Paul Heyman Q&A: Don't expect Conor vs. Brock at WrestleMania 33

Paul Heyman is never shy, even when it comes to discussing a rare blunder doing the one thing he’s known for the most — controlling the crowd via the microphone.

The self-proclaimed advocate of Brock Lesnar had the task of playing a “heel” at the Target Center in Minneapolis in order to promote this Sunday’s WWE “Survivor Series” match against the returning Goldberg, just minutes from where Lesnar wrestled in college and won the 2000 NCAA Heavyweight championship at the University of Minnesota.

How did it go?

Let’s just say the crowd had no interest in booing the “Beast” they’ve adopted as one of their own for the last 16 years, as Lesnar nearly cracked a brief smile in the ring at the chants of “Suplex City.”

“I failed at the task,” Heyman told Yahoo Sports. “Was it an impossible task? Absolutely. But that’s why I’m in the position I’m in.”

It’s a position that Heyman has been in for the better part of three decades across three companies (World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, WWE) and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, even in defeat.

“Defeat is a wonderful experience if it motivates you to never forget you’re only as good as your last performance,” he said.

Heyman spoke with Yahoo Sports to discuss the WWE’s interest in Conor McGregor, why Brock-Conor won’t happen at WrestleMania 33 and why the knish should be served at homes across the country this Thanksgiving.

How has working with Goldberg changed — if any — since 2004?

I didn’t really get a chance to work with Goldberg that much in 2004, though I would suggest now that he has had a chance to be far more up close with both me and Brock Lesnar. He is 12 years more appreciative of the greatness that will be standing before him on Sunday at Survivor Series.

Does taking the spear from Goldberg get any easier the older you get?

No! And he hits harder as he’s gotten older, too. On the record, I’m quite pissed off about it.

When you dropped the mic and walked back to the locker room following your promo with Brock Lesnar in Minneapolis, your first thought was …

… A little humbling never hurt a great advocate. I knew this was going to come up, and make no excuses. I failed at the task. Was it an impossible task? Absolutely. But that’s why I’m in the position I’m in. Because I can deliver on an impossible mission. Here’s something to think about: Heading into Brock vs. Undertaker, we presented RAW from Chicago. Right after CM Punk walked out. The crowd in Chicago was publicly determined to hijack the show, and the moment the RAW opening hit, 18,000 people started chanting Punk’s name. We hit Punk’s music and I went down to the ring, sat in the “pipebomb” position, and never raised my voice. I took ’em all on. I stopped the Punk chants. And I hooked them on Brock vs. Undertaker for WrestleMania. If I’m as good as people say I am … and since I advocate for Brock Lesnar, I need to better than that … then there should never be a task that is viewed as “can’t be done.” My performance needs to not be personal best, but best ever, and on that night, I didn’t live up to my own hype. Lesson learned. Defeat is a wonderful experience if it motivates you to never forget you’re only as good as your last performance.

At UFC 205, Triple H said Conor McGregor could be a huge superstar in the WWE. Would the locker room embrace McGregor following his comments about the company in August?

Who cares if the locker room would embrace Conor McGregor. If Conor McGregor can be a revenue driver for WWE, if he can sell network subscriptions or if he can sell thousands and tens of thousands of tickets, if he can move millions of T-shirts, who cares if anybody in the locker room likes it or doesn’t like it. They just have to learn how to accept it or draw more money than Conor McGregor so they have the leverage to say, “I don’t want that guy in my locker room.” Until they can drive the revenue a Conor McGregor drives, then perhaps they should get used to the fact that people like that will always get offers to come in and, as the old saying goes, draw money.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman doesn’t think Conor McGregor will get his hands on Brock Lesnar in the WWE. (MediaPunch Standard)

So, Brock Lesnar vs. Conor McGregor at WrestleMania 33?

I can’t see that happening because of the size difference is just so great. Conor McGregor fights Nate Diaz and Nate Diaz looks like a giant against him. Nate Diaz is 170 pounds. Brock Lesnar is 280-295 pounds. I saw a video of Conor McGregor as a promotion for the UFC’s video game, screwing off with Conan O’Brien. Conan O’Brien looked like The Big Show against Conor McGregor. None of this is a knock on Conor McGregor, but you would have to find someone for him to work with that presents a believable picture so that when Conor McGregor does here in WWE what he does in the UFC, which is throw that almost invisible left hand and knock people out, it has credibility attached to it. I would suggest that wouldn’t be the case with Conor McGregor vs. Brock Lesnar.

WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump is now president-elect of the United States. Which WWE Hall of Famer would you like to see run for president?

The WWE Hall of Famer I think should run for president, many years down the road, doesn’t even have the ring on his finger yet and you happen to be interviewing him at this time.


Well, who should run for president, doesn’t mean I’m going to. I also should run for emperor of North America and ruler of the entire universe. It doesn’t mean I am going to run for these offices. This means I should.

Assuming you should run, who would be your vice president?

Well, that’s another thing. In continuing the effort to changing the dynamic, who says I want a Vice President? Perhaps all I need is Brock Lesnar as my warlord and everything else will just fall into place.

15 years ago this week on the go-home “SmackDown” show before Survivor Series, you delivered your now infamous promo directed towards Vince McMahon. Where would you rank that promo in your career?

In terms of historical significance, definitely top five. In terms of performance, I really don’t know because I haven’t watched it in 15 years. I know when a performance resonates to the point where it can be considered memorable and I’m glad people view that performance in such a light. I would respectfully submit … it doesn’t hold in terms of performance with some of the work that I’ve done since I’ve been back here in 2012. Just by way of example, I think the measuring stick, now, for me, that I always go back to, is the night in Chicago just a few weeks before WrestleMania when CM Punk had just walked out and I opened the show coming out to his music and sat down in his pose and stopped the CM Punk chants simply by speaking to the audience. The level of control of that performance is something that I like to try to match.

If you had to be an advocate for one Thanksgiving dish, what would it be?

A knish. Because I’m so tired of the knish relegated to only being a New York delicacy. And I think it is such a phenomenal, culinary offering and dramatically underrated that only an advocate with the oratory skills of Paul Heyman — and there’s only one advocate with the oratory skills of Paul Heyman — can gain global acceptance for a dish that truly belongs on every Thanksgiving dinner table.