Paul Heyman knows a thing or two about building anticipation for a big match and that’s exactly what he did for the main event of WrestleMania 34 between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Heyman opened up about putting together the build for the match, why Lesnar is a unique individual, and what it would be like to work with Roman Reigns.
You can watch WrestleMania live around the world April 8th on the WWE Network at a special start time of 7 p.m ET.
So three years ago Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns headlined WrestleMania 31 for the WWE Championship and now they’re going to do it again at WrestleMania 34. Has the build for this match been more challenging for you to put together?
“No, it’s actually been a lot easier for me because the build for the match at WrestleMania 31 had the cloud of Brock Lesnar walking out five weeks before WrestleMania. It was hovering over the match at all times. This one has been fairly easy for me because I know Brock is going to be in New Orleans for WrestleMania 34.”
I asked Roman what it would be like to work with you on-screen as his advocate and he said it would be really cool and it would allow him to go in a different direction with his character, but he also said that he wouldn’t be a Paul Heyman guy and that you would be a ‘Roman Reigns guy.’ What are your thoughts about working with him?
“Three years ago in the buildup to WrestleMania 31 I said straight to Roman Reigns’ face a comment that can be taken as both story line and as reality. Roman Reigns is the right guy, in the right place, at the wrong time.
In any other time in history, Roman Reigns would be so dominant on top, both in a story line capacity and a box office capacity in WWE. No one would be in his stratosphere. He would absolutely be the Paul Heyman guy for I would be auditioning every single solitary day to define my role as a Roman Reigns guy. We would be sitting here talking about Roman Reigns approaching 1,000 days as the top champion in WWE. There’s no doubt in my mind about this. No one would be in his league.
But the unfortunate thing for Roman Reigns is that he lives in a time period that is dominated by Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar is the only athlete who can go in-between WWE and UFC seamlessly at a top tier, main event level.
Could there be someone in UFC to go back-and-forth? Maybe. Maybe. But at this level? Main eventing WrestleManias, main eventing UFC’s top shows ever. I don’t know who else could do this and in fact I’m sure no one can. So since Brock Lesnar is the only one athletically qualified and with enough box office appeal to do both at an absolute tier one level, Roman Reigns just happens to live in the wrong period of time.
Besides that, working with Roman Reigns would be an absolute career defining moment for me. I have nothing but the upmost respect and admiration for him as an athlete, a performer, and as a man.”
The idea of Brock being so unique is something that I find fascinating and it comes not just from the physicality and athleticism, but also from his personality. We live in the too-much information age and how he goes about his daily life reminds me of the 1997 version of Sting in WCW in the sense that he holds this incredible presence, but we don’t know anything about him.
In a weird way, it makes me like him and despise him at the same time because I respect his desire to be so private and I’m jealous of the fact that he can be that private. It’s like he’s achieved a social level that very few people can ever think about getting to. He can just avoid all of this news and just be Brock Lesnar, but the rest of us civilians can’t seem to do that.
“The only way for Brock Lesnar to be Brock Lesnar is for him to isolate himself from the rest of the world. There are way too many distractions that are offered by today’s social media culture that can take you away from the focus that’s needed to at the age of 40, be at the absolute best shape of your life and ready to perform at an unparalleled level in the main event of WrestleMania and ready, on very short notice, to open a training camp and compete in the main event of a major UFC pay-per-view.
The social media culture is so distracting, but it’s prevalent and dominant in the world today as evidence by the fact that the preferred means of breaking news to the world by the President of the United States is through Twitter! We now live in a social media culture, which Brock Lesnar does not succumb to and does not expose himself to because he stays focused at the task at hand and the task at hand is to be Brock Lesnar.”
So no matter it feels like creative or Vince tries to get the crowd to react to Roman Reigns in a positive way, it just hasn’t worked. The audience continues to fight them at every step of the way. What could have been done differently in order to make the crowd want to cheer for him?
“I think anyone who spends their creative time trying to entice the audience to react a certain way to Roman Reigns is spinning their wheels. They’re wasting their time.
WWE has accomplished its goal with Roman Reigns. He is an amazing box office attraction. Proof of that statement? This is Roman Reigns’ fourth consecutive WrestleMania main event. Not even Brock Lesnar can make that claim.
Roman Reigns on a global basis is a chart-busting, trend-setting, box office attraction. Whether people are paying to cheer Roman Reigns, or people are paying to boo Roman Reigns, it doesn’t matter. People are paying to see Roman Reigns.
To me, I don’t care if the entire stadium is going crazy for Roman, or just wanting to see Roman take an ass kicking. As long as people are paying to see Roman Reigns, as long as people are paying to react to Roman Reigns, we’ve accomplished our job.
We should be concentrating on how to expand that audience instead of figuring how out to micromanage them.”