Exactly who is the WWE’s top heel is a topic pro wrestling fans debate all the time, and, truth be told, the correct answer to that question changes fairly often.
So much has changed in the WWE recently that the top heel in the company has risen to his spot without being an actual wrestler.
Big Show is off of TV. Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk are both in the process of turning babyface. Alberto Del Rio has trouble getting over no matter what role he’s in. Mark Henry is only now rising to the top of the card and just loss his last big pay-per-view match. Ryback is terrible as a heel.
When you think about what’s happened with each wrestler the WWE has recently tried or is still trying to push as its top heel, you’ll realize not one of them has a firm grasp on the No. 1 spot in the company.
That’s why the No. 1 heel in the WWE is actually its No. 1 manager, Paul Heyman.
Of all the company’s consistent TV characters, there is no heel who has a bigger presence on Raw and SmackDown than Heyman, who has used nothing but words and the actions of others to evolve into the most hated man in the WWE.
Sure, someone like Henry is hated, but he’s been off of TV for much of the last two months.
Sure, Del Rio is a heel WWE World Heavyweight champion, but he just turned heel and has never been one to generate a massive reaction from the crowd.
Sure, Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow are all talented heels, but no one is really taking them seriously as top guys at the moment.
But Heyman? Obviously, he has a bigger role in the WWE than any heel in the company right now, and, perhaps more importantly, he excels in it.
Heyman is, of course, the long-time friend and manager of Punk. But tension has arisen between the two recently, and the angle is beginning to develop into arguably the WWE’s top current feud.
That’s where Heyman’s “other” top client comes in. As you know, that man is Brock Lesnar, and he is the main reason there is some dissension between Punk and Heyman—although Heyman is probably the one behind Lesnar recently attacking Punk on Raw.
What we’ve seen from Heyman during this developing rivalry is, well, classic Heyman.
He is a master manipulator and mic worker, and he now seems to be manipulating one of his best friends in Punk. He’s done so through some of the best promo work we’ve seen in recent memory too.
The segment involving Punk and Heyman on last week’s Raw was masterfully done, interweaving scripted and real-life elements to create a riveting dueling promo that only further proves why Heyman is such a great manager.
Heyman has become sandwiched between his two biggest clients, and as Punk is in the process of completing his face turn, Heyman is becoming an even bigger heel because of it.
The fans love Punk now as much as ever, and because it’s so painfully obvious that Heyman had something to do with Lesnar’s attack on Punk, the heat is building up on Heyman and is sure to explode down the road.
That is a true testament to Heyman’s tremendous abilities as a performer. He’s been so fantastic as a heel that he’s been able to cause the fans to suspend their disbelief and truly invest themselves in the budding rivalry between Punk and Lesnar.
Of course, that isn’t all Heyman is doing these days.
He’s also the manager of the newest “Paul Heyman guy” and current intercontinental champion, Curtis Axel. The jury is still out on whether Axel will be successful, but, regardless, pairing him with Heyman is proof positive of Heyman’s greatness as a heel.
Axel has never been the most charismatic performer or the best mic worker, so pairing him with Heyman was a logical choice. Let Heyman do the talking to build up Axel’s rivalries while Axel does his “talking” in the ring.
Even though Heyman hasn’t elevated Axel to the top of the card yet, Axel is in a much better position than he ever was before he enlisted the services of Heyman. Axel has won several major matches, is a consistent force on TV and won the intercontinental title shortly after his “debut.”
Think it’s a coincidence that wherever Heyman goes success follows? You shouldn’t.
Heyman isn’t able to step into the ring and dominate his opponents or put on great matches like the WWE’s other top heels do, but, in a sense, he does so much more using only his words.
He generates massive heat from the crowd, gets his heel clients to do his dirty work for him and then captivates the audience whenever he grabs the mic and cuts a promo.
Heyman has made managers matter again, and he has developed into the most hated, most must-see villain currently on WWE TV.
In a WWE that currently lacks a clear-cut No. 1 heel wrestler, Heyman has stepped up to become the company’s most hated villain—without having to step in the ring to do it.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!