ECW: Paul Heyman

December 03, 2007

This week I thought I would take a look back at another promoter I worked for during my career. I would expect ever since I starting doing my “Promoters” commentaries everyone has been waiting to hear what I have to say about Paul Heyman and my time in ECW.

I worked for ECW from Feb 1997 (I believe) through to May of 2000. When I first started working for Paul I was just doing the occasional TV taping between WAR tours in Japan, but by the end of 1997 it was very clear to me that ECW was were I wanted to be and Paul and I negotiated a deal to come in full time.

ECW was the company I felt most at home in my whole career. When I worked for ECW (WAR too, but being in a foreign Country less so than ECW) I felt like I was part of something and that it was “my company”. Everywhere else, I’d say I more felt like I worked for the company rather than actually being apart of it. I felt at home in ECW from the moment I finished my first match. I remember walking through the curtain after my Arena debut and being met by Todd Gordon (still a big part of the company then) he extended his hand and said, “Welcome”. He said nothing else, just welcome, and I felt welcome from that moment on.

That was my only interaction with Todd as I strictly dealt with Paul after that and I can honestly say there is no one single person in this industry I enjoy working with more than Paul Heyman. I can sit and talk wrestling, or the booking of wrestling with Paul 24/7. We have a very similar view of the wrestling business and share an identical passion for it. Booking with Paul in ECW was without a doubt the single most enjoyable part of my career. The joy I experienced working my best matches or wrestling in front of the largest and hottest crowds paled in comparison to the joy I felt booking angles with Paul and then sitting back and watching those angles transpire. He and I would get goose bumps creating the ideas then again watching them unfold.

As much as I enjoyed all the great matches I had with guys like Jerry Lynn, and Tommy Dreamer, and there were a ton of them, it was the creative end of things and my time booking with Paul that made ECW the most enjoyable part of my career. As a promoter and boss he certainly had his flaws. He was incredibly disorganized, things were often done VERY last minute likely to the detriment of business, and that doesn’t even cover his amazing ability string along the most creative lines of bullshit, obfuscation, and out right lies this business has ever seen. But at the end of the day that never really mattered, Paul just made wrestling a lot more fun. I’ve always loved this job and enjoyed doing it wherever I went, but when Paul was around I just loved it a little bit more, and for that I will always be grateful.

I guess before I start sounding like I want to nominate Paul for man of the year, I should talk about money and whether or not ECW owes me money. It should come as no surprised that I was owed money when I left ECW for WCW. That being said Paul wasn’t behind in my pay when I left and I didn’t have a string of bounced cheques to cash either. The official number owed was $21,200 but that sounds far worse than it actually is, because the majority of that I never figured I would get it anyway.

I was making $3100 per week in ECW when I left and we were paid every two weeks. I was getting my pay cheques on time right up until my last match with Justin in May of 2000. Unfortunately though I never received my final pay cheque, which accounts for $6200 of my money owed (several people told me to hold Paul up at the PPV to be paid in advance before leaving but I just couldn’t do that). The other $15000 was an estimate of past PPV bonuses never received. After the first few PPVs I realized that bonuses were never coming, so I negotiated a flat pay rate instead, but there were still the first few PPV outstanding. I wrote those off years ago, but when I left ECW Paul brought them up and calculated the $15,000 price tag.

You may find it hard to believe I don’t hate Paul over an outstanding debt of $21,200 but I really don’t. I never considered the $15,000 mine (I wrote it off before I ever earned it) and while I was disappointed I didn’t get my last pay cheque, I knew the company didn’t have it to give. I got so much out of ECW, I couldn’t even begin to put it all into words, and when I left ECW, it was off to WCW where missing that one pay cheque really didn’t effect my life any.

As a businessman and an accountant I would give Paul a failing grade, but as a promoter, a booker, and a friend, he’s on the honour roll. Thank you Paul, for everything I learned from you, and for just making this business a more enjoyable place to work.

Lance Storm