During a recent interview with Esquire Middle East, Paul Heyman commented on Roman Reigns being the top heel on WWE SmackDown, a potential Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On his motivating factor as an on-screen talent: “Well, I think if you take a look at my career in this industry, it’s always been about pushing and promoting marketing new talent. How do you get new fresh, different blood into the main event tier? That’s the only way for an industry to survive, and indeed, thrive. You have to have new matchups, you have to have new people in the mix. Otherwise, the product goes stale. The very first event I ever promoted, was when I was 19 years old at Studio 54, the world’s most famous nightclub in New York City. That was where I not only gave an award to Ric Flair, but I also presented the pro wrestling debut of Bam Bam Bigelow. With all this media there, I opened my career introducing a new star.
“In ECW, it was the same thing. It was creating new stars of our own. We didn’t rely on the cast-offs from WWE, WCW, etc. We built new stars because we needed always new fresh blood on top. So my role as the lead writer of SmackDown 19 years ago was the same thing. We made Edge a singles star, we broke the Guerreros out into the top mix. We brought in Rey Mysterio as a top star. It was always the concept of building, making and marketing new people into the main event mix. So when I became the executive director of Raw, it was the same thing. It was about who can now become the next big star in WWE.”
On Roman Reigns being able to elevate himself following his heel turn: “Roman Reigns is a subject and a category all unto himself. Roman Reigns had to main event for nine years, had to main event WrestleMania multiple times, consecutively, in order to find the best presentation of Roman Reigns. And he also needed some seasoning. He needed some age in his face. Roman Reigns could not have pulled off this presentation even two years ago, he wasn’t ready for it. He didn’t look the role. He was still—he still looked too young. Now, when you look in his face, you can see some of the wars that he’s been through. You can see the years of main eventing have presented a burden to the man behind the persona, that he has to carry not only his family, but as the top star in sports entertainment. He has to carry WWE, and indeed he has to carry the entire industry in terms of public perception. And you get to see that in his face now. And you couldn’t see that in his face, even if it was true, just a couple of years ago.
“So what allows Roman Reigns to resonate today? The reason why the connection to the audience and with the audience is so strong is because you’re seeing how this man actually feels. And he looks at the part when he says these words. He could have said these words with the same delivery and the same greatness two years ago, but it wouldn’t hit home as much because now he truly looks the part as well.”
One of the biggest potential matches out there is Brock versus Roman, and that’s a story that you would be at the centre of. Is that something that you think about, is that something you’ve discussed with Brock, or is that really just off of your mind completely?
On the potential of a Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match: “I think there’s a lot of big money matchups. For Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar is absolutely positively one of them. But Roman Reigns versus The Rock is also huge box office. Roman Reigns one more time against John Cena would be huge box office. Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre at a WrestleMania would be huge box office.
“And I can’t discount, and I think we would all be remiss to discount, some of the new stars in WWE that I have had these discussions with on Talking Smack. Big E, Apollo Crews. Those are two people, just for example, that could truly step up into the main event on a global basis atmosphere and become the huge box office attraction that Roman Reigns needs to Main Event against at a WrestleMania. I can’t tell you that next year’s WrestleMania shouldn’t be Roman Reigns versus Big E or Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre Roman Reigns versus Apollo Crews. These are huge superstars stepping into their own the same way Roman Reigns stepped into his own last August.”