Paul Heyman Says Vince McMahon Thought WWE Star’s Nickname Was “Terrible”

Vince McMahon Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman says Vince McMahon initially hated one of Brock Lesnar’s iconic monikers.

Before he was The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar was The Next Big Thing in WWE. Making his debut on a 2002 episode of SmackDown, Lesnar was ushered in by Paul Heyman, with whom he would have an alliance until Heyman turned on his client to join The Big Show at Survivor Series.

Speaking to Rick Rubin on the latest episode of his Tetragrammation podcast, Heyman spoke about forming his alliance with Lesnar after initially being told he would be paired with Chris Benoit.

“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.”

“That’s Terrible” – Vince McMahon On Paul Heyman’s Nickname For Brock Lesnar

Continuing, Heyman explained that despite seeing great things in store for Lesnar’s future, he hated the moniker “The Next Big Thing.” However, the name caught on with fans, and therefore it was there to stay.

“The decision was made to start him the day after Mania and let his first Mania be in the main event a year later and that was supposed to be for the title, but we fast tracked that. We got the title on him by SummerSlam. We were just moving and Dwayne Johnson was going off to Hollywood, so the timing was perfect for us and Steve Austin had left. So it was, wow, we were going to anoint the next big thing.

“So the first promo that I did with him, I called Brock the next big thing. We’re on the jet that night and Vince turned to me and he goes, ‘What did you call him?’ I said, ‘I called him the next big thing. Brock Lesnar’ and he said, ‘That’s terrible.’ Why would you call him that?’ ‘Well, because he’s the next big thing.’ ‘Terrible name. Why would you stick that on him? Oh, God, people are gonna vomit all over that.’ Thank God by the next week, there were signs in the crowd, the next big thing, and it caught on.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Heyman explained going to great lengths to display emotion during a particular backstage interview, even wearing the suit he wore to his father’s funeral.

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