Paul Heyman doesn’t think Roman Reigns gets the respect he deserves from the WWE Universe and the greater professional wrestling world as a whole. Now sure, maybe that’s just a manager hyping up his client or the sort of old-man-yelling-at-clouds schtick that Rodney Dangerfield had mastered by the 1980s, but when talking to Jonathan Snowden for a feature on Reigns for The Ringer, Paul E. pitched a pretty compelling case.

“Who’s driving these revenue numbers? It’s the top star,” Heyman says. “Now, if this was happening in ‘84, ‘85, ‘86, the credit would go to Hulk Hogan, and rightfully so. If this was happening in ‘98, ‘99, 2000, the credit would go to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, the Rock, DX, and rightfully so. If this was happening in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, the credit would go to John Cena, and rightfully so.”

“But it’s happening now, and Roman Reigns is on top of the list of attractions that WWE has to offer as completely uncontroverted, undisputed number one. There is no 1A or 1B. There’s just number one, and that number one is Roman Reigns.”

Now granted, the reason WWE is making record profits isn’t really related to the booking, not in practical terms anyway. The promotion has gotten really good at striking outside deals with streaming companies, external merchandising, and licensing opportunities – not to mention their very lucrative deal to run shows in Saudi Arabia – that they could probably cut a third of their roster and still make a huge profit with a skeleton crew of in-ring performers, as evidenced by… well, the fact that they did just that during the Pandemic.

Paul Heyman credits Reigns’ fearlessness with his WWE success.

Elsewhere in his joint interview with Snowden, Heyman delved into an aspect of Reigns’ development as a performer that is seldom discussed, outside of a certain recent interview with Sami Zayn: his versatility and depth as a performer.

“I would suggest that after two years of television, you knew who ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin was,” Heyman says. “After two years of television, you knew who the Rock was. After two years of television, you knew who Hulk Hogan was. After two years of television, you knew who John Cena was. After over two years of being the undisputed champion, you’re still finding out different layers of Roman Reigns.”

“I think it’s undisputed that Roman Reigns is the greatest wrestler on the face of the planet today and I think he is constantly making the case that he’s the greatest of all time … from a performance perspective, he’s the greatest of all time. From a revenue perspective, he’s the greatest of all time.”

When you really think about it, Heyman’s comments actually ring surprisingly true; it took Reigns a faction, multiple previous title runs, and even a nasty bout with his returning Leukemia before he really came into his own as the “Head of the Table,” and even this current run hasn’t been monotonal, as with each passing 100 or so days with the belt, he’s become a colder, more disconnected performer – a regular Dr. Manhatton of the WWE Universe, if you will. Heyman credits this willingness to change in large part with Reigns’ development as a performer.

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“There is an interesting dynamic in this industry in that the longer you’re in it, the fewer chances you take,” Heyman says. “You find what works, you narrow down your performance, and you don’t take a chance in alienating the audience that you have built by doing something that makes them question whether you’re still the performer that they fell in love with. It becomes a great routine that people want to see over and over again because this is the formula that works; and if it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”

“But Roman took the chance, which is unheard of in that position. That a character who’s already the champion, already the no. 1 box office attraction, already the absolute top star, is going to completely change the manner in which he presents himself and his matches during the championship run [are some] of the most courageous and amazing performances that I’ve ever seen.”

Will this era of professional wrestling ultimately go down as belonging to Reigns in the same way that the late 80s belonged to Hulk Hogan, the late 2000’s belonged to John Cena, or the Attitude Era belonged to “Stone Cold” and “The Rock?” Only time will tell, but it’s pretty safe to say the legend of the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns will only continue to grow.