The Wrestling Genius: How Paul Heyman Changed My Perspective
It’s my comeback, column, my coming out of retirement tour, it’s ah hell you don’t care lets just get to it. While I’ve been away writing political columns I’ve felt a need to come back and write about the sport I love. Wrestling has always had a special place in my life, from when I was a kid who cheered hardest and loudest for Macho Man Randy Savage, or when my dad would take time out of his busy schedule to watch the Undertaker or Stone Cold with me. It’s always been in my life, even in elementary school when it wasn’t cool to be a wrestling fan, I still wore my Heartbreak Kid shirt, because you know its totally cool for a 9 year old to wear a shirt of a shirtless hairy man. Then in middle school the attitude era broke and everyone clambered to be seen with Stone Cold Steve Austin shirts. Suddenly I wasn’t a nerd, I was finally part of the party. I didn’t care though, I wasn’t a fan of wrestling so I could be cool, I loved it because to me it was more fun than almost anything else on tv. The stories were cool, and the athleticism was breathtaking. Now I bring up the attitude era because one of my favorite attitude era persona is back in a huge way. Now I’ve written about Paul Heyman before but I’d be re missed if I didn’t give him his due. See I’m a Paul Heyman guy, not in the sense of CM Punk being a Heyman guy but in the sense that I’ve always believed in him and his unique wrestling vision.
I’ve always been a WWE guy, I never watched WCW I took a ridiculous pride in that fact. I missed out on great WCW feuds, but I had loyalty and I wasn’t going to jump ship. Well, that was the case until a friend of mine brought over a tape he got from….well I don’t know where he got from. He said “dude you gotta see these crazy guys, they literally are killing each other in the ring”. I was instantly hooked, nothing peeks a 7th grade boys attention quite like the promise of grotesque violence, or boobs. This was my first exposure to ECW and I can’t tell you who was on the tape but he was right, it was brutal. It was attitude before attitude was a thing. I wanted more, but unfortunately there wasn’t a lot to be seen and I didn’t own a computer yet….yes kiddos I’m old enough to remember what life was like before computers, it sucked. I had no way of seeing more ECW but once I was exposed to it everything the WWE did by comparison was tame and old. I credit Paul Heyman with getting me out of my bubble and letting me see another side to wrestling I had never imagined. Of course Heyman had a career before ECW but like I said I was in a bubble. ECW took that bubble and popped it with a flaming steel chair wrapped in barbwire. It wasn’t just the violence that intrigued me though, it was also the stories. Paul Heyman knew two things better than everyone else, when to take control of a story and when to let his guys build it themselves. Guys like Mick Foley and Raven flourished because Heyman trusted them in ways Vince and Bischoff never did. Raven was the perfect example of a guy with every single thing you wanted in wrestler except “the look” oh and from the looks of it and everything i’ve heard he’s an insufferable prick. He was too “rough around the edges” as they say. Then Paul Heyman took him in and let Raven, well he let Raven be Raven and what followed was some of the darkest but most intriguing stories in wrestling history. You actually believed Raven was a cult leader who was more interested in inflicting pain than winning. Heyman’s vision met Raven’s unique talent and they struck gold. Now not everything Heyman’s touch turned to gold, but he was right more often then not in finding the next big thing. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Taz, Mick Foley, Brock Lesnar, and CM Punk to name a few of his major successes.
He can spot talent with the best of them, but that’s not his only strength. His true strength is also his biggest liability, he like Raven is a jerk. I mean that of course with all due respect. Vince McMahon has a strut, but the strut is forced. Haymen’s walk is arrogant and instantly makes you want to punch his smug face. Very few people can get an instant vitriolic hatred the way Heyman can. It’s why when the WWE had trouble getting people to boo CM Punk they turned to Heyman. I’m pretty sure he could get Santa over as a heel in about 5 seconds; as a matter of fact I’m convinced Paul was there in Philidelphia when Santa was hit by snow balls at an Eagles game. Its a talent I’ve only seen from one other guy, Bobby the Brain Heenan. I can’t tell you where wrestling would be without Heyman, what I can tell you is it would have been a whole hell of a lot less innovative, less violent, and we’d probably never have seen Stone Cold, or Punk become the stars they are. Thanks Mr.Heyman.
Well that’s all for this week boys and girls hope you enjoyed my comeback column. I’ll see you this up coming week with a Hell in a Cell pick’em column with fake Vegas lines and all. If you wish to tell me i’m a genius, an idiot, or just talk about all things wrestling you can do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on twitter @jaredgebhardt
-Jared Gebhardt aka The Wrestling Genius