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Heyman = greatness

Raw has been borderline unwatchable for a long time now as I speed watch on DVR in about an hour and twenty minutes.  But Paul Heyman is simply in the best groove on the stick I can remember.  I'm skipping full matches and watching twenty minute Heyman promos in full.   His promos with Cena have been classics as he's managed to do the impossible and get me thinking a Cena heel turn we all know isn't happening.  He is the emperor to Cena's Luke right now and it's just amazing to watch.  Has there ever been a non-wrestler to dominate a show like Paul E?   Vince had Austin there plus DX and Rock.  What does it say about WWE when the best thing going is a 49 year old bald man?

...that the product is really terrible at the moment?  

I don't know that Heyman is dominating the product as such, but he's certainly instrumental in getting Brock over without having him cut promos.  But then keep in mind what Heyman did for Axel, Ryback and Cesaro, which is to say fuck all.  So it's also a matter of the right people being matched together.  

Comments

  1. Heyman's objectively great at what he does, but I've never enjoyed his stuff. His commentary in 2001 was always painful to listen to.

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  2. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomerySeptember 17, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Even if his message is the same in every promo (fear Brock Lesnar!), he finds a new way to spin it each time out and keep it fresh, much like guys like Austin and Rock could do. Even though I've bailed on RAW, I still Youtube his promos on Tuesday.

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  3. The new Heyman doc is a must-watch, the way the man dominates the camera talking is just amazing and it's fun seeing his promo work from even the '80's where he had it down cold.

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  4. I would say the booking of Axel, Ryback and Cesaro in the ring had more to do with their failure. Heyman hyping those guys as great is meaningless if they're being booked in flat, go-nowhere angles and 50/50 feuds. Everyone says the Cesaro/Heyman pairing didn't work, and I still say it would have if Cesaro had been booked to be a dominant asskicker instead of trading wins and losses with Kofi immediately after Mania.

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  5. Ryback was a one trick pony, and then they took that trick away. Axel has always been a zero trick pony.

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  6. ONE SECOND AWAY!

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  7. Heyman was awesome on commentary.

    I came to Washington D.C. and I'm gonna get to see Bush

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  8. Magoonie NOT Teddy BelmontSeptember 17, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Heyman could talk about ths shit he took this morning for 20 minutes and it would be great TV!

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  9. The booking didn't help, but Heyman rarely talked about Cesaro; while it is understandable to bring up Brock breaking the Streak as often as you could, it made Cesaro look like an afterthought when he stood there for months as Heyman praised Brock and did little to get Cesaro over as a major player.


    Heyman is great with top level talent (Lesnar, Punk, the Dangerous Alliance sounds like it was fairly loaded), but just pairing him with anyone isn't enough to get the wrestler over.


    And the propose to Ryback promo by Heyman was rather absurd.

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  10. Has there ever been a manager and performer more well matched than Brock and Heyman? Heyman's promo after Wrestlemania 30 was magnificent the all time "I told you so!" heel promo which got to back up Brock taking out the Undertaker. Perfect.


    On a side note they need to have a Paul Heyman Guy outside of Brock/Punk succeed. It's kind of killing the concept.

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  11. Yeah, I know they wanted to stop the Goldberg comparisons, but when they made him vulnerable and then a heel, that killed him. Axel has to go down with David Flair and Erik Watts as the worst 2nd+ generation wrestlers ever. Yet they keep putting him with new people to see if he ever gets over. Guess since Albert retired, they need someone to give thousands of chances to.

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  12. And remember, Rhyno was the last man to ever hold the ECW title!

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  13. Bockwinkel and Heenan? I really enjoy their work together, but it's a lot different than Lesnar/Heyman.

