Paul Heyman rocked Manchester last night in day two of his UK tour with a show at the Manchester Comedy Store and our good friend Liam Johnson was in attendance for the whole thing and wrote the following report for us.
The show started discussing the previous night’s show in London. Heyman mentioned his former right hand man Gabe Sapolsky who is now in charge of Evolve. This moved on to Heyman mentioning that Will Ospreay was in the audience at the London show and was invited on stage where Paul offered him a two year contract with Evolve.
Paul talked about UFC 200. Paul really put Brock over and said that Brock acted like he was going to win during the whole time up to the fight between him and Mark Hunt. Paul said that Brock Lesnar actually had diverticulitis (a gastrointestinal condition) lying dormant in his body since he was a teenager without knowing about it until his first run with UFC. Heyman put over Lesnar by pretty much asking what he could do in UFC now that Brock is healthy.
The show was divided into four separate parts. Part 1: WCW, Part 2: ECW, Part 3: WWE 2001 to 2006 and Part 4: Return of the Advocate.
Part 1: WCW
One of the crowd asked about War Games ’92. Heyman spoke about getting in the cage. Paul said that the roster of WCW around ’91 to ’92 was awesome and put over guys like Rick Rude (who Paul said was in his prime during this time), Steve Austin and Ricky Steamboat. Whilst the talent roster was amazing, the management were not and that’s why early ‘90s WCW could never compete with early ‘90s WWF. Paul said the management of WCW had no product knowledge. They had no idea how to create six main eventers and get them working with other wrestlers who needed the rub and bring them up to their level. Paul also said that Ricky Steamboat’s matches with Steve Austin really helped make Austin improve as an overall performer.
But getting back to War Games ’92, Heyman thought this was the best WCW match ever. Paul also mentioned people freaking out about Madusa getting on top of the cage and people thought she was going to legit beat Sting’s ass as she’d only just got back from Japan where she’d competed in shoot fights and also been training in Muay Thai kickboxing over in Thailand.
Paul said that there was an opportunity to go to the WWF in early ’92. Paul was going to be Bobby Heenan’s protégé where he would then go onto manage the Heenan family on his own with Heenan being a full time commentator at the time. Kip Frey who was Executive Vice President of WCW back then asked Paul what it would take to keep him in WCW. Paul said that instead of being an independent contractor like everyone else in the business was at the time, he asked to be an employee of WCW. Kip allowed this to happen so he stayed.
Part 2 – ECW
An audience member asked who was the most difficult person to manage behind the scenes. Paul said it was hard to say who the most difficult person to manage backstage was as members of the ECW roster pushing themselves to the limit was the whole point of ECW.
Paul said the Dudleys and New Jack in particular were difficult but Paul didn’t really act like this was a bad thing as that kind of behavior was encouraged. Paul said he himself might have been the most difficult to manage for allowing people who constantly overstepped the mark like Sandman, Bubba Ray and New Jack to stay. Heyman mentioned that he never reigned himself in back in ECW.
Paul said the ECW performers “drank the Kool-Aid” and would “run through walls” for him because he really believed in all of them. Paul mentioned that the WWF wanted 6’5” bodybuilders, WCW wanted athletes and ECW wanted everyone else (the rejects but the ones who could wrestle). Paul mentioned 5’8” Pete who was studying martial arts who could choke anyone out. ‘Pete’ turned out to be Taz.
Paul talked about Steve Austin and his pissed off promos after he was fired from WCW as Austin was legit pissed off at the time. Paul said he wasn’t a genius for allowing those promos. Paul said it just meant Eric Bischoff was a “stupid motherf**ker” for allowing Austin to leave. Paul also said WCW were “stupid mother**kers” for letting Mick Foley go too.
The show got interrupted by someone who went to the toilet and hit his head on a wall-mounted TV. This promptly made the host say the audience member “head-butted a TV”, which consequently made the crowd chant “ECW!”
One audience member asked if WWE should bring back “Donkey and Diddy” (meaning Doink and Dink, although how anyone could confuse WWF with Donkey Kong Country is anyone’s guess). Heyman said, “Do you want to be Dink?” (the person who asked was a midget). Paul then went onto say, “I go all the way to Manchester and I pop a midget”. Heyman then walked into the crowd and hugged the midget.
Paul concluded the ECW part of the show by saying that he’d like ECW to be remembered for everyone pulling together and the fans getting 10 dollars of value for spending a dollar. This was just an analogy for the fans getting more fun than they bargained for. Paul said that even when he couldn’t pay people, they were still good times and the wrestlers would still try for him and the fans. Paul said that ECW was all about hard work.
