On the latest episode of episode of Talk Is Jericho, Paul Wight sat down with Chris Jericho to discuss his move to leave WWE and sign with AEW. Wight also recalled his last WWE appearance on RAW Legends Night. He revealed the original plans for him on that night and why it was the last straw for him.
“After the last RAW that I did that was just absolutely horrendous because I was going through the contract negotiations then,” Wight recalled. “Sometimes, when you’re going through contract negotiations with them, they’ll try to, lack of better term, make things a little bit more awkward, difficult or to prove a point. It’s part of the psychology of the game, and so they wanted Randy Orton to ‘pieface’ me into a chair, basically, push me in the face and knock me down. Then I was supposed to sit there in a chair and take it, and I’m like, ‘Well, he’s not going to shove me on my ass.’ I mean, no disrespect to Randy, but Randy knows he couldn’t do it if I didn’t want him to.
“To do something accordingly, yeah, Randy can put his hand on my chest, and I’ll sit down because I’m not going to fight Randy because he’s trying to get in my head. You can always do that story, even though it’s the wrong story to tell. Randy can put his hands on me, and as a giant, I should have knocked him the hell out in the hallway. That would have been good business, but then to go to the ring and sit on the ramp on the stage with [Hulk] Hogan, and [Ric] Flair and Booker [T] was out there. A lot of Hall of Famers and legends and it’s like, they’re trying to shove me down the road because yeah, they want to use my notoriety to do community work, to do overseas media, to do all this stuff.
“They’re taking my passion away from me. They were taking wrestling away from me and then to just sit there on the ramp and then get called a has-been while I sit there and watch a match, it’s just you talk so much about legends, and respect for legends and respect for Hall of Famers but any time Hall of Famers are around, they get run into the ground. And that’s one of those kind of things where that machine is always moving forward. It’s about moving forward and any blood that they can get out, they’re going to get that last drop, until there’s nothing left for anyone. The talent doesn’t have anything left. The fans don’t have anything left for them, and for me, that was just the icing on the cake where I’m like, you know, I need to restart. I need to rebrand myself.”
The announcement of Wight’s signing came out of left field for the entire wrestling world. Wight reflected on keeping the news a secret.
“As hard as it is to believe, in today’s technological world, kayfabe still exists,” Wight pointed out. “But when only two people know about it, it actually lasted because when my deal ended with WWE, I ended up signing a termination and services agreement because they wanted to try to give me a Legends deal and stuff like that. I wanted to move on and do other things.
“Let’s face it, I sat on the bench there enough for a while, and then Tony [Khan] and I talked, and we kept it quiet and it was good. I didn’t tell friends. I didn’t tell you obviously, but I kept it quiet because I knew those that are in the business would appreciate getting popped.”
Wight then noted that his time in WWE took a turn five years ago. He revealed what a WWE higher up told him about his standing in the company and his response to it.
“The writing on the wall when I figured I couldn’t change anything in WWE was about five years ago,” Wight revealed. “I got a speech that I was told I would never main event of WrestleMania again. I would never main event another pay-per-view again, and I would only be used to get over NXT talent because they got to think about the future of the business. I was told that to my face. Not by Vince but by somebody in the organization pretty high up.
“Pretty matter-of-fact like, this is it, because at the time, five years ago, there weren’t any options. So they felt because I was very frustrated about positioning, and I felt a little bit handcuffed because I couldn’t help like I wanted to help. What’s going on? You guys are not letting me contribute like I can contribute. You’re kind of handcuffing me a little bit, and so then I had that meeting and I was told why. That was that.
“So that was the start of me really realizing that okay, and believe it or not, I was still so company oriented and company driven that I thought, you know what, I’ll take this challenge, and I’ll work my way out of it. Cream always rises to the top kind of thing and then foolish me, the harder I worked, it didn’t matter. They thanked me for the hard work. They paid me, but there was nothing that I could do that would change their minds at that point.”
Jericho wondered if Wight’s standing never changed perhaps because he was too nice. Wight agreed and gave a further explanation of his WWE experience.
“I signed a contract. I’m not gonna sit there and argue,” Wight admitted. “I was never the guy to go in there, and do the political fight, and argue, and text and all that stuff. That was never my MO. I trusted WWE to have my best interest. In the big picture, I had a great career, traveled the world [and] made a good living. So it seems counterproductive to say I could have done a lot more.
“I think every talent feels that way that things don’t turn out maybe like they think they should, but I think I definitely could have been a better asset. But WWE got to a point where they were bringing in so much new talent that they weren’t really building talent like they used to. It was newer is better. Every two weeks, every three weeks, something new, something new, something new.”
Wight later admitted that it was “brutal” to leave WWE. He explained why it was a tough decision but a decision that he had to make for his career.
“It was brutal to actually leave because you do have friends, and you do have family because you’ve got people you spent over 20 plus years with,” Wight noted. “You have relationships. You have people you look forward to seeing, and then you have to know that look, yeah, I have to leave. There’s nothing here for me to do anymore except go in a direction that I’m not ready to go in. I didn’t want to be a Sgt. Slaughter. No offense to Sarge, but I didn’t want to be a Sgt. Slaughter that comes around and did the golf tournament. At one time, Sgt. Slaughter was one of the biggest stars in the business. He sold more action figures that GI Joe. He sold more action figures than Barbie.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.