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In my opinion, a wrestling performer recently obtained the “GREATEST OF ALL TIME (GOAT)” status for their recent work on top of an already great career.
No, it wasn’t Kenny Omega or the Young Bucks for calling themselves “elite” and having many stars rated on their matches. And no, it wasn’t Roman Reigns for “moving the needle” somewhere.
Actually, it’s Roman’s manager…
Paul Heyman, in my view, has officially become the GREATEST MANAGER OF ALL TIME.
Before 2012, you’d probably see a wrestling manager Top 10 list looking something like this:
1) Bobby Heenan
2) Jim Cornette
3) Jimmy Hart
4) Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle
5) Freddie Blassie
6) JJ Dillon
7) Paul Heyman
8) Captain Lou Albano
9) Miss Elizabeth
10) Either Mr. Fuji or Precious Paul Ellering.
Paul Heyman would be on this pre-2012 list for his 1980s and early 1990s work managing in various territories, the Midnight Express feud with Jim Cornette, and the Dangerous Alliance. On top of that, you can add in his managerial work with Brock Lesnar from 2002-2004 which got Lesnar instantly as a new Main Event star.
But damn, since 2012… Paul Heyman has elevated almost everyone that he’s worked with… Brock Lesnar, CM Punk,, and now Roman Reigns. He’s not only doing the managerial work, but he’s making the wrestlers become BETTER performers.
Go watch the Brock Lesnar of 2012… He was initially a John Laurinaitis thug and that was the basis of his feud with John Cena after Wrestlemania 28. Right out of the gate, Brock Lesnar makes his big WWE return and attacks John Cena at the RAW after Wrestlemania. HOWEVER, Lesnar LOSES his first return match at WWE Extreme Rules 2012 cleanly to John Cena. Not only that, but Lesnar is appearing on RAW weekly to hype this match and is burning right through his # of dates. For 2012-2013, Brock Lesnar signed a $5 million deal with a specified number of RAW appearances and Pay Per View matches. Well, WWE burned right through many of those RAW dates already and Lesnar disappeared for multiple months before returning again at Summerslam 2012.
With Lesnar having limited dates in his contract, the WWE needed to creatively think about how to make his presence felt even when Brock couldn’t attend shows. That’s where Paul Heyman comes in. Not only could Paul appear on behalf of Brock Lesnar, but Brock is a terrible promo guy and always has been. Heyman knows how to speak on behalf of Brock and impose his will onto Brock’s opponents. On top of that, Heyman is a great backstage agent and knows how to organize Brock Lesnar’s matches. Furthermore, Heyman cuts promos that gives credit to the opponents and hypes them up to be legitimate challengers to Brock (well, except for Dean Ambrose whom Brock did not want to wrestle).
Brock Lesnar cannot talk… At all. He has a high pitched lisp and just doesn’t know what to say to effectively connect with the WWE audience. Paul Heyman, on the other hand, does, and he has made Brock Lesnar into an ALL TIME great talent. The way that Heyman hypes and presents Lesnar is something that no other manager has ever done. Believe it or not, but Brock Lesnar is only there for the easy money yet Paul Heyman sells him as the most serious thing ever. Brock just stands there and reacts to whatever Paul says. I guarantee that Lesnar would have left WWE long ago if Paul Heyman didn’t keep him engaged and into each feud.
Just go back and view that Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg feud from 2016-2017 which Paul Heyman completely agented from start to finish. In fact, Bill Goldberg should THANK Paul Heyman for giving him a second WWE career. That feud was so perfectly done and that Wrestlemania match was better looking than it ever should have been. Paul and Brock recaptured the 1998 Bill Goldberg magic and Goldberg is still riding on the fumes from that feud to this day.
Let’s venture back to 2012-2013… WWE obviously didn’t want CM Punk as their WWE Champion, as proven by the LACK of main eventing as WWE Champion for both RAW and Pay Per Views during 2012. Bored with him, the WWE turned CM Punk heel and actually gave him Paul Heyman as a manager. For anyone as a World Champion, this could have backfired particularly as CM Punk was only turned heel to allow the Rock to smash him into pieces for 2 straight Pay Per Views to start 2013. But look at that Undertaker feud for Wrestlemania 29. You wanna talk about STEALING the show… What Heyman and CM Punk did to hype that match with the Undertaker was fantastic. Heyman dressed up as Paul Bearer!
And then Paul Heyman turned that managerial role with CM Punk into a feud with Brock Lesnar. Heyman betrayed Punk by having Brock Lesnar attack him and the rest was history in what I consider the BEST SummerSlam Match EVER between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013. Then, since that SummerSlam 2013, Paul Heyman crafted Brock Lesnar into one of the most dominant WWE Main Eventers of all time. Lesnar bulldozed the entire WWE roster from late 2013 through the Summer of 2018, pretty much carrying the WWE Network on his back with the exclusive matches.
Now, before I get to Roman Reigns, we have to address 2 other “Paul Heyman Guys”: Cesaro and Ryback. For one, Ryback is now unemployed from the wrestling business. It just wasn’t a good fit and at that time, as Ryback fell out of favor with management after being built up into the next Goldberg-like wrestler. Ryback working with Heyman was merely an extension of the CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman feud and things didn’t go well after Ryback reportedly hurt Punk in several of their matches.