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  14. Usually, WWE screws up due to their haphazard or backwards logic but they were so consistent about the "Heyman hyping Lesnar and ignoring Cesaro"-thing that I still believe it's going somewhere (or was intended to at the time, at the very least - no matter how much plans have possibly changed since, just as one might expect...). Heyman knows better than to do that for no reason, even if it's what he's being asked to do. He'd find a way to slip something in if he thought the writers were ignoring his ideas completely and Cesaro needed something else to get over. So I'm still convinced they have or at least had a long game in mind with that.

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  15. I found the style of JR and Heyman just calling each other on their bullshit, while making sure to put the guys over super strong, resulted in my favorite commentary team ever.

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  16. I disagree with you but I very much appreciate that you're able to accept that your personal opinion isn't necessarily a reflection upon the overall quality of his work in general. Far too many people are unable to do such things...

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  17. Jimmy Hart and Honky fit really well.

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  18. Axel is pretty worthless, and Ryback isn't up to the standard of what most would consider "a Paul Heyman guy", but I still maintain that the Cesaro/Heyman pairing could have worked.


    IMO, despite many fans feeling that keeping Cesaro heel was the problem, but I completely disagree; Heyman's pairings with Brock and Punk are/were both well received, and Cesaro could have very easily been another "talented asshole" heel in the same mold (see also Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, etc.). No, the problem wasn't that Cesaro remained a heel, but that he was told to stop using his big spots, was given AWFUL new music, and - most harmfully - was booked as an incompetent jobber.

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  19. I hope there originally was SOME point to it (they seemed to have been building Cesaro at least since Elimination Chamber, including a W over Cena on a Raw before that PPV), but (to my recollection) Cesaro was not responding to Heyman at all, not even little facial ticks, nor was Heyman making somewhat subtle digs at Cesaro that could have motivated Cesaro to respond down the line.


    And I'm sure they could come up with a way to claim that this entire thing was planned from the beginning (even though Cesaro is now just spinning his wheels, in no way going on a "journey" to prepare for whatever the theoretical payoff is at it would be in a long-term story, even if WWE eventually pretends it was), but the execution was awful, specifically the break up: from what I remember, Heyman "didn't show up" one week (the announcers mentioned it, I believe), then Cesaro fired him/and or Heyman dropped him, and then Cesaro lamely said he wanted to be a HHH guy, only to drop back down to the anonymous midcard morass.

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  20. Cesaro's biggest issue was the no one wanted to see him remain as a heel. Everyone was ready for him to become the mega babyface. Allying him with Heyman muddied everything for a while until it was apparent that he was going to be a heel.

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  21. His big spot was getting a face pop; had he kept doing it (even against faces), he would have gotten cheers. In theory, why wasn't his manager getting him (midcard) title shots or bragging about him instead of just talking about Lesnar?


    And if Heyman can only help already great guys, it is a reasonable criticism of him, no matter how good he is with Brock and Punk: Heyman, in a vacuum with any random (limited) talent, is not necessarily great.

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  22. I agree that it appears awful but, similarly to Bryan, it would appear that they know to keep certain sorts of performers just far enough from the potential of seeing them grab the brass ring that we clamor for it until we explode. They're in the "reality" era or whatever people are calling it and seem to enjoy doing "meta"-angles of this sort. I think behaving as though Cesaro as a Heyman guy was solely meant to keep Cesaro in a holding pattern following a huge win at WrestleMania is a bit..."naive" (not really the right word in terms of its often-negative connotation as assuming WWE's off-base is far from naive...but that's the best one I could think of).

    I think they paired Heyman with Cesaro and had Heyman continue this as a means of getting Cesaro some cheap/confused heat (since Cesaro being relegated to being a heel at the time seemed to make no sense anyway...) for awhile, then recognized that Heyman being associated with Cesaro when Lesnar came back would make it appear that Heyman's focus was split. So pulling Heyman away from Cesaro was the hotshotted "quick fix" and they, potentially (assuming other stuff didn't change immeasurably in the meantime...including Vince's whim settling firmly upon something otherwise...) still intend to tease things down the line.


