Paul Heyman's Top 10 Protégés in ECW, WCW and WWE

Adrian FylonenkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

Paul Heyman's Top 10 Protégés in ECW, WCW and WWE

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    He is selfish, slimy and manipulative yet intelligent and eloquent. These words describe one of the most successful and compelling managers in professional wrestling history, Paul Heyman.

    Heyman has an eye for talent. He’s taken many chances on no-name wrestlers and turned them into main-eventers.

    The man once known as Paul E. Dangerously has managed a wide array of superstars from WCW, ECW and WWE.

    Here is a list of Paul Heyman's top ten clients.

Honorable Mentions

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    Heidenreich


    Jon Heidenreich had a strange “split personality” gimmick, but his physique and strange charisma made him a superstar that had a lot of potential.

    He debuted in the WWE on September 29, 2003, of Monday Night Raw. 

    After a brief WWE stint, Heidenreich was sent back to OVW (2003-04) to gain experience.

    He returned to the WWE on an episode of SmackDown and was under the management of Paul Heyman.

    Upon his return, Heidenreich had a psychopath gimmick and would interfere in random matches. He would even attack fans in the crowd!

    Under Heyman, Heidenreich's biggest feud was with The Undertaker, which didn't last very long.

    After turning face, he always received a positive reaction from the fans.

    Throughout his short WWE career, Heidenreich managed to capture just one championship when he teamed with Road Warrior Animal and won the WWE Tag Team Titles.

    John Heidenreich was released by the WWE on January 17, 2006.

     

     

    Matt Morgan


    Matt Morgan, if you remember, made his debut October 30, 2003 on SmackDown.

    He's as tall as the Big Show (7 ft.) but weighs 100 lbs. less. His size and physique are astounding.

    On his debut, Morgan was chosen to join Brock Lesnar’s 2003 Survivor Series team. At the time, Paul Heyman was the SmackDown General Manager and picked the members of Team Lesnar.

    Heyman showed interest in Morgan, having him team with Lesnar in a few tag matches.

    Morgan was sent to OVW to gain experience. When he returned, his gimmick was that of a stuttering giant who would get very defensive when asked about his speech disorder.

    Matt Morgan was released from the WWE on July 5, 2005.

     

    With gimmicks like these, no wonder these guys didn't last.

10. World's Greatest Tag Team

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    Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas are the duo that make up The World’s Greatest Tag Team. In their early WWE days, they were known as Team Angle.

    In 2002, Kurt Angle was one of Paul Heyman’s clients. Team Angle was a "contingency plan" of Heyman's and was set up to help the WWE Champion, Kurt Angle, retain his title every time he defended it.

    They would often interfere in Angle's matches by attacking Chris Benoit, Brock Lesnar and other top superstars who were gunning for Angle's gold.

    Benjamin and Haas found early success and captured the WWE Tag Team Titles.

    Team Angle split after Benjamin and Haas suggested that Kurt cost them the Tag Team Titles. Angle was very upset that his own teammates accused him of such an action and proceeded to fire both Benjamin and Haas.

    After the messy divorce, Benjamin and Haas became "the self-proclaimed" World's Greatest Tag Team.

    The World's Greatest Tag Team separated after Benjamin was drafted to Raw as a part of the 2004 Draft Lottery.

    These days, Haas and Benjamin are competing in Ring of Honor.

9. Tensai

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    In December of 2002, Tensai—formerly known as Prince Albert—joined forces with The Big Show, who was being managed by Paul Heyman at the time.

    Heyman wanted Albert to have a new beginning and suggested that he change his name to A-Train. Albert obliged­­.

    At WrestleMania 19, the team of A-Train and Big Show took on The Undertaker in a handicap match. Of course, The Undertaker won and began to feud with A-Train in singles competition.

    A-Train managed to win one Intercontinental Championship throughout his five-year WWE career. Unfortunately, he was released from his WWE contract on November 1, 2004.

    After leaving the WWE, he became a big star in Japan.

    As we all know, A-Train is back in the WWE under the Tensai gimmick. After a hot start, he began jobbing to the likes of Ryback and Brodus Clay.

    I'm pretty sure he has more losses than wins, which is very disappointing considering he beat John Cena and was being pushed to be something great.

    Tensai has always been a consistent, reliable and smart superstar. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be winning any more titles anytime soon.

8. Kurt Angle

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    During his third reign as WWE Champion, Kurt Angle began a storyline in which he acquired the managerial skills of Paul Heyman.

    On December 26, 2002, of SmackDown, Heyman rewarded his top client, Kurt Angle, with allies in the form of a tag team named in his honor.

    He basically gave him his own tag team to watch his back! What a guy!