Part 3: WWE 2001-2006
This is where things got a bit confrontational. A member of the audience asked Paul a two parted question which Paul thought wasn’t asked very clearly. Heyman was giving the audience member a lot of stick for over-complicating the question of basically, “which retired wrestler should have been a bigger star than he was and who in WWE should be in the main event who isn’t?”.
The question wasn’t asked that simply though which is what wound Paul up. Anyway, Paul responded by saying that he would put Cesaro in the main event. Paul doesn’t understand why the front office aren’t high on him. Paul didn’t really answer the question about the stars from the past who should’ve had better careers but he did say that Raven should never have left ECW. Paul said that Raven was legit hated back in ECW and that Scotty Levy believed in the soul of Raven. Paul thought that WCW and WWE didn’t know how to use Raven because they didn’t create him. Paul said that he had no influence over Raven in WWE.
He also said Shane Douglas shouldn’t have left ECW when he did. Paul believes that Sabu should have been a bigger star than he was. Paul said Sabu’s body was destroyed in and out of the ring. Paul believes that Sabu from ‘93 to early ‘95 was revolutionary and ahead of his time but being ahead of your time doesn’t usually draw money which prompted the very clever and arguably truthful analogy of “ECW – bankrupt. Attitude Era – billionaires”, which prompted a round of applause from the audience.
Paul thought the Alliance angle was a disaster. Paul mentioned that it was Michael Hayes who suggested that Paul Heyman do the shoot promo on Vince on the go home Smackdown before Survivor Series 2001. Paul basically asked Vince how far he should go to rip an asshole. Vince’s reply was, “as far that could draw money”.
Paul said that Taz’s choke that he applied on him after the promo was pretty tight and went onto say that shooting works when in the right context with certain angles. Whilst good money was made after Survivor Series 2001, Vince didn’t share a lot of that money with Paul.
Paul was asked about an incident between himself and Vince McMahon on the WWE private plane. Paul said there was a confrontation about the December To Dismember pay-per-view. Paul thought that this was the worst wrestling pay-per-view ever. Paul said if you wanted to sabotage a promotion, that PPV was the way forward.
But as far as the incident on the plane went, Paul talked about all the scenarios and outcomes for the main event. Vince wanted CM Punk and Rob Van Dam eliminated first in the match for every scenario being suggested. Heyman felt personally offended by that. Heyman was already tired of being in WWE by then and wanted to go home. Vince has never gone public with what happened in that conversation. Paul said it was a very heated argument. Said he didn’t want to violate the confidence so he didn’t mention exactly what was said but there wasn’t a physical fight between the two of them. Paul was basically shown the door but he wanted to leave anyway.
The show started to overrun but the organizers (Inside The Ropes) and Paul went with the last part anyway…
Part 4: The return of the Advocate
Paul mentioned the CM Punk pipe bomb promo from 2011. Paul said he met Punk back in 2005 in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Punk had worked for Gabe Sapolsky in Ring Of Honor and did well which got him noticed and signed by WWE. Paul claimed that when Punk finally arrived in WWE, nobody knew what to do with him. WWE management wouldn’t allow the Pepsi Plunge (a pedigree from the top turnbuckle) as his finisher and he didn’t do “flippy-dippy” stuff like Jeff Hardy. Paul said that as a result of this, he had to fight Punk’s cause.
Fast forward to 2011 where Punk said he was a “Paul Heyman Guy”. Paul had been gone for five years by then but it reminded the long-time fans of Heyman and got the newer fans asking who Heyman was. Paul then mentioned that Brock Lesnar was back the following year. Paul also mentioned that the season premier of Raw in Chicago involved the idea of Punk turning heel (hard to do given the venue) so Vince suggested Punk turned on Cena. Vince also suggested Heyman then worked alongside Punk.
Paul was reluctant to work alongside anyone else other than Brock until Vince suggested Punk was the guy he was working with. Paul said that when it was being revealed that Punk was working with Heyman and they were sitting in a car live on Raw, they were both bent down out of sight from the camera and joked about the shit they could stir working together.
Paul then talked about the choosing between Brock and Punk angle and then went onto to talk about Brock being pitched the idea of working with Taker at WrestleMania 30. Paul said people should get over the streak being broken. Paul also said that HHH invited Heyman to NXT and not Dusty Rhodes. Paul said he loved Dusty Rhodes with all his heart and misses him on a daily basis. Paul also put Renee Young over and said she could work anywhere as a broadcaster.
Paul concluded the show by getting into the crowd and getting them to say, “My name is Paul Heyman” together for his Heyman Hustle YouTube show. Overall, this was a brilliant show and although the VIP tickets weren’t cheap, they were well worth the money.
Well done Inside The Ropes and Paul Heyman!