WWE – Ladies And Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman (Cert 12)
2 Disc Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 430 minutes approx
He has been called many things – Psycho Yuppie, Mad Scientist, Godfather of Extreme and most recently a walrus. He’s also been accused of being a liar, a bad businessman, a crook and conversely a genius. Whichever epithet applies as per your standing, he remains one of the controversial yet fascinating characters in the history of pro wrestling and his name is Paul Heyman.
Being the story of a man whose exploits outside of the ring put him on the map thus the need for any physical examples of his work is not necessary; the paucity of actual wrestling shouldn’t be seen as a drawback as Heyman is one of the very few non-wrestling personalities who deserves the biography treatment since his story is a unique one and his contribution to the wrestling business is without peer.
It seems that young Paul was a prodigious child even from an early age. The son of a successful lawyer and a Holocaust survivor, Heyman was making money in his early teens from a postal movie merchandise business, before taking up photography. Despite his young age Heyman managed to talk his way into Madison Square Garden and other New York venues that held wrestling shows as a press photographer, despite his publication being a homemade fanzine. With some of his shots making it into the famed Pro-Wrestling Illustrated publication via his friendship/rivalry with legendary photographer Bill Apter, Heyman even managed to get into the good graces of then WWF owner Vince McMahon Sr and gained exclusive backstage interviews with the stars of the time.
Following this Heyman’s first big break as a performer was in Florida but the promotion was sold to Jim Crockett Promotions soon after, causing Heyman to move to Memphis with his then charge Bam Bam Bigelow. Under the name Paul E. Dangerously, he was put with the company’s top heel Austin Idol who was feuding with Memphis king pin Jerry Lawler at the time. If you’ve ever wondered if the heat between Lawler and Heyman often seen on WWE TV was real this DVD offers some answers – although be warned the stories told by both men do differ somewhat.
After being fired from Memphis Paul E. went to the floundering AWA where his Psycho yuppie character with the mobile phone became fully formed, before his association with the “Original” Midnight Express saw the trio jump to WCW to feud with another real life Heyman enemy Jim Cornette and HIS Midnight Express. It would have been nice to have had comments from the likes of Cornette, Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, Dennis Condrey etc but instead the only contributions are from Heyman himself and Jim Ross.
With the exception of those two and Larry Zbyszko the WCW portion of Heyman’s story is woefully under represented, in stark contrast to the familiar faces from ECW who help tell the story of what is arguably Heyman’s greatest success and most notorious legacy. Contributions from Joey Styles, Tod Gordon, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley and ECW staff Ron Buffone and Gabe Sapolsky share lots of personal insight into working for and with Heyman during this time, with no subject overlooked from the bounced cheques to the shock of seeing Heyman on WWF RAW being the death knell for ECW.
Heyman’s storied tenure with WWF/WWE sees the continuation of painting a slightly negative picture of him as a rebel and a troublemaker albeit one with conviction and a cause. I don’t think this is the intent but I do believe that most of the stories to tell are being honest and the man himself is quick to elucidate on certain subjects and offer clarification. Whether he is being completely truthful or not is really the central conceit of this release but Heyman is such a charismatic and engaging personality that you find yourself buying into his words wholesale, true or not.
With the exception of Jerry Lawler no-one really has a bad word to say about Heyman – although Stephanie McMahon contradicts herself, calling Heyman a friend AND a problematic square peg in a McMahon made round hole – and positive or negative, one does feel the comments given are genuine. This prevents the tributes from being needlessly sycophantic (like on the recent Triple H release) making for a balanced and fascinating watch. Part of its beauty is the differing takes on a story between Heyman and others, leaving the truth in some cases to lie somewhere in between.
Bonus features include a catalogue of great Heyman promos, from the nascent days of his character in the AWA (when he was just 22 years old!!) through to WCW, ECW and of course his famous pipe bombs in WWE. Completing the picture are the stories told by Heyman and others which offer a deeper insight into the man, his business practices and his relationships both in and away from the business. I would strongly recommend purchasing the Blu-ray release if possible, purely for the additional stories which add so much more to the mythos of Paul Heyman.
With some wonderful archive footage and unseen photographs, insightful behind the scenes clips from ECW and WWE as well as what I believe is a first time dip into the Memphis Wrestling library, the presentation is another high end production from WWE home video (although subtitles for us heard of hearing folk and a louder audio track would be nice).
There may some fans wondering why the loud chubby man we’re all supposed hate is getting a retrospective DVD but for the more discerning wrestling fan this is a long over due and valuable release, allowing us the rare privilege of an up close and personal look at this polarising yet enigmatic and charismatic figure.
If only one man can get away with being the focus of a five star non-wrestling DVD release then ladies and gentlemen, his name is Paul Heyman.
Riding a Bike Down a Rooftop
Lending a Hand
Managers’ Fan Clubs
Austin Idol’s Manager
“I owe my career to Paul Heyman”
Paul the Promo Guy
Sending ECW a Tape
No Show Groomsman
King of NYC
Supported by the Competition
Ended Up with Nothing
Touring the ECW Arena
Out with a Bang
Breaking Vince’s Desk
Because I Can’t
Kid’s Cutting Promos
Genius or Insane?
Raw 7 April 2014: Conqueror of the Streak
Rating – *****
Man In Black