    Team Angle was composed of two up-and-coming wrestlers, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. 

    On February 6, 2003, Team Angle won the WWE Tag Team Titles after defeating Los Guerreros (Eddie and Chavo).

    As stated before, Team Angle lost the WWE Tag Team Titles and blamed Kurt for their current losing streak.

    They began to question his wrestling skills and leadership abilities. These accusations left Kurt no choice but to fire his protégés.

    Fun Fact: Before joining the WWE in 1998, Kurt Angle and Paul Heyman had some history. In 1996, Angle threatened to sue Heyman after attending an Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) event that had a very controversial match. As most of you know, Paul Heyman was the founder and pioneer of ECW.

7. Dudley Boyz

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    With 22 tag team titles under their belts, the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley, now Bully Ray and Devon) are the most decorated tag team in professional wrestling.

    Surprisingly, Paul Heyman never managed the Dudleyz during their ECW days where they made a name for themselves.

    Bubba Ray and Devon were known for the gimmick of putting their opponents through tables.

    From Jeff Hardy to Mae Young, many superstars—and divas—have felt the wrath of being put through a table.

    The Dudleyz joined the WWE in 1999.

    In 2001, they were members of the Alliance, a group comprised of WCW, ECW and a few superstars from the WWE. Shane and Stephanie McMahon were the leaders of the group and tried to take over the WWE.

    In 2004, both Bubba Ray and Devon were drafted to SmackDown and aligned themselves with manager Paul Heyman, who they had history with due to their ECW days.

    Under the guidance of Heyman, the duo feuded with The Undertaker. The feud did not last very long but watching Paul Bearer drown in a glass box full of cement was hilarious yet disturbing. It was an "OMG" moment in the WWE and will always be remembered.

    In 2005, Bubba Ray and Devon left the WWE on bad terms. There were many behind the scenes issues that led to the Dudleyz being released. For that story, click here.

6. Dangerous Alliance

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    In 1991, Paul Heyman worked for WCW as an announcer/manager. At this time, Heyman was known as Paul E. Dangerously.

    Dangerously was fired as an announcer during Halloween Havoc 1991, but despite this setback,  Dangerously still had his manager's license.

    Later that night, a mysterious masked wrestler named the "Phantom" was involved in a match and won.

    During an interview segment with Eric Bischoff, Dangerously brought out the Phantom and removed his mask. To everyone's surprise, the mysterious wrestler turned out to be Rick Rude!

    Over the next few shows and PPVs, Dangerously created a star-studded stable to wreak havoc in WCW (this was before Monday Night Nitro).

    The faction was named the Dangerous Alliance.

    After a series of incidents, such as live show firings and injuries, the Dangerous Alliance disbanded.

    WCW's Dangerous Alliance lasted just two years, 1991-93. Dangerously had a bitter contract dispute and left WCW. After his release, Heyman went to NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling.

    In 1994 Dangerously broke away from NWA and reformed The Dangerous Alliance. At this time, ECW became its own promotion.

    The NWA/ECW's Dangerous Alliance was active from 1993-95.

     

    Notable Dangerous Alliance Members:

    Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, "Stunning" Steve Austin (Stone Cold), Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff, Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, Michael Hayes, Sabu, and Taz.

5. "Stunning" Steve Austin

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    In 1995, Eric Bischoff made one of the biggest mistakes of his life when he released "Stunning" Steve Austin. According to Bischoff, he did not see Austin as a marketable superstar.

    To make things worse, Bischoff fired Austin over the phone, which made him very bitter.

    After being released, Paul Heyman reached out to Austin and offered him a contract to join ECW. As I stated in the slide before, Heyman managed Austin in WCW.

    He allowed Austin to express his anger towards Eric Bischoff and WCW through a series of memorable vignettes. These promos helped Steve Austin in developing the "Stone Cold" persona.

    In ECW, Austin's name was changed from "Stunning" to "Superstar."

    After spending less than a year in ECW, Austin was signed by the WWE and proved that he had the wrestling ability and charisma in order to become a star.

    Austin's rise to superstardom happened after he won the 1996 King of the Ring.

    Stone Cold Steve Austin became one of the most popular superstars in WWE history. If it wasn't for Paul Heyman, the Stone Cold Steve Austin epidemic may have never happened.

4. Rob Van Dam

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    Despite having the worst theme song in professional wrestling today, Rob Van Dam was one of the most exciting athletes to ever compete in a WWE ring.

    RVD became a star because of his unique, one-of-a-kind wrestling style.

    RVD started his career in ECW, which was owned by Paul Heyman. Once his contract expired, the WWE made an offer he could not refuse.

