In 2021, most people probably didn't think Paul "Big Show" Wight leaving WWE would have a big impact on the wrestling war with All Elite Wrestling.
But it just did.
AEW didn't just swipe another performer from WWE—it grabbed a company guy. That seemingly opens a new door in what is now the era of the big free-agent signing.
Yes, AEW sniped Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) right as it was beginning its ascent. But even casual fans understood Moxley was the type to bounce out of WWE, leaving its rigid constraints for something that gave him more freedom.
Wight, though? Not so much. Which isn't to say Wight hasn't bounced around promotions in the past. But it was easy to see him agreeing to a Legends contract like so many others in the past and making a few appearances here and there. The idea he would leave WWE was downright implausible.
Yet here we are. And if Wight can do it, why not other company guys like a Randy Orton? Why not, far down the road, someone like Roman Reigns? How about Charlotte Flair?
Orton has already had speculation linking him with AEW in the past. He's not the first Superstar with friends over there to hint at it, and he won't be the last. It's clear AEW doesn't mind shelling out top dollar for anyone serious about joining up. So why not bring in other WWE mainstays who look like lifers?
This might seem a little silly to build this all around the man formerly known as Big Show. His WWE act had grown stale, and it was getting to be eye-rolling when he would pop up randomly just to take a loss or two to an up-and-comer—remember the odd WrestleMania thing with Drew McIntyre?
He's not going to be some big ratings-mover for AEW, and WWE isn't going to suffer greatly from the loss. It sounds like he will have the freedom to be a regular on broadcasts as a commentator while getting in the ring here and there. And even this comes with a big but—AEW is using Sting at the ripe age of 61 so well. There's nothing to say they can't do the same with Big Show.
Mick Foley made a great point from Wight's perspective too:
What's to say another massive name won't feel the same soon?
There is a risk to AEW going the TNA route. Signing too many former WWE stars hurt other promotions in the past. But based on the returns with ex-WWE signings and the context of a signing like Wight, we're not at the point of worry just yet.
It's just another example of AEW giving a performer more freedom to do what they want to do. WWE is suffering from success in a way after gobbling up as much talent as possible and assembling what is probably the most talented roster of all time. Some Superstars getting away was a given.
But it's the meaning of the move that counts. A future Hall of Famer who spent 20-plus years becoming a legend, accumulating countless memorable moments and helping to build the company has left to join a newcomer making more appealing promises and providing more opportunities.
Maybe in the past Orton-AEW speculation was just used as leverage for The Viper to get a better deal out of his longtime home. But now WWE can't afford to think that's what a Superstar is doing in negotiations. WWE should be scared the dominant upstart is plucking guys like Big Show.
In the end, the two most important parties win: the Superstars themselves and the fans. More choices are a good thing. Competition is a good thing. A guy like Big Show leaving WWE for AEW is stunning. But in hindsight, maybe it wasn't that unpredictable.
And it could be the big domino that started to signify a passing of the torch.