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Interview Highlights: Heyman on WCW, NWA-TNA, being on WWF payroll in 1996

Nov 21, 2004 - 10:21:00 PM
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Michael KopStick, Torch Team Contributor

WWE Byte This Review part 2
November 17, 2004
Host: Josh Mathews
Guest Host: Paul Heyman
Report by Michael KopStick, Torch Hardcore Contributor



Josh now begins getting more specific with Paul Heyman, delving into topics that were secret to even Heymans closest confidants.

First off, Paul notes that the ECW DVD is the first ever TV-MA rated DVD that WWE has ever put out, because it is not only graphic in content, its graphic in language, its blunt, and its brutally true.

Heyman says that in 1996, Eric Bischoff, then president of WCW, was raiding all of ECWs talent pool, a claim that Bischoff vehemently denies on the ECW DVD. That is why, Paul says, my description of Bischoff on this tape is something for Bischoff to live with, and people close to Bischoff will either be awakened by it or resent the fact that Im pretty honest about it, that Im 100% honest about it.

Vince McMahon on the ECW DVD said that in 1996, Paul Heyman was on the WWF payroll. Heyman addresses those comments: In 1996, WCW, led by Eric Bischoff, raided so much of our talent and made offers to our talent, and made offers and bonuses to jump, six figure bonuses just to jump, and then [they would] negotiate the contract. At the time, WWE was looking at Too Cold Scorpio (Flash Funk), Terry Gordy (The Executioner), and Furnas and LaFonn, who was a tag-team that was working for us out of Japan. Terry Gordy was working for us at the time and his run was pretty much up and Too Cold Scorpio was working on every available date we could get him on. And Vince himself wanted to bring these guys in. And Vince, and theres a lot in my heart to say good and bad about Vince, I will never sugarcoat that, to his credit, to his enormous credit, Vince said I am not Eric Bischoff. This company [WWF] will never be run the way WCW is run. We dont just take, we do give back, we support your efforts, we encourage you to be independent, we encourage you to do your thing and take us on if you want. And Vinces attitude was if you could build yourself up to be competition, I look forward to the fight. Never ever ever did he ever say calm down. His answer was to look you in between the eyes and say bring it. Vince felt that just to take these talents, and other talents in the future, would just be raping the ECW landscape. He wanted to give back.

So, getting back to payroll Vince offered to put me, Paul Heyman, on payroll in terms of getting talents ready, or discovering talents, for WWE, grooming them in ECW. I didnt want that. I felt that it was a conflict of interest. My loyalty had to be to the company that I was, by that time, the 100% owner of, and giving my life to it. I asked Vince, instead of giving me a weekly paycheck, would he give that money to ECW, which he did to the parent company of ECW, which was HHG Corp., just like Titan Sports was the parent company of WWE So, every week $1,000 was sent to our bank account, and that was in exchange for talent that we had made accessible to WWE, that was to take talent like an Al Snow or Droz and repackage them in ECW, or someone like Brakus who had a match with Taz in ECW that blew a lot of people away Never once was a talent forced to go to WWE, like Rob Van Dam, who had an offer at the time and said no, and other guys. It was never a matter of [WWE saying] Hey, we want this guy, send him up. It was never done that way. It was If these guys want to leave you, then let them negotiate with WCW and well do our bidding, as well. As long as you can take an Al Snow, or give us a Phil Lafonn, and send them our way when their time with you is up we want to support your cause. And at $1,000 a week I didnt think that it was a conflict of interest for the company to take it. And I thought it was a good business move by Vince. And I remember when we did it, he said Some people would say Im generous, and some people would say Im not generous. I just feel this is right. This is something that Paul feels that if you want to look at something that Vince McMahon did right, this would definitely be considered one of them.

Speaking of Vinces generosity, Heyman reveals that McMahon gave ECW a loan in their dying days when they were out searching for a network.

What about something that Vince did wrong, Josh asks Paul. Heyman mentions Mike Awesome, then ECW champion, getting lured to WCW so WWE sent Tazz back to ECW to beat Awesome for the ECW title. But then Vince booked Tazz to lose in a champion vs. champion match against Triple-H and Heyman wasnt into that at all.

As far as taking over TNN while ECW got the shaft from them and were out a network, Paul doesnt have any ill feelings towards Titan for that because if USA were throwing the WWF off of their TV station and offered ECW a spot on their network, Paul would have grabbed it in a heartbeat, he admits to the Byte This crew. But it didnt do us any favors, either to be kicked off TNN, he acknowledges.

After leaving TNN, Heyman was in talks with USA networks and was salivating at the exhilarating chance to compete head-to-head with Vince McMahon on Monday nights or even another night, but he never reached that point where he could consider himself direct competition to WWE or WCW.

I hated everything about WCW, Heyman adds.

Josh begins to probe deeper into the shoot-questions that Byte This used to offer on a weekly basis, but now reserves for special occasions that do indeed make the moments special. His next question to Paul is if he thinks NWA TNA is any competition to WWE. Paul responds that he doesnt really think so.

But regarding Jerry Jarret himself, Paul says that I think Jerry Jarrett is the single most brilliant businessman, Vince McMahon included, that I have ever met in my entire life and Ill tell you why. They have put a spin on this situation that they have, the likes of which Ive never seen. When ECW filed for bankruptcy, we were owed millions of dollars by pay-per-view, we were owed so much money in pay-per-view revenue it was sickening. We couldnt get our pay-per-view money because we had lost the network and the pay-per-view industrys decision was Well deal with the bankruptcy court, well settle for forty or fifty cents on the dollar at the most, maybe even less. Even including the money that was owed to us, considering that debt, we were [still in debt] 7 to 8 million dollars at the end TNA has lost far more than that already, and [ECW] was in business for seven years, and in a much more competitive environment because we had WWE, WCW, it was like the dot.com industry, this was the bubble, this was at the height. I dont even know how much TNA has lost, ten million, twelve million, there were reports that they lost fifteen million. There are reports now, I mean, I dont know how much theyve lost. And yet Jerry Jarrett goes down in history, when its not even their money, its Panda Energys money, but Jerry Jarrett goes down in history as the brilliant businessman and he is because he hasnt lost a dime of his own money. I lost my ass. I mean I lost my ass. I filed for personal bankruptcy, and Im not ashamed of it because I put my whole life into that company, I never took a paycheck from the company in seven years. And I dont regret that either. Jerry Jarrett is making money, or did make money, I dont know how much involved he still is, [but he did make] money with Panda Energy, Panda Energy is just sinking money and sinking money. Everybody sits there and goes Ooooh, theyre going to compete with WWE. Theyre losing their ass, too! But they have so much money, so they can afford to lose it, so theyre brilliant but Im the dumbass who destroyed ECW. I think Jerry Jarrett is a brilliant guy I think he deserves so much credit for his spin on this that I think he should be hired as a spin-meister by anybody who does business with him.

Short answer on NWA-TNA: No, theyre not competition to anybody. And I wish they were competition, by the way, I wish that somebody were competition today. I think that it would be the best thing for the industry. I really really do. But theyre not.



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