Paul Heyman Guy

Why I’m A Paul Heyman Guy (And Always Will Be)

How did one man with practically no resources start a company that challenged the WWE as well as Ted Turner’s WCW? With disruptive branding he not only challenged two mega brands each run by billionaires but he started an industry-wide revolution and made a name for himself that is still passionately chanted by rabid fans 20 years after the brand was acquired.

That man is Paul Heyman. And this is the story of why I will always be a “Paul Heyman Guy”.

Paul started as a wrestling photographer and then progressed to manager. He got his big break—or as he put it, “the chance to start a revolution”—when he gained creative control over a very small, and severely underfunded, regional company in 1993.

Other than the talent who were on his payroll at the time, Paul had very little in the way of resources. His company’s show battled for airtime and landed on regional TV at 2am on Saturday nights, only airing in Philadephia. Sometimes it did not air at all.

He didn’t have the glitz, the glam, the pyro, or the money. But he wound up turning the entire industry on its head. His methods and contributions to the sport changed the way things were done and still, to this day, are done. Fans worldwide continue to pay tribute to his efforts by passionately screaming the name of his brand “ECW” at shows.

Paul Heyman saw an opportunity. He saw a segment of the audience that was underserved and unheard and in his own words created a mission statement for his brand:

“I thought that the business, the industry, the presentation, needed to change in the same way music had changed. Music was all about Poison and Motley Crue and Winger and all these hair bands, and then along came Nirvana and *BAM*! The whole industry changed. So in the same way, I thought wrestling needed to change, in that wrestling had become the equivalent of hair bands, and we needed wrestling’s version of Nirvana to come along and just shake everything up.”

As a result, in 1993 the ECW revolution began.

ECW’s stripped-down, no-frills, and hard-hitting Fight-Club-esque style not only covered their glaring weaknesses in production value, but the style actually became an asset. It made the WWE and WCW overdone, goofy personas, outlandish costumes, and correlating storylines look silly to the true fans of the art. Those fans couldn’t have cared less for the expensive fanfare of WWE and WCW.

Authenticity was also key to his success. When Paul got on the mic and pulled back the storyline curtain of the industry, spewing real facts and ire for the competitors, you knew it was a real, or in industry-speak, a total shoot.

disruptive branding of Paul Heyman

Paul, unlike his competition, could not afford high-paid scriptwriters so he let his in-ring talent be authentic as well. If they wanted airtime they had to bring it. And they did.

This unusual authenticity shone through the product and the audiences took to it immediately. Crowd sizes grew in leaps and bounds. Soon the big guys with all of the resources were looking to Paul’s product copying ideas and poaching his talent.

Today, Paul continues to be successful and influential in the industry. He is looked upon as a genius and a revolutionary. Many people still carry the torch of his brand ECW, with thousands proudly wearing “I’m A Paul Heyman Guy” t-shirts. Both a tribute to the man as well as a statement that lets others know that they too are a little different, and see things through a different lens.

I am nowhere near ashamed to admit that on those tough days where it actually does seems like I am truly alone in the way I see things, I proudly put on my “I’m A Paul Heyman Guy” T-shirt and continue forward because I too am unquestionably a “Paul Heyman Guy”.

Jesse James Wroblewski

Differentiation Consultant

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