FanPost edited and promoted to the front page by CagesideSeats.com.
"But now that you know all the headlines, let's go a little bit off page and shoot from the hip, shall we? " - Paul Heyman, April 7, 2014, on Raw
The assumption has been the part of Heyman’s "shoot" was exposing Undertaker’s health and hospital ride.
But to really understand what Heyman does in these situations, you have to remember his dad was a trial lawyer so Heyman approaches the mic like he’s giving a closing argument where you take the facts and depict them to fit your story. We saw this in his CM Punk rant in Chicago. He took the reality of Punk’s career and twisted the edges to make it fit the wrestling angle. The post-WrestleMania Raw rant put this in play and by doing so, he utilized a foundational piece of wrestling: misdirection.
More from Heyman:
"So notice this, okay. There are a lot of people in the back who sit here and say, 'I could have been the one to jump from the ring to the Octagon'. But Daniel Bryan never fought in an Octagon. John Cena never fought in an Octagon. The Undertaker never fought in an Octagon. You know why? They're all wannabes. Brock Lesnar is the one. There are a lot of people who wanted to be the NCAA Division 1 heavyweight champion, the Ultimate Fighting champion, the undisputed WWE champion. The Rock never pulled that off; Hulk Hogan never pulled that off; Stone Cold Steve Austin never pulled that off. You know why? They're all wannabes. Brock Lesnar is the one.
"And then you got a bunch of guys in the locker room last night coming up to me saying, 'hey Paul, I could have been the one to break the streak; I could have beaten the Undertaker.' So why didn't you? Randy Orton didn't break the streak; Shawn Michaels didn't break the streak; Triple H didn't break the streak. Know why? They're all wannabes. Brock Lesnar is the one. Because Brock Lesnar is the one in 21-1."
In one move, Heyman relegates every top name in WWE history, whether he directly mentions them or not, to stuntmen and actors. That is the shoot part of his speech.
And the crazy thing about it? That’s not Lesnar or Heyman’s personal perspective. It’s Mark Calaway.
You can argue the streak buildup was mishandled, that’s valid. But to say Lesnar was the wrong guy requires Calaway to suddenly be in a position of no power, no control over his career. You also have to then believe that Lesnar was just as suddenly in a power position and one greater than when he first returned. Because even after being the face of UFC, Lesnar still lost his return feud to John Cena. So for this case to work, you have to believe Cena, who headlined with The Rock at WrestleMania 28 and 29, respectively, chose mid-card with Bray Wyatt instead of being the one to end the streak.
Why would Cena say no to beating Undertaker? Because of the guaranteed heat? Cena loves splitting the crowd into a mix of love/hate and a WrestleMania 30 build to Cena vs. Undertaker would have had everyone fretting the outcome because it’s Cena. The odds of him winning would have been at least 50/50. Lesnar was, at best, 40/60, and even that is stretching it.
But a Cena win requires a compliant Calaway, which brings us back to Heyman, who was undoubtedly involved with Calloway, Lesnar, Vince McMahon, and Triple H. The magnitude of the match leaves little doubt that Heyman would make sure he understands where Calaway is coming from, whether it's family, health, and so on. He wouldn't accept the word of a secondary source, even if it is Vince. Heyman would want to make sure that everyone is clear about the ramifications, and once that's settled, he would ask the right questions as to why, since everyone else will want to know. Just look at the trust Vince and Triple H have placed in Heyman with their two biggest "real" events: CM Punk and Undertaker. They know he can make the case, which he did, by explaining how Mark Calaway views Brock.
If the Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling is Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Rock, then Undertaker, Ric Flair and Sting are battling for fourth. Calaway knows this because the only thing in pro wrestling he’s never done is carry a second federation. Steve Borden could have bailed for greener WWF/E pastures at any time, but his understanding of his character, Sting’s, unique place in wrestling history made him pass on the opportunity. This is where Calaway’s respect for Sting comes from.
Combined with their long-standing friendship, Sting is probably the only career wrestler Undertaker would have been willing to let end the streak, but there’s no way in hell Vince would go along with an outsider being given that honor. Calaway knows this and he also knows what initiation Vince would make Sting go through (losing to Triple H, Cena and any other top WWE player), before getting the go-ahead. But after those feuds, the value is gone. This is what's meant when you read Borden hasn't trusted WWF/E with the creative direction of his character.
With Lesnar, you have a guy who left WWE of his own will while at the top of his game, and turned UFC into a brand. Calaway is on record saying if UFC existed when he first entered pro wrestling, he probably would have jumped to MMA. Austin and Rock have said roughly the same thing. When they started, they saw wrestling as a sport with a cover of entertainment. WWE era reversed that order, which is why the old school wrestlers look at MMA with such respect; it will always be a sport, first. The competition is in the ring, not in shirt sales.
So Calaway looks at Lesnar and thinks what could have been. The respect between the two is legit if unspoken as they both give each other "the rub". Lesnar legitimized Calaway as a guy who could have fought MMA. Undertaker legitimized Lesnar as a unique player in wrestling history.
In the end, this was Calaway’s decision and one he’s been willing to do for sometime. The beat down he took from Lesnar was just as purposeful as the one The Shield gave the New Age Outlaws, concussion or not. Maybe because Calaway predominantly watches WWE from a fan’s perspective (at a distance from home), he saw how literally unbelievable it was to sell Triple H or Cena as somehow able to beat Lesnar. What Calaway did at WrestleMania 30 absolved those past years of bad booking. Now if Brock goes after Daniel Bryan, Batista, Cena, whoever, no one will question if he deserves to be in an automatic top spot. In one night, Calaway put Lesnar in a position where Cena's stroke cannot effect him as it did upon his return. And that, in essence, revived WWE's lost component of sports competition. Nothing could be more important to the future of the company.
As someone said, it's what's best for business.