It was a good thing WWE head Vince McMahon
didn't listen to then-employee Paul Heyman
Heyman, the mastermind between the pro wrestling industry-changing ECW promotion in the 90s, revealed Monday that the WWE had the option to not allow The Ultimate Fighter 1
to follow Raw
and didn't take it.
"I was there in the room when we decided whether to let The Ultimate Fighter come on after Monday Night Raw," Heyman told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour
. "They had the right to approve or decline any programming that followed them."
After all, the UFC ended up benefiting greatly from having the ratings winner Raw
as a lead-in and its The Ultimate Fighter 1
deal with Spike TV in 2005 was only the beginning of a long-term partnership. Meanwhile, the WWE within the year returned to longtime home USA.
Nowadays, the UFC has taken over the pay-per-view market, with UFC's domestic buys exceeding those of the WWE's globally, Heyman pointed out on the program. Who knows what state the UFC would be in today if it didn't have Raw
as a lead-in?
Heyman said he warned the WWE of the possibility of pro wrestling fans crossing over to MMA.
"I told [the WWE], they better not let [the UFC] on ... Yeah, I'm the a--hole that almost turned it down," Heyman said with a laugh.
Heyman recalled telling McMahon, "You should be afraid of anything that will take away from your pay-per-view dollar. They are going to reach into your pocket, rip it open, and all those dollars are going to flow right there."
Luckily for MMA fans, McMahon wasn't concerned with the UFC as a potential competitor. McMahon, although a powerful and successful businessman, is also notorious for a huge ego. Here's Heyman attempt at explaining McMahon's need for control.
"Here's the best way I can tell you about Vince McMahon. It's the ultimate Vince control story," Heyman said. "If you're in the room with Vince McMahon and he sneezes, go on your Blackberry for the next 20 minutes because nothing you say to him is going to get through ... Cause he gets really p-----d off. Cause he can't control the sneeze."
Heyman appeared on The MMA Hour
to discuss a number of topics, one of which was his close connection with UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Heyman, who was the head writer and booker of the WWE developmental territory at the time, OVW, met Lesnar in 2002 and was quick to see the immense potential in Lesnar. The two worked so well together that McMahon assigned Heyman as the on-air manager for Lesnar's initial WWE run, and Lesnar and Heyman's professional relationship continues to this day with the two currently working together on a book about Lesnar's life.
"We just had a chemistry together," Heyman said of his early experiences with Lesnar. "We were both having children at the same time and we're both having a daughter. The stars were aligned with us."A replay of The MMA Hour will be available Tuesday.