Every Paul Heyman Guy, Ranked By Accomplishments

Paul Heyman belongs on the Mount Rushmore of pro wrestling managers. Heyman's gift of gab -– and penchant for making himself so punchable -– is something you just can't teach. More than a mere mouthpiece, Heyman is a fully realized character — a brash, yuppie slimeball with the Midas Touch, able to elevate numerous talent by lowering himself into the proverbial mud. Other managers have clients, but Heyman has "Paul Heyman Guys." That tells you something.

But while Heyman is the best in the business at talking trash and being a garbage person, his talent alone can't elevate everyone. Truth be told, there are just as many failed "Paul Heyman Guys" as there are successes, we just tend to forget about them. We're going to rank "Paul Heyman Guys" from WWE based on their achievements under Heyman's management. So for example, we won't count Roman Reigns' "Big Dog" accomplishments, only his "Tribal Chief" achievements. Which "Paul Heyman Guys" did he elevate to all-time greats and which ones failed to take off?

14. Paul E. Dangerously Guys

Before we begin, we can't not mention the career of Paul E. Dangerously, Heyman's gimmick during his pre-WWE career, including WCW and ECW. Dangerously was basically a beta version of Paul Heyman, a smug little slimeball you wanted to see get socked in the jaw. While Heyman has the "grace" of a veteran garbage person, Dangerously had the arrogance of youth, which may be worse, depending on your point of view.

The guys Paul E. Dangerously managed in WCW and ECW are a "Who's who" of future superstars, including "Stunning" Steve Austin (the future Stone Cold), "Mean" Mark Callous (The Undertaker), Taz, and Sabu, to name a few, as well as seasoned veterans like Bobby Eaton, Ravishing Rick Rude, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, and Arn Anderson. During the early 1990s, Dangerously's "Dangerous Alliance" was one of WCW's top heel factions and battled top babyface stars like Sting, Ricky Steamboat, and The Steiner Brothers. It's a mighty impressive lineup and already puts Dangerously/Heyman in the conversation for "best manager ever." We're not talking about "Paul E. Dangerously Guys" — we're talking "Paul Heyman Guys" — but they deserve some acknowledgement.

13. Hardcore Holly

What do a brash New Yorker who likes to elevate young talent and a cantankerous Alabaman who likes to beat them up have in common? They're both associated with hardcore wrestling, maybe? Honestly, we're not sure, which is probably why WWE paired them up during Hardcore Holly's short stint in the mid-2000s ECW revival. Holly aligned himself with Paul Heyman as an Arn Anderson-style enforcer, taking out top guy Rob Van Dam, leading to a feud between the two. 

Why Heyman would choose WWE guys like Holly over his born-and-bred ECW talent didn't make sense, but that was WWE's ECW for you; less a revival of the beloved hardcore brand and more a pre-NXT training ground, combining the next crop of main roster talent with vets like Holly. It made sense from Vince's POV, but was anathema to Heyman and the blood-thirsty ECW fanbase who still chant "E-C-Dub" to this day. Holly turned face to team up with RVD against Heyman and ECW Champion The Big Show (what was even happening on this show?) only to turn heel on RVD again. While the name was ECW, the booking was more latter-day WCW, as demonstrated by Holly. Either way, Holly gets his spot for being the most inconsequential and nonsensical "Paul Heyman Guy."

12. Test

Test had all the makings of "Vince McMahon Guy" — big, good-looking, with a head full of blonde hair that belonged on the cover of a romance novel. No wonder he made McMahon swoon. Alas, he never moved WWE fans, despite high-profile angles like courting Stephanie McMahon and feuding with The Undertaker. After a brief break from WWE in 2005, Test was back for the ECW revival in 2006, in an effort to turn a "Vince McMahon Guy" into a "Paul Heyman Guy." 

Test aligned with Heyman and became a top heel contender, forming a faction of ECW newcomers alongside Big Show, competing in an Extreme Elimination Chamber match at ECW's much-maligned "December To Dismember" PPV, and feuding for the ECW World Championship with champion Bobby Lashley. Not the worst run in the world, and if Heyman managed Test on the main roster it might've ranked higher. But Test being a "Paul Heyman Guy" on ECW was a stretch, which is why this run does not stand the "test" of time.