    I wouldn't be surprised to see a sort of half-hearted Heyman/Cesaro reteaming when it becomes clear Lesnar won't be around all the time and Heyman needs somebody to protect him. But then it still all winds up being about Heyman and Lesnar. And then it turns into Cesaro vs. Lesnar eventually. Maybe just for the Rumble or something (or maybe something bigger such as WrestleMania...)...but I can easily see it happening.


    And all with the whole, "You never cared about me - it was always about you. Even protecting Lesnar's interests is all about you."-type background in there, stretching out nearly a year. But, given WWE's track record (whether this truly was anywhere near their plan to begin with or not - although they certainly knew Lesnar was going to be focal when they paired Heyman with Cesaro...), I also wouldn't be surprised to see Cesaro stuck in midcard Hell for the entirety of the next two years...


    It's just, with Heyman behind the promos and constantly hyping Lesnar (yes, as a brief means of directing some "heat-by-association" onto Cesaro...), I get the impression it was a genuine means to an end that involved Cesaro. Unlike with Axel and Ryback, who were fairly clearly roughly placeholder goons there to help give Punk someone to fight while primarily feuding with Heyman.

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  23. Respectfully disagree. One of my favorite teams of all time, especially pre-Invasion.

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  24. What's wrong with the "Swing" getting a pop, though?

    As even Vince himself once said, "the era of 'good guys' vs. 'bad guys' is over". It's too simplistic, even for a generally goofy product like professional wrestling, and even if said goofy product is specifically targeting a young audience. Imagine if Austin either: A) never turned face, and stopped doing any moves that popped a crowd, or B) turned face, but stopped doing "immoral" things. Darth Vader, Walter White, Hannibal Lector, it's okay for the heel to be enjoyable to an audience.

    Does that mean that EVERY character has to be "shades of gray"? No, of course not, but there's nothing wrong with having different characters for different demographics. You can have multiple stars, such as the white-meat babyface (Cena), the button-pushing upstart (Punk), the likable underdog (Bryan), the evil monster (Brock), the no-nonsense tough guy (Sheamus), the crazy one (Ambrose), the dedicated craftsman (Cesaro), etc. Cena can still be king, but at least embrace a few other acts; sure, Cesaro could have turned, and the fans were certainly ready for it, but he also could have been a guy that endlessly brags about how talented he is (provided that he's actually allowed to win), and that could have worked really well, also, ESPECIALLY if Heyman is the one doing the bragging.

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  25. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomerySeptember 17, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Hey, keeping a super over guy with a heel alliance worked like gangbusters for Daniel Bryan >_>

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  26. "Word up to my boys Limp Bizkit for their song 'My Way'"


    That's all I need as proof for Heyman being a shitty announcer.

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  27. Am I the only person who finds Heyman annoying as fuck? Not just in how his character is supposed to be portrayed, either. I think he does have a brilliant mind as far as booking, but things like the way he says Lesnar's name (Brrrrrocccchhhhhhhh) , for instance, makes me roll my eyes. When he was a commentator on RAW back in 2001, he constantly got on my nerves (especially the GORE GORE GORE thing) as well. His voice like like nails on a chalkboard to me.

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  28. Genuinely loved the Heyman DVD, especially all the impressions dished out during it. The first time I watched it, I almost choked on my drink hearing Big Show do his Heyman voice. The only flaw is that Stephanie went out of her way to bury Heyman at every opportunity, even when wrestlers who worked under Heyman swore by his talent.

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  29. 'And if Heyman can only help already great guys, it is a reasonable
    criticism of him, no matter how good he is with Brock and Punk: Heyman,
    in a vacuum with any random (limited) talent, is not necessarily great.'

    Exactly. And really, it seems like he tries to get himself more over than anything, which granted does add additional heat to someone like Brock, but does fuck all for anyone who *needs* additional heat.

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  30. Maybe WWE didn't care about Cesaro at all and literally just put Heyman with him as an excuse for Heyman to be out on TV every week mentioning Lesnar.

