Paul Heyman is arguably the most successful on-screen manager in WWE history. His ability to cut promos and hype his guys have often helped a handful of wrestlers get over with the crowd. In fact, he has managed some of the most decorated wrestlers such as Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Kurt Angle, and many more. As a result, there has been a solid record of successful Heyman guys.
But despite a solid track record, there are still a handful of wrestlers who failed to succeed with Heyman in their corner. For this piece, let’s take a look at some Heyman guys that flopped.
Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones and Matt Morgan were introduced by Heyman to SmackDown, during Lesnar’s feud with Kurt Angle. While forming a team, Heyman recruited these two intimidating goliaths to complete the cast of Brock Lesnar, Big Show, and A-Train.
Although they had a hot start upon their entry to the WWE, eliminations during the Team Angle vs. Team Lesnar match at Survivor Series didn’t help their cause. Moreover despite the major size differential against Team Angle, Team Lesnar would suffer a defeat with John Cena and Chris Benoit as the remaining survivors. From there, the two monster heels would go on their own respective paths but went nowhere in the WWE.
Erasing his roots from NXT, Michael McGuillicutty turned into Curtis Axel. As Axel, he was introduced to the WWE Universe as one of Paul Heyman’s clients. Axel kicked off his fresh start with a bang, beating the likes of Cena, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and many more. He would also go on to win the Intercontinental Championship and wrestled with CM Punk.
But despite Heyman’s presence in his corner, Axel slowly started to fade away as he also started to increase tension with the legendary hype man. Although he still won two Tag Team titles later on, Axel would be relegated to a comedic relief which saw him team up with Bo Dallas to form the B-Team. And who can forget when Erick Rowan stole his Royal Rumble spot in 2015.
— Joe Hennig (@JoeHennig) May 6, 2015
Ryback was introduced to the WWE as a force to be reckoned with. But despite his dominance, Ryback has only had one championship reign in the WWE. He won the vacant Intercontinental Championship in a 2015 Elimination Chamber match. Given his dominance, it was only natural that Ryback received a World Championship push. Because of that, Heyman was assigned to be his manager after getting in the CM Punk feud.
— Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle) October 6, 2013
But despite the strong build-up, Ryback took a string of losses against Punk which showed that the WWE pulled the plug on Ryback’s push as World Champion. Eventually, Ryback was moved out of the main event picture which ultimately derailed his WWE run.
Shelton Benjamin wasn’t really known as a Heyman guy. However, Heyman did manage the Gold Standard once in a while. It also helped that he has a relatively close relationship with Brock Lesnar.
Back in the day, Benjamin was introduced by Heyman to the WWE Universe alongside Charlie Haas to support Kurt Angle. Later on, they would be branded as The World’s Greatest Tag Team. The tag team would go on to enjoy two reigns as Tag Team Champions.
Years later, part of his return to the WWE, Benjamin was brought in as Lesnar’s ally during his feud with Seth Rollins. At times, Benjamin was also utilized to do the dirty work in lieu of Lesnar’s absence.
Although Benjamin has collected various championship gold such as three Intercontinental Championships, one United States Championship, and one more Tag Team Championship reign, he has never won a single World Championship. And for a Heyman guy, that’s not as impressive when you compare it to the manager's other more decorated clients.
Dubbed as the Swiss Cyborg, Cesaro entertained the WWE Universe with his unmatched strength. From his jaw breaking uppercuts to his giant swings, Cesaro had all the tools to become a WWE World Champion.
After winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30, Cesaro abandoned Zeb Colter and announced that he was now a Paul Heyman guy. Fans were initially excited about this, given that Heyman’s mic skills would go well with Cesaro’s in-ring abilities.
Unfortunately, even with Heyman by his side, Cesaro never got the World Championship shot he deserved. Moreover, his partnership with Heyman was short lived with the vocal manager often focused on Lesnar, who was fresh from ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania.
Cesaro would still end his WWE run with gold including seven Tag Team Championship reigns and one United States Championship run.
Although Cesaro entertained fans in the mid-card level and in the tag team division, he still failed to live up to his main event potential in the WWE. And while he has collected a lot of gold, his accomplishments pale in comparison to what other Paul Heyman guys achieved.