MR. TITO: Paul Heyman is the GREATEST Manager and Non-Wrestling Personality in Pro Wrestling History

Almost 3 years ago, I wrote a column titled “Has Paul Heyman Officially Become the GREATEST Pro Wrestling Manager of ALL TIME?” and many of you questioned my insanity during August 2021. Fast forward 3 years later, is there any doubt, whatsoever, that Paul Heyman is not only the BEST manager of all time, but the BEST non-wrestling personality of all time as well? Paul Heyman is the BEST manager of all time and the best non-wrestling personality to ever grace the realm of pro wrestling.

Go ahead and give me the late Bobby “the Brain” Heenan “remaining #1”. Sorry, but Bobby cooled off after his big WWE run and largely was on commentary whereas Paul has been great for decade after decade, while I’d completely argue that Heyman’s stuff since August 2020 is his BEST work.

Rewind back to the 2010s… WWE was trying to push Roman Reigns as the #1 babyface and was doing so since early 2014 by being runner-up in that year’s Royal Rumble and letting Roman be the ONLY Shield member to defeat CM Punk. Then, Roman gets the pins in both Shield vs. Evolution matches and Roman is immediately thrust into multiple PPV World Title matches. That is with 3-4 years of experience. WWE disposed of John Cena as the #1 babyface at SummerSlam 2014 and ramped that push up even further by making him win the 2015 Rumble Match. The fans went nuclear, seeing how the WWE was trying to push this inexperienced and bland guy to the main event of Wrestlemania 31.

Yes, Roman did headline multiple Wrestlemanias during the 2010s… But those matches were AWFUL. Against Brock Lesnar, always awful matches. Bad Undertaker match. Bad Triple H match. Roman was a lost puppy dog out there, too reliant on matches being brawling hardcore matches or too reliant on hitting specific trademark moves (drive-by, spear, Superman punch, powerbomb). What Roman really lacked was psychology… He struggled with selling, connecting with fans to any series of moves, and selling that babyface comeback. I know we joke about star-ratings and what a clown Dave Meltzer is, but Roman’s matches, absent a few against Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, and Daniel Bryan, were struggles to get through and letdowns when headlining a Pay Per View.

Fast forward to August 2020. After years upon years of pushing a scripted babyface, the WWE boldly tries something new. Roman Reigns turns heel and does so by beginning to associate with Paul Heyman.

Now, it’s not just having a manger where Roman benefits… Paul Heyman is an ex-wrestling promoter, having operated ECW for many years, while also being a booker for the very successful WWE Smackdown brand that regularly defeated RAW during 2002-2004, and had a brief stint as Ohio Valley Wrestling’s booker. At OVW, he met and befriended CM Punk and not only gave him an education about the wrestling business, but taught him about booking and producing shows. CM Punk cites this as the most valuable experience he’s ever had as a pro wrestling and thanks to that, Punk was ready for the big WWE spotlights.

See, Roman during the 2010s lacked direction… He wasn’t confident in his promo cutting abilities, nor was he confident performing in matches. Sure, the babyface character limited him, but when you’re in the ring, you’re free to create art and put on a great match. But he couldn’t… He didn’t know how to. He needed a good road agent that could help tailor his matches to his own strengths and help hide weaknesses… But Roman also needed to SLOW DOWN.

The problem with Roman’s 2010s matches was that he’s going full blast and he was often sucking wind inside the ring. I wrote repeat columns for Lords of Pain mentioning how Roman was constantly out of breath and then it was later revealed WHY besides Roman’s fast-paced in-ring style. He had Leukemia and now it was back for late 2018. So you have a wrestler with cancer of the blood system, which helps transport Oxygen throughout your body, and you’re having Roman wrestle a high risk style that is constantly putting him out of breath? Makes absolutely zero sense in hindsight.

With Paul Heyman helping Roman construct his matches, Roman has SLOWED DOWN. As a heel in particular, you can get away with taunting your opponents while applying a resthold on an opponent and wrenching that move to anger fans. Roman is applying heel psychological tactics that require little physical effort and that keeps Roman fresh during his matches. Thanks to Paul Heyman, Roman knows how to act and operate as a heel but the full use of in-ring psychology as a heel allows Roman to do MORE with LESS moves required. If only AEW acquired Paul Heyman and he could teach many of the high risk daredevils there about that simple concept. Doing 30 moves in 10 minutes, some of which goes through tables, means nothing if you’re exhausting fans and wearing out talent.

