Paul Heyman has been back in WWE for almost five whole months and it seems as if he is always raising as many questions as he gives answers. We knew immediately that he was Brock Lesnar's legal representative, but we had no clue as to what his plans would be once Lesnar disappeared after SummerSlam.
We got our answer during an episode of Raw in Chicago, where an Emmy-worthy piece of camerawork revealed Heyman as CM Punk's driver. Did this mean that Punk and Heyman would be starting some kind of group? Would this be a story revolving around Punk's being "a Paul Heyman guy" during his developmental years in Ohio Valley Wrestling and his beginnings in the revived version of ECW? Could this all be a coup to get John Cena on his side?
The conspiracy theories will continue to circulate for as long as Paul Heyman chooses to stick around, but one thing is certain at this point: Heyman is done being a promoter and has gone back to his roots in management.
The idea of Paul Heyman starting another wrestling company is twofold. Anyone who has watched the fantastic The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary produced by WWE, or was a fan of Extreme Championship Wrestling during its existence knows what Heyman did for professional wrestling in America. He brought together many different styles, seamlessly blending lucha libre, mat-based technical grappling and hardcore violence into one smorgasbord of incredible in-ring action never before attempted in the United States. He made names out of Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boys, Sabu, Taz, The Sandman, Shane Douglas and many others that could inflate this paragraph.
Of course, we have also heard stories about how horrid Paul Heyman's financial common sense as well as workload management skills were during his tenure as ECW owner. At a time when Heyman was continuing to innovate and give North American wrestling fans new things to discuss, he was also aging himself and cutting into his amount of sleep. By the time the company declared bankruptcy in 2001, wrestlers were owed thousands of dollars that simply could not be paid. I doubt Heyman would want to revisit those days.
Today, in 2012, Heyman is continuing to innovate, but not in the way you might think. Creative minds have conspired to offer many different products in the world of independent professional wrestling. Promotions like Evolve and Dragon Gate USA are at the forefront of treating the sport of wrestling with the respect they believe it deserves. CHIKARA makes their wrestling fun, using comedy spots and telling humorous stories in the ring to keep everybody entertained. There is something for everyone out there, and Paul Heyman need not worry about trying anything else.
What Heyman does continue to do when it comes to innovating is all in WWE. Along with Vickie Guerrero, he is the only active manager in a company that simply does not use managers anymore. This is saying a hell of a lot about how good Paul Heyman is as a manager and WWE's faith in his ability. While Bobby Heenan's health would prevent him from working for clients in the ring, there is nothing stopping them from bringing in Jimmy Hart or Paul Bearer along with new managers on the independent scene such as Truth Martini and Prince Nana. They have not. They did, however, elect to bring back a man who had a very public falling out with Vince McMahon after the direction of ECW: December to Dismember headed in a way Heyman did not like.
I like Paul Heyman where he is, and I have a hunch that a lot of people feel the same. With his wisdom and intelligence, simply having him in the locker room is an incredible presence for some of the younger members of the WWE roster to pick at and absorb. If and when his run with CM Punk finishes up and he decides to disappear from television, I would imagine Heyman becoming a regular presence at NXT now that there is a very clear focus on turning it into one of the most important aspects of the company.
Tommy Dreamer is in the midst of starting his own promotion, House of Hardcore. It has elements of what ECW used to be known for, which is of course Dreamer's bread and butter. Nothing wrong with that. I am glad to see someone taking what Paul Heyman crafted and moving on with it. I am also glad to see that it isn't Heyman himself. He is a guy who can say he had the only wrestling promotion to be brought back from the dead. He started a revolution and fought until the very end.
Paul Heyman has earned his rest. There is no reason for him to go back into promoting because, with a competitive mind and chip on the shoulder like his, he would not be able to stop until he had not just replicated ECW's success, but surpassed it. In today's business world, the chances of that are even slimmer than they would have been when going up against Ted Turner's billions of dollars.
To sum things up, I am thankful for everything Paul Heyman brought to the United States for professional wrestling. We are now able to look back on the legacy he helped to create and also reap the benefits with the multitude of options for wrestling outside of WWE. In the mean time, Heyman can keep us guessing on TV as to what his next move will be involving himself and CM Punk.
I am looking forward to all of it.
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