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THOUGHTS ON PAUL HEYMAN’S REMOVAL AS THE HEAD OF RAW

By Dave Scherer on 2020-06-13 10:01:00

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Note: This came in for my Sunday Q and A but since it’s topical, I decided to post it early.

Thoughts on Paul Heyman being replaced by Bruce Prichard on Raw?

Sadly, I think it was inevitable.  In the best case scenario, Heyman still had to book for the boss, Vince McMahon.  No one in WWE will ever get full control of the product as long as Vince is the head of the creative team there is really only so much anyone can do in the role.  Someone could have the greatest ideas in the world and be ready to start the next Attitude Era, but unless it pops Vince, it won’t ever happen.

I was watching a Rock promo from years ago where the WWF Title was being defended inside Hell In A Cell at Armageddon 2000.  In a four minute segment Rock cut great promos on the other five guys in the match.  It enhanced the anticipation for the bout.  Now granted, Rock is one of the greatest to ever do a promo, but many other guys that weren’t on his level cut really good promos back then.  Beyond that, guys like Rock, Steve Austin, etc. got to make fans care about them by being able to ad-lib and not read verbiage, as talents are forced to do today.  Because of that, people got over.  Just look at the talent in that match. Rock. Austin.  Undertaker.  Kurt Angle. Triple H.  If any of them won the match, fans would have said, “Yeah, that’s a worthy WWF Champion”.  They all were over and allowed to GET over when they got the air time.

Today?  Well, it’s here’s the script.  Memorize it and go out there and repeat it verbatim.  If the crowd is bored, tough keep on boring them.  Almost no one gets to break out or gets to form a bond with the fans the way that they did when the product was hot.  Look at that match I mentioned above.  People wanted to hang out with the Rock.  They wanted to drink beer with Austin. They were in awe of the Undertaker.  They popped for the antics of HHH.  They were mesmerized by the ability, and comedy, of Kurt Angle.  All of those things were true because the talent was allowed to use what they had in their personality to connect to the fan base.  Now?  Well again, here are your lines, go read them.  If you don’t get over, it’s on you because it couldn’t be the lines we gave you to read.  Because of that, hardly anyone is cool or special.  All of the above were cool to the fans.  That is missing today.

So fast forward to today, the cards were stacked against Heyman once the pandemic hit.  In addition to being left with a roster that was depleted, for a number of reasons, added in with the fact that WWE has yoyo’d so many of the stars that they have and lost so much equity in talents that could have been used so much better, Heyman was left with a new champion in Drew McIntyre who only had one challenger, and that was a Seth Rollins that had started doing a gimmick that took away much of what made him as close to a top guy as was left on Raw.  After McIntyre got through him, there was no one left to really challenge the new champion.  Add in that arguably his top star, Becky Lynch, left to have a family while another top talent in Kevin Owens was hurt for a while and the cupboard was pretty bare for him.  

So Heyman tried to develop young talent, which is what should be done when the existing talent has already been booked poorly, or at least not well, to the fans at home.  

Also keep in mind that Vince McMahon did Heyman no favors by putting Raw on in the most sterile of atmospheres, the quiet arena.  He was not left with much to work with and what we started seeing almost every week is that while hours one and two held up pretty well, a good chunk of fans left in hour three.  That’s another major problem Heyman faced, the three hour broadcast.

So with more time on his hands after the XFL suspended operations McMahon, who isn’t exactly a patient man when his product is losing viewers, obviously grew more and more frustrated.  We saw the talents crossing over from brands.  We saw hot shot things being booked for hour three which rarely kept the eyeballs that instead chose to leave.  Heyman tried.  Without an obvious opponent for McIntyre this weekend, again due to the milk toast booking that had made almost everyone interchangeable instead of special, Heyman chose to put Bobby Lashley in the role of challenger.  On the surface, it makes sense.  Lashley is a great worker and the two men should have a strong match at Backlash.  But to the fan at home, they remember this was a guy in the middle of a comedy angle with Lana not all that long ago.  Vince McMahon has always believed he could get someone hot whenever he wants.  Well, I think we are seeing that is not true.  

So that left us at a point where Heyman, with limited options, focused on the future and tried to create new stars.  Meanwhile on Smackdown, Bruce Prichard was giving Vince the style of product he prefers.  If you doubt that just look at the Otis-Mandy angle.  That’s Vince McMahon Booking 101.  When Smackdown’s numbers held up a little better than Raw’s, and he was getting to see the product he liked much better on Fridays, change just seemed inevitable to me and finally, it happened.

Do I think it was fair?  No. not at all.  It’s hard to hit a home run when you are only allowed to put one hand on the bat.  Heyman was given very limited resources and expected to flourish, all while Vince oversaw everything and had the final say.

Did I think it was inevitable?  Absolutely because if numbers go south Vince McMahon is not going fire, or maybe even blame, himself.  So it had to be Heyman’s fault that Vince gave him limited assets to work with an a horrible, sterile fan-less experience for far too long. Now Prichard gets to see if he can fix the ship that has been taking on water.  We will see how that goes.  I hope he has the answers or we could be addressing him in a similar manner in the future.

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