Paul Heyman Reacts To WWE Returning To New York City For Tonight’s SmackDown

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During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Paul Heyman commented on WWE returning to New York City tonight for WWE SmackDown, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:

On returning to New York: “New York is a major part of my identity. When I was growing up, all I could envision was being a big shot in New York City. I didn’t know what the platform would be; I just knew New York was the central part of my dreams and what I wanted to do in life. People who live in New York will understand this—part of being a New Yorker is a sense of invulnerability. You’re from New York, the capital of the world. The universe. It’s the center of life. And you walk around as a New Yorker with a swagger that denotes, ‘Hey, I’m from New York,’ and that’s spelled Y-A-W-K. In many ways, the events of 9/11 pierced the soul of every New Yorker. It demonstrated how vulnerable we all are on this planet.”

On losing his friend Eric Sand in the attacks: “He was a gentleman and one of my best friends growing up. We went to Hebrew school together, and he later became the quarterback of the football team for my school’s rival. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, which was one of the top floors of the North Tower. He’d just started a family, and we were going to get together on September 12. Obviously, we never had that opportunity. I lost a lot of friends on 9/11. They were all criminal wastes of brilliant lives, and in Eric’s case, he was also someone’s son, someone’s husband and someone’s father.”

On working on commentary two nights after the event: “I didn’t know how to convey that on the air, and I didn’t know if it was my place to do so, but as a New Yorker, I felt obligated to identify myself—not only from the perspective of New York as a locale in which I reside, but also that deep down, the person you see talking at the moment is culturally, physically, spiritually a New Yorker at heart,” Heyman says. “I hardly remember anything about that night, other than the memory of Lilian Garcia singing. I don’t even remember what she sang, whether it was ‘God Bless, America,’ ‘America, The Beautiful,’ or the national anthem—I just remember she sang. When she was singing, she did it flawlessly. Her voice carried the emotion of the moment to such a degree that it moved me and woke me up. It also made me a complete emotional wreck.”


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