Paul Heyman Says Expect The Unexpected from 'An Evening with Paul Heyman'

Wrestling fans can add one more thing to do in New Orleans the week of WrestleMania: An Evening with Paul Heyman. A one-man show presented by Inside the Ropes will get the audience up close and personal with one of WWE's most recognizable and engaging orators.

The show, which takes place April 5 in the Joy Theater, will be the first time Inside the Ropes comes stateside after shows in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Fans who never been a part of the audience for an event like this can expect to be as much a part of the show as Heyman himself.

"I'm interested in this event because there's nothing for me to do except be prepared to riff," Heyman told Newsweek. "Ever since the first show we did in London, we came to the realization that the show is truly in the hands of the audience. This is taking the concept of audience participation to the extreme because we let the audience dictate what they want to see."

When the first show was planned, the format had host Kenny McIntosh showing clips to the audience and reviewing them with the guest. At the time of 2016's London show, Brock Lesnar just fought in UFC and was on the verge of returning to the WWE. Reports of Heyman's contract with WWE were making the rounds too. To everyone's surprise, in the opening moments of the show the Advocate made an open offer to wrestling darling Will Ospreay to join the Evolve promotion. That's when the show's "anything can happen" nature was born.

"All these things were happening and you can see Ospreay and Marty Scurll in the front row so people were buzzing about that and people didn't want, in my opinion, to go down the traditional route," Heyman said. "So much that they wanted to ask, so we interrupted the format probably 2-3 minutes into the show and opened up the show to the audience.We have access to each other in this intimate setting. You dictate the pace, you dictate the show, you script where we take this event and let's see what happens. It's the same thing as getting a band on stage and having the audience call out the playlist, we'll play what you want to hear. That's the format that we chose and it worked swimmingly in Manchester and Glasgow as well."

The London show became more notorious after Heyman's conspiracy theory about what happened when The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak was ended by Brock Lesnar. Heyman suggested that Lesnar took it upon himself to end the match and that only a handful of people know what happened that night. And this unique way of engaging with audience members, challenging their questions and comments instead of brushing them off, has become a staple of his shows since that day.

"It's akin to a sparring session with Brock Lesnar in that you think you know what you're walking into, but when you find out the reality it's a whole lot more intense than you dreamt it to be possible," Heyman said. "And the best example I can give of that is what was asked of me in London about the creative process of conquering the streak. And I gave people a very real answer about who Brock Lesnar truly is. And, admittedly, prefaced it and ended it with 'this is a conspiracy theory that I'm offering you.' But how much of this conspiracy theory is rooted in the truth and how do you know how much of it is hype for Brock Lesnar?"

Heyman's one-man show is a prime destination for wrestling fans to experience an atmosphere where anything goes. Tickets to the New Orleans show have sold in 15 different countries and Heyman fully expects the audience to script where it goes. But with rumors of Lesnar returning to the UFC and his upcoming match with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34, does Heyman actually know what to expect this year?

"No, and that's the reason why I do the show. I don't know what to expect except for an exhilarating ride that the hyper-interactive crowd gets to push their own limits not only in terms of provocative questions regarding the industry, but also about personalities that have intrigued them over the years and potential scenarios that they like to throw out as their own ideas," Heyman said. "It's really a wild ride because you're saying to an audience 'here's your chance to be uninhibited.'"

No question is off-limits for Heyman, even ones that dive into fantasy booking territory, and the Advocate finds that respecting audience members' intellect and passion for the industry makes for a more compelling show.

"I enjoy engaging with the audience, so what happens once the audience realizes they are being respected they take the show in a very fun direction," Heyman said. "You stop hearing questions like 'Why does this guy suck so bad?' you start to lose the troll aspect of the audience and you gain their trust and they start talking about 'How did you get the Sandman's music to play in ECW One-Night Stand ? This guy came back what were your real feelings about him? What would you feel if this scenario played out? How close were you really to doing this instead of that?' You find the questions become so much more thought-provoking because the audience doesn't feel limited by parameters that are set."

But can anyone who attends An Evening with Paul Heyman determine if what he says is real or not? That's just part of the fun whether you're in the audience or you're Paul Heyman.

"I enjoy blurring the lines. In all the different incarnations of the characters that I've played I always try to blur the lines as best I can," Heyman said. "When we do these shows, if I blur lines I tell you upfront. I may be blurring lines, but it's up to you to determine if those lines are being blurred and on which side of the equation are they being blurred. Am I blurring them more towards reality or more toward storyline? It's up to you to decide. I'm always honest and upfront with the audience as well.