The trailer for Paul Heyman's forthcoming DVD was recently released on WWE's YouTube channel. The DVD is chock-full of superlatives describing Paul Heyman, who is called everything from a liar to a "mad scientist."
Vince McMahon himself is heard in the opening seconds announcing Heyman as "one of the most ingenious and manipulative minds in the history of this business!"
Heyman's tumultuous career will play out on what should be one of the most candid and poignant DVDs WWE has released since CM Punk's well-received Best in the World biography.
In a mere one-minute trailer, a titanic pillar of pro wrestling comes to life. It's a wonder so many Paul Heyman guys have crumbled in his shadow. Heyman is credited with assisting the career paths of superstars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar and CM Punk.
But for every CM Punk, there's a Heidenreich, Nathan Jones or Curtis Axel. Once established as an elite managerial talent, it has become increasingly difficult for Paul Heyman to elevate up-and-comers. Even Cesaro, who was once scorching hot during WrestleMania season, cooled off almost immediately after Heyman became his manager.
The only thing that has gotten over during their tenure is Heyman gloating that his client, Brock Lesnar, ended The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak.
It's the same reason Ric Flair, reportedly set to return as a full-time performer, will have similar struggles as a non-wrestling talent.
Earlier this week, both PWInsider and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via WrestlingInc.com) reported Ric Flair was rumored to return to WWE as a regular TV character. On paper, Flair's Hall of Fame presence can easily benefit a star in need of being taken seriously.
But several weeks of Flair—a figurative wrestling giant—alongside an unproven or damaged apprentice will only remind fans of the apprentice's shortcomings in comparison with a legendary wrestling career.
If the talent gap between legend and protege is too large, the so-called "rub" can be overrated if not useless. Intentional or not (let's face it, nobody likes attention more than Naitch), Ric Flair will become the star of any segment he is a part of because he is Ric Flair.
To ask arguably the greatest in-ring performer of all time to attempt to take a step back to elevate a protege is doomed to not go according to plan.
That's not to say there aren't examples that support the role of an iconic mentor. Flair himself was part of the famed Evolution stable that squeezed out two main event talents in Batista and Randy Orton. But that was over a decade ago, and in those days Flair was more dependable than he appears to be now.
An appearance last year during a star-studded "30 Years of WrestleMania Symposium" saw Flair hijack the panel. Flair's erratic behavior reportedly led to the forced retirement of Jim Ross, who was the moderator, per F4WOnline (via WrestlingInc.com).
When asked about the incident, Ross told David Shoemaker of Grantland.com:
I don’t think you have to be a Mensa member to figure out that [Flair's actions during the 30 Years of WrestleMania Symposium] had an influence on decisions that were made. I was working with the developmental kids [in NXT] and enjoying that, and got called in for that job.
It was a very unique night, to say the least. Ric was coming off maybe the most traumatic time of his life. [Flair's son had recently died of a drug overdose.] In hindsight, it might not have been the most timely booking, to get him in that environment.
Flair has obviously had time to heal, but if brought back, he would likely be working with a team of WWE writers.
Flair has never been the type to shine under the restrictions of a scripted promo. His most recent outing was awkward at best. Flair shunned his Evolution buddies in favor of The Shield, but he went through multiple pregnant pauses before (barely) getting his point across.
Flair can shine just as easily as he can implode when trusted to speak from the heart. During his prime, he was known to bark "don't wrap me up!" The command was directed at an off-camera stagehand helplessly trying to tell him to finish as he went long during a studio promo.
Back then, the risk always seemed worth it for the man named the best talker in history by WWE.com, even beating out Paul Heyman, who was listed at No. 6.
But as Flair ages and his shadow looms larger with time, the risk of The Nature Boy with a live microphone is an unnecessary one.