Paul Heyman: Roman Reigns' 'Acknowledge Me' Is A Plea, It Empowers The WWE Universe

Paul Heyman is peeling back the curtain on his work in The Bloodline.

Appearing on Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin, Heyman discussed a number of topics including the past three years which he has spent as the Special Council to Roman Reigns. One of the talking points was The Tribal Chief moniker and how the Island of Relevancy almost went by a different name.

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"I always looked at him and thought, not in these words, but, 'That's the Tribal Chief.' It's not just a play on the Polynesian Islands or the Samoan Tribal Chief. I know a lot of people suspected at first that was me paying homage to Peter Maivia, you know, the Paramount High Samoan Chief. It's not. The idea was the tribe is the WWE Universe and he's The Tribal Chief of the entire WWE. Not of the Samoan Islands. He's the Tribal Chief of the WWE Universe and he operates out of the Island of Relevancy. It's funny because we almost didn't go with Island of Relevancy. We almost went with Championship Island. Somehow, we realized, well, that limits a decade's long progression of the character, because if it's not about the championship then why are we on Championship Island," Heyman said.

Continuing on, Heyman would express the honor he felt when Reigns first called him 'Wise Man,' explaining that it's a sacred name in the history of the company.

"Well, I came up with Tribal Chief and Roman came up with Special Council for me, and he tagged me The Wise Man," Heyman said.. "When he called me The Wise Man, I was just like, 'Wow, he just threw me something, man. He just bestowed upon me a sacred name in WWE/WWF/WWWF culture.' In the McMahon's family dynasty, that's a sacred name. Bobby Heenan was not the Wise Man. Jimmy Hart was not the Wise Man. Slick was not the Wise Man. None of these people ever got bestowed upon them the title of Wise Man. So I just thought, like, 'Wow, he just made his Special Council a Wise Man. I will remember this promo for the rest of my life.' Then everyone started to come up and go, 'Wise Man, could I ask you something. It just stuck. Even Vince would say, 'Wise Man, may have a moment.' I'm like, 'Vince's calling me Wise Man? What have you done?'"

According to Heyman, Roman has a knack for stumbling upon great ideas, including his Acknowledge Me catchphrase.

"That's just Roman. He stumbles on to things. The 'Acknowledged Me' was a stumble. We were trying to figure out, you know, what does he really want? His first story line as champion was with his cousin, Jey... Roman had said, 'Well, you know what I really want from Jey? I don't want his love, I have that. I don't want his admiration. I don't even want his obedience. I'll take that from him. You know what I need? I'm The Head of the Table. I am The Tribal Chief. I need him to acknowledge me. The moment he said it, we all got chills because we knew this is bigger than this moment. This is the declarative statement, this is the definition of the character. What does the character want? What does The Tribal Chief need? What does The Head of the Table seek? Acknowledgement. It's emotional," he said.

While others like Stone Cold and The Rock had, what Heyman calls alpha male catchphrases, Roman is unique in that his is more "needy" than anything else.

"That's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so. Alpha male statement. If you smell what The Rock is cooking, same thing, very alpha male, very declarative, very boss, very dominant. What you gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you. In other words, you're hopeless. You're helpless. There's nothing you can do. ... These are prison declarative statements. Rest in peace. That means you're dead. You're dead motherfucker. You're against The Undertaker. You're gonna die at the hands of The Dead Man. Roman's catchphrase... it's needy. The most confident performer. The best looking man. The guy that looks like a champion. The one guy that can handle Brock Lesnar. The D1 athlete. A second generation Samoan American wrestler, and he's needy. He's a Tribal Chief. He's the Head of the Table. He runs the family. He's the biggest star, but he's needy. He needs you to acknowledge him. Please acknowledge me. I'm not here for your love. I'm not here for your affirmation. I'm not here for you to to cheer my name. I just need you to acknowledge me. It's unbelievable. It puts the power in the audience to react any way they want," Heyman explained.

Further elaborating, Heyman said that they are excouraging the WWE Universe's reactions to be genuine and not manipulated by the corporate machine.

"There's no command. It's a plea from a man who doesn't beg. From a man who rules. From a man who commands the Island of Relevancy. Please acknowledge me. Please, just acknowledge me. I don't just want it, I need it from you. When you do it, do it authentically. Going back to George Michael and Freedom 90. Going back to the Big Dog being manufactured by the corporate structure and the branding and the marketing and the global push of the machine of WWE. We are encouraging the audience's reaction to be genuine. Do not respond to us as villains or heroes. Respond to us any way you want, but respond to us. Acknowledge us. Please acknowledge us in any way that you want, as long as you do. The most dominant force in WWE and it's a plea," he said.

Heyman would conclude by saying the reactions to Roman are always incredible and that by saying 'acknowledge me,' he is empowering the audience to be their own Tribal Chief.

"The reactions are always incredible because it empowers the audience to be real. It empowers the audience to be themselves. It empowers the audience to be their own Tribal Chief and say or do anything they want and the most powerful performer in the industry in decades, is asking you, pleading with you, please do this," Heyman said.

Elsewhere during the interview, Heyman shared his reaction to seeing how big Brock Lesnar was during an April 2023 edition of WWE Raw. Click here to read more.

Roman Reigns was presented with a new Undisputed WWE Universal Championship belt last Friday on SmackDown, before being confronted by his cousins, The Usos. Jimmy turned on Roman at Night of Champions, while Solo remains loyal to his Tribal Chief. On the June 9 episode of SmackDown, Jey Uso will be made pledge his loyalty to his twin brother or The Head of the Table. Click here to learn more.

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