31st Jul2014

‘WWE: Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman’ Blu-ray Review

by Chris Cummings

WWE-Paul-Heyman

Now, I have been a “Paul Heyman Guy” or rather a “Paul Heyman Fan” since the nineties when I first discovered Extreme Championship Wrestling and discovered that the man who had previously worked as a manager in WCW, Paul E. Dangerously, was now booking for ECW and later, the owner.

I was excited when I heard that WWE were going to be putting out a Paul Heyman documentary in the way they have done with many big-time wrestlers in the past, Heyman’s is a story that is both intriguing and entertaining, and there are many people within the wrestling industry that have differing opinions of “The Messiah of the Extreme”. This, in itself, was enough to intrigue me into anticipation for this release.

The Blu-ray release comes on two discs, as usual, with the first disc being the documentary portion. A very well put-together documentary, we are given a sit-down interview with Heyman himself which acts as a narration of sorts to the whole thing, with talking heads such as Jim Ross, Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, former owner of ECW Tod Gordon and others offering insights, opinions and stories about Paul Heyman, his history in the business and their views on his ability to remain relevant in the constantly-changing world of pro-wrestling. We are treated to clips and photographs of Heyman beginning with his childhood, as he speaks about his family-life and his astonishing ability to break into the World of wrestling as a young teenager, through his time in the territory’s, across WCW, into ECW, into WWE, the Heyman Hustle stuff, and back into his current and existing run as an on-air talent for WWE, working with the likes of CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. The whole thing is very interesting and sheds light on stories that I have never heard before. Heyman’s story is so interesting and it is a delight to see Heyman, such an intelligent and passionate man, speak in length about his life, his career and all that comes in-between.

The talking heads are a mixed bag, with some offering little insight (Jerry Lawler), some offering stories that have all been told before (RVD), to those that really brought some worthwhile views and tales to the mix (Jim Ross, Dreamer, Punk). I thought, considering this was a career retrospective on one of the best wrestling minds of all time, and the greatest manager in wrestling’s history, that there were too many negative comments from some of these people, comments that have been heard before and were unnecessary here. Jerry Lawler, who obviously still dislikes Heyman, offered nothing but bitter comments, and Stephanie McMahon seemed to deliver a series of back-handed compliments and passive aggressive sentences that harmed the documentary. I am a Heyman fan, and it seems like Heyman is the only one who is willing to admit wrong and admit to being deceitful in order to survive in the wrestling business, while everyone else seems to just point the finger. It can be quite frustrating. Still, it is a very open and honest release that delivers plenty of content and highlights the truly remarkable career of one of the best and most long-standing performers in the history of pro-wrestling.

The second disc is packed full of segments and matches involving Paul Heyman, through his days in AWA, WCW, ECW and WWE, and contains some of his best promos in those places, all of which have something to offer. A highlight includes Heyman’s excellent promo in WWE in 2001 in which he shared his views on why he, in fact, “hates (Mr. McMahon’s) stinkin’ guts”. Along with extra stories, teasers, and a handful of matches, it is a pleasure to watch Heyman, at his best, through the years. If you’re a fan of Heyman, you will find much to enjoy here.

I do feel like certain talking heads could have been hired to speak during the documentary while others (Lawler, Steph) could have been left out. I would have enjoyed hearing Vince McMahon’s thoughts on his on/off relationship with Heyman, and why, regardless of how many times they part ways, Heyman always ends up back in WWE because they go to him. This shows just how good Heyman is, and watching how much he loves working with young talent just goes to show how important Heyman is, and why, even today, he is vital to the industry.

It is nice to see WWE show some respect to Paul and put out a set that isn’t all about a major in-ring worker (Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H). I’d like to see a couple more of these get made in the future, I think a set about the life and career of Jim Ross would be incredibly interesting. I really enjoyed this set, from beginning to end, and I feel like it really does offer something different. It isn’t perfect, but it is a fresh and thoroughly enthralling look at the career of one of the greatest minds, promoters, talkers and thinkers in the history of wrestling.

Ladies & Gentlemen: My Name is Paul Heyman is released through FreemantleMedia on August 4th 2014.

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