No ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ for Big Show as retirement nears
WWE superstar Big Show is accepting the reality that sooner or later, he will have to hang his boots for good.
“I had all the titles, I had all the angles, I’ve done everything from cry, get fired, power hungry, tip cars over, pull down Titantrons (stages), tear up rings. I’ve had a very fortunate and blessed career,” he told INQUIRER in an exclusive one-on-one interview.
“Whatever happens with this new brand split, I look forward to whatever challenge is put in front of me, but I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets, any shoulda, woulda, couldas in my career. I’m very fortunate and thankful for all the guys I’ve had a chance to work with over the years, guys who put me over and guys that I’ve helped along and out them over. It’s an amazing and wonderful business and I’m very thankful for the career that I’ve had.”
Show, real name Paul Wight, was in town for a day to promote WWE Live Manila on September 9 at Mall of Asia Arena. INQUIRER is the official media partner of the said event.
At 44, the Big Show has had a decorated career where he has seen the landscape of professional wrestling change tremendously.
From the ages where titans like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior lorded the scene, the time when Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had their wars, the so-called Attitude era with The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H leading the fort, the Ruthless Aggression era where John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Batista all made their names, to the new era where we are now today, the 7-foot giant was in the front row of them all, occasionally joining the fray to help the product progress.
Time-to-time, his character has also changed from being a good guy (babyface) to a bad guy (heel), one that has triggered criticism from fans who aren’t happy with his flip-flopping persona. But Show said that he could only do so much, and being the good soldier that he is, that he could only work to the desire of the creative team.
“When (people) bring up that I flip-flop like I had a choice in all that. (I ask you) do I have a choice in it? What do you think happens when I flip-flop? What usually happens is I end up turning heel because there’s babyfaces that need a heel opponent to work with. When I run through that, what happens then is we need to a stronger babyface who can draw those people around and I end up becoming a babyface,” he said. “Again, I think it’s a victim of my own success, versatility. I am versatile so I can be a heel, I can be a babyface, I can be whatever you need. What do I like to do? I don’t mind being a heel. It’s easier story for me because I can tell the David and Goliath story. But I think now at this stage of my career when I’m not working that much, I’m more of an attraction role, because of the 20-plus years that I’ve put in and all the programs that I’ve done, I think it’s easier for me now to just go out and wave, smile and do the short little fun matches and get on to the next town.”
Show said that it’s true that a lot of the industry’s facets have changed overtime.
“It has changed. When I first started, it was like rock and roll. It was really a wild west carnival type business,” he said. “Now it’s progressed to a corporate business image. Each wrestler has his or her own brand they’re developing with the advent of social media and marketing. A lot of younger talents are able to build their brands, to build that recognition with their fans, and build their relationship with their fanbase. I think that’s the biggest change. We’re old school, where it was more word of mouth and grassroots campaign. Nowadays, the kids are able to create a lot of upswing before they get to WWE because they built some kind of reputation through social media and independents and NXT and stuff like that. I think it’s a lot easier for kids today to just start identify who they want to be and what they want to be and how they want to represent their brand and start building their fans.”
Show made it clear that he has no qualms passing the torch to the fresh guys as the WWE enters this new era.
“The current roster, it’s an exciting time. Not since the 90s has there been such an influx of new talent in WWE. There’s talent from all over the world, there’s a lot of potential for a lot of great guys who are going to get a lot of opportunities with this brand split, between the Raw brand and SmackDown brand, with separate writing teams. Guys are going to get a lot of opportunities, so we’ll see who takes advantage of those opportunities and who makes it,” he said.
With the brand split now in full swing, new stars are expected to emerge from the crop. And the WWE has stumbled upon men who, in one way or the other, fit the bill as the next top guy.
Show isn’t shy of calling them out, especially lauding the work of the trio formerly known as The Shield as Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins all lived up to their hype and carved their way en route as the new cornerstones for the WWE.
“I just love working with those guys,” he said. “It’s funny. I love working with Roman Reigns. He’s a very big, powerful athlete who’s got a really good attitude. He’s got that island Samoan attitude. He’s a chill dude, but he’s going to go out there and it’s going to be physical and he’s going to work hard. When you get in the ring with Roman, you know you’ve been in a fight cause he’s a physical dude.
