Lutz's Blog: Paul Heyman - The cure-all for WWE
By Jeffrey Lutz
If you're still lamenting the results of the two major matches from Royal Rumble, get over it. If you still despise that C.M. Punk is no longer WWE Champion and that Rumble winner John Cena will likely challenge The Rock for that title at WrestleMania 29, I feel for you -- I even feel with you -- but it's time to move on.
If you're still reeling from seeing Tensai in a teddy on last week's Raw or having to sit through a brutal Divas showgirls match, you can stop reeling now. It's all fixed. Everything is fine.
In fact, everything was fine 24 hours after the unsavory Rumble finish and a couple hours after the unsightly mess that was Tensai's evening wear. Paul Heyman appeared on my television screen and made me forget about all of the disappointing events that led to those beautiful 15 minutes.
Heyman was so good on Raw last week that it's almost impossible to be too complimentary, impossible to exaggerate. Stop me when you think I've gone too far: Heyman delivered the best promo of the last 10 years. The best promo ever. The very best single piece of business in the history of the professional wrestling industry. Maybe you haven't stopped me yet. If you have, you might have had to think twice about it.
We shouldn't be surprised, of course. Since he reappeared on WWE television this summer to align with Punk, Heyman has consistently produced incredible work on center stage on the microphone while displaying perhaps even more excellent skills when he moves to the background. The idea is for Heyman to never outshine Punk, but when Punk is talking it's difficult not to focus on the understated facial expressions and subtle movements that make Heyman so compelling.
Everything Heyman has touched over the last nine months has turned to gold -- or money, anyway. When Brock Lesnar was floundering verbally upon his return last spring, Heyman rescued Lesnar's intimidating persona and allowed Lesnar to regain his edge -- silently. When Punk needed something to cement his status as a heel this summer, Heyman helped Punk find a new identity that wasn't as appealing to fans.
The Shield and Brad Maddox have both maintained interest since their debuts, but they've never been more interesting than during their interactions with Heyman on last week's Raw. Heyman fixes things that are broken and things that are not.
The complaint after the Rumble was that the results were too predictable, that if Cena and Rock were meeting at WrestleMania, this was the least interesting way to get there. If predictability is a drawback, Heyman shouldn't be so alluring. He's the most predictable character WWE has. We know that on a week-by-week basis, Heyman has the ability to produce something revolutionary. At this point, we're expecting it.
Professional wrestling was Heyman's life for 30 years, since he talked his way into Madison Square Garden to photograph WWF events. He's doing his best work now, possibly because wrestling is no longer his life. He has interests away from the business and children that occupy his time. He's no longer a booker or a writer, so he can focus on his own character rather than everybody else's.
Vince McMahon deserves credit for Heyman's reinvention, too. It's no secret that Heyman and the McMahon family are far from friendly; Vince probably sees too much of himself in Heyman. But McMahon has turned Heyman loose, giving him a prominent role on the flagship show because it's good for business.
Heyman fits perfectly into everything the WWE is trying to accomplish. His over-the-top brashness plays to the families and children who are drawn to the cartoon aspect of wrestling, and the less obvious aspects of his character are celebrated weekly by online fans.
Next time WWE produces a predictable result or when an overweight mid-carder shows up in lingerie, don't groan. Look forward. Paul Heyman is coming to the rescue.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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