Landau's Landscape: Why Corey Graves Needs To Be The Next Paul Heyman Guy

Corey Graves, known in NXT as “The Savior of misbehavior”, is the anarchistic, unruly WWE character of independent standout Sterling James Keenan. He has been in developmental since 2011. And this piece is about why I think he should be the next Paul Heyman Guy.

If you haven’t seen Graves before, he is quite reminiscent both in look and in style to CM Punk. All you need to do to see that is take one look at the picture below. He has many tattoos, all with personal meaning to him, just like Punk does – even down to knuckle tattoos. Where Punk’s knuckles say “DRUG FREE”, Graves’ knuckles say “STAY DOWN”. He is 1 inch shorter than Punk, and 10 pounds lighter. He wrestles a technical style and often incorporates brawling and striking into it, just like Punk. All in all, as similar a wrestler at first glance as he can get to Punk. And that’s exactly why I think he would be a perfect fit to be the next Paul Heyman Guy.

Graves and Punk, all too similar

Graves and Punk, side by side - All Too Similar.


I do want to emphasize that I don't think Punk and Graves really are two of the same, But just that it appears that way. I know they are two very different people with different philosophies, and this is partly why I think this is a golden opportunity, as it is a good way to show those differences to the entire fanbase.

The first time I thought about this option was when Heyman kept telling Punk to “stay down” (Graves’ knuckle tattoos, and also his catchphrase) week after week in the buildup for SummerSlam. I actually thought this was the route WWE was taking, and that the constant pleas by Heyman for Punk to “stay down” were foreshadowing. But alas, it was not to be. Not yet, in any case.

Now that Brock Lesnar is gone again Punk is stuck beating Axel repeatedly, hurting both him and the IC title in the process. The need for a new Paul Heyman Guy is evident, and indeed appears to be in the works, according to a Premium article Richard posted a couple of weeks ago. There were several names mentioned there, but none of which were Graves, at least not directly.

However, what I want to get across is why this is the perfect opportunity to debut Graves, both in terms of Graves’ character which will always look like Punk-lite, no matter how he debuts, simply because they are just too similar, and for the Heyman-Punk feud, seeing how Heyman was very obviously hurt by Punk asking him not to be in his corner anymore, which started this whole feud. Heyman’s constant “I loved you!”s and his emotional reaction to the beatdowns he orders on Punk tell the whole story. So I have stated I think Graves is the perfect guy for the job and that now is the perfect time for it to happen, but I have yet to state precisely why. Well, here it is:

Graves’ character is problematic right now, and I don’t think it’s a solvable problem either, as it pertains mostly to his look. Whenever he’ll debut in WWE, the similarities to Punk will be just too overwhelming to avoid, and he will not be taken seriously as his own character until that is addressed. That is why I think the only way to effectively debut Graves is in association to Punk. However, putting him in as Punk’s “apprentice” of sorts will still make him look like Punk B and nothing more. The way I see it, the only way for Graves to get out of Punk’s shadow is by both addressing the similarities between the two, as well as pitting Graves against Punk in a manner that allows him to go over Punk, at least once. That would be the only way to show the subtle-but-crucial differences between them, which can only be fleshed out by actively exploring those differences. Enter Paul Heyman.

Punk and Graves

Punk and Graves

Paul Heyman, having been deeply hurt by Punk and dealing with it like a little child, will logically look to replace Punk – both to fill the gap left by Punk and to spite him and try to make him jealous. Corey Graves is as similar to Punk as you can get, and I think the only way to take him out of Punk’s shadow is to first capitalize on their similarities. So Heyman brings Graves out as the next Paul Heyman guy, saying he is Punk’s replacement. Something along the lines of “I have replaced you, I have found someone BETTER than you to fill your shoes.” For the first couple of weeks, Graves will be seen as a Punk clone to an extent, as he does Heyman’s bidding against Punk. Then he will start addressing Punk, explaining exactly why he is his own man and not defined according to Punk.

This both serves the storyline and is a golden opportunity to debut Graves in what I see as the only realistic way to take him out of Punk’s shadow. Only by going toe to toe with CM Punk will Graves be defined as his own man. Not to mention how much better will using Graves initially as a Punk clone make the Heyman/Punk storyline.