And then you have the promos… Paul Heyman, as a manager by himself, is one of the best promo cutters of all time… However, the beauty with Paul Heyman is that he can actually TEACH that skill to wrestlers. Go through the tapes of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and guys like Steve Austin and Mick Foley will tell you how IMPORTANT that timeframe of cutting ECW promos in Paul Heyman’s basement, late at night, was. And Heyman was demanding on his ECW talents to cut the very best promos possible while also giving them creative freedom.

How does Roman Reigns go from cutting promos horribly during the 2010s to all of the sudden becoming the best in the business? Oh yeah, he has a wiseman with him.

Roman Reigns is the #1 star in the company right now and there’s no denying that… But you cannot deny Paul Heyman’s contributions to that.

I guarantee you that things would be different if they just turned Roman heel and there was NO Paul Heyman not just to manage him, but to guide him perfectly down that path. Roman’s in-ring style, character, and promo cutting ability would be much different and clearly weaker. Heyman is an AMAZING teacher and thanks to Roman’s success, WWE (Vince and then HHH) has more trust in Heyman to have a bigger creative difference backstage. Heyman has not only helped out Roman and the Bloodline, but many wrestlers backstage. Just listen to their interviews… And in return for a bigger role in WWE, Paul Heyman is extremely humble and appreciative. Just watch that Hall of Fame speech where he praised not just Triple H, but Stephanie too and she was in a major need of confidence. That started a GREAT Wrestlemania 40 weekend for Stephanie McMahon where the shame of being Vince’s daughter was finally washed away. Heyman started that.

Bloodline has been amazing and Paul Heyman has been a big part of it. “Part-Time” Roman isn’t always there, especially for the past 2 years, yet Heyman can cut promos in his place and it keeps the storyline going. Just like he did for “VERY Part-Time” Brock Lesnar who had a number in his contract for specific number of dates to appear and wrestle. Because Heyman is so effective on the microphone, he can represent his clients incredibly well and not need for the major star to always appear. Heyman can draw by himself.

Last night on WWE Smackdown was AMAZING and I’d argue some of WWE’s most compelling television ever put on. Seriously… The Bloodline turned on Paul Heyman and the fans in MSG were emotionally involved thanks to Paul Heyman.

Look at Heyman last night… For one, he’s letting the hair dye grow out again and he was unshaven. On top of that, his eyes were watery and selling that this rift between Solo and Roman has been difficult for Heyman to handle. What Heyman and Roman built for 3 years has been important for Paul and for Solo to suggest that “Roman isn’t coming back” has wrecked Paul.

The FUNNY thing is that this “new” Bloodline has seemed forever to build up, yet we’re just under 3 months since Wrestlemania 40. Seriously, it feels like 6 months, but the WWE is in slow burn mode for late April, May, and June before beginning to heat-up again for Money in the Bank and SummerSlam season. But Solo adding the Haku brothers for a “new” Bloodline seems like it has taken forever, but each week, we’ve seen Paul Heyman question what he’s doing. However, Heyman assumed that Roman would eventually return. As Solo (soon to be “Caesar”, I assume) added new members and made the group more violent than before, it put an increased wedge between Heyman and Solo.

Now, we’re getting ready for Money in the Bank which you could easily argue is the 4th most important WWE Pay Per View of the year, behind only Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and SummerSlam. The “Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu has arrived and Solo has pronounced to Paul that “Roman isn’t coming back”. On Smackdown, Solo wanted everyone in the Bloodline to “acknowledge him”. The Haku brothers and Jacob easily did, but when they asked Paul Heyman to do so… His loyalties remained with Roman.

