AEW broadcaster and star Paul Wight recently made an appearance on Charlie Marlow & 590 THE FAN KFNS Radio St. Louis. AEW has often branded themselves as an “alternative”, and Wight described how AEW is different from WWE.
“I think finally, for a long time, there’s only been one product, and that was the WWE product. They had won the Monday Night Wars and had taken over as the superior product,” Wight noted. “There were some incredible efforts by some very talented people, Chris Jericho, Young Bucks, Tony Khan, Kenny Omega, they were able to create, basically, another promotion where there was opportunity for talent and opportunity for fans. It’s a completely different product. When I’m asked to describe AEW vs. WWE, I will say that AEW is a very authentic product.
“WWE is an incredible machine of 40 – 50 years of building their brand worldwide. AEW has been around a couple of years, like three years, so it’s still growing, it’s still building. When you have a promo in WWE, there’s 12, 13, 14 writers in a room. They’ll write a promo for you, it’s approved and then you get your promo for your character. When you’re in a AEW and you get a promo, you have a promo. I like to look at it as a lot more authentic, and it’s a lot more individualized for the talent. As young talent that is trying to find out who they are, as young men and women, and make their mark in this business, I think the AEW product gives them more opportunity to be more authentic.”
Wight is a veteran of over 20 years in the pro wrestling business. He recalled how he broke into the industry and eventually debuted in WCW.
“That came about in Chicago. I was working for a karaoke company, and we were doing the morning drive on Danny Bonaduce’s radio show where people would come in and sing karaoke in the studio and some people were really amazing,” Wight recalled. “There’s a lot of talent out there that back then, the internet wasn’t the powerful voice as it is now, so people were trying to discover themselves singing karaoke. This is an opportunity to come on the live morning show with Danny Bonaduce, and some people were good, some people were terrible.
“Danny was super cool and asked me what I was trying to do with myself because I had all this athletic ability, and presence and size. Was I trying to play football for the Bears? Everybody had 10,000 opinions on what I should do with myself, and I wanted to be a wrestler, but it was very difficult back then to get in. Getting into wrestling back then was like trying to get in the mafia, I guess, you had to know somebody to vouch for you to get in. Danny had a charity basketball game against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll have you as my secret partner. Then I’ll introduce you to Hulk and Mr. T. Hulk’s great. You’ll love him. I’m sure he’ll be excited to you.’ That’s how it all started.
“Then I did probably the worst thing you could do, I did a Hulk Hogan impersonation for Hulk, which could have gone really good or really bad, but luckily, Hulk was pretty cool, and had a good personality and saw that I had a little bit of charisma. So he was excited about it too. So it worked out very well. I remember I told my buddies, ‘Man, Hulk Hogan is taller than me!’ My friend goes, ‘What are you nuts,’ because he had so much presence that I thought Hulk was taller than me. I was young at the time, 22 or 21 years old. I thought Hulk Hogan was seven foot tall. He’s not, I’m taller.
Wight would go on to debut in WCW as “The Giant”, the kayfabe son of Andre the Giant. Wight later cleared the air on how tall he truly is.
“I think I’ve shrunk in my old age,” Wight admitted. “I think I was 7’1″, and I think I’m just at seven foot right now. It depends, if I wear my Sheamus wrestling boots with the lifts in them, I probably hit 7′”1 and a half, 7’2″. That’s a joke to Sheamus. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call for that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Charlie Marlow & 590 THE FAN KFNS Radio St. Louis with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.