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How Paul Heyman sold WrestleMania 34 better than anyone

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Paul Heyman is the best talker of the modern era and undoubtedly cuts the best promos of anyone in the WWE today.

Weather that is an indication of the lack of money-drawing talkers on the roster or simply reaffirms Heyman’s ability depends on perspective.

Ahead of WrestleMania 34, very little feels special or organic and that creates the possibility for a rather disappointing five-hour event next month. Granted, management has roughly five weeks to build anticipation so maybe the perception will shift before the event goes live on the WWE network.

Aside from a concrete card, the biggest show of the year seems to lack the spark that generates that “big event” atmosphere. The Roman Reigns superman push was so predictable that the graphic displayed on television to advertise the bout is met with a shake of the head, not eager anticipation. If you already know the ending of the movie, are you going to be invested in the journey of the film? We know how this story ends, Roman Reigns poses with the championship while pyro lights up the background, and the entire scene will be met with a lukewarm reaction. The anointed corporate champion is an angle that is so manufactured and artificial that it doesn’t draw the audience to the match.

However, Paul Heyman brought the spark this past week on Raw, and in the process, evaluated the perceived importance of the contest. Heyman, the photographer that talked his way backstage in Madison Square Garden at the age of just 14, emphasized the importance of the Universal championship. That theoretical importance is sometimes lost in the shuffle of Brock’s very limited schedule and WWE’s marketing strategy that promotes the brand as a whole rather than any specific aspect of the product.

The former leader of Extreme Championship Wrestling also enhanced the rivalry of the main event of WrestleMania, making it a personal dispute between Lesnar and Reigns, not just a “passing of the torch” scenario. Keep in mind, the Reigns push is artificial, but Heyman presented this match-up as a direct clash between two athletes, which gives depth to the angle. The concept that Lesnar wants to keep the title because he wants to use it to make the most money possible contrasted with the theory that Reigns wants to prove himself on the big stage against the biggest opponent is much more intriguing than “Roman wins because that was the plan all along.”

Up until this point, management hasn’t given the fans anything to invest into other than the story of another Roman title win, which hasn’t worked thus far. Emphasizing the personal aspects of the confrontation adds another layer to the storyline. The presentation could consist of, “If Roman wants the keys to the castle, he has to earn the spot” and that creates the platform for a physical, hard-hitting contest that showcases Roman in a different light.

If someone takes a dozen suplexes from the former UFC Heavyweight champion, who can argue that they didn’t earn their stripes? That being said, much of the perception of the main event of WM 34 depends on the structure of the contest itself. If Roman throws 38 superman punches and uses five spears, it more or less puts him in the same spot that the audience views him already.

The mad scientist of hardcore also went as far as to speculate about the future, which at the very least, gives the audience some “possibilities” of potential results. Obviously, everyone knows the plan is Roman wins, but just for fun, what if it isn’t? Heyman mentioned the UFC so what if Brock legitimately fought in the octagon while he was still the WWE champion? The cross-promotion and potential money to be made would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Could that be enough of an opportunity to delay the Roman plans for a few more months? Probably not, but creating and selling those questions to the audience is a much more intriguing way to promote the match. Plus when Paul Heyman makes the sells pitch, it at least sounds like a possibility.

The bottom line is, Paul Heyman was the perfect hype man for the job because he enhanced the perception, potential, and importance of the main event. That being said, you have to wonder why WWE brass doesn’t see the value in managers, but that’s another discussion for another time. Let’s hope that Heyman’s soliloquy to sell WM 34 puts a focus on the event that can build for several weeks. Right now, most of the roster doesn’t have a clear direction and that doesn’t help with momentum going toward the event. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, two stellar performers that played a major role on Smackdown in the past year, don’t have an angle to lead to WrestleMania yet. Rusev, one of the most over performers in the company, doesn’t have a plan for the event either.

But, the top of the card is the biggest piece of the puzzle for the biggest event of the year and Heyman sold Reigns/Lesnar as just that. If the in-ring contest translates or not is a different matter, but as far as the hype, he was tremendous in the role. There’s speculation that Heyman might exit the organization if Brock doesn’t sign a new deal after WM, but hopefully, he can stay around regardless of Lesnar’s status because there are very few in the industry today that can sell a match at that level.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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