During an appearance on Sports Media with Richard Deitsch, Paul Heyman was asked how he finds himself associated with top names in WWE. According to Heyman, it’s all part of his desire to be part of something huge.
“I am uninhibited in my desire, indeed my lust, to be part of something special,” Heyman said. “To be part of something great, something memorable. And I am ruthless and unapologetic in my pursuit of being part of such greatness. And it’s with the understanding that I can’t do it myself, which means I can’t do what I want them to do. It also means I can’t do it alone. So the word myself has a double meaning there.
“I’m also cognizant of just how deep my admiration for their greatness is. And I’m introspective enough to understand that I can pull a level of greatness out of these performers that they can’t achieve on their own. This compels me to raise my game to their level, which is something I couldn’t do without them.
“It is truly a collaborative effort where I need them as much as they need me. This creates a spiritual and professional intimacy that is greater than any relationship one can ever experience in your personal life. Except with your children.”
Heyman was then asked if he now had more creative control than ever in what he does on screen. His answer eventually led into the creative freedom, or lack thereof, for other WWE performers.
“I dare suggest it’s more the case now than it’s ever been before,” Heyman said of creative freedom. “Especially on Talking Smack. Kudos to the performers who a) raise their game on the show and b) trust me enough to open up when they’re sitting next to me. And kudos to Kayla Braxton for simply surviving me, let alone tolerate me. As for others that’s something without a perfect answer. Vince McMahon owns a content creation conglomerate that now has on the table, in application, three separate billion dollar deals. And knowing Vince he’s probably working on more; he’s probably trying to envision the first ever trillion dollar content deal.
“When you have such deals you have to protect those deals from someone else screwing them up. So if someone goes out to the ring and on live TV or a live stream. And they say something that is egregiously wrong and it gets through. It would cause a major scandal and, cancel culture or not, could deservedly get WWE thrown off of Fox or NBCU or Peacock. That would blow a billion dollar deal. So who’s to blame beside Vince McMahon for saying ‘I want to know what this person is saying before they say it.’ Peaky Blinders doesn’t live, it’s filmed. You know what these characters are going to say.
“Better Call Saul isn’t streamed live, it’s not a Broadway play that goes live to the universe. Whereas (on WWE) someone can say something so controversial, whether it’s QAnon or a left wing conspiracy, doesn’t matter. We don’t leave ourselves open to someone screwing multi-generation lifetimes of work to get where we are. Therefore, if someone walks out to the ring, Vince McMahon has the right to know exactly what that person is going to say. Otherwise he’s jeopardizing the shareholders’ right to a return on their investment. They’re hoping and counting on the Chairman to maintain control of a creative environment that can always go wrong.”
Heyman continued, “Look at the trouble the NBA is having with the controversies that are arising out of the social views of some of their top stars. Whether these top stars are right or wrong, the NBA is struggling with the backlash of what some top stars are feeling in their hearts. Look at the trouble the NFL had in dealing with the political and social viewpoints of some of their teams, top players and secondary players. Whether they’re right or wrong isn’t what I’m discussing. What I’m discussing is there are ramifications of all things that are said and done.
“And WWE, as a scripted performance that allows some improv, tries to keep control of that environment. The same way other dramas on television present these characters in scripted situations.”
Deitsch, without mentioning by name, then brought up the creative freedom many talent feel they have with All Elite Wrestling. When asked if there’s a happy medium between AEW and WWE’s way, Heyman was noncommittal.
“It’s a constantly evolving process,” Heyman said. “This has to be evaluated by the individual and the circumstance on a moment to moment basis. I am sure that, in his heart, Vince McMahon or Triple H or Stephanie McMahon or Kevin Dunn or whomever. They have concerns about the manner in which Paul Heyman would present sports entertainment in 2021 and moving forward. I look at this differently than they do.
“But I don’t think any of those people would have a problem if something went wrong at WrestleMania and you needed to buy time and had no idea what to do. They’d go ‘give me a live mic and put it in Paul Heyman’s hands. Paul, go out there and distract them. Buy me fifteen minutes.’ I don’t think there’s anyone else that’s in competition with me, especially since John Cena won’t be at WrestleMania. So I don’t think Vince, Stephanie, Triple H or Kevin Dunn or anybody would have a second thought about me going out there and buying fifteen minutes. I think they’d be very confident that I’d never embarrass the company or say something that would be a scandal.”
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