DVD Review: Ladies And Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman

paul-heyman-dvd-set-cover

Certificate: 12
Running Time: 7hrs 6mins (426mins)
Discs: 3

Disc 1 – Documentary

  • Survivor
  • Photographer
  • Promoter
  • Manager
  • Memphis
  • AWA
  • WCW
  • ECW
  • Team Mentality
  • Rebels
  • Commentator
  • Writer
  • OVW
  • New ECW
  • Businessman
  • Father
  • Return to WWE
  • Embracing the Moment

Disc 2 – Promos

  • Paul E. is always in contact – AWA Championship Wrestling • August 1987
  • Pink Suspenders – AWA Superstars • August 1987
  • I’ll Be Johnny Carson – AWA Championship Wrestling • August 1987
  • Danger Zone with Ted E. Bear – AWA Championship Wrestling • September 1987
  • You want to be a Cartoon? – AWA All Star Wrestling • September 1987
  • If Excitement Had a Name – AWA Superstars • September 1987
  • More Publicity – AWA Championship Wrestling • September 1987
  • Adrian Adonis – AWA All Star Wrestling • October 1987
  • The Definition of Pro Wrestling – AWA Superstars • November 1987
  • The Sequel Jim Cornette – NWA Pro Wrestling • October 1988
  • Nobody Wanted Paul E. – World Championship Wrestling • November 1988
  • Louisville Slugger – NWA Pro Wrestling • December 1988
  • The Year of Paul E. Dangerously – World Championship Wrestling • January 1989
  • Danger Zone with Ric Flair – World Championship Wrestling • March 1989
  • I’m So Handsome – NWA Main Event • March 1989
  • I Don’t Have Wrestlers I Have Animals – World Wide Wrestling • March 1989
  • Ding Dong Who is it? – NWA Main Event • July 1989
  • The Era of the Dangerous Alliance – World Championship Wrestling • September 1989
  • Sting’s Doll – Power Hour • May 1991
  • Save Us from Captain Oklahoma – World Championship Wrestling • November 1991
  • The Dangerous Alliance – World Championship Wrestling • November 1991
  • The Paul E. Awards – World Wide Wrestling • February 1992
  • The Ultimatum is at Hand – Pro Wrestling • April 1992
  • A New Dangerous Alliance – ECW Hardcore TV • October 1993
  • WCW Wants Sabu – ECW Hardcore TV • June 1994
  • Wrestler and Violence – ECW Hardcore TV • July 1994
  • Winds of Change – ECW Hardcore TV • November 1994
  • Cash Rules Everything – ECW Hardcore TV • December 1994
  • Best Damn Wrestling You’ve Ever Seen – ECW Hardcore TV • January 1995
  • There Ain’t No Organization Like ECW – ECW • February 1996
  • ECW Comes to Pay-Per-View – ECW • February 1997
  • We Cleared Cablevision! – ECW • March 1998
  • The Card Has Changed – ECW Guilty As Charged • January 1999
  • The War Has Just Begun – ECW on TNN • June 2000

Disc 2 – Stories

  • Photo of Vince Sr. & Andre
  • Riding in Blassie’s Car
  • Troubles in Memphis
  • The Mole
  • Borrowing Time
  • Conference Call
  • Paul Heyman Guy

Disc 2 – Teases

  • Real Story?
  • PG Era
  • Statute of Limitations
  • In Your Face
  • More Extreme

Disc 3 – Promos

  • Paul Heyman Hates Mr. McMahon’s Stinkin’ Guts – SmackDown • November 15, 2001
  • Introducing: “The Next Big Thing” – RAW • April 8, 2002
  • Paul Heyman, Mr. McMahon & Eric Bischoff All Share One Ring – RAW • May 23, 2005
  • Paul Heyman Thanks the ECW Faithful – ECW One Night Stand • 12 June 2005
  • The Resurrection of ECW – ECW One Night Stand • June 11, 2006
  • From the Bingo Hall to the Garden – ECW • September 12, 2006
  • Mr. McMahon Gives Paul Heyman a Performance Review – RAW • January 28, 2013
  • Paul Heyman Gives CM Punk His Resignation – RAW • February 11, 2013
  • It’s Clobbering Time for CM Punk – RAW • July 15, 2013
  • Volcano – RAW • October 21, 2013
  • Paul Heyman Drops a Pipe Bomb – RAW • March 3, 2014

