Paul Heyman was interviewed by Peter Rosenberg and discussed a number of topics. Here are some of the highlights.
On what it’s been like in WWE this time around and working with C.M. Punk: “I’m having an absolute blast, it’s the best of all circumstances. … Because I’m working with people I absolutely adore working with. I originally came back to work with Brock Lesnar and I couldn’t think of a better scenario to come back to WWE (than) with Brock. Then, after Summerslam when Brock went away, I was going away, too, and then came the opportunity to work with C.M. Punk.
“In the same vein that I could think of a better way to return than with Brock Lesnar, I couldn’t think of someone I would like to play with as the WWE champion more than C.M. Punk. It’s funny that WWE is promoting a Rolling Stones pay-per-view because I feel like we’re Mick and Keith out there every week. We get a chance to do out thing, we’re winging it half the time — it’s like a jam session with two guys that love music. It’s a jam session in the realm of sports entertainment/professional wrestling with two guys who have always wanted to work with each other and never had the opportunity to do so. It’s a whole different way for me to play this character, it’s a whole new character for me to play.”
On how his character is different working with C.M. Punk: “Because I’ve never really been the silent guy, I’ve always been the one that did the talking for the monster or the guy that advocates the position for his client to the extent that I’m doing the majority of the talking. On this one, I shouldn’t do the majority of the talking, I should just be the guy that stands behind him and holds the title in the air. It’s a totally different way to play it because I’m the guy that he gets to bounce off instead of the guy that literally carries the message for him.
“With Brock, I did all the talking and I advocated the position and then he backed it up in the ring. With Punk, it would not make any sense for me to do all the talking. I should do very little talking. ‘Ladies and gentleman, my name is Paul Heyman and I’m here to represent the WWE champion C.M. Punk,’ and then boom. That’s all I should really every say. So, it’s a Meyer Lansky-type of position more so than the guy that it up front completely delivering the message for — by way of example — Brock Lesnar.”
On his on-air confrontations with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and blurring the line between story lines and shoots: “I think that one of the luxuries that I have been afforded since I’ve come back is that the line has been blurred since day one with me. When I came on TV the first night and made the statement that Brock Lesnar is the only man in history to hold the NCAA division I Heavyweight championship, the WWE Heavyweight championship and the UFC Heavyweight championship — no one had brought that up on television. I brought it up.
“The second week I’m on television, I have a confrontation with Triple H and I make the statement that I don’t understand how you bring a fighter into a sports entertainment company and then complain when he wants to fight. One of the things that really worked well for me is that, although it’s in the realm of the story line, there’s nothing that I’m saying that I don’t truly believe in. I believe in everything I’m saying, I really do. It’s not hard for me to advocate for Brock Lesnar, I’m a huge fan of his.
“When I stand in front of an audience, be it live or on television, and I say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, C.M. Punk is the best in the world,’ I mean that. I don’t have to play a character to say that. The way I deliver the message is as an asshole because that’s my character. My character is designed to illicit a response from a crowd of boos and we want to see this guy get his ass kicked. But there’s nothing I’m saying that I have to be scripted to say. I truly do believe in my heart that right now there is nobody in the professional wrestling industry that can tough C.M. Punk. He’s the best in the world and I can’t see anybody telling me any different.
“So, when I had the confrontation with Stephanie McMahon — and I know there are a lot of people out there saying, ‘Oh, everything Stephanie said, she meant and it was real.’ I hope so, I would want it to be that way. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way because if she’s going to deliver — and she delivered her message phenomenally, I watched that back and she just drilled me and that’s great. That’s wonderful because as you said, it’s riveting.
“See, this is my goal: we did a segment on television on the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw and I can’t imagine that you’ll ever have a career retrospective of Stephanie McMahon and not include that clip. I can’t imagine that when they do the 2,000th episode of Monday Night Raw which my kids and their kids will end up watching that they won’t go back and say, ‘Here’s a highlight from Raw 1,000,’ and that not being included. I can’t imagine that being left out.
“So, if it takes Stephanie using her personal feelings about me to bring it — bring it. Great! I hope that she meant every word that she said. It would make for compelling, riveting television. And it’s something that people now, from 4 or 5 months ago, still talk about.”
On whether or not he envisions long-term plans with WWE or if he takes on challenges as they come: “It’s kind of a little of both. I knew Brock’s plan when I agreed to come in and done this deal with Brock. I was very satisfied with that, if I had just done this run with Brock I would have been very satisfied. Now, comes the new element of working with C.M. Punk and finding our magic together. I certainly have goals and so does Punk regarding where we can take that character and our characters together.
“If that leads to WrestleMania 30 — great. Right now, our focus is where do we take his character to WrestleMania 29 and getting him in the right position and the spotlight and match that he envisions for WrestleMania 29 is the goal. Along the way, (we want) to create those moments that I think Punk has certainly delivered on — the confrontation with Mick Foley was tremendous. The confrontation with J.R. — tremendous. The confrontation with Vince McMahon — tremendous. With Bret Hart — tremendous. The stuff that he’s done with Cena — tremendous.”
On the viral video that Heyman produced involving ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and C.M. Punk: “What happened with that was that I was originally scheduled to interview ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin because my agency does the outside-WWE work in terms of production. We do all the production for the THQ/WWE 13 video game. Once I went back on television, I didn’t think it made any sense to interview ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. So, I asked if anybody minded if we had J.R. interview ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin because I think people would like to see those two together again.
“Once we got J.R. to interview Steve Austin, the scheduling worked out to where we were going to shoot this in L.A. the week of Summerslam. C.M. Punk and I were not even together on television yet and I just thought, ‘Man, why not have Punk join us? He’s on the cover of the game, wouldn’t that make sense?’ We just kind of pushed it through and at the last minute called Austin — literally the night before — and said, ‘Hey Steve, do you mind if the WWE champion C.M. Punk sits in and you guys talk about the Attitude Era vs. the modern era?’
“You know, Steve never backs down from a challenge like that. ‘God damn, bring him on the set. I’d love to see C.M. Punk.’ That was it. Of course, Punk was game because he had the chance to play with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Literally, we just let the cameras roll and it was magic. That’s what we look for.”