The talk after Monday's Raw is sure to be about Brock Lesnar's return to WWE, but the most impressive performance of the night goes to his associate, Paul Heyman.
Heyman turned the Raw ring into a stage where he reminded us just how theatrical and moving WWE is supposed to be.
Vince McMahon called Heyman out to the ring to discuss his involvement with Brad Maddox and The Shield. CM Punk's WWE title reign had been artificially extended due to interference by both Maddox and The Shield over the past few months.
As we found out via footage that McMahon showed the WWE Universe, Heyman was apparently the mastermind behind it all.
Fans had long suspected this. When McMahon prodded Heyman by asking him if he'd hired The Shield and if he'd ever lied in his life, the discomfort throbbed throughout the arena.
Heyman dragged out his denial like a politician ducking a question.
He then talked about being a promoter, about how that job entails one lying to survive.
"I've lied every day of my stinking life," he said.
His delivery chugged along, carried by the thrust of convincing emotion. It felt like Heyman would break down at any moment. Still, he claimed that he was telling the truth about not being involved with The Shield or Maddox.
Tearful, his voice cracking, Heyman said that maybe he could learn from McMahon how to be an honorable man.
The crowd quieted, as Heyman continued.
"I can't tell you I've been a saint. I've never been a saint in my life, but I want to be here. And if it takes being an honorable man to be here then damn it, that's what I'll be."
Then came the video.
Maddox is seen walking with Heyman in a dimly lit area. Heyman chastises Maddox for being greedy. Heyman admits to paying Maddox and The Shield to keep Punk champion.
He lets The Shield loose on Maddox like a pack of dogs.
When the cameras cut back to Heyman in real time, he looks dejected and in shock. Suddenly, the weasel that he is, Heyman came up with an insane explanation.
"That wasn't me," he told McMahon.
Heyman claimed that an imposter with a New York Jewish accent was the man seen in the footage. He rattled on about people being jealous of him while his face reddened, delivering his lines with force and a preacher's rhythm.
Just as McMahon was about to fire Heyman, Brock Lesnar came out, attacked the chairman and likely stole the headlines.
It will be Lesnar's F-5 on McMahon that gets shown on recaps, but it was Heyman's emoting that needs to be studied by all young wrestlers who are trying to learn how to tell a story through their faces and through their words.
By way of his fidgeting, his face squirming and his words, Heyman took fans on a ride.
This was not a singular note of a performance; it was an emotional symphony. All at once, Heyman was indignant, a kiss-up, a thug and a desperate little man to be pitied.
Heyman played his part in the WWE Raw drama as if the Academy Awards committee were watching. For a few minutes at the tail end of a show that was dominated by wrestlers, Heyman was the leading man.
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