WWE's post-WrestleMania Raw featured the return of Brock Lesnar, and he has been one of the most talked about superstars since that night. The company quickly pushed his feud with John Cena, ending in their Extreme Rules encounter that delivered a strong buy rate.
Lesnar’s next feud was with Triple H. With a longer build, the WWE needed to add a catalyst for the weeks that Lesnar wasn’t going to be on Raw. Enter Paul Heyman.
Since returning, Paul Heyman’s career has been revitalized. While his return took place with little fanfare, his continued excellence hasn’t been unrecognized. Paul Heyman is one of the most over figures in the WWE today.
And he’s made one thing perfectly clear: Brock Lesnar needs Paul Heyman.
History is all-too-often overlooked by the WWE creative team. One of the reasons so many hardcore fans love to see JBL on commentary is because he finds historical significance for each match. History can also be a big part of the Brock Lesnar-Paul Heyman relationship
Brock Lesnar was paired with Paul Heyman during his initial rise to prominence in the WWE. When Brock made his first television appearance on Raw—attacking several wrestlers during one match—it was Paul Heyman behind him barking instructions.
Later that year, Lesnar defeated The Rock at SummerSlam to become the youngest WWE Champion in history. He did so with the assistance of Paul Heyman.
When Brock Lesnar turned face at the 2002 Survivor Series, it was because of Heyman’s betrayal.
When Brock Lesnar released Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival in 2011, the co-author was Paul Heyman.
Fast forward to 2012: Brock Lesnar was building his feud with Triple H and hit a string of weeks off. Who was called in to speak for Lesnar? That’s right, Paul Heyman!
Standing 6’3” and weighing 265 pounds, Brock Lesnar is a genetic freak. His size and athleticism helped him to win an NCAA national championship in wrestling, fueled his meteoric rise to the top of the WWE, allowed him to get an NFL tryout with the Minnesota Vikings, and made him the UFC’s top draw after such a short time.
But for every athletic gift that Brock possesses, he simply does not have the promo ability seen in many top-flight superstars. When Brock opens his mouth he sounds more like a nerdy accountant than a former WWE and UFC World Champion.
Paul Heyman is the polar opposite. Prior to breaking into wrestling as a manager, Paul Heyman was a photographer and a writer. He was not a five-star athlete, national champion or UFC title holder. In fact, when Heyman was in college, he didn't play any sports. He worked at the radio station.
But Paul Heyman can talk. He’s not only one of the best talkers in the WWE, but he’s one of the best talkers in wrestling history. His voice itself is iconic, easily recognized by even the most casual of fans.
He has amazing commend of the English language, and when he talks, people listen. Paul Heyman can hold a crowd of over 20,000 in the palm of his hands with relative ease.
Despite which source you choose to believe, it’s widely accepted that Brock Lesnar holds a WWE contract that requires limited dates, which affords him a lot of time off. It puts the WWE in a tough position, where one of their most marketable (and bankable) stars is going to have long stretches of time off of television.
That’s another area of value for Paul Heyman. Heyman can represent Brock Lesnar when he’s at home. If someone demands Brock Lesnar’s presence, it’s entirely believable (and acceptable, storyline-wise) to have Paul Heyman show up and speak on Brock’s behalf.
Much of Lesnar’s feud with Triple H was built by Paul Heyman. It’s this build that allowed long-time WWE fans to revisit Heyman’s greatness. It also caused a new crop of fans to enjoy Heyman’s brilliance for the first time.
Based on their association, Paul Heyman is an extension of Brock Lesnar on WWE television. This is a key creative factor when considering Lesnar’s limited schedule.
Many might consider storytelling ability a part of one’s promo skills, but I’d argue that it’s a completely different factor. There are plenty of wrestlers that can engage and hold an audience’s attention, but they don’t always tell a great story.
Paul Heyman can tell an amazing story. Heyman recently made a false marriage proposal to WWE Raw General Manager AJ Lee. Many wrestlers would have been too fast to get to the proposal, and would have ended the interaction at that point.
Not Heyman. He built upon CM Punk’s interactions with AJ Lee, piqued interest by stepping in on Punk’s behalf, and took us on a magical ride up the mountain until we reached the peak—his proposal.
As preposterous as his proposal was, his comments after the fact sealed the deal. They also earned him a slap in the face. That slap itself has also become a key element of AJ’s story as General Manager.
Brock can’t tell an equally impressive story. During his contract renegotiation story, Brock didn’t always do the story justice with his delivery and his timing. At times it took away from the story.
Paul Heyman would have told the story in a manner that it would have been memorable. As it stands today, the story is easily forgotten.
John Cena is one of the most polarizing wrestlers of this generation. He is one of the few talents who will be met with a chorus of boos and a loud ovation in almost any arena in the world. When John Cena stands in the middle of a ring with a microphone, the people will hang on every word he says.
Simply put, it’s very easy to feud with John Cena. There was little needed from Brock Lesnar to make that feud work. Cena can carry the build better than the majority of the wrestlers on television today.
But Brock Lesnar needs to feud with other wrestlers, too! His feud with Triple H didn’t get heated until Paul Heyman showed up. Think of other possibilities on the roster.
Randy Orton? His promo skills are limited and he speaks in brief, short sentences. Pairing him with Brock Lesnar could be a disaster. But with Paul Heyman, Orton’s history becomes fair game, and the build becomes memorable.
I’d argue that Paul Heyman can make nearly any feud better for Brock Lesnar. Think of the most mismatched feud possible. Brock Lesnar vs. Santino Marella? Now insert Paul Heyman. He will make you love and pull for Santino Marella, and he will have you appreciating the near squash that would take place in the blowoff match.
That’s what Paul Heyman can add to a feud.
The pairing of CM Punk and Paul Heyman is a dream come true for many longtime fans. CM Punk’s famous “sit-in” promo on that memorable July 2011 WWE Raw from Las Vegas saw Punk coin the phrase “I’m a Heyman guy.” Since Paul Heyman’s return, being a “Heyman guy” has become a celebrity-like label for WWE Superstars.
CM Punk doesn’t need to be associated with Paul Heyman. But he wanted to. And obviously the feeling was mutual. It’s a good business move for Paul Heyman to pair himself with someone who is on television every week (and currently making at least three appearances during those weeks).
But the more Paul Heyman appears on television with CM Punk, the more he’s associated with CM Punk. And the less he’s associated with Lesnar.
That’s not good news for Brock Lesnar.
Paul Heyman is on one of the hottest streaks of his career—and that’s saying a lot. He already has buy-in with the longtime WWE fans thanks to his time as “Paul E. Dangerously” and his work with ECW.
In 2012, he’s reemerged as one of wrestling’s best talkers and a catalyst for reaction from any audience.
Brock Lesnar is an amazingly gifted athlete, and one of the most imposing wrestlers of all time. He can do things in the ring that aren’t always expected from a man of his size, and he has an in-ring intensity and charisma that is matched by few.
But that’s all steak. Brock Lesnar needs Paul Heyman to add the sizzle to his steak.
You Decide: Does Brock Lesnar need Paul Heyman? Or is he better off on his own?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!