The previous Masked Man article was completely no-sold by the Blog of Doom, most likely because there weren’t any Scott Keith references contained within. But it is worth a read, as it explains in meticulous detail why Paul Heyman is the biggest pro wrestling star in the industry today.
Now I will go a step further and explain when Paul Heyman is, unequivocally, the greatest wrestling manager of all time.
There are generally two men that, based on the breadth of their careers, the large variety of stars they have associated with, and the extent to which they enhanced those stars, are considered in the conversation for being the greatest wrestling manager of all time: Bobby Heenan and Paul Heyman. There is a third that belongs in the conversation that most people reading this post are too young to remember: The Grand Wizard.
All of these managerial geniuses reached their peaks in different eras, so it is difficult to compare and contrast the impact that they had in the traditional manager role. Since they were the best of their eras, and since we have no real way to match them up against each other in a competitive manner, I like to simplify matters and say that they are all on equal footing.
However, in recent years, there are two factors that set Paul Heyman apart from his peers:
1.Both The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were at their peak in eras where managers were the norm. It was an established pro wrestling position to enhance talent, and while these men were the best at what they did, they weren’t really breaking new ground with what they did.
But by 2012, the wrestling manager was an anachronism, tucked away with the wishbone offense, long relievers, and underhand free throws as a relic from a bygone era, killed by the move from bookers to Creative that eliminated the need for a manager to speak for a wrestler because the wrestler’s every word was meticulously scripted and memorized. This in turn made the product so bland that WWE was forced to spend millions of dollars on movie stars and UFC fighters to keep people’s interest.
But the movie star couldn’t stay, and the UFC fighter couldn’t talk. He wouldn’t talk. To save Brock Lesnar’s mystique, to save the last special attraction that WWE had left, everyone dragged Paul Heyman back, kicking and screaming, after being away for the better part of a decade, to bring back the lost art of being a pro wrestling manager.
The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan perfected the art of managing. Paul Heyman rebuilt it from scratch and took it to a still higher level than either of them. Because…
2. The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were great at supporting the wrestlers. Paul Heyman has become great at supporting the entire wrestling promotion.
Paul Heyman single-handedly returned Brock Lesnar to beast status. Paul Heyman single-handedly cemented CM Punk’s heel turn, single-handed cemented CM Punk’s face turn, and single-handedly squelched the protest movement once CM Punk left. Paul Heyman single-handedly squeezed value out of the ending of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak. And finally, Paul Heyman single-handedly closed the flagship show with a ten minute monologue introducing the Summerslam main event. The final RAW spotlight was on a fat Jew running his mouth off…and it was the best thing on TV in months.
In the foreword to Bobby Heenan’s first autobiography, Hulk Hogan said of Heenan “In the wrestling circles, he made sure that, in between the geeks, the freaks, the midgets, and the ladies, his spot didn’t overshadow anyone. He could have – he was so talented. He could have stolen your spotlight at any moment.”
But Bobby Heenan never had to give a 10 minute promo in front of a live audience to hard sell Wrestlemania. Paul Heyman took the main event spot on RAW and used it not to get himself over, but to make John Cena and Brock Lesnar look the most compelling they’ve been in years. More people cheer Cena than ever. More people fear Lesnar than ever. The desperate quagmire of only a couple of months prior has been replaced with mega-anticipation for August 17th.
All because of Paul Heyman.
No promotion has ever relied on a manager to the extent that WWE now relies on Paul Heyman. And no manager has ever delivered to the extent that Paul Heyman does now.
For taking a dead art and elevating it to levels that have never been seen, and never will be seen again, Paul Heyman is the greatest wrestling manager that has ever lived.