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Paul Heyman on Survivor Series: “I didn’t see that as a loss for Big E”
Paul Heyman had a ringside view of the Roman Reigns–Big E main event at Survivor Series, and he left the Barclays Center with an even higher opinion of the reigning WWE champion.
Though it was Reigns who had his hand raised at the end of the champion vs. champion showdown, Heyman saw victory for both men.
“I didn’t see that as a loss for Big E,” Heyman says. “I saw it as a magnificent victory. Away from The New Day, all on his own, without anyone else in his corner, Big E stood tall and brought the fight to Roman Reigns.”
Both Reigns and Big E needed to make a statement at Survivor Series. Reigns capitalized on a chance to showcase a different side of his persona, raising his cockiness to new heights, which allowed him to hit a perfect note when it came to the juxtaposition of personalities between himself and Big E.
“Survivor Series was a demonstrative, declarative statement by Roman Reigns,” Heyman says. “He is on a level that no one else in sports, entertainment, or sports entertainment can achieve today. Roman Reigns returned after a hiatus [in 2020] to be not only the best today, but the greatest of all-time. That is the motivating factor behind every single moment when he is in front of the public.”
For a different set of reasons, Big E also needed to deliver a strong outing at Survivor Series. His objective was proving he belonged as champion, especially against the undisputed face of the company, and he then went into the ring and presented himself as every bit Reigns’s equal. Their chemistry was apparent, and Big E delivered a memorable performance in his first singles pay-per-view main event, one more than deserving of an encore.
“Big E is a credit to the lineage and the history of the WWE championship, from Buddy Rogers to Bruno Sammartino to Pedro Morales to The Rock to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Triple H, John Cena and Brock Lesnar,” Heyman says. “Big E has achieved what so few realized he could. Much like Roman Reigns breaking away from The Shield and standing on his own to become the No. 1 superstar on the brand of SmackDown, Big E has broken away from The New Day and achieved superstar status as the focal point of Monday Night Raw. I’m beyond impressed with the accomplishments of Big E.”
There was also a tremendous spot during The Usos–RKBro match at Survivor Series. Jimmy Uso was coming off the top rope and appeared destined to connect with Matt Riddle, until Randy Orton emerged to hit a mid-air RKO. That ended a very entertaining bout where Jimmy and Jey Uso again showed their value in the ring.
“The Usos are at the top of tag-team wrestling,” Heyman says. “I am very proud of the SmackDown world tag-team champions, to the point where I proudly stand by them as the warden of the ‘Uso Penitentiary.’”
Heyman is now focused on Reigns’s next challenger, who will emerge this week on SmackDown, as well as creating standalone, must-see content every week alongside the reigning, defending Universal champion.
“The next goal for Roman Reigns is clear, and that is to be better tomorrow than he is today,” Heyman says. “His goal is to be better in two weeks than he is next week, to make next week’s SmackDown better than this week, and to make the SmackDown that airs in three weeks better than it is in two weeks.
“Roman Reigns continues to set a pace and achieve levels that no one in WWE has ever or will ever achieve. The world has the privilege and joy of watching it unfold every Friday on SmackDown.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- In a disturbing scene, Seth Rollins was attacked by a person from the crowd on Raw.
- Big E had a solid match against Austin Theory on Raw, which followed a momentous weekend that included headlining Survivor Series as well as introducing Shawn Porter before his boxing match on Saturday night.
- Those in WWE clearly have high hopes for Theory, who also was the recipient of some screen time on Raw with Vince McMahon.
- Congratulations to Randy Orton, one of WWE’s true workhorses.
- I did not envision Bryan Danielson shifting to a heel character this soon in AEW, but it has the potential to be incredible. Danielson is his best when he is allowed to be his creative self, which he does particularly well when he plays the villain. His role as the antagonist in his WrestleMania program during “KofiMania” further amplified the struggle of Kofi Kingston finally winning the WWE title. There is the potential for so much great storytelling for Danielson in the role as heel champ.
- Kenny Omega mentioned the idea of another match against Kevin Owens, whose contract is up in the not-too-distant future.
- Jonah (formerly Bronson Reed in NXT) arrived in Impact on Saturday to squash Josh Alexander, who is clearly going to have to overcome any and every obstacle before he challenges Moose for the Impact title.
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah will be holding a supershow on the third night of Wrestle Kingdom this January.
- If you haven’t already had the chance to watch, Ariel Helwani conducted a sit-down interview with Paul Heyman that was as informative as it was entertaining.
- Tomorrow’s Uncharted Territory card is stacked. Featuring Matt Taven, Trish Adora, Mike Bennett and Max Caster, it will pay tribute—in its own cutting-edge manner—to the decades-old tradition of pro wrestling on Thanksgiving night.
- The jury is still out on NXT 2.0, but the top matches for WarGames—especially the old-school vs. new-school bout in the cage—look outstanding.
WWE releases continue as eight more are let go
The latest round of WWE releases last week was another jarring reminder of the company’s devotion to its bottom line.
In addition to Hit Row’s Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, others released included John Morrison, Tegan Nox, Drake Maverick, Shane Thorne and Jaxson Ryker. This is another set of cuts where a disproportionate number of those released were signed under the leadership of Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
The release of Hit Row is especially perplexing. They were just prominently featured on SmackDown, and it was clear that they had the potential to be significant players in WWE. It only takes a few moments watching Top Dolla, who is former NFL player A.J. Francis, to recognize his absurd skill in the ring. He was perfect for WWE, possessing size, strength, agility and charisma. With some of these releases, it feels as though WWE is just handing stars to other companies, which will be the case with Hit Row.
Despite his immense talent, Morrison was viewed merely as a good hand. There were no long-term plans for him, and the recent lack of significant activity must have been humbling for such an outstanding performer. While he would certainly fit in AEW, the best fit is likely Impact, where he can also work some New Japan dates, especially on Strong. Even though WWE never viewed him in such a light, Morrison is a main-event talent.
Nox was shifted from NXT to SmackDown and received an initial push, then she was quickly forgotten. She will add strength to wherever she lands next. Maverick had been released before, then brought back into NXT. For someone so well-liked in the company, it is a surprise that he never found a role on the main roster, which has five hours of television to fill every week. Thorne was viewed as a tag team wrestler. Ryker once had momentum as part of The Forgotten Sons, then drove a wedge between himself and many members of the roster by publicly supporting President Trump. He still received opportunities, being paired with Elias and then on his own, but neither role resonated with the audience.
While WWE’s releases raise more questions than answers, the obvious pattern is the removal of talent heavily endorsed by Levesque.
Tweet of the Week
That’s gold, Jerry. Gold.
- Kenny Omega Vacates AAA Mega Championship Due to Injury
- WWE Castoffs Running Out of Places to Go
- New Season of WWE’s ‘Ruthless Aggression’ Coming to Peacock
- Impact Champ Moose Has Outgrown the ‘Former NFL Player’ Label
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.