“Dean Ambrose, I love that guy. He’s just very unorthodox, very wack-a-doodle, but I don’t think you’ll find too many guys who are harder working than Dean Ambrose. He definitely has the work ethic to be successful.”
But Show left his biggest praise for Rollins.
“Seth Rollins is just amazing. Whether you like him or don’t, he’s amazing on the microphone. He’s amazing
in the ring with his athletic ability,” he said. “It’s no wonder Seth went number one in the Draft cause right now, I could say that Seth Rollins probably is the best guy we have in the WWE period.”
The new era, though, will not just revolve on those three guys, and Show knows that he will have to mix it up with some other up-and-coming stars in the near future.
Selected to Raw in the recently concluded WWE Draft, the 21-year veteran will have a bumper crop of young opponents to boot.
“There’s a lot of guys who are coming up and they’re going to have a lot of opportunities, and I want to see them get those opportunities, those storylines they deserve. As far as myself having a program, I don’t have anyone on my horizon that I think I need to work with this guy. I’m sure with (WWE chairman) Vince (McMahon), I’ll end up working with Braun Strowman, I’ll end up working with (Baron) Corbin, Big Cass at some point. There’s some big guys there that I can get in the ring with and work with and help them, putting them further down the road on the path to their careers. We’ll see what happens,” he said.
“Right now with me, I enjoy the fact that I got drafted and I’m still a valuable part of the WWE. I still get to do that. I’m 44 years old, and I feel better at 44 than I did 34, so I feel great.”
‘Not a very good teacher’
Contrary to the usual transition with old wrestlers moving in to trainers, Show said that doesn’t see himself as a teacher or a backstage personality of sorts.
“I’m not near as smart as Triple H and he’ll second that. That’s a different lifestyle. I’m more of a doer, I’m not a very good teacher. I can go out and do something but it’s hard for me to explain how for you to do it,” he said.
“I think with the coaching staff they have in NXT, with Matt Bloom, Norman Smiley, and some of the guys they have there, those guys are excellent teachers. If they got some big kids that came in, maybe I could help them cause I could teach them how to be a giant, what to sell and what not to, but the best thing that I can do is try to be a good ambassador for our sport in situations like this, talk to the media and promote the upcoming shows.”
What Show said he can do, though, is to instill valuable lessons he learned in this industry through his two decades of experience to the next generation, saying he wants the next batch to savor their time doing what they love the most.
“(I want them) to not waste the day, treat everyday as something that is valuable. Treat tomorrow as if it doesn’t exist, make today the most. That’s in their performances, that’s in their attitude towards their health, taking care of themselves in and out of the ring. Treat this job like you don’t have tomorrow, make it precious cause it is,” he said. “Sometimes, we get too caught up in the politics and the drama and the backstage garbage that you forget to realize how precious every minute in the ring is and how extremely fortunate you are in all the billions of people in this world that you’re one of the top 50 superstars in the world that’s on TV every week. It’s not something to take lightly, it’s something to hold on to and treat with respect and hold dear to your heart.”
That’s why Show prefers a low-key exit rather than a grandiose one as he nears the tailend of his colorful career.
“I never want to go out with a big fanfare or a big retirement party or big announcements. I’m like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, I’m just going to ride off with my horse in the sunset. I had an amazing time, I’m thankful for everybody who I worked with and I’m not worried about the sun setting in my career. I look forward to the new guys taking WWE to extremely new heights and new places that no one imagined,” he said.
And that’s all Show could ask for, a legacy where his work with his fellow superstars matter more than the number of times he held the gold.
“(I want to be remembered) maybe just a guy that was respected by my peers and my fans. I think I’ve never been the one to hunt for glory and that bullcrap. I’m a working man. I like the guys in the locker room, I like getting those guys over, and if I have the respect of my peers, I’m ok with that,” he said. “Most of the guys that have worked with me, I have a great relationship with them and respect and they helped make the the giant, the Big Show, and hopefully, I help them along the way as well.”
But Show admits that when he finally calls it a day, he wants to be recognized for who he is known for in the industry.
“I don’t consider myself as this generation’s Andre the Giant,” he said. “I consider myself as this generation’s Big Show.”