Current AEW star Paul Wight is no stranger to changing things up. After debuting for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1995 as The Giant — initially billed as “the son of Andre the Giant” — Wight joined the Dungeon of Doom stable, though he’d soon trade up, becoming part of Hulk Hogan’s New World Order (nWo) faction. Four years after his WCW debut, Wight made the move to World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) predecessor, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), in 1997, joining chairman Vince McMahon’s Corporation stable and turning heel under the name the Big Show.
During his time in the industry’s preeminent organization, Wight’s character underwent numerous changes, switching from heel to face and back again, in addition to racking up all sorts of titles, from the United States and Intercontinental Championships to the WWE Tag Team championship and multiple reigns as WWE Champion. With all of the Big Show’s success on wrestling’s biggest stage, fans may wonder why he’d join the fledgling AEW promotion — now WWE’s biggest rival.
Wight wasn’t ready to be put ‘in the retirement home’
Wight spoke to Kenny McIntosh of Inside The Ropes for the outlet’s October 2021 issue and discussed his final appearance on air for WWE, which involved being berated by Randy Orton. He explained that he hung up the Big Show mantle because he wasn’t ready to be put out to pasture as a performer.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “That was one of the big battles that I had with Vince [McMahon] — he’s an innovator, he’s brilliant, he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life, he understands the human dynamic — I didn’t want to be in that legends role. I kept saying, ‘Hey, quit trying to put me in Shady Pines. I’m not ready to be in the retirement home.’ And that’s something that WWE has always done, too.”
Wight elaborated that the WWE will use every available resource as a means of promotion and that, sometimes, it means playing an unenviable role. He called the program with Orton a “humbling experience,” despite knowing how the industry works. “You sign a contract and you get paid to check your ego at the door. And if you don’t want to check your ego anymore, then you can leave.” Wight went on to explain he understands and agrees with the idea that the focus should be on younger talent, but that the creative department shouldn’t disregard someone who still has something to offer.
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