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Paul Heyman Discusses The Art Of The Wrestling Promo

Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman and a microphone go together like Steve Austin and a cold beer. It’s one of the very few combinations in pro wrestling history to almost guarantee greatness.

From managing the Original Midnight Express in the late 1980’s to riding shotgun with Roman Reigns in 2021, Paul Heyman has been delivering his gospel to an eagerly waiting wrestling congregation for over 30 years.

Reflecting on his job with the microphone, Heyman says that nothing has changed since those early days in 1987. In conversation with Justin Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Heyman said that although his style has had to evolve over the years, the main job remains the same.

“My job is to create an enthusiasm regarding the items that I am entrusted with hyping,” Heyman says. “That has never changed. The way that I strategize, that has changed. That’s been a constant since 1987.”

“What worked for me during the Dangerous Alliance era in WCW would not have worked for me in front of an ECW crowd. The rabble-rouser, cult leader, pied piper of the revolution in ECW would not have worked as Brock Lesnar’s advocate. Brock Lesnar’s advocate would not have worked as the ‘voice of the voice of the voiceless,’ and none of those would have worked for the special counsel for Roman Reigns or the co-host of Talking Smack. These are all distinctly different roles, and I would be doing a disservice to people if I treated it otherwise.”

The former ECW head honcho added that the key to a successful promo is reading the room and knowing your audience. Heyman explained that he sees himself as a salesman, so each promo depends on what he is selling to the audience.

“It needs change on a constant level, or you grow stale very quickly,” Heyman says. “Promos are an evolving process. They have to modernize; they have to address the current wants, desires and whims of the audience.”

“You have to read the room,” Heyman says. “If not, you’re a nostalgia act before you’re even cognizant of the fact that time has passed you by. In some ways it hasn’t changed. I still ask myself, ‘What’s my goal? What am I selling?’ I’m a salesman, I’m a hype artist, I’m an interest-facilitator. My job is to get you interested in the product, in the personalities I’m selling, in the match I want you to witness, subscribe and buy. With Talking Smack, the medium is different; the platform is different. It’s like comparing Twitter to Instagram. The promo that I did on SmackDown, the ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! No! No! No!’ promo was all about just how great Daniel Bryan is and why that demonstrates the enormity of Roman Reigns’ star power—because as great as Daniel Bryan is and all he’s overcome, he’ll never overcome Roman Reigns.”

Between Talking Smack and appearing alongside Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman has almost become the de-facto voice of the blue brand. However, the two roles find Heyman calling on slightly differently skillsets. Reigns’ ‘Special Counsel’ broke down the process of constructing a promo for the Tribal Chief.

“At this stage, the Paul Heyman promo is to enlighten the audience as to just how talented, how great and how marketable the opponent for Roman Reigns is, and then, by contrast, even if Roman Reigns’ opponent is a 12 on a scale of zero to 10, he’s still not at Roman Reigns’ level,” Heyman says.

“A Roman Reigns promo is a fascinating offering on Friday Night SmackDown. I find it funny that I have to spend any time this week doing media interviews because I think SmackDown sells itself. And SmackDown sells itself on the mere fact that Roman Reigns is on the show. SmackDown is the best reality show on television today because you are seeing the real Roman Reigns unfold in front of your very eyes.”

Elsewhere in the conversation Heyman also revealed his hesitation in returning as an on-screen performer
without Brock Lesnar. The former advocate for The Beast, added that Reigns was the only person who could have enticed him back in front of the cameras.

Meanwhile, Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns are set to appear on the upcoming throwback edition of SmackDown.

You can follow all of the action from Friday Night Smackdown here on Inside The Ropes.