    He debuted on July 9, 2001, on Monday Night Raw. Despite being a heel, RVD was a fan favorite. Once his music hit, everyone in the crowd would stand up and cheer as if The Rock had come out.

    After returning from a serious injury in January 2005, RVD (still on the Raw brand) made a surprise appearance on the WWE’s version of ECW.

    In May, Paul Heyman officially drafted him to ECW.

    At this time, RVD was carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase. On May 26, during the One Night Stand ECW PPV, RVD cashed in his briefcase on the WWE Champion, John Cena.

    While two referees were "knocked out," RVD hit his finishing move, the Five Star Frog Splash. Once he pinned Cena, Heyman came down to the ring and did the count, making Rob Van Dam the WWE Champion.

    RVD's contract expired in 2007.

    In 2010, RVD was a free agent. He signed a contract for TNA and made his debut on March 8, 2010.

    Rob Van Dam is the current TNA X-Division Champion.

    RVD is older and has lost some of his quickness, but he continues to put on good matches and has had a long and successful career.

3. Big Show

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    On June 7, 2006, Big Show was drafted to WWE's version of ECW.

    On July 4, Big Show won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Rob Van Dam in controversial fashion.

    In the match, RVD hit the Five Star Frog Splash. During this time, the referee was injured; therefore, Paul Heyman ran down to the ring to take his place.

    He counted one and two….then stopped. While RVD was distracted, Big Show hit him in the head with a steel chair. Heyman then instructed Big Show to chokeslam RVD.

    After the chokeslam, Big Show covered Van Dam, and Heyman performed the full count.

    It was clear that Heyman had aligned himself with the Big Show.

    Thanks to Heyman, Big Show is the first wrestler to win the, WWE, WCW and ECW World Heavyweight Championships.

    It’s safe to say that Big Show is definitely a Paul Heyman guy.

2. CM Punk

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    As of today, CM Punk is Paul Heyman's No. 1 client.

    Punk signed a WWE contract in 2006 and made his debut on WWE’s version of ECW.

    From day one, Heyman saw Punk's potential as Punk was an instant crowd favorite.

    After winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 24 in 2008, Punk was drafted to Raw where he quickly became a main-event caliber superstar.

    At SummerSlam 2012, CM Punk retained the WWE Championship after defeating the Big Show and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match. After his victory, Punk began to demand respect from John Cena, Big Show and other WWE superstars.

    On September 3, 2012, Punk aligned himself with Paul Heyman. Since becoming Punk's manager, Heyman has accompanied him to the ring in every single match.

    Punk has done a good job winning matches on his own, but if he needs help, Heyman is there in a matter of seconds.

    CM Punk has been the WWE Champion for over a year.

    If it wasn't for Heyman, who knows if he would have reached that milestone?

1. Brock Lesnar

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    There is no question that Brock Lesnar made one of the biggest impacts in professional wrestling history.

    In 2002, he made his debut on Monday Night Raw. Coming out of the crowd, he jumped the guard rail and interfered in a Triple Threat Hardcore Match.

    Maven, Al Snow and Spike Dudley were all the victims of Lesnar’s brutal attack.

    Once he was drafted to Raw, Paul Heyman became Lesnar's manager.

    After just three years in the WWE, Brock Lesnar left and would find success in Mixed Martial Arts.

    In April 2012, Brock Lesnar made his long awaited return to the WWE. Weeks later, it was revealed that Paul Heyman was his agent.

    Since his return, Lesnar has competed in two matches.

    Throughout his short WWE career, Lesnar became a King of the Ring winner, a Royal Rumble winner and he's held three WWE Championships.

    As of today, Brock Lesnar holds the record for being the youngest WWE Champion when he won at age 25.

Conclusion: The Shield?

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    I have a hunch that Paul Heyman is involved with the Shield.

    In the near future, I think that Heyman will leave CM Punk once he loses the WWE Championship. After betraying Punk, he will manage the Shield.

    Heyman has a history of betraying his clients to move onto someone or something more promising.

    He has been in the wrestling business for over 25 years, has had a successful career as an agent and has managed some of the biggest names in wrestling.

    What do you think about Paul Heyman managing the Shield? Do you think Heyman will manage anyone else once he is done managing CM Punk? Let me know in the comment box below!

     

    Adrian Fylonenko is an aspiring writer who plans to major in Journalism. His interests include writing and debating about all things wrestling. Bleacher Report has given him the opportunity to improve and perfect his craft. Adrian is active on social media and if you have any questions or suggestions, you can do so on Twitter and Facebook. Word on the street is if you follow him, he will follow back.

    All comments are greatly appreciated and will be responded too, if appropriate. Thank you for reading and for your support