The following is an article originally published on PWTorch.com 15 years ago this week (12-10-02) featuring a summary of Paul Heyman’s interview on TSN’s “Off the Record with Michael Lansberg.”
TV Interview Recap: Paul Heyman
December 10, 2002
Aired on TSN in Canada
Report by Omar Claros, PWTorch. com correspondent
A lot of people have been talking about this interview since it was recorded on the weekend. Yonight the public got to see the one on one interview with Paul Heyman.
As soon as the show started host Michael Landsberg got right to the point with the Steve Austin questions. The first question that was asked was “Did Stone Cold walk out because he was not happy with his character or was it that he did not want to do the job to Brock Lesnar?” Heyman replied that Austin did not want to work with Lesnar. Austin had been less than happy with his character was going. Heyman also added that Austin was a powerful worker within the company. He said since Austin is such a huge talent that it made it very hard to control him since at any time he can just leave and leave the company in a bad situation. Heyman was asked if Austin was good to work with. He responded that he had never had a problem with Austin. He reiterrated that he just didn’t like what they were doing with his character, the way they were using his wife on the show, and other smaller issues.
To put an end to the Austin issue, Heyman said that he (Heyman) had to swallow a lot of sh– when he was in ECW in order to do what was best for the company. He concluded that the only ones who know what really happened are Steve and Vince.
After the commercial break, the talk shifted to The Rock and what his role is in the WWE ever since his hiatus to Hollywood. Heyman believes that the Rock is no longer seen as a wrestler by most WWE fans. Upon his return Heyman expects that the fans will welcome him with open arms for the first couple of shows, then probably be weary at the fact that he could leave anytime and therefore turn on him, In Heyman’s opinion this could be a great way for the Rock to make his heel turn.
The WWE’s writing team was the next topic up for discussion, referring to the writing committee. Heyman describes every writer as different, bringing their own ideas and takes on what’s going on. Heyman described himself as the “go to guy” in the Smackdown writing committee. He is the one that takes the ideas that are interesting and presents them to Vince for approval.
When asked if Vince McMahon could once again push the envelope like he did back in 1997 considering that WWE is a publicly traded company, Heyman answered that If Vince wanted to push the envelope he could. Michael Landsberg interrupted him in mid sentence and asked him, “Wouldn’t it be harder for Vince to push the envelope since the WWE is no longer a family company? He has to be held accountable for everything that the company does by explaining why revenues are up or down to the investors, right?” Heyman took a moment to answer this question and began with: “Vince McMahon could push the envelope. Investors of the company have to buy into the vision of Vince McMahon in order to invest in the company, otherwise investors would not invest. Vince takes it very personally when his company is doing good or is on a backslide… If the company is doing well, all credit needs to go to McMahon, if the company is faltering McMahon also takes the blame.”
The next question was wether Stephanie Mcmahon and Triple H have more pull with Vince than anyone else. Heyman was not sure if they did or not. He did add that Vince demands a lot out of Stephanie since she has been learning at the masters feet all her life. No talk about Shane Mcmahon, though.
Landsberg wanted Heyman’s personal opinion on Eric Bischoff. Heyman confessed that he hated Bischoff when WCW was going strong. There was nobody that he disliked more than Eric Bischoff in the business at the time. He stated that when they both came to the WWE they both started on a clean slate and now work together very well. Heyman was asked about his old company ECW and where did he find Chris Jericho? Heyman responded that Jericho was referred to him by a young Chris Benoit. The first time that he saw Jericho he was blown away by him. A match between Jericho and the Ultimo Dragon from Japan convinced him that he should seek out Jericho. Still on the Jericho subject, Landsberg asked if in Heyman’s opinion: Did Chris Jericho get a fair show at been WWE champion? “I don’t know” was Heyman’s answer. “You have to understand that there were other things going on behind the scenes (Austin situation, etc.)”
When asked why RVD has not been turned into one of the biggest Superstars of the company, Heyman could only say that RVD had not adjusted completely to the WWE style of wrestling. He had been a huge star in ECW because Heyman could accentuate a performers strong points while downplaying the weak points. If Heyman were working for the Raw brand he would probably accentuate more of RVD’s matches and highlight Rob’s in-ring performance since that is what Rob does best. Heyman feels that RVD and Booker T are the most underrated wrestlers in the company.
Next question had to do with Hogan, “What is the situation with Hogan right now” asked Landsberg, “Hogan and Vince are not seeing eye to eye right now” was Heyman’s answer.
As with most wrestling interviews on Off the Record they played name association (the first thing that pops into the head of the guest about a specific person), It went a little like this:
Jim Cornette: “Never seen eye to eye with him, don’t like each other much”
Jerry Lawler: “I took his spot, and was a better color commentator then he was” (I could not tell if he was just joking or being serious.)
Flair: “Legend, loves being in that ring”
Bret Hart:”Tragic story.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a good interview, Heyman spoke very candidly about all the subjects, although it looked like he was dodging a couple of questions (Triple H/Steph is one that comes to mind). Throughout the half hour the host kept hinting at a huge announcement that he would be making at the end of the show that could be the biggest announcement that involved Off the Record and Wrestling, The big announcement was that Hulk Hogan had agreed to appear on the show for two half-hour interviews, although there is no definite date scheduled it would happen in the near future.
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