Last Word on Pro Wrestling’s series, War of the Words, explores the art and impact of the promo by looking back through the archives. This series will examine all kinds of promos, from the most memorable or ones that have been overlooked and are underrated, showing the background of the promo, the promo itself, the aftermath of the promo, and what came from it. In this installment, we take a look at one of the best promos of the Invasion where Paul Heyman shoots on Vince McMahon.
In the current landscape of the Professional wrestling business, Paul Heyman is a well-respected and celebrated figure in the industry. Considered a genius and a student of the game, he had revolutionary ideas way before their time. Whether it was being the phone-carrying leader of the “Dangerous Alliance”, Paul E. Dangerously, or “the mad scientist” of the cult-like tribe of extreme, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). He was never known to be the shy type when it comes to voicing out his frustrations and spewing cold-hard truths. And in a 2001 Pre-Survivor Series episode of Smackdown, Heyman let out his frustrations and cut a scathing shoot promo on the WWE’s Chairman, Vince McMahon.
As “The Invasion” storyline was coming to its conclusion. The 2001 edition of Survivor Series was about to play host to the battle between Team WWE Vs. The Alliance (WCW/ECW), a “Winner-Take-All” to decide the fate of all the promotions involved. However, Only days away from their showdown, Alliance member and ECW head honcho, Paul Heyman got in the face of the boss to let out all the pent-up emotion and air his grievances live for the whole world to see. In a masterful stroke of blurring reality and business, no one, not even Vince himself, saw it coming.
War of The Words: Paul Heyman tears Vince McMahon “a new one”
The promo began with Heyman in the ring talking about Survivor Series, saying The Alliance will put an end to the WWE Empire once and for all. It didn’t take long for Vince McMahon to come out and confront Heyman one on one. The whole tone of the promo shifted and it soon became apparent that Heyman was out for blood. He went on to say how much he hated Vince McMahon, how his own family hated him. How McMahon is only a billionaire off the back of other people’s hard work. He mentioned the likes of Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels. Above all, How Vince killed the wrestling territories on his quest to become the unopposed ruler of the wrestling business. Even suggesting Vince went against his father’s wishes in the name of the business. Heyman was fuming and went on to say:
“Your father shook the hand of every promoter in this country and swore to them that he’d never compete against them, that his son would never compete against them. And when your father died, you competed. And with your ruthless, merciless, take-no-prisoners attitude. You drove everybody out of business, didn’t you, Vince? “
After that, Paul Heyman did not stop there he kept adding fuel to the fire saying:
“You ran all the competition to the ground and stole all their ideas and you made yourself a billionaire out of it. And you know whose idea you stole the most, Vince? You stole mine.”
Paul felt the need to voice out his opinions on Vince single-handedly monopolizing the wrestling industry. The promo reached its fever-pitch when Heyman went on a heart-felt tirade saying:
“See, I don’t give a damn about Don Owen and Sam Muchnick and Jim Crockett. I care about what you did to me and my family. How you stole my dreams, how you stole my legacy. How you stole everything that ECW represented!”
The “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” era of the WWE was put into focus as Heyman stated, while Doink the Clown was one of many cartoon-like characters that dominated that period in WWE. He saw something in Steve Austin that no one noticed, and invited him to ECW to break ground on what will eventually be the “Stone Cold” persona that catapulted the WWE into unimaginable heights and notoriety in the late ’90s. He also did not hold back in saying that “The Attitude Era” was just a poor imitation of the revolution ECW started in the early to mid-’90s capping off this intense promo with a one-liner oozing with, what felt like, genuine pain and anger:
“You got nothing, man, what you got is my ideas and you stole my life, my money, my legacy!”
Soon after that statement, the evil genius himself transitioned smoothly into promoting the big event coming up and got back to work. Rebuilding the fourth wall he just broke down in an instant. a showcase of brilliance coming from one of the best talkers in this industry, combining the two aspects that most have a hard time weaving together, genuine emotions and kayfabe story-telling.
Once it was all said and done, Team WWE came out on top. Paul Heyman on the other hand went on to do tremendous things for the WWE. He was a writer for their creative team, onscreen General Manager for Smackdown, and, for a time, head of the Rebirth of ECW. Heyman was the advocate for Brock Lesnar for both of his stints in WWE. He also managed the likes of CM Punk, who cut a “Pipebomb” promo himself, Curtis Axel, and many more performers. Currently, Heyman is the special counsel for the reigning and defending WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. Years later, in an interview, he participated in. Heyman said Vince knew nothing beforehand of the things he said. Vince trusted him enough and only said “just make me money”. And made money he did, with one of the most real and raw promos the WWE has ever seen.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. WWE fan? You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network.
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