Disc 3 – Matches

  • The Original Midnight Express v The New Midnight Express – Main Event • January 21, 1989
  • Hardy Boyz v Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman – Judgment Day • May 19, 2002
  • No Disqualification Handicap Elimination Match: CM Punk v Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman – Night of Champions • September 15, 2013

If you buy the Blu-Ray version, you get the following additional content -:

Blu-ray Exclusive

  • Dingo Warrior v Matt Bourne – WCCW • October 24, 1986
  • Ultimate Warrior & The British Bulldogs v Demolition & Mr Fuji – Maple Leaf Gardens • July 24, 1988
  • Intercontinental Championship Match: Ultimate Warrior v Dino Bravo – The Main Event • February 23, 1990
  • WrestleMania VII Contract Signing: Road to WrestleMania VII • March 17, 1991
  • Ultimate Warrior v Sgt. Slaughter: WrestleFest • March 30, 1991

Paul Heyman.

For wrestling fans of all ages, the name alone is enough to get an extreme reaction, if you forgive the inevitable use of the word he is (and always will be) most associated with.

As long time readers of these reviews might be aware, I had seen American wrestling now again as ITV in the UK aired some WWF filler shows at like 2am, but had grown up with World of Sport.

All of that changed with my first viewing of WrestleMania VII. Every match on that card left a mark on the 14yr-old who would one day strap on a pair of boots and morph into “The Hangman” Draven Cage, but it was easily Demolition’s music, Undertaker’s everything and Warrior v Savage that hooked me and has kept me a fan of wrestling ever since.

From there, I consumed everything I could and, as luck would have it, the local Global Video had started to stock WWF and WCW pay-per-views on VHS (for those who don’t know what VHS is, it was our version of DVDs before the advent of Laserdisc). I rented all of the WWE videos and caught up on all the PPVs I had missed from WrestleMania I (which wasn’t actually a PPV, but we’ll count it anyway) and ran through everything by the time Royal Rumble 1992 came around and we had SKY by then, so could watch that (after recording it to VHS, natch).

Because of that, I turned my attention to the WCW events and started working through them. Eventually I reached Halloween Havoc 1991 and while watching, a masked wrestler called The WCW Phantom appeared. When I was watching him, I said to my friends “Hey, that’s Rick Rude; why is he in WCW”.

Sure enough, it was Rick Rude (to be fair, it was supposed to be obvious it was him) and sure enough, later on the same show he was revealed to the world by Paul E. Dangerously. I can remember thinking to myself that this Paul (Heyman) guy must be an amazing businessman if he can get a former Intercontinental Champion to leave WWE for WCW. Of course, this was before internet and before anyone was really clued in on how (it seems) the business really works.

The mouthy manager captured my attention in a different way to the aforementioned WrestleMania VII alumni; he wasn’t a massive mountain of a man, he wasn’t involved in a match that was a work of perfection and he didn’t have a killer theme tune like Demolition. What he did have was a presence that, while at 15yrs old I couldn’t comprehend the nuances involved, entranced me.

I guess I was on my way to becoming a Paul Heyman guy.

From there, I sought out as much WCW as I could from the video shop while watching WWE on TV. The shows were usually good, although they seemed much more small time than WWE at the time. The big exception was War Games. This concept and the visual splendour of the match was much bigger than anything (perhaps the Rumble or the tag-team Survivor Series matches were on a par) WWE had on offer.

