By John Napolitano
On the humid afternoon of August 8, 2014, an unsuspecting and, albeit, somewhat naïve 17 year-old professional wrestling fan purchased the most desired documentary that WWE has ever produced. That documentary is entitled, Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman, and it has had the entire Internet Wrestling Community buzzing.
Paul Heyman is one of the most controversial figures in pro-wrestling; who wouldn’t want to delve into a tell-all exposé about one of the most polarizing enigmas to ever pick up a microphone? Rerouting back to the original narrative, that unsuspecting and somewhat naïve 17 year-old pro-wrestling fan was me, and purchasing Paul Heyman’s new DVD was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.
Firstly, Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman, is an educational experience like no other. Not only does the documentary dive deep into Heyman’s roots, background, and upbringing, but it also details his journey from promotion to promotion and the encounters that not only progressed his career but, in some cases, ended it. From New York to Florida, Memphis to Minneapolis, and Atlanta to Philadelphia, Heyman has impacted each and every person he met along the way.
But what makes Heyman a standout talent? There have been countless entities within the world of pro-wrestling who have been both influential and well-known amongst the territories with less than half of the notoriety of Heyman. The reason Heyman is a top-tier talent is because of his revolutionary feats, innovative promos, and undeniable passion.
A revolution can be defined as a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized. In 1993, the norm in pro-wrestling was that of a cartoonish variety, riddled with non-contemporary content; that is, until Heyman took a small-time NWA promotion known as Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) and transformed it into the most extreme brand of wrestling ever conceptualized.
ECW, now dubbed Extreme Championship Wrestling, was widely regarded as a wrestling revolution, displaying absurd amounts of violence and a dedicated executive producer in Heyman willing to break all of the rules of the business to not only make waves in the wrestling world, but stick it to both WCW and WWE. Despite financial hardships and tendencies to cross the line, Heyman was regarded as a god to both the ECW fans and the ECW locker room. His innate ability to motivate and inspire his employees was unlike any other, so much so that those who work for him regularly refer to themselves as “Paul Heyman Guys.”
Heyman’s gift of oration has set him above and beyond any other manager, agent, or promoter in pro-wrestling history. His innovative promos in AWA and ECW as “Paul E. Dangerously” set new standards for managers aiming to acquire heat from the fans. In fact, a large portion of Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman, is dedicated solely to the audacious promos that he cut from territory to territory, each one better than the last. The reason Heyman has enjoyed such longevity in pro-wrestling is because, along with his promos, his character has evolved, adding new dynamics every so often in order to stay on the forefront of relevancy. Innovation is something that Paul Heyman thrives on and implements more effectively than anyone else.
Passion has become an antiquated characteristic in pro-wrestling. Naturally, there are those that claim to be passionate in whatever discipline they pursue, but unbridled and unconditional passion is a rarity nowadays. When Heyman was 14 years old, he was so enthralled with the business that he invested in camera, hoodwinked Madison Square Garden into granting him a press pass, and became a regular photographer for WWE before even departing the world of pre-pubescence. Heyman’s desire to work frequently for little to no pay speaks volumes to his passion and is something one can only wish to emulate.
After watching Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman, I have gathered that Heyman’s legacy will be one of revolution, innovation, and passion. Obviously, there are fathoms of uncharted talking points in this blog post; I have only discussed particular areas that have resonated with me from Paul Heyman’s DVD, but one could write an entire series of novels on Heyman’s legacy, and they would not even begin to scrape the surface of his contributions to the business. The WWE Universe is fortunate enough to have the pleasure of witnessing the Paul Heyman week in and week out, as he continues to parlay his legacy into immortality.