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  31. That's certainly a possibility. I just get the impression there was a larger plan and it's either been derailed or stalled temporarily. But yes, given WWE's track record, assuming it's just been a mess is fairly easy. I just think that, given Heyman's track record of knowing what he's doing...unless he decided to just coast along for those weeks getting Cesaro just enough heat-by-association to stall how over he was (which doesn't sound like Heyman to me - although I guess he did associate himself with Rybaxel just to give them the tiniest bit of spotlight during his feud with Punk...)...there must have been some larger design. Or else Heyman might have likely contorted it into something workable.

    Possibly not even on purpose. Within the realm of wrestling heat/promos/build/etc., he's very much the type of person who might fix things on accident just by being as good as he is. But yeah...it ultimately could just be Vince's whim or WWE's typical, "Just plug him into a spot! Who cares how much sense it makes!"-booking. Sadly.

    (I'm probably just in intense denial and clinging to the thread of hope due to my faith in both Heyman and Cesaro as performers and despite my misgivings about WWE's typical booking style...)

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  32. I think he's great as a heel manager, and as a heel GM. However, yeah, as a commentator he might have been one of the worst. He was trying way too hard to get Rhyno over as the next Steve Austin, especially with the GORE GORE GORE. And when he would try to add stupid backstories to things, like "how does Edge get to use Rob Zombie's song as a theme, when Rob Zombie hangs with the Alliance all the time."


    Seriously?

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  33. That's true of anyone, though - Bobby Heenan wouldn't have been able to get Axel over, either.

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  34. Heyman's promos are masterful in the world of pro wrestling and this "in a vacuum" thing is ridiculous. The fact that the alliance with CM Punk WORKED is a check in his favor, not against. CM Punk was already one of the best talkers in the business and the last thing he needed was Paul Heyman, yet the dimension it added was terrific.

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  35. Yeah, Curtis Axel is devoid of anything that makes him worthwhile as a professional wrestler. He had the lineage, but possesses no natural charisma. There's just nothing about him that stands out.

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  36. Paul Heyman is so awesome he could have managed Brock as a heel and Cesaro as a face at the same time, and got the relevant reactions from the fans and everything would have worked out fine. Well, maybe not but it would have been cool to see them try it and eventually have Lesnar and Cesaro butt heads

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  37. Apologies if this is a Meekin-esque botch/shoot moment, but what is the difference between "heel" (a word you used in your original post) and "a bad guy" (whose era, according to your reply, is over)?


    When Earthquake would do his splash, it would get a "pop"/reaction from the crowd because it was a big move and his finisher, even if it was crushing the "good guy" the crowd (in general) (theoretically) wanted to win. To my ear, the Giant Swing was getting cheered, as if the crowd was saying "we like this move and are starting to like this guy and his moveset," a response that theoretically should go to "good guys." Of course bad guys should get reactions from the crowd for signature spots (or underhanded tactics) but not necessarily cheers.


    Yes, there should be a variety of characters, and a pure white knight (like Lancelot, who committed adultery with his best friend and king's wife) will certainly be rejected by a significant portion of the crowd base (and WWE often removes all of the edge that a heel-turned tweener-turned face had and then is shocked when he no longer gets a response from a crowd). At the same time, WWE needs to provide some framing for the overall story it is trying to tell: by booking X vs. Y in a match, it is framing those two wrestlers as opposed in some way, whether by personality/morality, wrestling ability, and/or both. Yes, some people will support Palpatine or the Reapers, but, in their respective stories, they are the "bad guys", entities who may have rationales to their actions that could have been framed as being a course to emulate (e.g. cold, rational efficiency) but are posited in opposition to the Skywalkers and Shepards of the stories even if those latter entities are far from perfect.