11. Cesaro

Cesaro and Brock Lesnar have a lot in common. Both are super-strong athletes with in-ring charisma and skills, but who aren't the best at promos. So you'd think Paul Heyman and Cesaaro would be the perfect pairing, right? Yeah, not so much. Timing is everything in pro wrestling and the timing of Heyman-Cesaro was just ... odd. On the same night that Cesaro became the biggest babyface in the world not named "Daniel Bryan" after winning the inaugural Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX, Brock Lesnar did the unthinkable and conquered the beloved Undertaker's Streak. 

The next night, Cesaro was endorsed by Hulk freaking Hogan ... and then he hired Heyman. What? So was Cesaro a heel? Was Heyman a face? It felt like Vince saying, "Let's put them together and see what happens, PAL!" So what happened? Nothing, really. Cesaro inexplicably started losing matches, Heyman disappeared from his corner, and the much pined-for Swiss Superman vs. Beast Incarnate team-up or battle never happened. Given Cesaro's alliance with Heyman actually set him back (through no fault of either guy), his run as a "Paul Heyman Guy" was one of the worst.

10. The Dudley Boyz

The Dudley Boyz were basically ECW's Legion of Doom during the extreme brand's 90s heyday, a duo that formed the backbone of the promotion's tag team division. Following their move to WWE in 1999, The Dudleyz had one of the greatest tag team runs ever, including multiple championship reigns and featured spots in some of the most historic matches ever. Yet by 2004 the Dudley Boyz were adrift on the "SmackDown" roster, so who better to pair them with than their former ECW employer, Paul Heyman? Alas, the storyline for the reunited extremists did a better job of breaking tables than records. 

Basically, it was a feud between Paul Heyman and the recently resurrected "Deadman" version of The Undertaker. Heyman coaxed the Dudleyz to kidnap Undertaker's manager, Paul Bearer, resulting in a handicap "Concrete Crypt Match" in the main event of 2004's not-so-great "Great American Bash." If Undertaker lost, Bearer would be buried in concrete. Undertaker won .. .but still buried Bearer in concrete. And that pretty much sums up the Dudleyz-Heyman pairing, which resulted in a brief main event run against The Undertaker, but not much else.

9. Heidenreich

Vince McMahon likes his big, muscular guys, but just because you're beefy and blonde doesn't make you Hulk Hogan. Take Heidenreich. Actually, don't. In an effort to recreate the magic of The Undertaker following his return to his "Deadman" roots in 2004, Vince McMahon began pitting him against "Insert Big Guy Here." Heidenreich fell into this category, though maybe McMahon saw something more in him, as the boss paired him with Paul Heyman. 

As the storyline went, the Dudley Boyz failed to rid the world of the Deadman, so Heyman recruited Heidenreich. Not even Heyman could elevate Heidenreich above muscle-bound meathead, and after his brief feud with The Undertaker, Heidenreich went to wherever "monster of the month" guys go after the babyface beats them. Still, a brief run with The Undertaker is nothing to sneeze at, though it falls far short of the other "Paul Heyman Guys" on this list.

8. Curtis Axel

The son of "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and grandson of "The Axe" Larry Hennig, Curtis Axel followed in the footsteps of The Rock and Randy Orton as a third-generation superstar. Lacking either of those guys' innate charisma, WWE did the next best thing -– paired him with Paul Heyman. In 2013, Axel joined Heyman's crew alongside WWE's then-reigning champion, CM Punk, and eventually Ryback. 

Basically playing the hired muscle, Axel got high-profile (albeit tainted) victories over top guys like Triple H, John Cena, and Chris Jericho, as well as a run with the Intercontinental Championship. Despite this massive push from the WWE, Axel just wasn't connecting with the fans, as not even Paul Heyman's pixie dust could elevate Axel above that of a standard brute. After a legit hip injury kept Axel off Hell In A Cell, Heyman parted ways with Axel upon his return. While Axel's run with Heyman sounds pretty impressive on paper, it was a far cry from what WWE had clearly hoped for.

