The legendary race of Paul Heyman sees him seen as one of the greatest creative minds of all time. Heyman had some notable runs in important positions at different stages of his career. ECW was where Heyman started his reputation as the mad genius who ran the whole show on his own.
WWE initially hired Heyman for a commentator and manager role, but Vince McMahon developed a trust to make him the head writer for Smackdown after the brand split. Heyman was the lead creative executive for Raw in 2019 when WWE wanted to shake things up. The general body of work is worth seeing as you find the best and worst stories in store under Heyman’s leadership.
10 The best: Betraying Brock Lesnar for Big Show
Paul Heyman booked a big story for himself to make Brock Lesnar his rookie year. The fans earned too much respect for Brock scoring clean and impressive victories over legends like The Rock and The Undertaker to be crowned the ultimate superstar.
Most promos wait too long before face turns if the heel act is working, but Heyman really shocked the world by betraying Lesnar to help Big Show take him down. This also saw Kurt Angle enter the picture as another Heyman ally looking to stop Brock for even greater long-term success.
9 Worst: Lana’s crazy love life
Paul Heyman’s WWE Raw tenure from 2019 to 2020 in an executive role featured him coming up with some wild ideas. Heyman loved to have over-the-top romance angles that sparked controversy and got people talking.
Lana left Rusev for Bobby Lashley and the fact that Liv Morgan was revealed as yet another ex-lover made fans love the goof or hate it. Unfortunately, everyone but Lana came off worse for her part here to get WWE to drop it as a bot angle.
8 Best: Raven and Tommy Dreamer’s Lifetime Rivalry
Paul Heyman had full creative freedom in ECW without anyone leaking him like WWE. One of the best examples of Heyman’s creativity leading to success was the rivalry between Tommy Dreamer and Raven. Heyman had the idea to present a backstory of them being rivals as teenagers.
Dreamer was a more popular kid in his younger years and rubbed Raven the wrong way. Beulah McGillicutty was even introduced as someone from her past to create a love triangle. One cool twist on the feud was that Dreamer never beat Raven in the dozens of matches up until the last one before Raven left for WCW.
7 The worst: Erick Rowan’s spider
WWE pushed a lot of new talent into bigger roles when Paul Heyman made that a big part of his initiative on the Raw brand. Erick Rowan was among those names who were prodded with a bizarre story of having a mysterious creature in a cage that inspired him.
The reveal took a long time and completely disappointed fans to realize it was a comically oversized spider. Rowan instantly failed and lost the spider shortly after with Drew McIntyre destroying them both. WWE called Rowan’s push a flop from the Heyman era.
6 The best: the heel of Sasha Banks turns on Becky Lynch
An underrated story from Paul Heyman’s time as Raw’s main creative mind featured a shocking heel turn. Sasha Banks played a full-fledged heel for the first time on the main roster after attacking both Becky Lynch and Natalya.
Heyman’s brand had the best female rivalry of that year with Becky’s face top spot as The Man requiring a big badass to fight. Banks had one of the best streaks of her career starting with this underrated story.
5 Worst: Rick Rude harassing Francine to hurt Shane Douglas
ECW usually had smaller stories that made sense and highlighted all the characters well. However, there was a bad idea where Heyman hired Rick Rude under a mask. Rude started a feud with Shane Douglas by calling him out most weeks.
Francine was involved as a manager for Douglas, but Rude eventually forced her to kiss her multiple times or even grab her and leave the venue. This is still one of Heyman’s dumber ideas that he feels hard to watch today.
4 Best: Taz & Sabu’s Dream Match
Paul Heyman’s best work in ECW featured him intentionally creating a true dream match setting for the first PPV. Sabu and Taz had a falling out as former allies who became top single stars and kept hostility against each other.
ECW fans badly wanted the match that Taz and Sabu spent years building up that hype for before finally facing off. The atmosphere was electric every time they had a showdown before their big match. Heyman booked the debut PPV Barely Legal 1997 around this big match, with Taz scoring the win.
3 The worst: The Fiend targeting Seth Rollins
The worst overall storyline of the Paul Heyman era of Raw was clearly The Fiend’s feud with Seth Rollins. Bray Wyatt tapped into his alter ego to start some momentum, but it turned fans on Rollins as the babyface Universal Champion.
WWE had a horrible night when Rollins’ infamous Hell in a Cell debacle retained the title over The Fiend. Rollins suffered so much from this feud that it has taken him all the time since to re-achieve his current status as a beloved top star.
2 Best: SmackDown Six Tag Title Feud
Many fans view Paul Heyman’s Smackdown era as his greatest creative team in wrestling. Smackdown became the must-see show in WWE with the thriving tag team division. The Smackdown Six was the name given to three teams that had stellar matches every week.
Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, and even Chavo Guerrero made the product feel more exciting than Raw by showcasing Heyman’s vision of wrestling. The fact that the tag titles felt as important as any other belt showed just how well Heyman booked them.
1 Worst: Dawn Marie marrying Al Wilson
The controversial side of Paul Heyman saw him wanting a shock and awe storyline on Smackdown when Torrie Wilson’s father, Al Wilson, began a relationship with Dawn Marie. Heyman was a huge fan of Dawn from her ECW days and came up with this angle to enhance her feud with Torrie.
However, moments like Al stripping down to his boxers during his wedding or having a heart attack led to disappointment. Most fans cringed at this angle and still talk about it among the worst ideas. Heyman’s style led to ideas like this among the big parties.