After years of former WWE Superstars jumping ship to WCW, the roles were reversed in early 1999 as Paul Wight left his "The Giant" moniker in WCW to sign with WWE and become Big Show.
Not only did WWE pluck a former World Champion from their biggest competitor, but the Big Show was just 27 years old at the time and much younger than the former WWE stars who headed to WCW.
"I didn't write it in my personal diaries, I don't remember the date but it was sometime in the summer - maybe June or July [of 1998]," Bischoff said of when he knew Big Show wanted to go to WWE. "I think Hulk Hogan had mentioned it to me. Paul was generally pretty, I don't know, he was negative: pouty. That is the best way to describe Paul Wight.
"Paul was not a b----. He never came to me and complain, or corner me in my office or in a locker room or on a plane. He wasn't that way; he wasn't pushy, but he was mopey, and you can see it. If he wasn't happy it was pretty obvious. Not in a mean, aggressive way. He wasn't putting on a show, but he wore his emotions on his sleeve, which a lot of guys do that, but he was pretty obvious. He was just unmotivated is another characteristic I noticed about him. You can just tell, he didn't want to be there."
WCW tried several variations of The Giant gimmick including billing him as the son of Andre the Giant. Bischoff also elicited ideas from Hulk Hogan, Kevin Sullivan and others about the character but nothing really took off and Big Show became frustrated.
"I think his manager started talking to [WCW Executive Vice President] Nick Lambros around the time that his contract started coming up," stated Bischoff. "I told Nick, look if we can keep him we will keep him. If we can give him a raise, but he certainly wasn't in the Sting category or the Kevin Nash category, but I told Nick that if we can keep him and negotiate a deal that is fair, great. But if we can't, we can't. We will let him go…
"I remember Hulk Hogan telling me not to let this cat go because if we let him go to WWE Vince McMahon will make him the next Andre the Giant or the next Hulk Hogan. And I remember thinking to myself, I don't think so because he is going to have the same problems that we had. We tried all of those ideas."
Bischoff says that at that time WCW had a better creative approach than WWE, so he didn't expect WWE to suddenly come up with a formula that would take Paul Wight's character to the next level.
"It wasn't like, oh my God if he goes to WWE, Vince McMahon is going to sprinkle the Andre the Giant dust on him and make him the next Giant. I didn't believe it, and when Paul came to me and told me about the offer he had received I had encouraged him to take it because there was no way I could match it despite the knock that I got. There was no way I could match the money Vince McMahon offered. But number two, even if I could have I wouldn't have because had I matched or beat the offer I would have been stuck with the same challenge that I would have leading up to that," said Bischoff.
Paul Wight ended up signing a 10-year contract with WWE in early 1999 and nearly 20 years later he's still with the company. After a year on the shelf due to hip surgery, Big Show returned to action on Oct. 9 and a week later Show turned heel by helping The Bar win the SmackDown Tag Titles.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.