Paul Wight, better known by his wrestling persona Big Show, is an accomplished wrestling figure. He’s won championships in two separate wrestling leagues, having won the WCW and WWE championships twice each. He’s also won the ECW Championship and World Heavyweight Championship, making him the first wrestler to hold all four titles. Wight has also proven to be a tag-team master, having won 11 various tag-team championships.
He’s quite literally a larger than life figure to which WWE owes much of its success. Billed as seven feet tall and topping 450 lbs., Big Show is one of the larger superstars out there currently, boasting both an imposing track record and physical stature.
What has yet to be measured, though, is his lasting legacy. Big Show still actively contributes to the sport of professional wrestling, and continues to build on his success with each and every event. He’s a clear cut WWE Hall-of-Famer already, and each time he steps into the ring fans have the opportunity to watch a legend compound upon an already impressive career.
But some of those fans may be watching him for the first time, or perhaps they are simply unfamiliar with Big Show’s past. Well, not to worry, we have you covered with everything you need to know. What follows are ten shocking things you probably didn’t know about WWE’s Big Show.
10. He Got His Start Playing Basketball
We know, we know, it’s hard to imagine considering his…figure, but Paul Wight earned his shot at professional wrestling through a completely different sport. He actually played basketball for Wichita State! After graduating from school, Wight bounced around a few random jobs. Eventually, he met a morning radio show host named Danny Bonaduce, who was good friends with Hulk Hogan.
Together they held a promotional basketball game in order to build up an upcoming WCW show. Hogan was apparently impressed with Wight’s charisma, not to mention his size. He then recommended Wight to Vice President Eric Bischoff, and the rest is history. Looks like even in the wrestling business it’s all about who you know.
9. WWE Debut Was With McMahon In The Ring
For those unfamiliar with professional wrestling, the WCW and the WWE were completely different organizations. Apparently, Wight had also tried to get his start in the more widely recognized WWE, but his audition tape never even garnered a look. Wight instead built his reputation at WCW before moving over to the WWE.
It wasn’t until 1999 that Wight burst onto the WWE scene, quite literally. In a cage match where CEO Vince McMahon was fighting against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Wight ripped through the canvas floor to McMahon’s aid. The two would lose the match, but it was the beginning of his billing as McMahon’s enforcer. We imagine McMahon felt rather safe with the hulking 450 lb. man by his side.
8. His Matches Had Long-Lasting Consequences
Wight’s enormous size sure opened up a lot of interesting opportunities come match time. The WWE loves to throw gags and staged skits into their matches, and one particular tag team match versus a surging superstar Kurt Angle was no exception. It’s one that left a visible mark on Wight’s career forever after.
During the match, Wight’s partner was tossed out of the ring, leaving Wight to basically fend for himself. Hilarity soon ensued. His opponents brought out a tranquilizer and shot him. The crowd then watched Wight try to fight off the effects, slowly lumbering around the ring like a tranquilized Bigfoot. Upon collapsing, his opponents swarmed him, took out a razor, and shaved his head. It’s one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen in the ring, but Wight must have liked the results; he remained bald for the rest of his career.
7. He Dabbled In Other Forms of Wrestling
The WWE once again used Big Show’s size to their advantage in promotional material for WrestleMania 21 in 2005. The wrestling audience in Japan was actually growing at the time, and the businessmen behind the scenes wanted to build a strong pay-per-view audience for the event. Enter Big Show in a sumo thong.
The WWE set up a match between Big Show and Japanese sumo wrestling legend Akebono. Many doubted whether Wight would be able to hold his own, so in the preceding weeks the WWE set up several promotional stunts to prove he was physically capable of handling the sumo wrestler. One such promo showcased Big Show pushing over a jeep. In the end, though, doubters were proved right and Big Show lost to Akebono rather easily, forcing Wight to stick to what he knows best.
6. He Was in a Real Fight With The Great Khali
Wrestling is a physical sport fueled by testosterone and energy; it is understandable when sometimes emotions boil over and it leads to real conflicts. Wight proved even he was not immune to such situations when touring Puerto Rico in 2009.