    I didn't mean to suggest that Cesaro couldn't get over if booked properly as a heel or a face (or that Heyman couldn't help get him over if booked properly), just that being a "Heyman guy" isn't an automatic success. Not only did WWE go against a crowd that seemed to be ready to cheer for Cesaro (the smarks who loved Claudio as well as the casuals who liked the Swing and his big power moves), their heel booking just dumped a bucket of ice on Cesaro and forgot about him (remember, he was in the Elimination Chamber in February and had a potentially big win over Cena in a show leading up to that PPV), such that he is in a worse position than before becoming a Heyman Guy.

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  38. Heyman spends too much time getting himself over in all honestly and if he isn't with Brock and with someone else instead, only tries to get himself over.
    I get that Heyman delivers great promos but he has failed to elevate everyone else he has been paired with. I know Axel sucks but Ryback and Cesaro are more than sufficient for him.
    There, I said it.

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  39. I didn't say working with Brock or Punk was a check against him necessarily, just that simply saying "X is a Heyman Guy" will be effective, regardless of how X is booked and how Heyman interacts with X, is not true.


    Heyman has been great with Brock and Punk, but some of his fans use that success as proof that everyone benefits from being a Heyman guy.

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  40. I agree 100 percent. I respect his contributions to the industry, but yes, I hate the way he talks, especially the way he says Brocks name.

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  41. Look, if you're going to make Heyman/Star Wars comparisons, at least have the decency to refer to him by his proper title.


    Emperor Paulpatine

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  42. I agree, and Heyman has done a great job with Brock both when he debuted and when he returned. My comment was more agreeing with Scott's reply that it depends on the right people being matched together: just because Heyman didn't get Axel over doesn't mean he is bad with everyone any more than being such an effective part of Punk and Brock means he is good with everyone.

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  43. Whenever I rewatch old NWA/WCW with the Paul E. Dangerously character, I can't help but think he's like a long-lost brother of Miguel Ferrer...

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  44. OK, I agree with that, but I don't agree with the idea that in a vacuum Heyman isn't that great. There are maybe three or four guys in WWE that can cut promos that sell a match and Heyman is one of them.

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  45. Curtis Axel may not be the most charismatic guy but to rank him with David Flair and Eric Watts is a bit much. He is probably closer to a Lanny Poffo, a good worker who just lacks the ability to connect with the crowd to be anything more than a lower midcarder.

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  46. I can see why people wouldn't like Heyman as a commentator, but in retrospect it was a nice break from the JR/Lawler dynamic. It refreshed Lawler a bit when he came back but he's hit a sharp decline as a commentator.

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  47. I don't care what anyone else says, I loved the Heyman/Ryback homoerotic schtick and I thought they could've done a lot more with that.

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  48. Apologies for being unclear: Heyman is a great, distinctive promo (period). The "vacuum" was in response to some people who seem to think everything Heyman does is good and that everyone benefits from being a Heyman guy. Just because Heyman (or anyone else) won't knock it out of the park in any situation doesn't mean he isn't one of the greatest talkers in wrestling history.

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  49. I believe that Heyman is given a lot more creative freedom when working with guys like Punk and Lesnar. With the regular talent, he is basically a mannequin for creative.

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  50. I don't buy it. Heyman spent a decade getting talentless hacks over in ECW, then suddenly loses his ability to do so now?

    He would do the same in WWE if he were allowed to do what he does well, instead of read from a script.

    Punk and Lesnar had enough clout to force management to let him work his magic.

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  51. I don't think she ever buried his talent and ability. She said Heyman wasn't a team player. Which is a documented fact.

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  52. The self-admitted brain-dead hermaphrodite? Good company there!

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  53. http://www.rspwfaq.net/2014/09/sporting-news-wwe-night-of-champions.html#comment-1593111893

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  54. It's not Heyman's fault WWE dropped the ball with booking Cesaro.

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  55. "Ryback, will you... be a Paul Heyman guy?"

    I don't even know what the point of it was, but I thought it was hysterical. I loved how Paul referred to him as "My big, beautiful Ryback".