Cesaro, on the other hand, is just a WWE Creative casualty. All of us got excited when Cesaro received a match against Roman Reigns after Wrestlemania 37 but that feud only lasted 1 Pay Per View and Roman dispatched of him easily. WWE management has never seen Cesaro as more than a midcarder and have kept presenting him that way. He won the Wrestlemania 30 Andre the Giant Battle Royal but would go on to lose repeatedly when with Paul Heyman.
Thus, I don’t hold Cesaro and Ryback against Paul Heyman. One guy is self-destructive while the other never received a fair shake from Creative ever.
And then we now have Roman Reigns.
We have presented this case many many many times now. Roman struggled to fill the shoes of John Cena from 2014 through early 2020 and the NUMBERS prove it. As the #1 pushed babyface in the company, RAW viewership declined from just over 4 million during 2014 to being just above 2 million before he left RAW for Smackdown. Attendance has severely declined at arenas by the thousands per show. WWE merchandise sales has dropped considerably and it is a FACT that it wasn’t until mid-2018 when Roman’s stuff became the #1 seller… Through Mid-2018, John Cena’s stuff was outselling everyone still despite being a part-timer. But overall merchandise sales have declined since 2014.
However, following the events of SummerSlam 2020, Roman turned heel and aligned himself with Paul Heyman. The more experienced Roman Reigns finally feels comfortable in his skin and it helps to be working with Paul Heyman to obtain advice often. Suddenly, Roman has PSYCHOLOGY in his matches… Where did he learn that from? He certainly wasn’t showing it from 2014 through early 2020. Paul Heyman is clearly agenting his stuff now and is a great influence on Roman. Because Roman is a good speaker, Heyman doesn’t have to be the complete hype man that he was with Lesnar. He just has to complement Roman and just cater to his ever needs. Just watch Heyman’s actions anytime he’s with Roman… He’s selling as if Roman is a God and Heyman is just there to do whatever pleases the king. It’s extremely effective and legitimizes Roman in his new top role.
AGAIN – You need to take into account what has happened SINCE 2012… Paul Heyman has 9 years of added managerial experience for his roles in helping Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and Roman Reigns appear as MAJOR stars at a time when WWE needs it badly.
But look at how GOOD Brock Lesnar has been for the past decade with Paul Heyman. He’s easily the decades top drawing superstar and Lesnar can’t even speak! CM Punk as an effective heel with Paul Heyman. And to top it all off, Roman Reigns is FINALLY over as the top WWE Superstar. Paul has made the wrestlers he manages become BIGGER STARS and presented as highly talented from learning psychology from Paul.
If you look at the others on the list, they merely covered weaknesses. For Cornette, the Midnight Express, they couldn’t cut promos or draw heat so they relied on Jim heavily to do both. People in the arena wanted to see manager “get his” but the wrestlers he managed didn’t get better like Heyman’s guys. Same thing with Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. Heenan just covered the promo abilities for his wrestlers but there were many in his family that didn’t grow into bigger stars while with him. Paul Heyman, on the other hand, elevates the wrestlers that he’s with and makes the wrestlers better at everything.
We could get into Paul Heyman’s role as an overall mentor, whether it’s from his ECW days, his brief time in OVW, or backstage at WWE events. Heyman “manages” talent to get the very best out of them and present them in a way that is opposite of their weaknesses. However, this discussion is about Heyman, the wrestling manager.
Midnight Express + Dangerous Alliance + Brock Lesnar 2002-2004 + Brock Lesnar from 2012-2021 + CM Punk from 2012-2013 + Roman Reigns = GREATEST PRO WRESTLING MANAGER OF ALL TIME.
And Paul probably has MANY years to keep padding this resume! He’ll be at least managing Roman Reigns and/or Brock Lesnar for a few more years.
REVISED GREATEST PRO WRESTLING MANAGER OF ALL TIME LIST:
1) Paul Heyman
2) Bobby Heenan
3) Jim Cornette
4) Jimmy Hart
5) Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle
6) Freddie Blassie
7) JJ Dillon
8) Captain Lou Albano
9) Miss Elizabeth
10) Either Mr. Fuji or Precious Paul Ellering.
In the future, the REAL TEST will be how good Roman Reigns can do without Paul Heyman in his ear and helping to boost his presence as a talent. The only test samples that we have are Roman without Paul Heyman from late 2012 through early 2020 and now August 2020 through present WITH Paul Heyman.
And another test would be to see how Brock Lesnar does potentially WITHOUT Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece. I predict not well…
In fact, I believe this whole storyline is setting up Paul Heyman turning on Roman Reigns OR Roman & Brock team-up to potentially RULE both RAW and Smackdown brands (Lesnar going to RAW, managed by Paul). With Roman Reigns now cutting promos with confidence, that’s an area where Paul Heyman isn’t needed as much and thus Paul can resume duties with Lesnar. We’ll see…
Either way, Lesnar vs. Roman is only exciting because of Paul Heyman. Period.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.
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