The Paul Heyman era of WWE Raw has come to a close. It was revealed on Thursday that Heyman has been taken out of his role as lead creative on Monday nights, with Vince McMahon reportedly upset with the show in recent months. Both Raw and SmackDown have seen similar ratings declines during the pandemic, but the flagship Monday night show has seen the brunt of McMahon's ire over the last few months. And with that, Heyman (one of the more creative minds in wrestling history) was shown the way out of WWE's creative meetings.
That's not to say that his time in creative for Raw was a failure. When Heyman inherited the show last July, Raw was a real slog of a watch. The creative on the show was consistently bad and the three hour broadcasts had become a chore to get through. That changed under Heyman, who tried to freshen up the show with some new names and new angles that worked. The show is a much better watch now than when he inherited it.
Now, we're not going to say that Raw today is like the Attitude Era when it comes to compelling television, it has improved from one year ago by leaps and bounds. We looked back over the last 12 months and here are some of the best moments during Paul Heyman's time in Raw creative.
Seth Rollins Becoming The Messiah of Monday Nights
There's no denying that Seth Rollins was in a rut prior to his recent makeover. Rollins had seen many changes in recent years. He returned in 2016 from his major leg injury a massive babyface, yet WWE inexplicably turned him heel almost immediately.
After taking the wind out of the sails of what was a true babyface run in his immediate future at that moment, Rollins' heel turn didn't work as planned given the fact that the fans so badly wanted to cheer him at the time. So, Rollins was turned back babyface and spent months (years) trying to gain back that momentum he had upon returning from his injury.
Heyman took over Raw creative and then re-made him as a heel and it worked. He surrounded Rollins with a stable consisting of AOP and Buddy Murphy initially and it gave Rollins something new and interesting and a real intrigue that his character had lacked for quite some time.prevnext
Drew McIntyre's Push
Drew McIntyre has been one of the real success stories during Heyman's recent creative run. Following an initial exit from WWE several years ago, McIntyre went back to the indy scene (as well as Impact Wrestling) and completely re-made himself.
He was signed back to WWE and dominated in NXT before being called back up to the main roster. With Heyman reportedly a big fan, the full power of WWE creative was behind McIntyre going into this year's Royal Rumble. When he won, the crowd in Houston erupted and we were set for a huge match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
That match ended up being a little underwhelming given the circumstances: a health pandemic and no crowd. However, that wasn't Heyman or McIntyre's fault and there's no doubt a massive crowd in Tampa would have absolutely ate up his championship victory.prevnext
The Rise of the Street Profits
Another pair of talents that Heyman reportedly took under his wing in creative. While Vince McMahon has never been a huge fan of tag team wrestling, Heyman absolutely is and he has made this team feel special ever since they were brought up from NXT.
Both Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are two of the most entertaining guys on Raw every week. One has to look no further back than to a team like the Revival to see how badly WWE has often failed with tag teams brought up from NXT in the past. With Heyman behind them, the Street Profits were in good hands and have reigned as tag team champions.prevnext
Samoa Joe On Commentary
While there are certainly still plans for Samoa Joe to return to the ring when medically cleared, he has carved out a new career path should he choose to take it.
Joe's success as an announcer on Raw has been a revelation in recent months. Though Joe has had some unfortunate luck when it comes to injuries over the last couple of years, he's made the best of the situation with the success he's found in this new venture. That success has also translated into a better viewing experience for the general public. While Heyman certainly didn't plan on Joe getting injured, there's no doubt he's had at least a little to do with the positive results Joe has seen in the broadcast booth.prevnext
Kevin Owens Regains His Momentum
As part of the WWE Draft in October, Owens moved back to Raw (and Paul Heyman). Heyman began making Owens feel like a big deal once again. When Owens came up from NXT a few years back and feuded with John Cena, he was a legit main eventer. He had a reign as Universal Champion. However, ever since, creative had lost their way with the man a bit.
Owen's feud with Seth Rollins leading into WrestleMania was excellent, as was Owens' victory there. It established as Owens as a main event player once again, something he always should have been.prevnext
New Stars Developing
A host of talent have gotten a push under Heyman who may have not otherwise. Names like: Ricochet, Aleister Black, Humberto, Carrillo, Apollo Crews, Austin Theory, and Andrade. Theory and Carrillo are of course the only two new names here who had not spent some time on Raw previously, but the other names had lost their way in a similar fashion to Kevin Owens. Vince McMahon was reportedly bored with Ricochet, an unbelievable statement given the man's talent in the ring that stands out above almost everyone. Heyman made him relevant again. The same goes for Aleister Black.
The same goes for Andrade, who became a champion again under Heyman and was given a stable alongside Angel Garza and Theory. Despite Andrade suffering some suspensions on his own accord, he's remained a featured part of the show.prevnext
The Rebirth of Asuka
Though Asuka had an admirable run alongside Kairi Sane as the Kabuki Warriors, winning the tag team championships in the process, the money has always been with Asuka as a singles competitor.
Following the team's tag team title loss at WrestleMania, Heyman established Asuka as a real threat once again on her own accord. So much so that she is now the reigning Raw Women's Champion following Becky Lynch's exit for now. Though this happened late in Heyman's run prior to his dismissal, it's evident that he saw Asuka as a main event player on Raw moving forward, something that fans have been clamoring for and rightfully so.
What are your favorite moments from Raw over the last year? Let us know in the comments section below and give me a follow on Twitter @ryandroste for all things WWE.prev