Before he was the best manager in the business, Paul Heyman spent some time as a promoter. As the impresario behind ECW (the original, not the WWE version), he knows a thing about launching & surviving in the pro wrestling space with bigger, more established players. So it would be interesting to hear what Heyman thinks about the new nationally televised promotion in the market - Tony Khan’s All Elite Wrestling.
While chatting with Ariel Helwani as part of BT Sport’s promotion of Survivor Series, we got a little bit of Paul E’s thoughts on AEW:
“Oh, they’re viable. They are a viable entity, and God bless them for being there.”
Sounds like Heyman is on Team “rising tide lifts all boats” with Becky Lynch. Beyond that, he wouldn’t give Helwani much more. Roman Reigns’ counsel passes on the chance to make like Eric Bischoff and critique Khan’s product. Instead, he offered general advice:
“I’m not the audience. My personal opinion on their product — if I was to sit here and go, ‘My God, they’re great.’ Who cares what I think? [Ariel tries to make the case that he and lots of people would like to hear what one of the sharpest promotional minds in the business thinks, but Heyman wasn’t biting]
“... they’re not geared towards me. And if I sat there and went, ‘My God they suck, they’re horrible,’ I don’t think they should care about that either. It’s like when [UFC President] Dana White gave his opinion of WWE and it wasn’t flattering, and I was asked about it, my answer was, ‘And?’ Who gives a fuck? I don’t think AEW should give a fuck about what I think about them.
“They should care what the fans think, what their audience, and what their potential audience thinks about them. Here’s who we have, we need to super-serve them. We need to make them continue to be loyal to us, and we need to expand that base. We need to take that person and lure them in. We need to find people who love WWE and lure them to our tribe. And we need to find people who have never seen sports entertainment/pro wrestling, combat sports, etc, etc, and lure them onto our show — for whatever reason we can justify them coming to pay to see our product.
“That should be their mission. What Paul Heyman thinks of them should be of no concern to them.”
While I think TK probably agrees with Helwani that it would be interesting to hear what Heyman thinks, this is an artful answer. It avoids praising his boss’ competition/alternative, while also tacitly endorsing their approach, as “super-serving” their existing audience while peppering it with things that might appeal to WWE or new fans seem to be pretty much the AEW blueprint.
Chime in below, and check out Heyman & Helwani’s entire conversation here.