7. Ryback

Following Paul Heyman's breakup with CM Punk and Punk's subsequent defeat by Brock Lesnar in a top-tier bout at SummerSlam, Lesnar was off again to kill deer in Canada, while Punk was left with nothing to do. The Heyman-Punk feud needed to continue, but Punk needed an actual wrestler to fight. Enter Ryback. Following a solid, if unspectacular run as "I'm like Goldberg, but don't call me Goldberg," Ryback was adrift so WWE decided to pair him with Heyman, resulting in a fairly entertaining duo. Basically, Ryback was there to keep Punk busy and did just that. And if Heyman could get him over to the next level, all the better. 

He couldn't. Why? Sounds like Heyman really didn't want to. When Heyman was asked during a Virtual Hightspots Meet & Greets interview which wrestler he worked with that he knew wouldn't be a big star, he named Ryback, saying: "Because he (Ryback) was a schmuck." Sure, there's been plenty of schmucks in pro wrestling, but when your on-screen manager doesn't believe in you behind the scenes, there's no chance you're going to get over. Soon enough, Ryback was gone and Brock was back, and all was well in the Heyman universe.

6. The Big Show

Big Show has been a "Paul Heyman Guy" not once, but twice. The first came in November 2002, after the monster heel and reigning WWE Champion Brock Lesnar had defeated Hulk Hogan, The Rock and The Undertaker. Next up? The Big Show ... okay, then. Turns out Big Show was a means to an end, that end being turning Brock Lesnar into a babyface for a showdown with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX. And to turn Lesnar face, the WWE needed to separate him from the ultimate villain, his manager Paul Heyman, a guy who only gets ironically cheered by ECW marks. 

During a championship match between Lesnar and Big Show at Survivor Series 2002, Heyman inexplicably betrayed Lesnar, giving Big Show the victory and the WWE Championship. However, Big Show lost the title the next month at Armageddon to Kurt Angle, who revealed later that week on "SmackDown" he had hired Heyman's services. So while Big Show was basically just a transitional champ, he was the first guy to pin the "Next Big Thing" Brock Lesnar — kind of a big deal. Heyman would side with Big Show again just four years later after betraying Rob Van Dam and giving Big Show a run as ECW Champion. While neither reign was especially memorable, Big Show was arguably never bigger than when he was a "Paul Heyman Guy."

5. Rob Van Dam

Rob Van Dam was a "Paul Heyman Guy" from back in the day, as he was the face of Heyman's original ECW, with a nearly two-year TV Title run to boot. Alas, Paul Heyman and RVD eventually went to WWE and both ended up in the newly revamped ECW. It was a logical pairing, as Heyman clearly did love RVD, and could cut a slightly more compelling promo than RVD's standard "Woah, bro!" RVD got the biggest push of his career under Heyman, beating John Cena at ECW One Night Stand (via Heyman and Edge shenanigans) to win the WWE Championship and then being awarded the ECW Championship by Heyman. 

After several years toiling in the mid-card while getting pops against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, things were finally looking up for 'Ol RVD. Then things went up in smoke, literally, after RVD was arrested for marijuana possession. He quickly lost the WWE Title to Edge and then the ECW to former "Paul Heyman Guy," The Big Show, who reunited with his former manager after he betrayed RVD. While it didn't nearly live up to its potential, RVD's stint as an official "Paul Heyman Guy" was the most decorated of his career.

4. Kurt Angle

Why does an Olympic Gold Medalist, multi-time World Champion, and talented talker need to be a "Paul Heyman Guy?" Answer: He doesn't. But it darn sure doesn't hurt. Paul Heyman had betrayed Brock Lesnar for The Big Show for no real reason at Survivor Series 2002, then betrayed The Big Show one month later, aligning with new WWE Champ Kurt Angle. Thus, Heyman became the first and only guy to manage three world champs in the space of two months. Angle and Heyman brought in up-and-comers Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas to form Team Angle, and begin a feud with Brock Lesnar. 

