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In appreciation of Paul Heyman, and his performance on Raw

My biggest gripe with WWE is not with its storylines, or even its creative direction more generally, it’s with the characters and how they act -- and interact -- within said storylines. Put simply, everyone comes off so unnatural. It’s rare that anyone responds to any given situation the way a real live human being actually would.

Take, for instance, Roman Reigns and his interview with Corey Graves that aired on Monday Night Raw this week. His unending belief in himself is great and all but it doesn’t work all that well as a storytelling device. It’s not nearly as easy to relate to on a human level.

He really has failed to defeat Brock Lesnar every time he’s gone up against him, and he’s had multiple opponents since then criticize him for it. Why not, then, have him experiencing some sense of doubt, of himself, of his ability to do what he knows deep down he can? There’s a great story to be told there, and it’s within that story that you give a character depth. There’s potential for growth there. Instead, Reigns is who he has always been.

Contrast that with Paul Heyman and his interview with Renee Young that also aired on Monday Night Raw this week. Take a look at this greatness:

You could argue it’s overdone, but that’s about the only argument you could make and even that would be weak. That is a man who just last week had someone he considered a best friend outright say he doesn’t view him that way before literally terrorizing him physically. His entire view of one of the most important relationships in his life was flipped upside down. He is devastated both personally and professionally.

So he weeps. Openly and uncomfortably, because it’s that powerful, because he can’t help it, and damn you people for sitting him down and doing this to him. Maybe he deserves it; after all, this is Paul Heyman we’re talking about. But there’s a central humanity you can’t help but connect to here.

The best part? It could all be fake!

You empathize, because of course you do, you’re not a monster. But this is Paul Heyman we’re talking about. Maybe he’s legitimately emotionally destroyed and worthy of our sympathy but it’s equally possible this is simply more planning, plotting, strategizing, tactically moving the pieces around on the chess board. There’s depth here, to this character.

And, now, to this story, thanks to this outstanding performance from Paul Heyman.

We’re not worthy.

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