Following his successful return with an Open Challenge match on SmackDown this week, Big E is determined to settle the score with Apollo Crews at Fastlane next Sunday. But this week on Talking Smack, the Intercontinental Champion had a bone to pick with panelist Paul Heyman on whether or not he was the mastermind behind the brutal attack he suffered at the hands of Crews from two weeks ago.

Despite refusing to take the blame for the incidences that transpired between Big E and Crews, Heyman pointed out that situations like this will continue to happen so long as Big E is champion.

“If you’re going to ask me a direct question, I respect you enough as a man to give you a straight answer,” Heyman began. “No, it’s not what I wanted. But it’s exactly what I told you your life was going to be like. I never offered you a prediction of what your life is going to be like as the Intercontinental Champion. I offered you a spoiler. You’re a champion. What did you think your life was going to be like?

“What you’re learning now is life at the top. It’s what Roman Reigns has to deal with. There are no friends. There are no allies. Nobody is truly happy for your success. They are all jealous and or envious because they all want to be in the position that you have worked your ass off to earn. They want to take what you have earned. Apollo Crews is the first of many. This is the life that you lead because of the sacrifices you’ve made.”

After his reply, Heyman then tried to extend an olive branch once again to Big E to come join the Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, where he’ll be protected from future ambushes like the ones he’s encountered with Crews.

“This is why this morning I mentioned to you [that] if you’re tired of it and want to protect that championship reign, services are available,” Heyman offered.

Big E shot down Heyman’s offer and mentioned that by next year, he’s going to set his sights on Reigns’ Universal Championship — if he can retain it for another calendar year.

“I hear you. And you know, I have learned a lot from you,” Big E replied. “I’ve learned how shark-infested these waters really are. But you see, this is my Intercontinental Championship. I’m going to beat Apollo Crews. I’m going to decimate Apollo Crews. I’m going to walk into WrestleMania, and I’m going to defend his Intercontinental Championship. And then, I’m going to defend this title for a whole calendar year.

“Then, I’ll come back in 2022 at WrestleMania, and I will stand there, deserving beyond a shadow of a doubt, deserving that Universal Championship opportunity. I’ll deserve it more than anyone. If Roman Reigns still holds that title, that will be my match. When I walk out of WrestleMania 2022 as double champ, and I beat Roman Reigns, or whoever has that title then, we’ll talk.”

You can watch Big E and Paul Heyman’s exchange on the WWE Network. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talking Smack with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.