Ladies And Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman DVD Review
By Ben Spindler
Posted On 08-08-2014 17:14 GMT
Tags: WWE, Paul Heyman, ECW, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar

There are certain people who, when they attach their name to something, will ensure that a particular level of quality is reached with it. This was why, when last year WWE released their fantastic 3 disc set ‘CM Punk: Best in the World’ not only did it sell like hot cakes but it also received glowing reviews from all sides. It was unsurprisingly a fantastic watch including one of those fantastic WWE style biopic style documentaries charting Punk’s career through the independent scene and rise up the WWE ladder itself.

A similar amount of excitement has been expressed by many for the release of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman’. Heyman is a man that no matter what you think of him has had a fascinating career, from his beginnings as a wrestling magazine writer and photographer, through his time as a manager in AWA, JCP and WCW on to his running and eventual ownership of ECW before arriving in WWE and delivering as a commentator, general manager, booker and manager all over again.

This set contains the welcome 2 hour plus documentary that tells the story through an engaging interview with Heyman, who speaks candidly about each stage of his career and life. This is a particular treat given Heyman’s discomfort of dwelling on the past and always aspiring to look to the future. In it he describes how, at a very young age, he managed to get himself a pass to the press room at Madison Square Garden and how from there, he did everything he could to learn the business.

Particular highlights include a story of a young Heyman managing to blag his way into an NWA booking committee meeting before sweet talking Dusty Rhodes into allowing him to stay there, the revelation that it was Jim Crockett who inspired Heyman to get involved with ECW after the former NWA promoter cut a promo on Heyman after Heyman left the business (temporarily) in the mid 1990’s and the story of ECW as told through the eyes of ‘The Mad Scientist’ himself.

Where the documentary really goes the extra mile however is in the amount and choice of talking heads involved- all of which have been newly shot for this release- as well as the likes of Brock Lesnar, Stephanie McMahon, Joey Styles and Renee Young who are all still very much within the WWE family, it also includes a host of names either outside or at odds with the company: Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Todd Gordon, Jim Ross, Bill Apter, CM Punk, and others.

For the 40 minutes that the piece covers Heyman’s time in ECW it can at times feel like we are going over old ground- much of the story and narrative has been told before in ‘The Rise and Fall of ECW’, in spite of this though, this piece of work is right up there with that release and the aforementioned ‘CM Punk Best in the World’ as well as ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be’ and ‘The Monday Night War’ from WWE’s back catalogue.

Discs 2 & 3 provide over 4 hours of extras in total including a plethora of Paul Heyman promos from his time with AWA right through NWA, WCW, ECW and WWE. Whilst Heyman was undoubtedly rougher around the edges in his early days and somewhat more conventional, his promo skills were obvious almost immediately, which means there isn’t a bad promo in this set. The only slight drawback is that after a while, you end up crying out for a change of pace- a match for example, wouldn’t go a miss.

At the end of the 3rd disc the set duly obliges with a few of the matches that Heyman got involved in himself- which includes a rare chance to see Heyman and his old nemesis Jim Cornette actually throw a couple of punches at each other. We’re also ‘treated’ to the tag match at WWE Judgement Day 2002 where Heyman teams with Lesnar against The Hardys, and again when Ryback and Heyman face CM Punk at Hell in a Cell last year.

There are some fascinating inserts on hand here though even in the extras, including a heart-warming story about a journey Heyman made with ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie coming back from Madison Square Garden, and the tale of Vince McMahon loaning ECW $500,000 at the drop of a hat when the extreme promotion was in one of its now infamous financial ruts. Heyman’s firing from WWE’s Smackdown booking team is covered here too, a story that Heyman also recently told on the Steve Austin podcast.

In terms of personalities who have played a huge role in the industry during the last 3 decades- Heyman is right up there amongst the most important. He was one of the last generation of talent to learn their trade on the independent scene, travelling to Memphis, Florida, the AWA and Jim Crockett Promotions. He was the genius behind the rise of Extreme Championship Wrestling which took the wrestling rule book, ripped it up and changed the course of the industry forever.

Then Heyman joined WWE upon ECW’s closure and began to guide the career of Brock Lesnar, who would go on to not only take the wrestling world by storm, but also become one of the most marketable sports stars in the world during his time with UFC. His understanding of talent meant that he was perfectly placed to take another once in a generation talent, CM Punk, under his wing. He’s done all of this whilst retaining the ability to be the best promo guy possibly in the entire business.

As such, this is an engrossing 7 hour release, the likes of which WWE is capable of more often but for some reason rarely manages. Heyman’s employment by WWE allows this to be created at all, but Heyman’s quasi-outsider relationship with the company means that his interview and those that contribute to the documentary piece are not bound by the pro-WWE stance that pervades many other WWE factual films.

In short, this is a must-see release…which comes as no surprise at all.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Tags: WWE, Paul Heyman, ECW, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar




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