Paul Heyman Recalls Challenging Nick Bockwinkel’s Position On Commentary In AWA

The special counsel to Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, “The Wiseman,” Paul Heyman recently spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso on a number of topics including comparisons between himself and Roman Reigns and Nick Bockwinkel/Bobby Heenan.

Heyman said, “The only comparison I make to other acts is whether the greatness we seek puts us over and above the greatness they achieved. Instead of comparing, I prefer to strive to set the standard. In the end, that leaves everyone else comparing themselves to us.”

On challenging Nick Bockwinkel’s position on commentary in the AWA:

“I knew Nick as a kid when I was a photographer. Even though I knew Nick, I didn’t get a chance to work with him. I was breaking in when he was getting out. He was in WCW after I was gone… I remember on one of my first episodes of the AWA on ESPN, Nick was on commentary. And I was thought it was my time to seize the moment. I walked over to the commentary position and said, ‘I know why Greg Gagne gets to commentate on ESPN, but exactly who are you related to?’ It was an off-script, impromptu line. After the show, Nick came up to me and said, ‘Young man, it took a lot of balls to challenge my position that way.’ I thought he was really pissed. I said, ‘Yes, sir. Seizing the moment, sir.’ And Nick looked at me and said, ‘I admire the gumption it took to do it.’ And then he walked away. I figured if he walked away without slapping me, it was a victory.”

On Reigns:

“Roman Reigns is the most innovative, transformative, disruptive superstar in the history of pro wrestling/sports entertainment. The reason why I can accurately make that statement is because Roman Reigns employs two tenant mantras of show business. One, he reads the room. Two, he knows his audience. That’s why he would fit into any era–whether it’s in the 70’s against Sammartino, the 80’s against Hulk Hogan, the 90’s in the Dangerous Alliance, the Attitude Era against Stone Cold and The Rock and DX, the John Cena era of The Doctor of Thugonomics, or now in the tenure being enjoyed by Roman Reigns, in his own era he created, when he lifted the whole industry out of the pandemic and into unfathomable heights that no one could have imagined or dreamt of back in August of 2020.”

On helping Reigns achieve new heights:

“I will accept that compliment with great humility, but that’s not for me to say. We have a great amount of trust in one another. One of the reasons this collaboration works so well is because we also can each veto an idea if we don’t like it. If something doesn’t sit well with him, I move on to an alternative idea. If something doesn’t sit well with me, he doesn’t assert his authority. When that happens, we come up with something different. We both love the creative process so much, and have mutual respect and admiration for one another, and we love to create together. That’s what allows us to create so freely. That’s why this A&E biography is so worthy of everyone’s attention. You’ll get to see that collaborative process.”