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Making sense of Paul Heyman and Cesaro

All it takes to fully embrace and understand the professional relationship of Paul Heyman and his newest a change in perspective.

A topic that came up this morning on my radio show in Nashville seemed to echo the head-scratching going on across the globe as to what exactly the alliance between Paul Heyman and Cesaro means for both characters.

Wrestling, at its best, attempts to imitate life and then turn the volume to nine thousand. What the world knows of Paul Heyman as a WWE talent is as an underhanded, conniving, dangerous liar who is vindictive and also is incredibly successful because of whom he has aligned himself with and chosen to represent.

(Note: Does not include Ryback or Curtis Axel, who I still believe had he been named "Joe Hennig" would be in a much better position today, but maybe I’m insane. Curtis Axel sounds like a human villain in a Go-Bots cartoon from 1984. Actually that might be too nice…think M.A.S.K. instead.)

Brock Lesnar ended the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak this past Sunday in New Orleans and nearly broke Twitter singlehandedly in the process. Taker had said three years ago privately he was in favor of Brock breaking his streak because Lesnar, in the Phenom’s eyes, was a legitimate tough guy, a fighter who had proven his skill and strength first as an amateur wrestler and later in the Octagon and of course for Vince McMahon.

That decision aside, Paul Heyman has been nearly as responsible for Brock Lesnar’s success as the former Golden Gopher himself, because as a mouthpiece, with the exception possibly of Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman is the finest non-wrestling character to ever pick up a microphone and speak words into it. His promo on Monday night was so good it may already have set an impossible bar for the rest of 2014 as an interview spot and with the exception of the brilliant Mark Henry "retirement" promo from last summer, may also be the best piece of work in a few years in WWE.

Lesnar, if he wasn’t a heel before in the eyes of the majority of the fan base, certainly has put himself on an eternal list of vitriol as a result of Sunday’s match. For many, that will never change. So how do we explain what Heyman would do about an hour after that beautiful promo with Lesnar as he aligned himself with Cesaro, one of the hottest acts in the company and someone on the way to a nearly universal babyface reaction?

Very simple. Paul Heyman is not Slick, he’s not Heenan, he’s not Cornette, he’s not Humperdink, he’s not Albano, he’s not Sunny, he’s not Jimmy Hart.

Paul Heyman is Jerry Maguire. Paul Heyman, if we go with the imitation of life concept…is Drew Rosenhaus.

One thing that has always been true about Heyman as a manager, from his days with the Zack Morris phone through his days with the Dangerous Alliance to his work in WWE is that at his core, Paul Heyman is an opportunist. He aligns himself with the likes of the Big Show, CM Punk, and Brock Lesnar. He’s smart and he knows when to jump on board with a prime talent.

Here’s the key to comprehension: just stop looking at the guy like he’s a traditional wrestling manager, because he’s not. See him as a sports agent, but not Arli$$.

Drew Rosenhaus, at the height of his notoriety, had Terrell Owens as a client, but also represented many other athletes, including Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson. Owens was a bit of an antagonist to say the least, not to mention he was a big star and someone who was generally a money-making talent, a box office attraction and a media magnet.

Terrell Owens is Brock Lesnar.

Cesaro is going to be cheered. All the way down to his nickname, the "King of Swing," people are begging to pull for him and most have already gone down that road. So joining Paul Heyman should completely stop that babyface move dead in its tracks, right? Absolutely wrong.

Drew Rosenhaus, like Paul Heyman, is known as a me-first, in-your-face agent who wants the world to know who he is, what he does, and how good he is at doing it. Does even one word of that description fail to describe Paul Heyman, who even without his ponytail, is incredibly easy to dislike? The answer is no. Just ask Jerry Lawler, who mentioned him right off the bat in an old Legends of Wrestling "Heatseekers" episode that hopefully someday will join the rest of the content on the WWE Network.

So Brock’s still the heel, the bad-ass who scares kids and laughs as he hurts people and breaks arms. Paul Heyman is kind of a jackass at best and a complete jerk at worst.

But Cesaro…he’s a guy with an outstanding move set, strength that is becoming almost unquantifiable, incredible agility, and he’s so impressive to watch perform that it’s nearly impossible to boo him, even if a fan likes his opponent as well. You want irony...take a look at this shot from March 2013:


Cesaro is LeSean McCoy.

If you simply look at Paul Heyman like a sports agent…it makes total sense why Cesaro would want to join up with him and why Heyman would jump at the opportunity. Now it’s possible Cesaro could try to play the heel for a bit longer, but the fans have already made their choice, and with Swagger shattering the trophy on Monday night in the same way Bret Hart did after he lost to Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania IV, Swagger and Colter are clearly the heels in the feud.

Cesaro has toiled on the midcard and been in very few main events since he began with WWE. Cesaro, the character, knows it just like the audience complains about it on various message boards and forums across the Internet. The character of Cesaro believes he’s ready to be taken much more seriously by everybody, and that includes WWE higher-ups. Why on earth, if that’s the case, would he not try to earn Heyman’s representation as an agent and manager?

Where the confusion comes in is that wrestling has taught us since day one that managers are managers, but in this case, things have changed. Heyman wants to manage champions. He wants to be a part of success. He wants to "matter." Brock helps in that regard and in 2014, so does the King of Swing. If Heyman cheats to get Cesaro over, all it will do is continue to endear the Swiss superstar to the smart marks who like their babyfaces a little dirty. The casual fans will love the giant swing and it won’t affect them to any true degree. Of course, there’s also the possibility that Heyman just represents Cesaro, who will continue to generally win matches on his own. Come to think of it, that’s kind of how Brock Lesnar works as well.

Triple H said a few weeks ago, borrowing from David Shoemaker, the "Reality Era" had begun within WWE.

What’s more real than a true shade of grey that makes sense in any actual sports context? It's also why...if it's doable, WWE should sign Sting right now today if they haven't...and make sure he's in Birmingham to pay tribute to Warrior tomorrow night.

"My name is Paul Heyman…and I’m here…to show you the money."

Something to think about…

(Tough week for me personally but I want to thank those who had kind words here on the site or via Twitter at some point during the week. It was most appreciated. Things went as well as could be expected when you lose your 22-year-old niece in a tragic car accident. Your kindness will not be forgotten and means a lot. Thank you so much.)

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