Must-Read Paul Heyman Interview – WWE, ‘Mania, Punk, More


Paul Heyman recently spoke with the Pougkeepsie Journal about his current WWE run and more. Check out the highlights:

On his current WWE run: “It’s been a total career highlight. I never thought I was going to come back and to come back and get to be a part of two of the three main events of WrestleMania, in my hometown, with my two best friends? It’s circumstances I never thought and I couldn’t have imagined.”

On working with CM Punk and Paul Heyman: “It’s really easy with Brock Lesnar. All I have to do is sing the praises of the most gifted athlete that’s ever walked into a WWE ring. He’s a former NCAA heavyweight champion, a former undisputed UFC heavyweight champion and a former undisputed WWE heavyweight champion. He’s legitimate and these are his credentials, so how hard is that? He’s a beast. He’s the most physical. And CM Punk, he’s the best. Heh, I’ve got the beast and I’ve got the best. CM Punk is the most passionate, most driven superstar of this generation. Every time I am in the ring with him, listening to him or stepping back and watching him, I am a huge admirer of his extraordinary talent. It doesn’t take much to be his advocate and his confidant. What you see on TV is the true dynamic between us. Especially, when I’m off in the corner, plotting, conspiring.”

On predicting CM Punk’s success: “I’m a very fortunate person in this industry. I grew up as a huge fan. Most of all, I’m happy for my friends. I’m proud of Brock Lesnar. When we wrote his book together, he was still suffering the dramatic effect of a near fatal bout with diverticulitis. To see him now, so healthy and so happy and in the spotlight where he belongs is very special for me. I have great respect for Brock Lesnar and I like to see where he is now. Everything CM Punk accomplished, he wasn’t supposed to accomplish it, let alone be WWE champion and let alone being the WWE champion with the longest reign of the last 25 years. There is substantive info behind all the hype. CM Punk has defied the odds for his entire career.”

On what’s most appealing about the current WWE product: “I’d say the global scale of it all. And the push to new screens that are still developing. People will say, ‘oh man, how exciting would have been to be around in the 1950s when television was expanding’ or ‘oh man, it would have been great to be watching in the 1980s when pay-per-view and cable television truly exploded. Now, we have new platforms. We have new media, social media, the internet and all of these platforms are new screens to play on. We’re in the midst of a revolution and a lot of it could even be different a year from now. No viewing habit will ever be the same. WWE, to their massive credit, has an initiative to beat everybody else onto those screens and be a leader and a flagship in terms of content. I own a viral marketing agency called Looking 4 Larry and that’s the type of stuff we keep a close eye on. It’s fun to see how WWE is so far ahead of the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NHL and to see how those big sports are playing second fiddle because WWE is so far ahead of them as they push to be on new screens.”

On what keeps him excited in wrestling: “I get to walk out on TV on Monday nights with my best friend who’s the best in the world. The best performer in the world today is CM Punk and I truly believe that. He is, by far, the most passionate and by far, the most driven. I’ve seen him have short matches. I’ve seen him have long matches. I’ve seen him do 30-second promos and I’ve seen him do 15-minute diatribes. I am never out there with CM Punk and not in awe of his extraordinary talent. And I get to work with my best friend, Brock Lesnar, the single most legitimate athlete in the history of WWE. Since the day we met, I’ve been as close to him as anyone else is his life because his circle of people is very small. I get to work with my two best friends and sing their praises and brag about them being my buddies. I could never have even fantasized about that. I’m talking about people I believe in on global television. How could I not be happy with that?”

On the first WrestleMania: “I thought Vince McMahon was going places that his father never dared to go and that it was the natural progression of the product. We take for granted today, some of the big-name national advertisers — the movie studios, the video games, the McDonald’s and the Burger King, and the steakhouses — on WWE programming. Back in the 80s, that wasn’t the case. They were on a UHF channel, and in one instance, they were on a Spanish-speaking channel because the English-speaking channel dropped them. The advertisers were mom-and-pop stores in Newark or Secaucus or Bridgeport. Local pizzerias. Vince McMahon had this vision of taking the product to Madison Avenue and distributing it globally. It was a natural progression of where his vision was going.”

On Bob Backlund and Brunno Sammartino being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame: “I find it very fitting that Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund are being inducted at the same time since they were both managed by the second-greatest manager of all time, Arnold Skaaland, who grew up where I live in Westchester County. I wish he was there to induct them both, just as I look forward, in the future, to be able to induct both Brock Lesnar and CM Punk into the Hall of Fame together. Bet you didn’t see that answer coming!”

On his three favorite Bruno Sammartino rivalries: “To me, the three would be first, Spiros Arion, I just thought he was the greatest opponent against Bruno. They matched up so well. I was a Superstar Billy Graham fan, so his series of matches with Superstar. And the third one with Bruno would be Larry Zbyszko. I have vivid memories of his feud with Larry Zbyszko. It was so personal and so well-done.”

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