At War Games 1992, Sting and his friends (Barry Windham, Ricky Steamboat, Nikita Koloff and Dustin Rhodes) faced off against The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Larry Zybysko) fought in a War Games match that was the best thing I had seen since Warrior v Savage.

From there, I watched WCW shows on video when they appeared and Paul E. Dangerously stopped appearing on them. Again, this was in 1993, so there was no internet to find out the real reason, so I just assumed he stopped wrestling as he wasn’t on WWE either.

It wasn’t until I heard about ECW from Powerslam Magazine (who, going back to when they were Superstars of Wrestling in 1991, educated me a great deal on pro-wrestling, including, in keeping with this review – which will be a review soon, I promise – what a talent Paul E. Dangerously was) in 1994 that I was made aware of where he had gone. That coupled with the great reviews ECW shows were getting led to me getting as much footage of the promotion as I could get my hands on from tape-traders (as I said, this was pre-internet and we had to work for our non-televised-in-the-UK content).

My platonic love affair with Paul Heyman began then and has continued to this day.

Now that you have been brought up to speed on my love, admiration and respect for Paul Heyman, you can imagine my excitement when this set was announced and my joy when it arrived in the post to review.

Never have I had a disc in my slot (oo-er, missus) so quickly from the point the postman put it in my box (tee-hee) and from the first minute of the documentary I had a feeling this was going to be special.

WWE has a great history of documentary releases, especially since they acquired virtually every library from defunct promotions that are available to own. The “subject sits down and tells stories while talking heads from the subjects life and career provide additional content, structure, context” format is something they excel at and when it is a subject with such a long career and is as verbose as we know Paul Heyman is, it’s like capturing lightning in a bottle.

The footage includes post-WrestleMania situations, so most of the talking head segments are also very recent. An obvious exception is CM Punk, who talks about coming to work and loving the time he spends with Paul.

Charting the man’s entire life to this point, we see pictures of Heyman as a child and the influence his Holocaust-survivor mother and Personal Injury Lawyer father had on his early years. Revelations like he started his own business as an 11yr-old kid with mail-order movie merchandise show the drive and determination he had in his pre-teen years, while the stories of his break into the wrestling business as a photographer have been heard before, but to get the details is as engrossing as it is entertaining.

At 14yrs-old, Heyman was conning his way into press photography sessions at Madison Square Garden and meeting the men who would shape his entire career; Lou Albano, Freddie Blassie and The Grand Wizard.

Jumping along at a fair pace while covering most aspects of his journey leading up to his big break in management, the tales of how he ended up working at (and then basically running) the legendary Studio 54 in New York are amazing, while candid photos validate the stories credibility.

Of course, we’ll all have this set for the wrestling element and once we get to that, it’s story after story from an era where it seemed the backstage area was as full of characters and drama as the action on screen. From how he acquired the Paul E. Dangerously name (and more hilariously, why – it involves Michael Keaton) to his runs in Florida and Memphis (against Jerry Lawler, who does a piss-poor job of hiding his genuine dislike for Heyman) to his nationwide exposure with the AWA, you can see a man who was learning on the job while modifying things until he had the perfect character.

After a brief stint with Eddie Gilbert in the Continental Wrestling Federation and a run as head booker in Windy City Wrestling where he began making a name for himself behind the scenes. This eventually led to an offer from WCW to come in, which he did alongside a wrestler by the name of Tombstone, who would later be employed in ECW as 911, which is a great indication of the loyalty he showed to those who were loyal to him.

The documentary covers his time in WCW in minor detail, with a lot of attention paid to his eye for talent and why Steve Austin ended up in The Dangerous Alliance, which was preceded by why they were put together in the first place. The topics discussed are interesting and, of course, Heyman is a fantastic orator, so the verbal history lesson captivates… until the terms of his firing are brought up. At this point, we are let in on the fact there is still a non-disclosure agreement in place surrounding the terms of his lawsuit against WCW over the dismissal.

