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, 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.
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.