replaced by Bruce Prichard and now RAW is permanently under 2 million viewers.
But that is OK on point #3 because if Vince McMahon demoted Paul Heyman to help him manage and be an agent for Roman Reigns, then Vince is a genius. IF NOT, still pairing him with Roman is still a great decision from Vince... Roman NEEDS an experienced hand like Paul Heyman to help him with his promos, change his look (notice, the Bulletproof Vest is GONE!), and to structure his matches better. Roman's match with Jey Uso on WWE Clash of Champions 2020 proves why pairing him with Paul Heyman is genius. Just look at a prior Roman Reigns match versus the one at Clash. It was all about pacing and psychology... He wasn't running around the ring or the outside like a maniac and reliant on a few trademark moves. He dealing it to Uso and then taunting him as he tortured the poor guy. Roman relied less on running or high spots and worked more inside the ring. Reigns has a swagger and a confidence about himself in this new heel role, a role that he was probably meant to have... I just don't see his personality, which many viewers consider as being smug, to be shielded by a character. Now as a heel, he can be free.
So Paul Heyman has done it again! And will the WWE or Vince McMahon thank him? Probably not... Probably within the year, they'll break him from Heyman and try to push him as a babyface again... An edgy babyface this time.
Paul Heyman's career is AMAZING and you can see much of it from his DVD documentary (Stephanie's snide comments about him with Creative are brutal to hear).
For one, he changed the business forever based on the wrestling style that he pushed and the adult themes in storylines with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). There was an influx of wrestlers who were performing internationally that Vince McMahon REFUSED to even look at. Guys like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr, and many others. Heyman featured them weekly on his shows... Then you characters that were so unique... The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, Rob Van Dam, Raven, Stevie Richards, Sabu, Dudleys, Eliminators, Shane Douglas... Most of those guys struggled elsewhere but under Paul Heyman, they were repackaged into great gimmicks or encouraged to have a certain personality.
Both Steve Austin and Mick Foley had stops in ECW before they joined the WWE. For Steve Austin, he was allowed to freely cut promos that helped form the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin character that we'd later see.
There is NO WWE Attitude Era without ECW, period. Stone Cold Steve Austin drinking beers? Why the Sandman was drinking beers (and smoking) years before Austin tried it in the WWE. Sable and Sunny were great but so were Francine, Kimona, and Beulah whose on-screen characters and sexuality were pushed hard with ECW fans. Enjoy those TLC matches? I seem to recall the Eliminators and Sabu/Rob Van Dam having multiple matches with that gimmick. Hell, the use of tables is all ECW... And speaking of those TLC matches, the Dudleys were an ECW made product that the WWE scooped up before ECW could to their TNN show. Matches and storylines were violent and women were put in full focus in ECW... Paul Heyman KNEW that WWE/WCW fans from the past were older and were hungry for something that fit their age in their 20s and 30s.
Once everybody raided ECW for its talent and started pushing adult based storylines as ECW did, it fell apart. Heyman's true weakness is that he's not a good business man and he placed his chips on Pay Per View money and the TNN television deal which didn't come to fruition.
For ECW, all I need to say is Al Snow. Al went from being Leif Cassidy to being in the New Midnight Express during his WWE tenure. Paul borrows him during 1997 and gives him a mannequin head to talk to as a psychopath. It gets over bigtime, as everyone in the crowd had Styrofoam heads while Prodigy's music was blasting. He saved Al's career with that gimmick change and even though the WWE messed that up, thanks to their toy manufacturer panicking, he had an extended career thanks to that brief stay at ECW.
He joins WWE as an announcer during 2001 and then as the Creative Lead for the Smackdown brand following the ORIGINAL brand split. Again, nothing but success... the UPN ratings proved that against RAW each and every week. Meanwhile, guys like Edge, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio were pushed seriously as big stars for the first time and Heyman's work promoting Brock Lesnar and John Cena made them into iconic stars. I believe that Heyman got the most out of Kurt Angle, too, as Angle had major neck issues during 2003 that he had to work around. The Big Show had his BEST YEARS under Paul Heyman during 2002-2003 when he was finally pushed as a big serious deal. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas never looked better beyond Paul Heyman's reign as Creative.
Then, after losing his Smackdown gig, he replaces Cornette as the creative guy at Ohio Valley Wrestling. There, he met an underutilized CM Punk whom the WWE brass were serious about releasing back then. Heyman took him seriously and put Punk under his wing, not only helping to develop Punk as a wrestler but teaching him things such as how to write and produce a show. In other words, he taught Punk more about the wrestling business than just performing inside the ring. As you may know, CM Punk became one of the top stars in the WWE during the early 2010s and without Paul Heyman, there is no CM Punk in the WWE. Period.
Let's be totally honest here... Brock Lesnar is a unique athletic talent. He has abilities that nobody on this planet has. He would be over anyway... But Paul Heyman has always been there to properly market him as this dangerous force. Lesnar struggles to cut a promo and Heyman hides that weakness by speaking for him. Heyman helped make Lesnar an INSTANT main event type wrestler during 2002 and then has helped him re-establish himself as a force in the WWE since 2012. Lesnar doesn't even have to appear on WWE television that much, as his mouthpiece in Paul Heyman perfectly represents him. Saves Lesnar from appearing that much and saves the WWE a ton of money on appearances.
Yeah, he failed on being Cesaro and Ryback's corner guy... But both didn't last long and I'd argue that Cesaro's was sabotaged by Creative. Ryback is no longer with the WWE and not working elsewhere. I'm sure that Heyman could have fixed him but based on his shoot commentaries online since his WWE release, I don't know if he wanted fixing.
Reportedly, several wrestlers consult Paul Heyman backstage... Becky Lynch was one of them and look at her career since late 2018. And how can you blame Heyman for her career abruptly taking a break during 2020?
I'm just saying that it is NOT A SURPRISE TO ME that Roman Reigns's push as a heel with Paul Heyman is working. Paul Heyman is the "wrestling whisperer", as he can get the maximum out of any performer and repackage them to draw as necessary. He is salvaging the career of Roman Reigns and it is beautiful to see. That match against Uso had Heyman's fingerprints all over it and we're only in the early stages of where this can go.
I would be very curious to see what happens if Brock Lesnar returns... You have great flexibility in pairing Roman and Brock together to dominate everyone or now you have a unique situation with Roman Reigns acting as a heel with Paul Heyman taking on Lesnar as a babyface.
It's money, baby, and it's all THANKS TO PAUL HEYMAN.
He has ECW, Smackdown 2002-2004, OVW with CM Punk, ECW returning, Brock Lesnar's rebirth, helping other various wrestlers, and now fixing Roman Reigns.
How is he not LOVED by Vince McMahon?
How is Vince always favoring complete idiots and kiss-ups like Bruce Prichard, Kevin Dunn, Michael PS Hayes, and his son-in-law Triple H while not recognizing the wrestling genius in Paul Heyman?
And how is it that TNA Wrestling could have signed Paul Heyman during the late 2000s and chose not to due to $ salary and control that he wanted?
So he is difficult to work with at times and doesn't kiss your arse... So what? He can fix almost any wrestler by promoting their strengths and hiding their weaknesses.
You can look the other way when someone is annoying when they are making you money, especially in the wrestling business. Vince has dealt with a variety of egos for decades but yet Paul Heyman, who wants to see wrestlers succeed, annoys him?
We'll see how long Vince McMahon becomes jealous of Paul Heyman FIXING Roman Reigns after over 6 years of blunders by Vince's Creative Team.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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