Reality From Ringside #23
July 27, 2009
By: Doug Lackey of

Paul Heyman, Memory Loss, & Roster Posturing

Before I begin, let me state for the record that I have no ill will against Paul Heyman. He is a wonderful promoter and identifying him as a ?controversial mouthpiece? in the industry of professional wrestling would be an understatement. Heyman has always been one for speaking his mind with utter disregard to the consequences or reactions to follow. As always, that is where yours truly and ?Reality? comes in to play.

Last Friday on his website, Heyman published a new entry into his blog mostly promoting Dragon Gate USA’s debut at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia while at the same time annihilating WWE’s and TNA’s efforts to better prepare themselves for their future.

?Just a few years ago, Jim Ross would send memo after memo to Vince and Stephanie (and even to Executive Producer Kevin Dunn) practically begging the company to devote more time, effort, and resources to an active recruitment process, much like the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.

“If we don’t address this problem now,” JR once said in a passionate pitch on Air McMahon, “we’re going to pay a heavy price for ignoring the situation in 5 years.”

By the way, that was about … oh… 5 years ago.

This is not an indictment of JR’s successor in the Talent Relations department, John Laurainaitis. His hands are tied. His department is under the direction of Stephanie McMahon-LeVesque, and despite the fact the Chairman understands “new, unique, different,” Vince has screwed up when it comes to the matter of finding and developing new styles and the superstars who will define those new ways of presenting the age old product.?

(Courtesy: Paul Heyman: WWE and TNA Fail the Future)

There are a few things that Heyman fails to realize even though he was once a long-time employee of Vince McMahon’s and should know these facts by heart. McMahon is a very stubborn individual. If you know of any occurrences to where McMahon has changed his mind or done a complete 180 when it comes to his model of doing business or promoting his product, by all means email me and fill me in, because I don?t believe it has ever happened… ever!

For Heyman to believe that McMahon and his global entity’s sole purpose in the industry of professional wrestling and to ensure its eminent future is to ?find and develop new styles? is akin to me thinking that NASCAR needs to find a way to turn in different directions in their races… neither are ever going to happen! McMahon’s number one goal for the future is to make money, regardless of what he is promoting or producing; if that means refurbishing and rebranding the same stuff that we are used to seeing and drinking it up like the good little monkeys we are then so be it!

Moreover, what exactly is ?wrong? with the same old product? Through cross-promoting and brand reorganizing, WWE has continued to stay fresh and garner new enthusiasts. Five years ago, Wrestlemania was held in the ?age old? Madison Square Garden with a seating capacity of close to 20,000 (exact capacity during WWE events would be greatly appreciated). Last year’s Wrestlemania was held in Houston’s Astrodome attracting more than 80,000 fans… improving your ticket sales by four-fold does not exactly sound ?wrong? to me.

?It amazes me that in an industry starving for young talent, there is still no system in place designed to capitalize on the new styles and young performers that are out there, and –even more importantly– unseen by a national(and, especially in WWE’s case, a global) audience.? (Courtesy: Paul Heyman: WWE and TNA Fail the Future)

Paul Heyman… Two Words…. Brock Lesnar. How exactly was Brock Lesnar discovered by Vince McMahon and his ?unorganized? eyes? Wasn?t Lesnar a national champion in collegiate wrestling? Wasn?t Lesnar also in WWE’s developmental federation, Ohio Valley Wrestling? Oh… wait… Brock Lesnar isn?t with WWE any longer so he does not count in this argument, right? I forgot to mention something to you, I had many more words to follow that might be a little more relevant to the argument you are making. They are as follows: John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton. If it were not for WWE’s developmental territories, we would not have these three fine talents on display for us every week. More to the point, if it were not for these three, we could very well argue that WWE would no longer be the massive conglomerate it is now.

All arguments and point/counterpoints aside, it’s time to substantiate Heyman’s assumptions and accusations with a stiff dosage of reality and research. The question has been put forth: Is WWE preparing itself for the future?

An answer can be found in how well they prepared themselves in the same time period that Jim Ross predicted would be the time it to hit the panic button, five years. For the sake of this argument, I have taken a time period lapsing a year from five years ago: September 2003 to August 2004 or Unforgiven ?03 to Summerslam ?04. Looking at every pay-per-view event from that span, a list was compiled of all talent and performers involved in the programs; I counted well over 80. Of those listed, only 21 are still with the company regardless if they were injured or have left the company only to return. Throughout the countless number of talents that left, many names stand out and would definitely be regarded as ?main event? talent even today by WWE’s standards. Below are nine performers who are no longer with WWE within the five year span discussed: Rob Van Dam, Goldberg, Chris Benoit, JBL, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar, Booker T, and Ric Flair.

Nine main event talents lost within the five years that Jim Ross feared and Paul Heyman glorified. Yes it is very telling, those who were lost due to greener pastures, whiter heavens, or darker hells. However, what has WWE gained within those five years? I give you five talents that are now considered upper-echelon material and regularly main event pay-per-views that never did five years ago.

Randy Orton ? From 9/03 to 8/04, Orton won the Intercontinental Title and won his very first World Title. Summerslam ?04 was his first main event in a singles match, lord knows how many he has had since then. Don?t email me with the exact number, it was a rhetorical question.

Rey Mysterio ? Five years ago, Mysterio was competing for the now-defunct Cruiserweight Title, now he has a lengthy resume including World Champion and Royal Rumble winner. Could anyone have predicted five years ago that Mysterio would win the Royal Rumble?!

John Cena ? We know how popular and successful he is now, but five years ago the only title he ever held was the United States Title.

Batista ? From being the prot?g? of Ric Flair’s and enforcer of the newly-formed Evolution faction, Batista is now a multi-time World Champion and a definite stalwart of the WWE roster.

Edge ? It is hard to believe that Edge would only touch the Intercontinental Title from the timeframe referenced. Five years and nine World Titles later, he can easily be considered the most hated superstar on the roster.

I can already hear other names popping up that I did not mention (Jericho, Kane, Big Show, etc.). How many titles have they won in a five-year span? How many main events have they participated in? Argue your points and I will just as emphatically shoot them down.

A bigger question arises now: Where will the WWE be five years from now? Who will have left the company? Who will have cemented their place in WWE lore? I have made my predictions, as bold and mind-boggling as they may be, but I would like to save those for another time. Maybe you would like to send me your predictions, but first I should restrict you in some form…

Five years ago, WWE lost nine very substantial talents but developed and gained five dominant ones. Which nine talents currently on the roster that are considered dominant for our time will no longer be there? Which five talents currently on the roster that are considered developmental or experimental will be as dominant and popular as the ones leaving? And don?t just name names… think a little bit before you send me your replies. Don?t just say your favourite wrestlers for the sake of saying them… do some research and think about it. The last thing I want are 450,000 emails telling me that The Hart Dynasty should be the dominant ones just because they?re from Canada or the basements of some legendary family… substantiate your claims.

By the way, you can see I didn?t mention TNA five years from now or five years ago. Well there’s perfect reasoning for that… five years ago they had nearly the same roster as they have now but their dominant talents are all from previous well-established federations. Five years from now? That prediction is simple… with no talent fostered or developed, they will fold.

Until next time, mouth-breathers!

Annoy me with your assumptions and affronts… adore me with your adulations and acknowledgements:

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