On episode 58 of Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, pro wrestling veteran Bruce Prichard discussed how Paul Heyman initially connected with current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, who received more favorable booking with Heyman running SmackDown's creative, and so-called 'Paul Heyman Guys'.
In Prichard's estimation, Heyman became a major proponent of Lesnar in 2002. Apparently, the WWE braintrust was high on Lesnar from an athletic standpoint, but had concerns regarding 'The Conqueror''s promo skills. As such, it was an easy sell to pair Lesnar with the "sleazy" mouthpiece.
"Paul was a big advocate of Brock Lesnar then, behind-the-scenes. Hell, it was a meal ticket, number one, for him. We didn't think that Brock could talk. We didn't think Brock would be able to cut a good promo. We knew what we had as far as the athlete, Brock Lesnar. We knew what we had with 'The Beast' and we knew what we had when that bell rang. Brock was going to deliver. He just looks like a badass, but he wasn't a badass when it came to cutting promos. He needed a mouthpiece, so you take an All-American kid and you put him with a sleazy manager like Paul Heyman, the last person you'd think he'd connect with. And they made a great pair, but Paul lobbied pretty hard for that, to be the mouthpiece for Brock Lesnar. And it was an easy lobby because it made sense. That was a really easy pitch because everybody was on Team Lesnar saying, 'we need to bring him in - he's ready to come in, but I don't know if he's going to be ready on the promo side' and Paul cutting his promos for him worked."
Notably, Prichard credited Heyman with Lesnar's 'Next Big Thing' nickname. Moreover, Prichard indicated that Heyman was Lesnar's 'agent' because WWE Chairman Vince McMahon did not want Lesnar to have a manager and they hated agents more than anything, so they made Heyman an 'agent'.
"It was Heyman that coined that phrase, 'The Next Big Thing' and that was Brock Lesnar. And as we were talking about what is the next big thing, it was Heyman going, 'Brock Lesnar' and Paul pushing for him behind-the-scenes, Paul truly is an advocate for Brock Lesnar." Prichard continued, "Vince didn't want Brock to have a manager. He didn't want an old fashioned wrasslin' manager. We looked at it from the standpoint of 'what did we hate most in the [pro wrestling] business?' Agents, so make Paul an agent and let Paul be Paul. Paul kind of fancied himself as more than a [pro] wrestling manager anyway, so let Paul be Paul."
In addition to Edge, Chris Benoit also received a better push due to Heyman's input in WWE creative, according to Prichard.
"Probably Chris Benoit got pushed more to the forefront and his talents recognized for what he could do inside the ring. Paul was a big proponent of Benoit at that time." Prichard recalled, "I think that Paul probably looked at Benoit as one of his guys that he pushed and saw a lot in and thought that Benoit should have been so much more and WCW mistreated him."
Additionally, Eddie Guerrero benefited from Heyman working behind-the-scenes on the blue brand. With that said, Heyman was opposed to 'Latino Heat' becoming world champion. While Prichard said he never knew Heyman's rationale, the former Brother Love speculated that it was because Guerrero would have to go over Lesnar to win the title.
"Eddie Guerrero as well and, I'll go on the other side, as much as Paul pushed Eddie, Paul was vehemently against making Eddie WWF Champion. Hated it, absolutely hated it. I don't know if it was because Eddie had to beat Brock to get it and Paul wanted to hold onto that mystique. It's a work, folks, but he did not see Eddie as WWF Champion. And I don't know if his true feelings were that he didn't want to lose his meal ticket and Brock being the champion even though Brock was leaving. But, God, he fought us big time: [imitating Heyman] 'he will never get over on the big stage!' And Paul was one of the guys who first gave Eddie the stage to be seen in the United States and when nobody would book Eddie, Paul booked Eddie."
Despite there being a lot of talk about 'Paul Heyman Guys', Prichard averred that, "Paul was selective. Paul didn't like sticking his neck out for too many people." Moreover, the people the former Paul E. Dangerously wanted to elevate were not always who fans would expect.
"The guys that you would've thought Paul, not in cahoots, but that Paul was going to trumpet, those were not the guys that he trumpeted. They really and truly were not." Prichard mused, "but it's funny to hear about the guys that you'd think we're Paul Heyman guys, but just weren't."
Interestingly, Prichard claimed that not all ECW guys were 'Paul Heyman Guys' and named only a handful of performers who were legitimate 'Paul Heyman Guys'.
"Brock Lesnar, that one didn't surprise [podcast co-host, hey, hey, it's Conrad]. Chris Benoit, RVD, CM Punk, Spike Dudley, Mike Knox. For those of you who may remember Mike Knox, Paul was a huge Mike Knox fan." Prichard said, "you'd think that the ECW contingent were the guys that Paul was fighting for and they were kind of in a lot of ways the guys that Paul fought against the most."
Apparently, Heyman even opposed bringing in several ECW legends like The Sandman, Sabu, The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer. Also, Heyman would joke about beating up Taz, shoot name Peter Senercia, or insinuate that he had beaten up 'The One-Man Crime Spree'.
"Paul would be like, [imitating Heyman] 'you don't want Sandman - he's an alcoholic.' Yeah, and 'Sabu can only do so much' [and] 'Tommy Dreamer's best days are behind him.'" Prichard continued, The Dudleys, love/hate relationship: 'they're so passed their prime - their prime was in ECW - there's nothing left for them.' 'Pete Senercia, don't make me kick your ass, sir.' You think I'm kidding on that one, but no.
"Paul loved to call Taz 'Mr. Senercia' and it was just, again, another love/hate relationship, but Taz felt very comfortable with Paul and Taz never had a problem telling anybody how he felt, so they would kind of go back and forth with each other, but, of course, as soon as Taz would leave, or go outside, or out of earshot, 'he may find his ass whooped at the end of a Paul Heyman shoe, sir.' It was just fun."
During the podcast, Prichard suggested that although Heyman successfully lobbied for the likes of CM Punk, Paul E.'s interest in The Big Show probably hurt 'The Giant' more than it helped.
"Paul got on the Big Show bandwagon for a while, which probably hurt Big Show's push at the time because he was in the doghouse, but Paul and Big Show were friendly and Paul really got on the Big Show bandwagon for a bit."
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