It was basically your classic "Evil Manager betrays Talent" storyline, an oldie but a goodie when done well. While Angle had one of the best pro wrestling careers ever, his alliance with Paul Heyman led Angle to the crown jewel (no, not the Saudi event) of sports entertainment –- the main event at WrestleMania, in a classic against Brock Lesnar. That's a major accomplishment not many people can boast. Throw in a legendary match against Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble, and it's easy to say that Angle's most significant title run came during his stint as a "Paul Heyman Guy." It's true. It's damn true!

3. CM Punk

CM Punk deserves a special place on this list as he was the one to coin the term "Paul Heyman Guy" during his infamous "Pipe Bomb Promo." Punk was referring to Heyman's behind-the-scenes support during Punk's days in developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling and later the ECW relaunch, when seemingly nobody saw anything in him except Heyman. Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and Heyman was back managing Brock and Punk was in the middle of his lengthy run as WWE Champion. 

When The Rock needed to work with a heel on his way to his "Twice In A Lifetime" rematch against John Cena at WrestleMania XXIX, Punk broke bad and aligned with Paul Heyman to cement his turn to the dark side. While he was already WWE Champion, Punk's alliance with Heyman led to arguably his most celebrated run, including main event feuds against John Cena, Ryback, The Rock, and Undertaker. All good things must pass, so Heyman dropped a pipe bomb of his own in 2013, abandoning Punk to serve Brock Lesnar full time.

2. Roman Reigns

Despite multiple WrestleMania main events, World Championship runs, and failed coronation attempts, Roman Reigns never became WWE's undisputed top babyface. However, when you have a guy who's clearly "The Guy," you don't abandon ship; you turn him heel. And what better way to cement his turn to the dark side than pairing him with the ultimate executor of evil, Paul Heyman?

Reigns was at risk of becoming another failed experiment by Vince, not unlike Lex Luger or (for a time) Diesel. Since ditching "The Big Dog" for "The Tribal Chief," and becoming a "Paul Heyman Guy" in the process, Reigns has had an unprecedented run. His milestones include stacking Edge and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 37, slaying The Beast Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38, unifying the World Championships, and undertaking an historic, lengthy title reign not seen since the 1980s. Oh, and he's brought his family, The Usos, along for the ride, forming one of WWE's top heel factions in the process. In an alternate WWE Universe, Reigns is still getting boos as a babyface receiving an unearned push. In this timeline, he's the biggest star in pro wrestling, getting the much-deserved main event run we always knew he was capable of. We acknowledge him as one of the best "Paul Heyman Guys."

1. Brock Lesnar

Let's be honest, there could be no other number one besides "Baaa-rrrroooock Les-Nar!" More than a musclebound meathead and his mouthpiece (there's been plenty of those in pro wrestling), Lesnar and Heyman form the perfect pro wrestling marriage between a monster and his manager. The brilliance behind the pairing is the subtle distrust that has always boiled beneath the surface. Deep down, we understood that Heyman only ever saw Lesnar as a meal ticket, while Lesnar knew Heyman was a backstabbing con artist, but put up with him because he made him more money. Fairly complex storytelling, for pro wrestling at least.

Undoubtedly, Brock Lesnar's biggest accomplishments have come with Heyman at his side. During his "Next Big Thing" run in 2002, Lesnar won the WWE Undisputed Championship at just 26 from The Rock. After a brief breakup, Lesnar and Heyman were back together in 2003, with backup from Big Show, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones. Nearly a decade later, Lesnar returned to WWE with an extra air of gravitas from his UFC run, aided by Heyman's over-the-top advocacy of his greatness. While the 2002 run alone would have landed Brock at number one, this later run cements it: multiple lengthy World Championship reigns, two WrestleMania main events, victories over Triple H, CM Punk, Roman Reigns, and Goldberg, and most notably, conquering Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak. Lesnar and Heyman belong near the top of any "Greatest Wrestler-Manager Team" list — and definitely deserve the top spot on this one.