In an absolutely shocking turn of events, WWE legend Paul “The Big Show” Wight signed a long term contract with AEW. With everyone caught off guard, we have to applaud AEW for their secrecy. This is perhaps the biggest upset of WWE talent acquisition thus far.
The Big Show signed with WWE in early 1999 as he foresaw the sinking ship that was WCWg. He made his debut at the Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view which took place on February 14th, 1999. He interrupted the cage match between Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The man formerly known as “The Giant” came up from below the ring through the mat. Nobody saw this coming and as great as it was, it backfired on The Chairman. Wight threw Austin against the side of the cage so ferociously that the wall of the cage broke free. The Rattlesnake was free to jump down to the mat with both feet touching the floor for the victory. It certainly was a memorable debut. To make that debut during arguably one of the hottest feuds of all time is no small feat.
So why did we need the initial background on AEW’s newest signee? Well, it shows how monumental this contract is. The Big Show would continue to work for McMahon for another 21 years. Many fans considered the Big Show a lifer and a shoe in for the Hall of Fame. While the Hall of Fame is certainly coming to Wight in the future, he did give up a lifetime of security and pay with the biggest sports entertainment company in history. Wight has been credited saying that he loves the AEW Dark product. He also loves how it gives developing talent a place to hone their craft against grizzled veterans.
Wight signed on for numerous roles within the company. He will partner with commentator Tony Schiavone for AEW Dark, take a supporting backstage role and even actively wrestle. His confidence in AEW certainly shows. He could serve the young locker room for decades with his knowledge, deep-rooted first-hand experience and advice.
Paul Wight joins an incredible group of men and women along with some former top, elite talent of WWE. Wight now sits alongside greats like Chris Jericho, the icon Sting, Jox Moxley and of course Cash Wheeler and Dax Hardwood of FTR (formerly The Revival). AEW has done a very nice job of not bringing in too many WWE stars. That was a crucial mistake for TNA throughout the 2000s.
TNA featured the likes of The Dudley Boyz, Kurt Angle, RVD, Booker T, Matt Morgan, Rhino, Jeff Jarett, Raven, Jeff Hardy, Sting, etc. Now not all of these hurt the promotion. Sting and Angle were huge signings and elevated the company to new heights, but the influx of all the others overshadowed the pure TNA talent. Total Nonstop Action was the breeding ground for modern greats such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode and Christopher Daniels. With an incredible lineup of young guys, you’d think that would counteract the overbearing weight of Vince’s former talent. But it only muddied the waters. That was all TNA eventually became known as was a place for WWE guys to go to get that last little bit of limelight before not being relevant anymore.
Thankfully AEW has been very mindful of this. While not always doing their younger talent justice, the addition of AEW Dark on Youtube has helped out tremendously. Tony Khan is very fortunate to have the support around him that he does. All Vince has is a bunch of “yes” men and women who are too afraid to speak up and damage the fragile job they find themselves in. We’ve seen in recent years of how negatively this can affect their product.
Wight seems to have made the right decision regarding the future of his professional wrestling career. With AEW on track to have its best year yet, the addition of Big Show’s knowledge and experience can only elevate it higher.