Paul Heyman recently spoke with ESPN to talk about Brock Lesnar’s Octagon return at UFC 200 and more.
Below are highlights:
With just a month and a half between UFC 200 and SummerSlam, how might the result of the UFC fight — win or lose — affect Lesnar’s booking in WWE moving forward?
I think every day, anything that you do can change the course and affect forward movement in sports, let alone WWE. I understand what you’re asking me, but I think in terms of an overall picture, when you are at Brock’s level of being a box office attraction, everything affects what you’re going to be doing at the next appearance. And the same thing goes for John Cena and Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, just like the same thing goes for Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor and Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. So, the result of this fight, how will it affect SummerSlam? Hopefully it will make Brock Lesnar an even bigger star on a global basis and drive a whole bunch of fans back to WWE for Aug. 21.
Lesnar is often billed as the unbeatable beast of the WWE. The question most people have is whether the gimmick still works if he loses at UFC 200?
My father was an attorney in the state of New York, which is where I came up with the term advocate. Very famously, a judge once said to my father, “If, if, if, if …” And my father said to the judge, “I don’t deal in ifs, I deal in absolutes. If my aunt had balls, she would be my uncle. She doesn’t, so she’s still my aunt and not my uncle.” I don’t deal in ifs. Here’s an absolute: Brock Lesnar is stepping into the Octagon on July 9 against Mark Hunt. Here is an absolute: Brock Lesnar is appearing at WWE SummerSlam on Aug. 21. Here’s an absolute: Brock Lesnar will be featured on the cover of “WWE 2K17” on Oct. 11. I can’t deal in ifs in hypothetical situations. I only deal in absolutes. Whatever happens in that Octagon will likely affect things moving forward, but let’s wait until July 9.
You’ve known Vince McMahon a long time. Considering recent events like Lesnar being allowed to compete at UFC 200 and WWE signing talent from competing promotions like A.J. Styles, how has his perspective of the business changed?
I think Vince McMahon’s perspective changes several times per day and it has to if you want to survive in today’s constantly changing environment. I think the entire concept of the WWE Network is indication that Vince McMahon’s perspective is constantly changing because it has created a completely different business model for WWE itself. Does Brock walking between the two worlds serve as Vince McMahon’s acceptance to change? I think Vince has always been willing to change. His whole goal when he bought out his father was to completely change the perception and distribution and the marketing and the promotion of this industry. I can’t say that what Brock Lesnar is doing is indicative of anything regarding Vince McMahon because the only two people who know of Vince’s acceptance of Brock walking between the two worlds are Brock and Vince because those are the two that had the conversation about this.
You were famously part of the writing team during the days of the “Smackdown Six.” Which superstars within the company do you see that SmackDown could be built around in the upcoming draft?
I think one of the biggest components of this draft is going to be the NXT factor. You are going to have a whole bunch of new opportunities for people to move up into the main event mix just by the very nature of Raw and Smackdown having an exclusive roster. As we saw with the debut of The Shield a few years ago, you can get a lot of people into that mix very, very fast if they seize the moment of the opportunity which is given to them. I can’t actually sit here and tell you that I was a fan of the whole new era concept, but in my opinion the new era does begin on July 19 because, from the indications that I have received, the desire is to have true competition between the two brands.