In an interview on Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton podcast, Paul Heyman provided fans with a wealth of intriguing information. Heyman touched on various topics, including the negotiation skills of Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon’s mindset regarding The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, and the long-term plans for Roman Reigns.
Heyman, known for his close association with Lesnar, praised the former UFC star’s business acumen, hailing him as one of the savviest negotiators he has encountered. Heyman emphasized Lesnar’s instinctual nature and his ability to strategically leverage his position, negotiate contracts, and even play competing companies against each other. Heyman’s firsthand experience witnessing Lesnar negotiate with the astute McMahon only reinforced his admiration for Lesnar’s skills.
Regarding The Undertaker’s legendary WrestleMania streak, Heyman offered an intriguing perspective on McMahon’s approach. Heyman revealed that McMahon never intended to let The Undertaker retire with the streak intact. McMahon always sought to maximize the value of his investments, leading Heyman to suggest various scenarios in which The Undertaker’s retirement could have been exploited for future storylines and events. McMahon envisioned a storyline where The Undertaker could come out of retirement for a marquee WrestleMania match against a chosen opponent.
Heyman also shed light on the long-term planning within WWE, specifically regarding Roman Reigns. Even during Lesnar’s historic conquest of The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania 30, Heyman confirmed that Reigns was already identified as the chosen successor. The company had earmarked Reigns to eventually defeat Lesnar and become the next big star, carrying the torch previously held by John Cena.
“I’m gonna get something out of this. I invested this much into it, and I want something out of it. He just never saw the time yet where he needed it and that was something that was going to be pulled when he needed it. Would he have let The Undertaker retire at a SummerSlam or Survivor Series, mid year, and retire off into the sunset? Yea, we will keep you on retainer. We’ll cut a merchandising deal with you. We’ll keep you active in some way so that you can make a living and a handsome one at that and still have the benefit of the intellectual property and everything. But one of the reasons why Vince would do that is, oh, this is a great WrestleMania for you to come out of retirement and defend the streak, and by the way, I found the person to beat you. I don’t care if Undertaker was 85 years old at the time. If he’s alive, if the Dead Man is alive, so to speak, then the streak is exploitable and if it’s exploitable, the promoter in Vince McMahon wants to exploit it.”
“Brock becomes the successor to the streak, becomes the holy grail, becomes the victory no man can attain and becomes the embodiment of the impossible mountain to climb so that when someone climbs that mountain, when someone beats Brock Lesnar, they are instantly made in the same way that Brock Lesnar is instantly made, the moment the referee’s hand hits three at WrestleMania 30, signifying Brock had conquered the streak, and we had someone in mind to be the next big thing, the company’s next big star, the guy that would pull the wagon, the successor to John Cena, the person to become the one who beat the one in 21-1. We had someone in mind, even at that time. Do you know who that person was? Roman Reigns.”
The interview touched upon many other engaging topics, offering wrestling fans a deeper understanding of the industry and the minds behind the scenes. You can give it a listen below.
What factors do you think influenced Vince McMahon’s decision to keep The Undertaker active and exploit his streak, and how do you believe it impacted the development of other WWE superstars like Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns? Leave a comment below.