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  56. Oh, totally agree, I just meant that I disagreed with Scott on the pairing with Cesaro - Axel and Ryback are one thing, but I think the complete flop of the Heyman/Cesaro pairing has a lot more to do with the booking than the performers.

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  57. "I don't buy it. Heyman spent a decade getting talentless hacks over in ECW, then suddenly loses his ability to do so now?"
    Why is this so hard to believe? Heyman would hardly be the first guy to lose his creative fastball over time. Happened to Watts, happened to Kevin Sullivan, happened to Bischoff, happened to Dusty...and I think we're all fairly sure it's happening to Vince.

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  58. Adam "Colorado" CurrySeptember 17, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Not a fair comparison. Heyman was actually booking the guys in ECW, not just acting as their mouthpiece.

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  59. Adam "Colorado" CurrySeptember 17, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I don't remember Sullivan ever having that fastball.

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  60. That, I can agree with.

    Even if the Cesaro/Heyman pairing would/could have worked, the original "WTF?-ness" of the pairing would probably have taken at least a few weeks to digest. Turning him face really would have been the best thing, I don't disagree, but I don't think it was the ONLY thing that could have worked.

    As for faces/good guys or heels/bad guys, I meant in regards to whether we're discussing individuals or groups. Not every "face" on the roster has to be an identical white-hat, and not every "heel" on the roster has to be completely dastardly. There's room for a guy like Cena and a guy like Punk as the main protagonists, just as there's room for a guy like Kane that's supposed to basically be the son of Satan, a guy like Brock that's far less "evil" and just kind of a dick. [And please don't think I'm saying that Kane should be a main-eventer, I'm just speaking in terms of degrees for each character.]

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  61. Curtis Axel is "mechanically" fine as a wrestler, but bland as hell.


    Same with the "Jr." versions of Ted Dibiase or Chavo Guerrero.

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  62. FRUITY, FRUITY, FRUITY SKITTLES!!!

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  63. I'm talking about his WWE run

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  64. I mean shit, the New Age Outlaws did all of their crowd-friendly theatrics even as heels. Whether you're a heel or a face, I think you should be allowed to keep doing the things that get you over.

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  65. BS. Axel and Ryback were cut off at the knees by Punk during his Reign of Terror.

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  66. Is Heyman really to blame for Cesaro? There are bigger things trying to slow that guy down because he should be a monster star by now.

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  67. I know you are. I am saying that the reasons midcard talent don't get over with Heyman are outside his pay grade.

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  68. Axel has no personality and Ryback was exposed with longer matches, he has a lower workrate than Batista

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  69. That is code for told steph her ideas sucked

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  70. Cesaro can (and hopefully will) be a main eventer in the company, but I don't think he has monster star potential.

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  71. At one point, I believe it was Steph who said he was ineffective, which came right after the part where the DVD credited Heyman for Smackdown beating Raw in the ratings, in merchandise, etc. My guess is people are still bitter at Heyman for that more than a decade after the fact.

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  72. Other than booking the hottest 2 years WCW ever had or would see? He must have been doing *something* right.

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  73. "But then keep in mind what Heyman did for Axel, Ryback and Cesaro, which is to say fuck all. So it's also a matter of the right people being matched together."


    Exactly! Too many people seem to think that everything is an exact science on paper, but dismiss the fact that execution involves variables such as timing.

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  74. also: how many (lenghty) promos did Heyman actually do while being the manager of Axel, Ryback and Cesaro?

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  75. also, what use is a great promo guy if he rarely has the opportunity to hold promos (how many promos besides the initial one did he do for Axel?).

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  76. Chavo doesn't deserve to be put in the same category at all.

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  77. Heenan/André.

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  78. "Say something stupid Paul!"

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  79. All the ones about Brock and the Streak.

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  80. Hah! I think the Gore, Gore thing for Rhyno was started by Joey Styles in ECW.

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