Paul Heyman Was Hesitant to Return to TV Without Brock Lesnar

May 7, 2021 - by James Walsh

Paul Heyman says that he wasn’t sure he wanted to return to TV without Brock Lesnar until he found the chance to work with Roman Reigns. Heyman spoke with Sports Illustrated for a new interview, and you can check out some highlights below:

On his ‘phone flip’ on Talking Smack: “I just knew, at the end of that promo, I wanted to do something. I don’t hold a microphone, so I needed to do the equivalent of a mike drop. The flip of the phone was what I had in mind. I figured, if I flipped the phone at the end, that our director and the producer would know that was the end of the show, and the viewer at home would say, ‘That’s different, I’ve never seen that before,’ emphasizing the point I made.”

On being hesitant to return to WWE TV initially without Brock Lesnar: “I cannot begin to convey how reluctant I was to ever do anything in this industry after the eight years, let alone the 18 years, that I put together with Brock Lesnar. Look at our accomplishments: a 500-day run as champion, multiple world championships, the single biggest, most historic victory in sports entertainment history in the conquering of ‘The Streak.’ There was very little chance of me ever returning on-screen.”

“For me to pursue, in front of the camera, life after Brock Lesnar, the only lure that could seduce me to even attempting such an impossible goal was to do it with someone that would live their life in the pursuit of achieving that impossibility, and that’s Roman Reigns. And that’s why someone, that’s why anyone and that’s why everyone should watch Roman Reigns. Every micromoment he’s in the frame, you are witnessing the pursuit of the all-time greatest career in the annals of sport, in the annals of entertainment and in the annals of sports entertainment.”

On evolving as a character: “My job is to create an enthusiasm regarding the items that I am entrusted with hyping. That has never changed. The way that I strategize, that has changed. That’s been a constant since 1987. What worked for me during the Dangerous Alliance era in WCW would not have worked for me in front of an ECW crowd. The rabble-rouser, cult leader, pied piper of the revolution in ECW would not have worked as Brock Lesnar’s advocate. Brock Lesnar’s advocate would not have worked as the ‘voice of the voice of the voiceless,’ and none of those would have worked for the special counsel for Roman Reigns or the cohost of Talking Smack. These are all distinctly different roles, and I would be doing a disservice to people if I treated it otherwise.”

On his secret to success for promos: “You have to read the room. If not, you’re a nostalgia act before you’re even cognizant of the fact that time has passed you by. In some ways it hasn’t changed. I still ask myself, ‘What’s my goal? What am I selling?’ I’m a salesman, I’m a hype artist, I’m an interest-facilitator. My job is to get you interested in the product, in the personalities I’m selling, in the match I want you to witness, subscribe and buy. With Talking Smack, the medium is different; the platform is different. It’s like comparing Twitter to Instagram. The promo that I did on SmackDown, the ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! No! No! No!’ promo was all about just how great Daniel Bryan is and why that demonstrates the enormity of Roman Reigns’s star power—because as great as Daniel Bryan is and all he’s overcome, he’ll never overcome Roman Reigns.

“The promos on Talking Smack are not the same as SmackDown. SmackDown is a two-hour network show that has multiple story lines. Talking Smack is exactly the title of the show; we’re out there talking smack. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere without the time constraints, and it’s conversation. While the job is always to hype and create interest and awareness, it’s not with theatrics and a raised voice. It’s more of a ‘Let’s have breakfast, lunch or dinner together, and let me tell you why Roman Reigns is the end-all, be-all attraction in sports entertainment today.’”

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