Extreme Championship Wrestling.

For wrestling fans of a certain age, the name alone is enough to get an extreme reaction, if you forgive the inevitable use of the word the promotion is (and always will be) most associated with.

Due to time constraints, not everything can be discussed in these type of releases, so certain time-frames get glossed over if not outright ignored (I’m looking at you, Invasion Angle – more of that later). ECW, as you would expect, gets a fair shake of the stick, from Heyman coming in to Eastern Championship Wrestling to the closure of the company, but there is nowhere near enough coverage of this era in his career.

This is probably due to 1995-1999 ECW being my favourite “era” of pro-wrestling, so the more footage of that, the better, but they change from Eastern to Extreme isn’t really discussed, the tossing of the NWA Championship by Shane Douglas is shown (very briefly) isn’t discussed at all and the importance of the first PPV for ECW is given only a passing comment.

However, the talking heads of Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, Raven, Joey Styles and Tod Gordon (all new footage) give a lot of depth to Paul Heyman the man, Paul Heyman the booker, Paul Heyman the character and Paul Heyman the businessman as well as ECW itself and this really makes up for the lack of actual ECW footage (which, I guess, is where the WWE Network comes in).

As we all know, ECW eventually succumbed to fate in January 2001 and Paul Heyman appeared on RAW as a replacement for Jerry Lawler alongside Jim Ross in a shocking move (again, while the internet existed at this point, knowledge and information wasn’t as widely available as it is now). It’s at this point that Joey Styles reveals a very interesting story regarding the bankruptcy of the promotion’s parent company and what Paul Heyman did to help the wrestlers under that situation while not being able to tell them he was doing that. Additional stories of talent trading with WWE (while hailing them as the enemy on ECW television) and how Vince was a fan of the promotion and why he gave financial support are also enthralling.

As mentioned earlier, the doc jumps over The Invasion angle (which is a good thing in general, but the actual angle where ECW were introduced is fantastic, so you should check it out on YouTube when you can) and chronicles his run as head writer of Smackdown and the evolution of the Smackdown Six, his firing, his return as Brock Lesnar’s manager until his departure and eventual return for the ECW One Night Stand shows and eventual launch of WWECW.

The talking-head comments about this version of ECW are both humorous and tinged with a little bit of disgust at the end result. This is summed up perfectly by the genuinely heartbroken look on Heyman’s face at the end of the disastrous December to Dismember 2006 PPV. It was also how I felt watching that abomination.

Running OVW was the perfect tonic after the dismay of ECW’s revamp as he got to do what he loves; nurture new talent. It was nice that this was given a segment and that some of the people he helped in OVW including Beth Phoenix and CM Punk.

Paul Heyman has left WWE and come back quite a lot, so it was no surprise to anyone that he turned up alongside Brock Lesnar in 2012 and, of course, his run alongside CM Punk is covered, but of great interest is the content concerning his non-wrestling work such as Heyman Hustle and the growth of the Looking4Larry Agency.

To say I loved this is an understatement.

Overview

The strength of a profile DVD lays with the subject matter and how important or relevant he is to both the business and you personally.

For me, this is the one I have been waiting for since WWE got a grasp on this concept and it didn’t disappoint.

Paul Heyman has been in the business since the late-70s (in some way or another) and has been innovative in every era along the way.

The tales from his entry into wrestling his current position and everything in between is engrossing and keeps you captivated from beginning to end.

My only gripe is that this should have been part one of a long-running series (pre-ECW, ECW, WWE 2001-2006 and WWE 2012-present) to give Paul Heyman the in-depth career retrospective he deserves.

The extras on the other two discs are a collection of various promos, stories and matches across his career and are also well worth a viewing.

I cannot recommend this enough and will end this by saying that it perfectly encapsulates the mantra that “you cannot achieve success without the risk of failure”.

Points: 10/10

Pre-Order:

UK: DVD / Blu ray

USA: DVD / Blu ray

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