This slow build with the “new” Bloodline has successfully accomplished a few things. Obviously, we have new wrestlers introduced and in my opinion, Jacob Fatu is easily the biggest free agent debut of 2023-2024. AEW can keep their Mercedes, Okada, Copeland, or Ospreay… Jacob Fatu is not only a talented performer, but he’s SCARY looking as well. Sure, he has a rap sheet, but that just adds to his legend that he’s DANGEROUS. The Haku brothers will serve as stooges while Jacob is the enforcer. We’re now very similar to the previous Bloodline with Solo as the leader, Haku bros. likely as the tag team like the Usos, and Jacob in the enforcer role like Solo used to be.

Secondly, this slow build has allowed Paul Heyman’s concerns for the new group to increase, week by week. It took almost 3 months to get here, but that pain has now been proven to be worth it. With each passing week, you saw a little more unease with the direction that Solo was taking the Bloodline by Paul. He was always unsure of Solo’s motives while displaying loyalty and remorse for Roman Reigns. The wrestling fans have witnessed that and they, too, are questioning Solo’s motives while also seeing Paul’s appreciation of Roman. HENCE why we’re hearing louder and louder “WE WANT ROMAN” chants. Through Solo seizing more power as the Bloodline leader and Paul Heyman’s concerns about that, along with his loyalties to Roman, we’re emulating those same concerns through these characters.

Then we have Smackdown in Madison Square Garden, last night. For weeks, Solo has been gaining power in the Bloodline and suggesting that Roman Reigns’s services were no longer needed. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman has been concerned with Solo but also wanting Roman Reigns back. After Solo said “Roman isn’t coming back”, it set the stage for the HUGE angle at MSG Smackdown. Solo demanded that everyone “acknowledge him” as the Tribal Chief, but Paul Heyman REFUSED.

And then, those bastards did it… Samoan Spike to Heyman’s throat, and he was down for the count. Jacob Fatu hits a big splash on Heyman, but they were not done. They took him to the outside and delivered a POWERBOMB through the announcers table which Heyman took like a champ (he didn’t clear the table and ruled backward, narrowly missing the legs of desk chairs). Then, the “new” Bloodline held up the 1 finger as the Roman Reigns-led Bloodline did for years.

Wow, just wow… Roman Reigns goes from being the most hated villain to likely a major babyface sensation when he returns. Why? Because of Paul Heyman selling his loyalty to Roman and unease of Solo taking charge. Now, the “new” Bloodline has just attacked and damn near murdered the 1 guy within the Bloodline who showed loyalty to Roman.

And then think of the NUCLEAR HEAT that will occur when it turns out that Solo Sikoa was funded and acting on behalf of The Rock. KABOOM!

But that performance of Heyman’s last night, and also the weeks/months leading to it. Heyman was completely emotional and selling the importance of Roman remaining the Tribal Chief. And then the Bloodline attacked him for it.

Paul Heyman just accomplished what Vince McMahon and Triple H could NOT accomplish during the 2010s: turning Roman Reigns into a successful babyface character.

What a masterstroke… From teaching and improving Roman Reigns since August 2020 to building the appreciation of Roman for the past 3 months without Roman even attending 1 single show. THAT is amazing.

And THAT is why Paul Heyman is the GREATEST manager and non-wrestling personality of all time. To take Vince McMahon’s struggling project of 2010s and turn it into an ATM machine has been remarkable. Roman Reigns IS the biggest star in the world thanks to Paul Heyman, BUT TO ROMAN’S CREDIT, Roman listened to what Heyman had to teach. THAT’S where Roman gets the credit… HE LISTENED.

As I tell newer employees all of the time, the best skill that you could harness and develop is your ability to LISTEN. If you listen well, you can absorb more information and better understand managerial expectations. But when you become a boss yourself, listening to your employees or creating that perception builds major trust with them. Roman needed help after a struggling babyface career from early 2014 through early 2020, and began LISTENING to Paul Heyman from August 2020 and beyond. Many others backstage have been LISTENING to Paul Heyman more, including Triple H, and the WWE has rapidly grown ever since.

Want to turn around AEW, as my old buddy Virtue once suggested? Steal Paul Heyman away from WWE. That’s the ONLY way that AEW could turn their company around by having their wrestlers LISTEN to the greatness of Paul Heyman.


My condolences to Roman Reigns and his family right now for the passing of his father.

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