The great Paul Heyman has been doing interviews to promote his friend Brock Lesnar being on the cover of WWE2K17, which was announced earlier today. Heyman is the on screen WWE advocate of Lesnar, but he’s also worked closely with Lesnar for the majority of his 14 year run in both WWE and UFC.
Heyman did an in-depth interview with ESPN.com covering a lot of topics. Here’s a sampling of some of what he said.
His reaction to Lesnar’s UFC return at UFC 200 on July 9.
It’s what Brock wants to do. Whatever sports entertainment is behind the scenes is irrelevant — you have to be able to deliver inside the ring. What propels Brock Lesnar to deliver like he does is the fact that he’s truly a competitor. Even though it’s sports entertainment, Brock is competing with everyone else that’s out there so that when the show is over people say, “Wow, did you see Brock Lesnar’s performance?” It’s the same thing. He’s a competitor and the moment he announced his retirement from mixed martial arts [in December 2011], I think he regretted the fact that he missed a chance to compete at perfect health. It’s the one decision in his life he ever was second-guessing and therefore, for his own mindset, I think this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him because he gets to go back and do something at an age when so few do it. He truly needs in his heart of hearts to do it because competition is in his blood and he wasn’t ready to walk away from that yet.
His thoughts on WWE business changing by allowing Lesnar to fight in UFC and signing guys from other companies.
I think Vince McMahon’s perspective changes several times per day and it has to if you want to survive in today’s constantly changing environment. I think the entire concept of the WWE Network is indication that Vince McMahon’s perspective is constantly changing because it has created a completely different business model for WWE itself. Does Brock walking between the two worlds serve as Vince McMahon’s acceptance to change? I think Vince has always been willing to change. His whole goal when he bought out his father was to completely change the perception and distribution and the marketing and the promotion of this industry. I can’t say that what Brock Lesnar is doing is indicative of anything regarding Vince McMahon because the only two people who know of Vince’s acceptance of Brock walking between the two worlds are Brock and Vince because those are the two that had the conversation about this.
His thoughts on Lesnar possibly fighting for UFC again after July 9.
I don’t make any predictions regarding Brock’s viewpoint in terms of competing in the UFC after July 9. I know that Brock really wanted to have a training camp and really wanted to step into the Octagon and have fun competing because to him that’s the greatest feeling in the world. He’s a born competitor. He’s not giving up WWE to do this. Could he hold the UFC and the WWE world championship? Absolutely he can and he’s the only being on the face of the planet who could possibly even consider making that accomplishment happen.
His take on if anybody else can do what Lesnar does.
The short answer to that is no. The long answer is that this is one of the things Brock Lesnar discussed at length with 2K Sports when they wanted him to be the cover art for “WWE 2K17.” When the game comes out you’ll see that Brock wanted his name attached to something that’s unique, different and extraordinary. I have all the respect in the world — more so than most would ever believe — for John Cena, for example. But John Cena could not main event WrestleMania, main event SummerSlam and then walk into the Octagon in true heavyweight competition against another heavyweight UFC fighter. Nor could Conor McGregor, the biggest box office attraction with the exception of Brock Lesnar in UFC, go from a UFC fight and then transfer over to do all the hype, all the television, all the publicity going into a WWE pay-per-view event and then continue to perform at the top level of sports entertainment. It just can’t happen. Ronda Rousey can make an appearance at WrestleMania. But can she work a full schedule to promote WrestleMania and then get into the Octagon and fight Holly Holm or Miesha Tate? The fact is you can’t expect them to. It would be unrealistic to expect them to. This is something not even Vince McMahon or Dana White could pull off. What makes Brock Lesnar different is that there’s nothing I say about him that’s simply hype. My job is to hype him, but there’s nothing I say that isn’t rooted in reality. There is one being on the face of the planet that could possibly pull this off and his name is Brock Lesnar.
His feelings on making Smackdown important once again.
I think it’s paramount. SmackDown has to come across as a brand that is truly competing with Monday Night Raw. If the brand is not competitive with WWE in terms of talent, production, look, presentation — just in terms of the manner in which the announcers get to describe the product — it’s doomed. But I don’t see it going down that way. Vince McMahon is not known for doing things half-ass and I’m sure that the directive within WWE is that as of July 19 when this brand split happens there will be an equal and distinctive roster on each side and that they are going to compete. Vince, much like Brock Lesnar, thrives on competition. Just like he did in 2002, when there is no one out there competing with Vince McMahon, he will create his own competition.
His list of future opponents for Lesnar in WWE.
Obviously, whoever holds the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Once you get past that, just look at the NXT roster and you’ll see guys like Samoa Joe and [Finn] Balor and all this talent that is coming up and about to break into the main roster. I would love to see these guys. I would love to see modern-day Brock Lesnar against modern-day Randy Orton. And I still don’t think the public is tired of seeing Lesnar against John Cena.
His take on what NXT stars will be big on the WWE main roster.
I think Balor is ready to be a main event superstar. I think Samoa Joe has always been a main event superstar. That NXT roster is filled with A-listers who are ready to move up and make a significant impact on both Raw and SmackDown. You seriously take a look and you realize how well positioned WWE is for this draft because there is so much talent in NXT. To go even further, NXT is practically guaranteed to lose not only its top tier, but particularly its top 1-A tier in this draft (or six months after the draft). Yet nobody in NXT is sweating this because the depth is so deep with A-level talent right now.
Will he accompany Lesnar to the cage at UFC 200?
[Laughs] What purpose would I be serving if I were to accompany Brock Lesnar to the Octagon? Will I tell him to throw more jabs? Will I tell him to go for the takedown now or switch to the jiu-jitsu concept? I find it funny that there is all this speculation. I wish I could find a purpose to serve to go out with Brock. It will be very funny for me to watch him walk down the aisle without me, but until I find a genuine purpose for me to accompany him I really don’t know in what capacity I could serve to help him win that fight.
His opinion on what Lesnar might be doing when he’s 60 years old.
Buying more farmland in Saskatchewan. The man is a farmer. He loves to farm. It’s what is in his heart and is what he will pass down to his children. Brock Lesnar is a farmer and performing and fighting is what allows him to buy more farmland.
That was great. I like how he puts over guys like Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. He also makes good points about Lesnar being a unique athlete that has the ability to do special things while most other big names in WWE and UFC couldn’t do the same things.
To read the whole thing visit ESPN.com now.
I’ll close this by saying that all WWE fans miss seeing Heyman on WWE TV, but he should be back in late July or early August with Lesnar as we head towards SummerSlam in Brooklyn.