Big Show was upset at The Great Khali after one match, and he let his feelings be known backstage. From what wrestler Evan Bourne recalls, Big Show lunged at Khali but fell over, giving Khali the advantage. The squabble lasted only momentarily, but even that was enough to make a few headlines. What’s genuinely noteworthy about the confrontation is that it was two of the WWE’s biggest stars fighting in a small locker room. Sometimes, size doesn’t pay off.
5. He Has Had Quite A Few Acting Roles
Listen: it’s pretty obvious that professional wrestling is largely fake, at least as far as the actual wrestling is concerned. That’s not to downplay the sport, though. The WWE requires strenuous physical activity and a high level of showmanship. Perhaps this is why a large number of superstars also find a niche in acting.
The Big Show has made several cameos in some big name productions. Perhaps one of the most recognizable is his cameo as Adam Sandler’s role model in The Waterboy. Playing, naturally, the professional wrestler Captain Insano, Big Show bursts into laughter when Sandler’s character calls him mid-air to offer his services as “an experienced waterboy.” Aside from Sandler comedies, Wight has also played minor roles in Star Trek: Enterprise, Royal Pains, and Burn Notice. He has since stated he enjoys the profession, and hopes to continue acting in the future.
4. Andre the Giant’s Son?
Even the WCW toyed around with Wight’s size during his stint in their league. During this time, Wight was known simply as “The Giant”. The WCW decided fans would quickly associate him with the iconic French wrestler Andre the Giant, and so they spread the rumor that Wight was actually the legend’s son. They even created a feud with Hulk Hogan, billing it as Wight’s chance to avenge his “father’s” defeat to Hogan in the third WrestleMania.
Of course, the entire storyline was a fallacy. The only similarities between the two men were their large statures. Still, the storyline played some minor role in Big Show’s early years as a professional wrestler. Luckily for him, his own legacy branched away from that of Andre’s, and Big Show became a legend in his own right.
3. He’s Had Weight Management Issues
For being such a large human being, Wight actually cut a semi-fit figure during his time at WCW. By 2001, that was a different story. These were the years he first transitioned to the WWE, and the life change had noticeable consequences on his total weight. In fact, many stories began appearing that fans would see Big Show frequent fast food joints after matches and scarf down large quantities of food. His weight blew up as a result.
The WWE even began incorporating his cravings into their storylines, and Show was once filmed passed out on the couch muttering in his sleep about cheeseburgers. Since then, Wight has gotten his weight back under control, and it’s safe to chock the issues up to simply being in a transitory stage in life.
2. He Fought Legendary Boxer Floyd Mayweather
Sumo wrestling was not the only cross-over match in Big Show’s career. In 2008, the WWE began building up a feud between Wight and Floyd Mayweather, with Mayweather emerging from the crowd to challenge Big Show. The fight ended in predictable fashion, with the seasoned fighter Mayweather breaking Big Show’s nose.
The two met for a second time in WrestleMania XXIV. Though the fans seemed to be more in Big Show’s corner this go around, the result was the same. Mayweather connected on some legitimate shots to the face, and knocked out Big Show with a shot to his jaw. Allegedly, Wight was rather peeved at Mayweather afterwards, as the boxer had bloodied him up a bit more than his liking. Mayweather understandably took off quickly at the conclusion of the match.
1. He’s Battled Acromegaly
Acromegaly is a disease that affects the endocrine system, causing uncontrollable growth. If left unchecked, it causes severe disfigurement and gigantism. Typically, it affects middle aged adults. The Big Show was affected at an early age, though, a stage in life where the disease can be especially difficult to diagnose.
It’s one other similarity Big Show shared with Andre’ the Giant, though Wight underwent surgery in the 1990s to correct his pituitary gland. Thankfully, the surgery was a success, but Big Show’s size was already rather astounding by that point. It’s reported that by the age of twelve, Wight already had chest hair and was above six feet tall. By the time he was in college he was topping seven feet. His size affects areas of his life we all take for granted, such as travel. With typical planes and cars being too small, Big Show purchased his own mega tour bus in order to travel more comfortably.