Like it or not, Paul Heyman's success as a manager is undeniable. Under his watch, his clients have reached new levels of success. Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and CM Punk have benefited from that something special that Heyman has brought to the table, enhancing each man's reputation.
It's only a matter of time before Heyman's client list grows, especially with the departure of CM Punk. Who else is worthy of being a Paul Heyman guy?
Criteria for Being a Paul Heyman Guy
Below are a number of qualifications I think a wrestler should have in order to make the list based on Heyman's client history. This is not an extensive list of qualities, but it's enough to get the conversation started.
Give credit where credit is due. Paul Heyman is discriminating when it comes to his clients.
A must-have quality is raw talent. Under the right circumstances, raw talent can be cultivated into potential, and potential can be harnessed into greatness.
Brock Lesnar had raw talent when he was paired with Heyman during his earliest run with WWE. But he wasn't exactly stellar on the mic, which was crucial. Throw in Paul Heyman, and soon this young prospect would live up to the name "The Next Big Thing."
Under Heyman's guidance, Lesnar would go on to win the 2002 edition of the WWE King of the Ring, defeating Rob Van Dam. He feuded briefly with Hulk Hogan and then set his sights on the WWE Undisputed Champion at the time, The Rock. Lesnar would defeat him at SummerSlam for the title.
All this in the same year. All this under Paul Heyman's watch.
Rebel with a Cause and Then Some
CM Punk, anybody?
For years, despite experiencing success throughout his career in WWE, something about CM Punk's direction didn't seem right. Because Punk was not your typical WWE star in terms of looks and marketability, he wasn't being pushed like he should've been, although he was one of the best wrestlers on the roster.
Tired of going along just to get along and frustrated with how WWE Creative was handling his career, Punk made history the day he decided to go on air and vent about how he was being treated on Monday Night Raw. It was the turning point for him and the company. Needless to say, this changed everything, allowing Punk eventually to go ahead and become WWE Champion—on his terms.
The point is that Punk is what you get. Good or bad, Punk tells it like it is. There isn't much compromise when it comes to his career, and when necessary, he's more than willing to challenge authority.
Challenging authority is Paul Heyman's way of life.
Willingness to Let Go and Change
In order to become relevant and successful, an up-and-coming talent has to be willing to take chances. That can mean anything, including a complete makeover or at least a change in attitude when stuck in a rut.
The willingness has to be there in order to go back to the drawing board and figure out what works and what does not in order to improve one's game.
As Michael McGillicutty, Joe Henning's career wasn't going anywhere. His biggest claim to fame was being a member of The Nexus and The New Nexus.
Henning's problem was obvious. Rather than have him embrace his famous family's wrestling legacy from the very beginning, WWE Creative sent him in a different direction.
Talk about a huge mistake!
Now as Curtis Axel, Henning has not only embraced his heritage, but along the way he has managed to continue his family's tradition by becoming Intercontinental Champion, taking his career to the next level. He also embraced the idea of Paul Heyman as his manager.
Unlike other second- and third-generation stars who have struggled in the shadow of their family's legacy, Axel has future world champion written all over him.
The Bottom Line
The traits I listed above are just a few of the pieces to the puzzle necessary to be a Paul Heyman guy. I'm sure you have your own list of qualifications, as well as talented performers that would make a welcome addition to the house of Heyman. Based on the feedback I get, I will come up with some names that I think might fit in.
Whoever does get the opportunity to work with him will definitely be better off for it in the long run.