Heyman was only interested in a behind the scenes role.
In 2001, Paul Heyman made his WWE on-screen debut as a commentator on Monday Night Raw alongside Jim Ross. He looked back and dove into that period of his career as he was speaking to Rick Rubin on the Tetragrammaton podcast.
Heyman shared that when he first got to WWE, he told Vince McMahon he did not want to be on television and wanted to only be behind the scenes. McMahon would soon ask Heyman for a ‘favor’ after Jerry Lawler left the company.
He told McMahon he was in no position to turn down a favor from him at the time because he was dealing with the legalities of the pending ECW bankruptcy. Heyman added that he came to the realization that being on commentary in the spot he would be in was not a bad opportunity.
I came to WWE and my first thing I said to Vince (McMahon) in coming in the door was, ‘I don’t wanna be on television. I’m 35, I had my fun. I wanna be behind the scenes only’ and then the whole thing happened with they fired Jerry Lawler’s wife and Jerry Lawler quit and I wasn’t supposed to get into WWE until WrestleMania because I was too busy dealing with the ridiculous amount of legalities of what was the pending ECW bankruptcy. So I’m going into a personal bankruptcy and a corporate bankruptcy and I’m jumping into WWE and I cut my deal to come in behind the scenes and I get a call from Vince on a Tuesday and he says, ‘Are you aware that Jerry Lawler quit last night?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. I heard the whole story. I’m sorry to hear that’ and says, ‘Well I’m gonna need a little bit of a favor from you’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m not really in a position to turn down a favor from you in this moment. My company’s gone. I’m entering bankruptcy and you’re offering me a lifeline in life. So the answer to the favor is yes. Now please tell me what I’m doing’ and he says, ‘Need you to start on commentary next Monday night’ and I’m like, oh my God. I’m back on television. That’s exactly where I don’t wanna be and then of course I realized, well, I get to play with Jim Ross a little bit. I always liked being Jim Ross’ color commentator and you know, if I’m gonna have to do anything in the public eye anymore, replacing Jerry Lawler on Raw is not a bad way to debut. That’s a pretty iconic position. That’s what today, we would refer to as relevant.
Heyman is going to be featured on the 6/16 Friday Night SmackDown alongside Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.
If the quote in this article is used, please credit Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription.