There is a very detailed account on Fightful about backstage reactions to Paul Heyman’s removal from WWE’s creative team last week. Here is a summary of the key points included, which is based off their conversations with a dozen wrestlers:
- Heyman preferred to build Raw around future stars rather than hoarding current star power, with a big focus on Drew McIntyre.
- Vince McMahon didn’t know much about Angel Garza prior to his Raw debut.
- There was a backstage joke about Heyman’s Raw featuring the “catering crew”. This includes stars like Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, Apollo Crews, Zelina Vega, Andrade, Humberto Carrillo, and Authors of Pain, who were not used much on television prior to their time on Raw with Heyman.
- Paul wanted to do more with Cedric Alexander and Ricochet, but Vince McMahon stopped their pushes.
- The Street Profits and Liv Morgan are other wrestlers who he also fought for.
- Young wrestlers are the ones who are most concerned about Vince McMahon’s decision on Paul Heyman.
- It doesn’t sound like there was a specific incident that caused Heyman to be removed from his role by Vince McMahon.
- Heyman was always open to listening and talking about creative ideas with talent, and did so very frequently, but a significant amount of the ideas he wanted to carry out didn’t make it to television.
- As far as AJ Styles’ issues with Heyman are concerned, some people on Raw believe it’s because Heyman didn’t see enough value in Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to push them, which made it more likely that they would be released by WWE. Styles was said to be “furious” about the situation.
There are a lot more details over at Fightful so check it out for more information.
As a fan of the New York Yankees, I know very well about the murky picture than can develop when it comes to assigning credit or blame on talent decisions between ownership and other high-ranking executives. Some fans would blame ownership for most of the ill-advised free agent signings, whereas others would blame the general manager. When ownership has such a strong reputation for putting their fingerprints on the product, it’s sometimes difficult to know in the moment how the decisions are made, until much later when more details come out.
In the case of WWE storylines, it’s sometimes tough to know how much influence Vince McMahon has (or doesn’t have) on specific creative ideas that we see play out on television.
For example, Liv Morgan showing up to crash Bobby Lashley and Lana’s wedding had similar vibes to a Heyman storyline from ECW in 1996, where Beulah McGillicutty cheated on Tommy Dreamer with Kimona Wanaleya. Therefore it’s easy to attribute that Liv Morgan story to Heyman, even if we can’t be 100% sure about it.
When there is poop, urine, or puke involved in a story, it’s easy to attribute the idea to Vince McMahon, or a writer trying to write something that Vince will likely approve. Once again though, we can’t be 100% sure about it in the moment, it’s just a best guess based on past history. Hopefully folks like Jon Moxley will later speak up to let us know how goofy ideas like a promo with a needle in his ass came to be.
In the case of Drew McIntyre, it’s harder to make a firm guess about how his push came about. It sounds like Heyman liked him a lot, but Drew also seems to check all the boxes that Vince McMahon prefers in a
wrestler sports entertainer. We don’t know how much Heyman and Vince each contributed to the idea pushing him into the main event of WrestleMania 36. Granted, Vince McMahon is not going to headline WrestleMania with someone he doesn’t approve, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Heyman didn’t have to work hard to sell Vince on the idea months before that.
And what about the Street Profits and Viking Raiders uniting to fend off a gang of motorcycle ninjas at Backlash 2020? I have no idea how to even make a guess on that one, in terms of assigning credit (or blame, depending on your perspective) between Heyman, McMahon, and others.
As fans of WWE, we’re all left to make our best guesses about how much of the Raw content was directly influenced from Heyman, and how much was influenced by McMahon, and we can have fun and interesting conversations about that topic. But it’s almost impossible to know what these ideas are that didn’t make it to television, and we may never find out any more details.
What do you think about these backstage reactions to Paul Heyman’s removal from the WWE creative team?