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Jim Ross on Paul Heyman’s 2003 Removal From Smackdown Creative, If Stephanie McMahon Was Involved

December 16, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Paul Heyman Stephanie McMahon

– On the latest Grilling JR, Jim Ross discussed Paul Heyman’s removal from Smackdown’s creative team and reports that Stephanie McMahon was the driving force being that move. Heyman served as the lead writer of Smackdown from July 2002 to February 2003, until he was replaced with Dave Lagana. He continued to serve as an on-air talent at the time.

As JR recalled, Heyman had difficulties working with people and would try to push storylines that would hurt his standings when they didn’t have a chance of being approved by Vince McMahon. He also noted that while he knew Stephanie and Heyman had issues, he didn’t know if their issues were what led to Heyman’s removal from the position. Highlights and the full podcast are below:

On Heyman’s tendency to “die on a hill” regarding certain storylines: “Pretty accurate regarding Paul’s demeanor at that time in his life. I remember — I bet you the first time he heard ‘die on the hill’ was a conversation he and I had where he came to my office after a creative meeting. He’d pitched some ideas to Vince, and one in particular involving Guido. And we hired Guide, he came in and wrestled for us, he was a referee for us. Great guy. And so he came in all pissed off because one of his big ideas, Vince didn’t like it and just blew it out of the water. I said, ‘What was it?’ He said, ‘Well, I had Little Guido–‘ I said, ‘Hold, hold, hold. You pitched an idea, a top idea, to the old man involving Guido.’ ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘You’re dying on the wrong hill. You should know Vince is never going to allow that to happen. If it happens organically and he sees that Little Guido is starting to get over, then he’ll run with it and it’ll be his idea. But until then, you ain’t got a chance.’ I said, ‘You’re dying on the wrong hill, Paul.'”

On Heyman’s issues working with people at that time: “Paul’s issues have always [been that] Paul has not played well with others over the years. I remember when I put him as my broadcast partner in WCW, I almost got a standing ovation from the booking committee because now they didn’t have to deal with him. Because the same thing was there. He was smarter than most of the people in the creative process. But that was not the structure, and that was not his role. He would oftentimes ignore structure, whatever it may be, or the lack thereof, and his role just to assert himself. And look, he’s a genius in so many areas. I’m a big Paul Heyman fan, big time. When Lawler left and Paul became my partner, seamlessly, all the demands of what we had to say, all the push and mention on Monday Night Raw — a two hour show that was packed. We didn’t miss a beat. And so he’s a Hall of Fame guy. But sometimes, to be honest with you, his immaturity didn’t do him any favors.”

On reports Stephanie McMahon was the the person who decided to remove Heyman: “I’m not surprised, but I couldn’t probably pass a quiz on it before we started talking about it. I know that she and Heyman had a lot of philosophical differences. And I’m sure that Paul got close to the edge on how far to take the argument before he backed away. Because he just was hellbent on getting his way. He was very defiant. Not that she wasn’t, but she had the right last name and he didn’t. And that’s how it is … So anyway, they didn’t get along to any major degree, but I never really fully — she never came to me and said, nor did she have to or maybe need to. But she and I never had a discussion about Paul being a pain in the ass, even though I knew she felt that way, we never talked about it other than maybe the occasional eyeroll, or her headshake or something like that. But to have an open discussion about Paul and his good points and his bad points, we never had. Therefore I never thought it had escalated to that level that we’re talking about here and now. But maybe it did, I don’t know.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.