Watching Paul Heyman these days reminds me of two of the greatest WWE managers in history, and both of those guys played huge roles in wrestling in the 1980s: Captain Lou Albano and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
Take Curtis Axel (a.k.a. Joe Hennig, who is Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig’s son) out of the picture for a second and think of whom else Heyman has managed: CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. Do either of those guys on their own need Heyman? Not really, but each of them is even more fun with Heyman involved.
Heenan had the same qualities. Guys like Harley Race, Ravishing Rick Rude, and Ric Flair were all beyond accomplished in the ring and gifted promo men. Yet Heenan added an element to each of them that made them seem even bigger deals. There’s something to be said about adding a great manager to an already great wrestler.
Heyman also embodies a lot of what worked with Albano. In the end, nearly every single WWWF and WWF fan in the 1970s and ‘80s wanted to see Albano get his ass kicked. But Albano never really did get what was coming to him. Even at the height of his feud with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, I remember Snuka could not get a pinfall win against Albano in their big grudge match at the old Boston Garden in December 1982 (Albano was counted out).
You have to think that Heyman will come close to getting his ass whooped by Punk on Sunday at the Night of Champions pay-per-view, but it won’t be quite the full-blown beating fans want. That’s because in the end, Heyman keeps his heat the longer he can remain an antagonist who never quite gets defeated.
In a day and age when managers are usually ineffective in the WWE, it’s great to see Heyman channel Albano and Heenan in his performances, while also adding his own unique nuances.