Heyman Headed to WWE Hall of Fame

Heyman Headed to WWE Hall of Fame

Paul Heyman, the popular Jewish professional wrestler, manager, and promoter, will be inducted on April 5.

Paul Heyman, who has spent his entire professional life in wrestling, will finally be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next month // Courtesy Facebook
Paul Heyman, who has spent his entire professional life in wrestling, will finally be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next month // Courtesy Facebook

The “Wiseman” is finally getting his due.

Paul Heyman, a longtime titanic figure in professional wrestling and arguably the most prominent Jewish wrestling promoter in the sport’s history, will be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame on Friday, April 5, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Heyman’s induction ceremony will precede WWE’s two-day WrestleMania event held at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Jeffrey Lurie-owned Philadelphia Eagles.

Heyman, 58, who grew up in the New York suburb of Scarsdale and whose mother, Sulamita, was a Holocaust survivor, cut his teeth in the world of pro wrestling when he was a teen, snapping photos at wrestling events with equipment he purchased from his bar mitzvah gifts. Over the past four plus decades since then, Heyman has soared to great heights in the pro wrestling universe, serving as a promoter, broadcaster, and executive among other high-profile roles for the sport’s different leagues.

“I think everyone knew even back then I was going to find my place in this industry,” Heyman said to the Associated Press right after the Hall of Fame announcement was made early this month. “I wasn’t shy about letting people know that. About letting people know that was my ambition.”

Later on, in the mid-1980s, Heyman, under his stage name “Paul E. Dangerously,” a nickname taken from the Michael Keaton flick, “Johnny Dangerously,” had a monumental impact on wrestling by becoming a manager in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and forging relationships with some of the sport’s biggest luminaries such as Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, the Undertaker (aka Mean Mark Callous), and Rick Rude. Heyman and his acolytes became known as the Dangerous Alliance and quickly became known as the most vibrant show in the WCW.

Heyman’s run in the WCW was short-lived however, as he was soon fired in the early 1990s after clashing with management. This turned out to be a boon to his pro wrestling career as Heyman went on to pilot Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) – formerly known as Eastern Championship Wrestling — through which he championed a brutally violent, yet wildly popular style of competition that was fueled by alternative rock music. This approach, which soon garnered the moniker, “hardcore wrestling,” provided the sport with a national pay-per-view platform while ultimately ushering in WWE’s transformative “Attitude Era,” which lasted from 1997 to 2002 and marked the most successful period in pro wrestling history.

“The ‘extreme’ in ECW stood for the work ethic involved, the passion that was necessary and the extreme connection to an audience to whom and for whom we were always obsessed with under promising and overdelivering,” Heyman went on to tell the AP. “The legacy of ECW is firmly rooted in the very simple concepts of paying attention to the cultural curve and obsessively trying to stay a few steps ahead of it.”

Largely due to the transient nature of pro wrestling, ECW eventually ceased operations, and Heyman transitioned to WWE, where he emerged as a towering figure by the early 2000s. While serving as an iconic commentator for WWE and promoting some of its most prominent events and characters including bigtime celebrity Brock Lesnar, he remained keenly aware of his familial history.

During a 2009 visit to the United Nations for Holocaust Remembrance Day, shortly before his mother lost her battle with cancer, Heyman shared some very poignant thoughts with the publication Slam! Wrestling when he remarked, “I wish I could find the words to accurately describe the holy obligation carried by the first generation of children of Holocaust survivors. It’s not a religious thing. It’s EVERY thing. The most influential moment of my life actually happened 20 years before I was born, when the British soldiers liberated Bergen Belsen on April 15, 1945.”

Heyman’s father, Richard, also had a background rooted in World War II as he served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Rescue (AH-18) in the Pacific Theatre. Following his time in the Navy, Richard went to NYU Law School before running a successful legal practice in the Bronx.

The Hall of Fame may be a milestone moment, but Heyman’s pro wrestling career is far from over. The “Wiseman,” after all, has earned the nickname by consistently managing the sport’s top talent and immediately following the HOF induction ceremony, Heyman will be front and center in this year’s WrestleMania, WWE’s marquee event, by being the official “advisor” to Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns, vying to defend his title against Cody Rhodes.

“I consistently feel like I’m just getting started, and I’m just figuring this out,” Heyman also remarked. “To me, what is an incomplete body of work, because there’s still things I want to accomplish, I never felt comfortable accepting that is a reflection upon an entire career.”

read more: