Longtime Jewish wrestling promoter Paul Heyman to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame


((JR)) — Over the course of nearly four decades as a professional wrestling promoter, broadcaster and executive, Paul Heyman has been called a number of things: manager, announcer and CEO, as well as “evil genius,” “mad scientist,” “hothead” and “the wise man.”

In April, he will officially add one more title: Hall of Famer.

WWE, the leading pro-wrestling promotion, announced Monday that Heyman will be officially inducted into its Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Friday, April 5, prior to WWE’s two-day Wrestlemania XL extravaganza at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

For Heyman, 58, the self-described “schmuck son of two extraordinary human beings,” it’s an honor that’s been a long time coming.

The son of a Holocaust survivor, Heyman began taking photographs at wrestling events as a teenager, using equipment he bought with his bar mitzvah money. When he eventually broke into the wrestling business in earnest in 1986, it was under the name “Paul E. Dangerously,” a moniker adopted from the Michael Keaton film “Johnny Dangerously.

Under that name, Heyman managed a wide-ranging cast of characters known as the Dangerous Alliance that included future Hall of Famers Rick Rude, Larry Zbyszko, Arn Anderson, the Undertaker (also known as Mean Mark Callous) and Steve Austin, who was at that time known as “Stunning,” rather than “Stone Cold.”

In the early 1990s, the Dangerous Alliance was the hottest act in World Championship Wrestling, then a top promotion, but Heyman ran afoul of WCW management and was fired. He landed at Eastern Championship Wrestling, which was renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling and gained prominence in the industry with an R-rated approach that became popularly known as “hardcore” wrestling.

ECW was considered a major influence on the late-90s wrestling boom popularly known as the “Attitude Era.”

“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 underpromising and overdelivering,” Heyman told the Associated Press this week. “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.”

ECW eventually went out of business, and Heyman moved to WWE. That’s where he had arguably the most Jewish moment of his career, when in 2017 he said the Mourner’s Kaddish for Goldberg in the ring — anticipating the defeat of the Hall of Fame Jewish pro wrestler. (He began by reciting Latin last rites, then said in an undertone, “That doesn’t work, he’s one of mine.”)

Even as he enters the hall, Heyman is still working. In April, under WWE’s current top storyline, Heyman will serve as an “advisor” to Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns, who will defend his title against Cody Rhodes in Wrestlemania XL’s main event.

“I consistently feel like I’m just getting started, and I’m just figuring this out,” Heyman told the AP. “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.”