So there you have it, my reasoning for why, for both the storyline and his career, this is a golden opportunity to debut Corey Graves in WWE

So what do you think? Is this the perfect opportunity to debut Graves, or do you think his similarities to Punk should not be addressed? Or do you think I’m exaggerating their similarities? Or something entirely different I didn’t even think about?

Feel free to voice yourselves in the comments section below, as long as you do it in a civil manner.

  • Tim

    I think a stable of five would be great. With Paul heyman. Two known and two up and coming talents. Would be great. Then put Paul heyman up for ruling wwe. Capturing a bunch of titles. Leading to a feud vs the mcmahons.

  • jdl

    Why Corey Graves does not need to be the next Paul Heyman guy: Paul Heyman already has enough guys. To add another one now would belittle the work they’ve done with enhancing Hennig, and make Lesnar’s appearances less significant.

    • Guy Landau

      Here’s the deal though – there are plans to have a new Paul Heyman guy regardless. That in mind, I think it should be Graves.

      I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you on this, I have not given whether more clients cheapens the current ones enough thought to have a solid opinion on the matter.

  • smark calloway

    its a good proposal guy and would be cool if it happened , but i think punk would put the kibosh on that idea ( and for the record i know how you punk fans can overreact , but im not bashing him , im a big mark for him and his work ) but wrestlers are very protective of their spots and characters. why would punk allow this younger version of himself to upstage him and perhaps make him look inferior to the masses and make him look weak? it might even look like to to the fans or the office that punk is expendable and can be easily replaced by graves . kind of like what management were hoping with sin cara replacing mysterios spot ( which has we know didnt come to fruition ). when you are at the top level like punk you want to stay there as long as you can ,as the money he and other top level guys are making is very lucrative. im sure the last thing he would want to do is make a lookalike of himself look strong and maybe steal his spot away from him

    • iwc

      how dare u imply that cm punk is inferior or expendable. who the hell do you think u are? cm punk Is the greatest wrestler to ever walk the earth. hes done more for the business then anyone wrestler ever has, that includes that overrated bum hogan. most ppl pray to god but i pray to punk, punk is king, he told me religion and god done exist and i believe him. punk can do no wrong and don’t you forget it.

      • smark calloway

        haha love your gimmick iwc

  • Tommy

    CM Punk isn’t beating Axel repeatedly, he’s burying him. Just like he’s buried every other up & comer he’s ever faced

  • amaanakter

    I see where your’e coming from but I personally don’t like the idea of Corey Graves as the next Paul Heyman Guy. Who I really would like it to be is Kassius Ohno just think about it how good of a story would it be that Heyman has brought in one of Punk’s top friends and great opponents from his indy days and how he has betrayed Punk. It could show that this has really emotionally affected Punk, Heyman would get insane heat and Ohno would be put into a top spot and the logistics of this twist just makes sense to me. Another guy i was thinking of was Big E Langston

    • Guy Landau

      I thought about such a scenario, but I think this particular opportunity is better for Graves, as Ohno could work really well off a plethora of different scenarios.

  • That Fat Ref

    If you can still find it online, in CM Punks old LiveJournal one of the last posts he had before he reported to OVW when he got signed to WWE ended with him wishing the best of luck to ‘Alexis Laree’ (Mickie James) and to his ‘bastard son’ Sterling James Keenan. Punk and SJK have been close for YEARS… so I think bring him up and plugging him into the feud would be awesome.

  • Lebron James

    Cesaro should be the next Heyman guy.

  • The next heyman guy needs to be out of the Lesnar Mold not the Punk mold. He needs to be a big strong and powerful guy to take it to Punk. guy like Big E., Ryback, Or Alexander Rusev of NXT.

    Graves is too much like Punk for this storyline. People wouldn’t see the real Corey graves just a Copy of Punk and that will do far more harm then working with heyman could ever help him.

  • Antonio Exsentico

    They can always do a tommy dreamer raven type storyline, where cm punk and corey graves knew each other along time ago and graves felt that punk did him wrong or abandon him to become wrestling star. Paul heyman brought him back to get revenge on punk, using him beat up punk.