A couple of years into his WWE stint, it would have been easy to dismiss Paul Wight (a.k.a. The Big Show) as a flop.
Formerly The Giant in WCW, he had failed to live up to initial expectations.
Despite an impressive debut at the 1999 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view—in which he emerged from under the ring and attacked Steve Austin in his cage match with Vince McMahon—he wasn’t really over as a monster heel.
He was out of shape too, with his increasingly bloated figure even making him the butt of jokes on commentary. He didn’t seem particularly motivated in the ring, either.
How bad were things?
Well, by early 2000 he had taken on a comedy gimmick in which he mocked and impersonated other wrestlers. While the act had its funny moments—particularly when he lampooned Hulk Hogan at Backlash—a midcard role did seem like a comedown for the former WCW World champion.
But somewhere down the road, things changed.
Indeed, over the last decade Big Show has blossomed into arguably the best big-man worker of all time.
Generally, most of wrestling’s big men struggle in the ring—even if they try their best, their massive size obviously makes bumping and moving around extremely difficult.
Look at The Great Khali, a wrestler who has churned out one disastrous match after another over the last six years. Giant Gonzalez was never up to much as an in-ring performer, either. Even the legendary Andre the Giant—at one point a decent pro wrestler—became a shell of himself towards the end of his career.
The Big Show, however, has in fact improved greatly over the time. Starting with his thrilling 2002 feud with Brock Lesnar, he seemed to turn things around and start making much more of an effort in his matches.
His ECW run in 2006-2007, in which he had decent bouts with the likes of Rob Van Dam and Batista, was also worth watching.
And who can forget his exciting match with boxer Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania 24? Big Show did a tremendous job of carrying the non-wrestler at the event.
His recent work—with The Shield and Randy Orton and Sheamus—has been good, too. Oh, the muddled storyline isn’t great, but his contributions—both in the ring and in promos—have been top-notch.
It’s also easy to forget that Big Show is actually one of the few truly convincing actors the company has—check out his heartbroken reaction when he accidentally hurt SmackDown Diva AJ Lee last year.
Similarly to Andre the Giant, he has more to offer than simply his huge size, and has an appealing, affable sort of charisma. Even when he’s a heel, it’s difficult not to like the guy.
While WWE history has been littered with behemoths who have done nothing but stink up the product, Paul Wight has managed to buck the trend over the past decade and emerge as an asset to WWE.
Now who could have predicted that back in 2000?