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Who is Paul Heyman?
He’s been called a renegade, a rebel, a mad scientist who changed the way the world sees sports-entertainment. But there’s one word that best describes the man born Paul Heyman — dangerous.
Stepping out in front of a stunned WWE Universe on Monday night, the sneering instigator revealed himself to be Brock Lesnar’s official legal representative. It was the type of Machiavellian maneuver that has made the onetime ECW head a loathed and feared figure at WWE’s corporate headquarters. But how did Mr. Heyman become the least likely person to be invited to a WWE Christmas party?
The most outspoken individual in an industry populated entirely by outspoken individuals, the brusque New Yorker first gained enemies under the guise of Paul E. Dangerously in WCW. Managing Steve Austin, Arn Anderson and Rick Rude in a stable he dubbed his Dangerous Alliance, Heyman used a Big Apple attitude and an oversized 1980s cell phone to help his charges run through the likes of Sting and Ricky Steamboat. ( PHOTOS)
Heyman may have spent his entire career as a manager and color commentator had WCW not released the hothead in 1993. Finding opportunity in failure, the innovator became associated with a Philadelphia-based independent promotion called Eastern Championship Wrestling and set about turning the modest company into the most daring organization sports-entertainment had ever seen. Drawing inspiration from alternative rock music and MTV, Heyman rechristened the promotion Extreme Championship Wresting and took it from public access to national pay-per-view through his endorsement of brutal bouts between a rotating cast of misfits that included the beer-swilling Sandman and an ex-con with a staple gun named New Jack.
Credited with inspiring WWE’s landmark “Attitude Era,” the controversial brand became the third largest wrestling company in the world behind WWE and WCW before it was crippled by financial problems in 2001. Heyman joined WWE as J.R.’s broadcast partner after that, but it wouldn’t be long before the nonconformists of ECW reemerged in WWE as a part of the infamous “Invasion.” Aligning himself with Stephanie and Shane McMahon in an attempted overthrow of Mr. McMahon’s empire, Heyman came scarily close to toppling the man he once accused of stealing everything from him, but ultimately failed to bring down WWE.
Now viewed as public enemy No. 1 by WWE executives, the fearless firebrand managed to once again embed himself in company business when he formed an alliance with an athletic freak by the name of Brock Lesnar in ’02. Fresh out of the University of Minnesota’s wresting program, Lesnar blasted onto WWE television and destroyed a long line of unfortunate Superstars while Heyman barked orders from ringside. Standing behind the “Next Big Thing,” the agent found the perfect way to torture his greatest enemy, Mr. McMahon. If the head honcho wanted to do business with Lesnar, he’d have to go through Heyman first. Clearly, as witnessed by the events of Raw on May 7, this professional partnership remains.
Although the troublemaker’s relationship with Brock briefly soured, Heyman found another entry into WWE through an ECW relaunch under the WWE banner in 2005. When that turned bad under the executive’s direction, the unpredictable mastermind was labeled a sports-entertainment pariah. But, as always, Heyman was able to worm his way back in. Once again serving as a legal advisor to the former WWE Champion, Paul Heyman has returned to do what he does best — making life hell for the powers that be.