One of the hidden bonuses of a Brock Lesnar match is that (Beast in the East excluded) it means lots of microphone and interview time for one of the best minds - and mouthes - in the business, Paul Heyman.
The Innovator of Extreme sat down for a chat with CBSSports.com that was chock full of the usual goodness. In addition to selling the heck out of Sunday's SummerSlam showdown between his client, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker, he discussed a couple of hot topics for internet fans...will he manage wrestlers other than Brock, and what the heck happened with Cesaro's run as a Heyman Guy?
Asked about whether he models himself on the great wrestling managers of the past, Heyman was quick to correct interviewer Denny Burkholder:
I don't know how to answer that question properly because I legitimately do not consider myself a manager. My role is different than Freddie Blassie, the Grand Wizard and Lou Albano's, and Bobby Heenan's, Jimmy Hart's and J.J. Dillon's as well. I legitimately consider myself Brock Lesnar's advocate. That's my primary purpose to serve to the WWE Universe.
Have I been a manager in the past? I've done that role, absolutely. But I don't think I do it today anymore, and there are several reasons for that. One, I don't think there's a role for managers in today's presentation of sports entertainment. There may be in the future, but right now I don't see how that role fits in. Two, my work with Brock Lesnar, there is no reason for me to ever be physically involved in a Brock Lesnar match, and part of a manager's job is to be physically involved. There's no reason for me to ever be involved in a Brock Lesnar match; it's not what I do. He has it well taken care of. He does the physicality, I do the talking. It's a great pairing.
Do I think that there will be managers in the future? Yeah, if the right one comes along, if the right circumstance comes along, if the right act comes along. But the business constantly evolves, and that's another reason why I chose not to be called a manager anymore, but an advocate, because I think the roles have to evolve. Do I think there will be other advocates? Absolutely. There may be agents. But I don't know if the stereotypical wrestling manager exists out there anymore.
The notion that there isn't a role for a Heenan/Albano-type in today's "sports entertainment" fits with a view of today's in-ring WWE trying to present a sanctioned combat sports image, something Heyman has been in favor of in the past and that makes sense when booking a former UFC heavyweight champion in Brock (spoiler alert...don't expect Duke Roufus slide CM Punk some brass knucks in his Octagon debut).
Understanding his view of the role also helps view some recent segments that have been discussed online, like Heyman passively standing by while Lesnar was jumped by Seth Rollins, Kane and J & J Security in the build-up to Battleground.
Strange that his work with Cesaro, another character that could use a mouthpiece but shouldn't ever need physical assistance, didn't work out. While The Advocate doesn't directly address what went wrong with their pairing, he made it quite clear that he's not worried about the guy he dubbed The King of Swing:
I've always been of the opinion that great talent can't be held down. I've offered Cesaro no more advice than anyone else that has sought out my advice in the locker room. He is one of many. I am a huge, huge fan of his work and I think he has the potential to go all the way. He is back knocking harder than ever because he worked his way back up into that position. And if for some reason he doesn't get main event status at this attempt, I would expect in 60, 90, 120, 180 days, however many days it takes, he'll be knocking on the door again. He's not gonna be denied.
There's an old expression in this industry and that's 'never take 'no' for an answer.' I think that applies to any facet of show business. It also applies to any facet of sports. The .250 baseball player who needs to hit .300 to make it to the team and he gets the right batting coaches and he learns how to pit his elbow differently, he learns how to hit the ball differently, he learns how to run faster to first base. He gets his average up to .300 so he can make the team. The basketball player who can't dunk that won't get on the team unless he dunks. Spends his entire summer learning how to dunk that basketball so he can make the team. The actor that never played Broadway and he has to learn how to carry a showtune. Same thing.
Great talent can't be denied. Cesaro is a great talent. He'll never take 'no' for an answer. Every time they tell him no, he can't main event, just makes him want it even more. He is a hungry, capable athlete and performer that will get there.
I'm convinced - not that I needed much convincing. But I also really hope "knocking on the door" several times a year doesn't become The Swiss Superman's legacy. Just let the guy in already!
Check out the whole interview for more Heyman gems, including reflections on Roddy Piper, thoughts on Seth Rollins' future and more.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Will we see traditional managers in WWE again, and is a Cesaro main event run a foregone conclusion?