Paul Heyman on what brought him back to WWE, what he saw in C.M. Punk that others did not, Brock Lesnar returning to WWE despite scathing comments in his book, the state of pro wrestling
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What brought him back to WWE: "Well, Brock Lesnar made the decision to go back to WWE and once he got back in I guess he realized that it’s the same boat that it was 10 years ago with all the politics and everything. If you’re going to get involved with a whole bunch of politics obviously you need your New York Jew along with you. It was a matter of Brock going back and then it was just a natural fit for me to go back with him. Once I was in there, the first person that obviously I let know I was coming back was CM Punk, who is the person that I was fighting with Vince McMahon over back in 2006 when I decided to leave. So it became a natural fit for us to get back together as well and it just took off from there."
The differences between working with C.M. Punk and Brock Lesnar: "It’s two totally different relationships. My job with CM Punk differs dramatically from my job with Brock Lesnar. It’s very easy for me to talk about Brock Lesnar because I am Brock Lesnar's biggest fan, and how could I not be? The man is legitimately the only person in history to hold the NCAA Division I Heavyweight Championship, the Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Championship and the Undisputed WWE Heavyweight Championship. I could talk about him all day long; I am such an admirer of his talents and his greatness and I think the world of him as a human being. As far as CM Punk goes, to be very honest with you, we’ve never defined my role with him on television; I don’t refer to him as my client because we're just friends. We are best friends and we wanted to work together on television. We wanted to work together in front of everybody and so we just did it. I’m there for whatever he needs me to be; whether that’s as a confidant or a strategist or be ring side with him when he’s wrestling or just hang out with him in the ring and admire him from a close distance when he’s actually speaking, because I think he's a better talker than I am. I think CM Punk does the best interviews in the industry, and I’m actually learning from him when I’m standing that close."
What he saw in C.M. Punk that others in WWE did not: "It’s not that I think I have this great vision for CM Punk, I think everybody else was just blind to it and that’s to their discredit more than it’s to my credit. I saw a Wrestlemania main eventer. I saw a WWE Champion. I saw a guy that could single handedly carry this industry. He’s a rock star; I mean, this guy walks in a room, how do you not just feel the charisma entering? When he walked in here just now, and half these guys are asleep as you can see, and all of a sudden it was like a big jolt of coffee. The guy just has that intangible "it" factor, and he’s talented and he’s a great wrestler and he has passion for this industry. So, what did I see in him? I saw everything in him. The fact that the other people didn’t see that from the moment he walked in their doors is a cry for change."
Why Punk wasn't seen as the next big thing: "He’s not cookie cutter. He doesn’t want to be cookie cutter. He refuses to be cookie cutter and he will rebel against anything that makes him cookie cutter. So if everyone comes on television and they say the very same thing, 'it’s an honor to be here, I put smiles on people’s faces,' the first thing he’s going to say is, 'I don’t put smiles on people’s faces, I put frowns on people’s faces; I make you not like me.' And others go, 'well, that’s not what we say.' And he says, 'Yeah, but that’s what I say,' and all of a sudden he’s a malcontent, but every great superstar has been trouble. Think it was easy for Vince's father to deal with Bruno Sanmartino? Think it was easy for Vince to deal with Hulk Hogan? Think it was easy for Vince to deal with Stone Cold Steve Austin? The only guy that was easy to deal with was Bob Backlund and he bored everybody to sleep."
The current state of pro wrestling: "I’m happy with my position within the state of pro wrestling. It’s a very interesting weekend to ask me that question, because we're sitting here, 48 hours outside of a show that’s going to generate $100 million in revenue, so it’s kind of hard for me to knock the state of pro wrestling. I grew up in the territorial days where if MSG sold out, the territory was doing fine. So, to see here on radio row with 24 interviews to do and satellite TV down the hallway and $100 million in revenue being generated by one show, if I knock the state of pro wrestling today then I’m just an unappreciative prick. When I was a kid they didn’t generate $100 million in one show, let alone on the weekend where they’ve got the Hall of Fame as well, they’ve got Monday Night Raw which is sold out, so how do I knock it? So anything that I don’t like about it I should just shut the F up because I’m going to come off like an idiot. No matter what the answer is, they drew $100 million in one day. Ok, doing better than I am."
On Brock Lesnar: "Brock Lesnar hates human beings. Period. That’s it. Doesn’t like people. He lives on a compound in what I like to call Texas Chainsaw Massacre Minnesota. You cannot find his address on a GPS. He lives off two dirt roads and it’s a compound. His mail is delivered to his attorney’s office in Minneapolis, they sort through it and then when they see him they hand him the rest of his mail. That’s it. He does not like people and he wants to be left alone and that’s what drives him. That’s what makes him Brock Lesnar. There's a lot to be afraid of with Brock Lesnar. He’s a violent man living in a violent society and it’s a society that couldn’t handle him if he decided to conquer it."
On Brock returning to WWE despite scathing remarks in his book: "It was a pretty big shock to me that he was willing to do it. I wrote the book with him and you should have seen the stuff that they made us edit out. You read a very tamed, toned down version of Brock's feelings. Brock's also a businessman and this is some opportunity for him. He came back and wrestled Extreme Rules, wrestled Summerslam and he’s wrestling at Wrestlemania; he's had three matches the entire year and that was his limit. That’s all he was willing to do. They're all high profile and they’re all huge money matches. It’s on his terms and not a lot of people can come back here on their own terms."
On ECW getting some respect: "It’s something I don’t even think about and here’s why; do I think that ECW is getting the credit that it deserves from the audience that saw it and lived it? I don’t think you can ever take that credit away. For people who didn’t experience, it’s kind of hard to explain it to them and it will never get the credit that it deserves from within the corporate structure of WWE. I don’t anticipate that it would. It’s like dreaming of being an astronaut once you’re past 20 years old; aint gonna happen for you. If you’re not dedicating your life to it, it just aint going to happen. I could have campaigns out there to get ECW recognized and respected within WWE; it’s just not going to happen. Its fait accompli as far as that’s concerned. So I don’t really worry about it. The people that lived it, the people that experienced it, the people that watched it, my god, they love it to this day and it gets the respect that it deserves from those."
On his current run in WWE: "Career highlight. Absolute career highlight. I am working with my two best friends in the world. We are in two of the three main events of the largest Wrestlemania in my home market, New York. The stadiums in New Jersey but the market is New York. To be in two of the three main events at Wrestlemania is a pretty big deal. To do it with my two best friends on our own terms, this is an absolute fantasy come true."
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