I remember first watching Paul E. Dangerously and his Original Midnight Express in the AWA - some dude in funny-looking clothes and a mullet carrying around a cellular phone that was actually a cordless phone, doing a passable impression of Rowdy Roddy Piper. In other words, I don't think that I (or anyone, for that matter) really knew what we had on their hands at that point.
As it turns out, Paul Heyman had a lot more going for him than the fake cellphone. He became one of the greatest managers of all time (number three in my Top 50 list, if you care about such things); an incredible storyteller; a gifted talker, a shameless self-promoter - and that's not even taking into account his time running ECW and as a writer in WWE for SmackDown, OVW and the second coming of ECW.
Paul's life story is uniquely his own -- well, I suppose anyone could say the same thing -- but what I mean is, he transformed himself from the world's most connected wrestling fanzine publisher to a "too damn pushy" magazine photographer, to a publicist at the famed Studio 54 nightclub -- all before he was of legal drinking age!
Heyman was able to parlay this success into the "psycho yuppie" that cut his teeth as a manager in Memphis and the AWA, where he managed The Original Midnight Express, Austin Idol, Tommy Rich, Adrian Adonis and others. From there, he ended up in WCW, guiding the careers of such future stars as Steve Austin, Rick Rude and Rikishi.
It was a hop, skip and a jump from there until he managed and then owned ECW, guiding the careers of Dreamer, Raven, Foley, Shane Douglas, Sandman, Sabu and dozens of other ECW Legends. And once he joined WWE in 2001, he became one of the company's most successful and controversial writers, breathing new life into SmackDown and Ohio Valley Wrestling and (building in a six year break to start his own advertising agency) coming to represent names such as Brrrrrrock Lesnarrrrrrr and CM Punk.
A wide variety of voices are called in to tell us Heyman's story, including self-professed Paul Heyman Guys like CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Tommy Dreamer, Edge, Mick Foley, Joey Styles and Raven to occasional detractors such as Jerry Lawler, Tod Gordon, Stephanie McMahon and even wrestling magazine guru Bill Apter.
Interestingly, most of them still tell a very similar story - Paul is someone who is passionate about what he does, works extremely hard (sometimes overworks himself, in fact) and at the end of the day, is a wrestling fan at heart.
The only downside here, and honestly it's less of a "negative" and more of a "I already knew all this" feeling, is that much of the history of ECW has already been described in DVD's before. I suppose if you haven't already seen those accounts, then it's not a big deal at all.... but it's just worth noting that there's a bit of overlap here from previous WWE releases.
The extras are plentiful - two discs full, in fact. They include a hilarious series of local house show promos cut between Heyman and AWA announcer Larry Nelson, his greatest microphone moments from WCW and ECW and a series of WWE vignettes and moments that most Heyman fans will have already seen before.
But there are some great extended stories about heat Heyman has with the likes of Stephanie McMahon and Lawler - these alone are worth watching. Then there are a series of YouTube teasers from when the collection was called "The Paul Heyman Story" and a handful of matches, but nothing that truly demands your attention from the latter.
Is this DVD set worth picking up? I would say yes, absolutely. The closest I can compare it to are The Rise + Fall of ECW and CM Punk: Best In The World - both of which are among the top DVD's in WWE history. Not at all bad company to be in.