Paul Heyman has revealed that the course of wrestling history was almost altered entirely as Vince McMahon wanted him to second another star instead of Brock Lesnar.
In 2002, Brock Lesnar burst onto the WWE scene as he decimated and destroyed WWE stars at will. Scarier still is there seemed to be a brain behind the brawn as Paul Heyman was by Lesnar’s side pulling the strings on the way to The Next Big Thing becoming WWE Champion just four months after his debut in the company. However, things could have been very different.
Speaking to Rick Rubin on the Tetragrammaton podcast, Paul Heyman revealed that Vince McMahon originally had plans for him to manage Chris Benoit on WWE television before Heyman informed McMahon of the original plans for Brock Lesnar which neither were a fan of:
“So I lost a bunch of weight going into WrestleMania 18, which was in 2002 and I was going to end up managing Chris Benoit. When Vince brought me in, he asked me, ‘What do you think is the greatest contribution you can offer our company?’
“I said to him from the beginning, “What a crew there was back in 2001, but boy, what we don’t have is the next big thing. Who’s that next one with lightning in a bottle? Who’s the next one that’s going to set the world on fire? Who’s the next guy we can hang our hat on? Who’s the guy that’s going to be the poster boy for WWE that when we put him up on his screen, people go, ‘Whoa, that’s that WWE guy.’
“So I went to Vince and I said, Taz brought me Brock Lesnar. ‘Oh, yeah. Keep an eye on him. I’m wondering what you think of him.’ ‘I’ll tell you two things. Number one, I think he’s the next big thing and number two, we are screwing this up.’ ‘How are we screwing this up? I started telling him what the advice was and he goes, ‘Oh, God damn Paul. Get involved in this right now.’ I said, ‘You want me to produce him?’ ‘Yea, you take over. He’s yours.’
“‘Okay.’ So I started lining up his matches. Here’s what I want you to do and here’s how I want you to display it. I put together a couple of matches of his. It was two that week and I think maybe two the next. The opponents were the same, Spike Dudley and Funaki because I knew they would make him look like what he needed to look like.
“The night before Mania, Vince comes to me and he says, ‘I’m not going to put you with Benoit.’ I’m like, thank God I’m not on television. I didn’t want to go back on TV. I was like, okay, that’s great. Thank you. All right, I found peace in my ability to pull out of the public eye. He says, ‘I’m going to put you with Brock Lesnar’, and I just said ‘Bingo.’ Okay, money. Oh, my God. You just gave me a completely new life because I knew, oh my god, you want me to talk for this guy? Okay, this is the easiest job in the world.”
Paul Heyman may be better known today in WWE as The Wise Man to WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Heyman also explained how that partnership got started.