When Paul Heyman entered professional wrestling in the mid-1980s, he was a young, brash ringside photographer, who was a long way from the man in the suit we see today.
Nearly 35 years later, Heyman's one of the most recognizable figures in the industry, a legend in terms of promotion, and easily one of the greatest managers of all time.
But just how 'great' is Paul Heyman in the pantheon of pro wrestling managers?
Paul Heyman, long-time advisor to Brock Lesnar and now the second for Roman Reigns, has always been considered near the top of that list, but not quite among the elite. Most wrestling critics would argue that Bobby Heenan or Jim Cornette as the rightful owner of that crown. But, in many ways, the past several years may have pushed Heyman past both of them in terms of his overall resume.
The journey from Paul E. Dangerously to Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman, a native New Yorker, naturally got his start on the east coast, with the National Wrestling Federation, and later down in Florida, before moving on to the Memphis and Alabama territories. During his time in Tennessee, Heyman engaged in a classic feud with Jerry 'The King' Lawler, alongside legends Austin Idol and Tommy 'Wildfire' Rich.
Before long, Heyman managed the original Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose) to the AWA World Tag Team titles. It would be the first of many recognized world championships that Heyman would guide his men to over the course of his amazing career.
What followed next was a defection to the NWA and the classic 'Midnights vs. Midnights' feud with Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton, and Stan Lane. His exchanges with Cornette made for some of the fieriest promos and generated more heat than most in-ring performers have.
Then came perhaps the golden era of Heyman's career -- managing one of the most illustrious (and underrated) factions of all time, The Dangerous Alliance. Legends such as Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Madusa, and others were a part of this successful group, often holding an abundance of gold and terrorizing WCW fan favorites along the way.
This brings us to now and his multiple tenures with WWE, most notably standing side-by-side with Brock Lesnar. And, while Heyman's time there has not always carried the label of manager (he's often used the term 'advocate', as well as other monikers), he has basically assumed the same role -- being a mouthpiece and a second for his clients.
Heyman has gained such an amazing reputation for giving young wrestlers a voice and a rub that several performers have been nicknamed 'Paul Heyman Guys'. It's a collection of stars and prospects that immediately received a boost just by being associated with the former Paul E. Dangerously.
Over a career that has spanned the course of four decades - from the territory days to the Monday Night Wars to the modern era - Paul Heyman has always been near the top of the pro wrestling industry. And along the way, he's managed an iconic list of world champions, all of whom benefited from both his managing and microphone wizardry.
And he's not done yet. Despite his many years in the business, Heyman is still only in his mid-50s. He's still got a lot of time left to add to his brilliant biography.
So, in the end, will Paul Heyman go down as the greatest manager of all-time?
Of course, questions like this are always subjective, and there are many who will be biased because they have a personal or professional dislike for Paul Heyman.
Having said that, his body of work is pretty impressive. Heyman has managed more world champions than either Heenan or Cornette and has worked for every major organization in pro wrestling over the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and beyond. He's also found success in every promotion he's ever been a part of, and currently, you can see him every Friday night, standing next to WWE's biggest star, Roman Reigns.
Much like Tom Brady keeps on going to Super Bowls, Paul Heyman keeps finding himself as the voice of champions. He just keeps stockpiling wins in a career that has been legendary, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
And for that, Paul Heyman must at least be considered in a conversation as the greatest manager of all time.