If there's on thing Paul Heyman is good at, it's backstage politicking.
Sure, the “Wise Man” of The Bloodline is a fantastic talker, a wonderful matchmaker, and one of the best minds professional wrestling has ever seen, but when you want to get a guy over, or at least get them featured prominently on WWE's on-screen product, few advocates are as effective as “Paul E. Dangerous.”
“When I wasn't on WrestleMania 35, a few weeks before, I didn't not understand why…I understood plans had changed, I was completely fine with it,” Kevin Owens said via Fightful. “I was like, ‘what else am I going to do? I can do something else on the show.' They're like, ‘Nah. It doesn't fit there, it doesn't fit there. It doesn't make sense.' It was driving me insane. I remember having a talk with Paul Heyman at a show [Raw or SmackDown] near Gorilla (position), and I was losing my mind. ‘Paul, I can't believe I'm not on WrestleMania.' He's like, ‘I can't believe it either.' ‘What do I do?' ‘Just walk in there and threaten to quit.' ‘No, that's not how I'm going to handle this.' ‘If that's how you feel.' It was driving me crazy. I couldn't go to WrestleMania 35. I flew to New York, I had some appearances, and I flew back home to watch it with my wife and kids because I didn't want to be anywhere near it. I flew back the next morning for more appearances.”
Did Heyman's politicking work in this particular situation? At WrestleMania 35, no, but KO was featured prominently on the very next edition of RAW and parlayed that snub into a much grander storyline as a result. In wrestling, like in chess, sometimes you have to play the long game, something Heyman knows very well from his near-five decades in the business.
Paul Heyman wishes Kayla Braxton farewell after leaving The Bump.
Elsewhere in the Paul Heyman-verse, the “Wise Man” decided to stop by The Bump to wish Kayla Braxton a fond farewell, as the show's long-time host is handing over the reins to Megan Morant following a re-shuffling on backstage responsibilities for WWE's interview crew.
Asked to give one final roast of his long-time on-screen rival, Heyman decided to take things in another direction, instead complementing Braxton for a job well done.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman, and yes, I serve as special counsel to your ‘Tribal Chief,' the Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns, who will smash his cousin Jey Uso in defense of that championship and, as the ‘Tribal Chief,' this Saturday night at SummerSlam,” Paul Heyman said. “But today, a little bit out of character, I was invited by the schmucks who produce The Bump to come on a roast Kayla Braxton because it's her final appearance as the host, co-host, whatever she does on The Bump. Why would I do that? When the fact of the matter is while Kayla and I have our rapport on television, it is one of my greatest professional honors and personal honors to spend these last few years working with Kayla. I have admired this remarkable women's remarkable talents since she first showed up here in WWE, and The Bump will never be the same without Kayla. Me personally, I'm not even going to watch the show anymore; she's that good, she's that great. So I'm sorry, I'm not going to roast Kayla Braxton, I'm going to let her know how much I absolutely love working with her. And whatever she's going to do in WWE and elsewhere post-The Bump, I look forward to it more than I can ever convey in words, and I am in eager anticipation of the projects that we will all be blessed to see what is produced, written, directed, and staring Miss Kayla Braxton. Thank you for blessing The Bump with your extraordinary talents.”
Aw, that was actually really nice, right? Heyman showing some rare humanity towards his departing colleague after nearly half a decade on The Bump. Man, for a heel manager, that's almost a babyface turn… except the camera kept rolling, and needless to say, his “off camera” comments were far less complimentary.
“Are we off the air? ‘Oh she's so extraordinary.' You know she really is sapiosexuality, right? Hey, that's why she loves me, because I am the ‘Wise Man,' I'm the smartest guy in the room. So who else would she be sapiosexuality about?”Heyman asked. “Her lust for me just has absolutely no boundaries or anything. ‘Oh, she's so extraordinary, I can't wait to see,' who cares what she does? Without me, she's nothing. Pft, Kayla Braxton, she's not on The Bump anymore. I might actually watch the show now. Sheesh.”
Never change, Paul Heyman; never change.
— WWE’s The Bump (@WWETheBump) August 2, 2023