COMMENTARY | Very few men in the history of pro wrestling have made as big of an impact both in front of and behind the camera as Paul Heyman. Whether he was serving as a manager for a young wrestler who needed guidance or starting a revolution in professional wrestling, Heyman's career is one of the most impressive of anyone who didn't actually get in the ring to wrestle.
With WrestleMania season officially upon us, it's time to start considering who should be part of the 2014 class of the WWE Hall of Fame. And while Heyman shouldn't be the headlining name of this year's class, now is the time to induct him.
Obviously Heyman's greatest accomplishment is what ECW meant - and still means - to wrestling. In the mid-90s, Heyman was the head of the upstart, underground cult that was Extreme Championship Wrestling. Running a majority of his shows out of a bingo hall in Philadelphia, Heyman and his group of misfits became the most well-known independent wrestling company in the United States and maybe even the world.
While ECW is remembered by many for its violence and brutality, it's also the company that introduce many fans to Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rob Van Dam, Eddie Guerrero, The Dudley Boys and many other future stars of wrestling. It's also the place where Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) and Steve Austin went to reinvent themselves after either leaving or being fired from WCW.
Heyman helped shape the careers of so many young wrestlers because of ECW and completely changed wrestling. There is no doubt in my mind that the "Attitude Era" of the WWE would've never happened if not for ECW's influence.
By combining hardcore wrestling, adult-themed storytelling, incredible technical wrestling and outstanding promos from its wrestlers, ECW was arguably the best wrestling promotion in the country in the mid-90s. That formula is exactly what the WWE used from 1998-2001 to put WCW out of business and win the "Monday Night War."
Heyman's impact behind the scenes in ECW is matched by what he's done on in front of the camera as a manager/mouthpiece for budding superstars. Early in his career, Heyman worked as Paul E. Dangerously where he managed a handful of superstars including Austin.
He continued his managerial efforts years later when he became the manger for Brock Lesnar in the WWE. By working as the mouthpiece for Lesnar, Heyman helped Lesnar establish his character and get heat with fans. He continues to do the same in the modern day as he has recently served as a manager for CM Punk and again for Lesnar.
As the dirtball manager who runs his mouth but rarely ever gets what's coming to him, Heyman has perfected the role.
He's also excelled as a commentator for the WWE in 2001 and as an agent behind the scenes working with younger talent. Punk infamously declared himself a "Paul Heyman guy" during his "pipe bomb" promo in July 2011. Punk was referencing Heyman going to bat for Punk with WWE brass that didn't see the talent Punk had. Heyman stood up for Punk, who admits his career wouldn't have been the same if not for Heyman.
For more than two decades, Heyman has been one of the most influential performers in all of wrestling. His recent work as a manager suggests that Heyman is nowhere near being done with his active career, but that doesn't mean the WWE should delay inducting Heyman any longer. Again, very few people have had an impact on wrestling like Heyman and it's time that he get the recognition that he so rightly deserves.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdurr84.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paul Heyman
- WWE Hall of Fame
- pro wrestling