Paul Heyman was interviewed by Sports Illustrated and talked about the interesting dynamic in managing both Brock Lesnar (in the past) and Roman Reigns (present day), and how turning Reigns heel is the biggest move WWE could possibly make in 2020.
Why Roman Reigns didn’t show up until the end of his tag match with Jey Uso on SmackDown: “Don’t be fooled thinking that this is a prediction, it’s a spoiler. There was a bit of a misunderstanding the way everything went down last week on SmackDown, but there won’t be that misunderstanding this week. Roman Reigns will enter first and declare his turf in the center of that ring.”
His role as Roman Reigns’ advisor: “It’s an opportunity 33 years into my performing career to completely redefine, re-imagine and reinvent myself. I’m now the special counsel to the tribal chief, a role I’ve never played. I’ve been a manager. I’ve been an agent. I’ve been an advocate. I’ve been the CEO of the Dangerous Alliance. I’ve been an executive producer in ECW. I’ve been the executive director of Monday Night Raw. I’ve been the general manager of multiple brands. This is a completely different role for me. That’s the way I look at it and approach it, and it’s a completely different dynamic than I’ve ever had with any other talent.”
The differences between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns: “With Brock Lesnar, I began by advocating for the next big thing, an NCAA Division I champion. We were tied together at the hip on his way to the top. That’s not what this is. Roman Reigns has been established as the top act for eight years, and I was the one thrown out into the ocean of obscurity. Roman Reigns rescued me. We’re not navigating his trajectory to the top. Our entire focus is keeping him fresh, relevant and reinvigorated, and making that presentation seamless. That is exhilarating, even for someone who had a career in wrestling that dates back to being a photographer as a kid in Vince McMahon Sr.’s Madison Square Garden locker room.”
Was Lesnar aware that Heyman is working with Reigns: “Brock Lesnar is very aware that I am working with Roman Reigns. There shouldn’t be any confusion here. Brock Lesnar legitimately does whatever Brock Lesnar wants to do. There is no shortage of box-office appeal in the name Brock Lesnar. If and when Brock Lesnar wants to capitalize on that box office appeal, his name will be ringing from the headlines the moment he decides to return to the ring.”
His personal history with Roman Reigns: “If you look at the backstory, it all makes sense. Since day one, I’ve pontificated the greatness of Roman Reigns. There was a time going into WrestleMania 31 when it was Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar for the title. And I said, in any era, my money’s on Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns in his prime versus Bruno Sammartino in his prime? My money’s on Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns against Ric Flair, both in their prime? My money’s on Roman Reigns. Reigns vs. Hulk Hogan? Reigns vs. the Rock? Reigns vs. John Cena? Put whomever you want against Reigns, and I’ll take Reigns—and I was stating this a half-decade ago.”
The marquee value on Reigns and Heyman: “With all humility aside, this is the biggest move WWE could make with its talent at the moment. We have the tenured, still-young, just-hitting-his-prime WrestleMania main-eventer, the undisputed No. 1 star in WWE, and he’d been off for seven months. Didn’t even appear at this year’s WrestleMania. Now he’s ready to come back, and he returns with someone that has been on top and been associated with top acts for 30 years. However you define me, whether it’s as a manager, an advocate, a supporting mouthpiece, and now special counsel to the tribal chief, I have been with more WWE and universal champions than anyone. And now these two acts are together for the first time.”