Paul Wight speaks on the advice he gives to young talent in AEW and how his advice varies depending on the size of the individual he's talking to.
Paul Wight entered the wrestling industry in 1995. As part of WCW, Wight immediately began working with and learning from legends such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ric Flair. Twenty-eight years later, Wight is now a veteran in the locker room of All Elite Wrestling and imparts wisdom to a locker room full of young personalities, many of whom are getting their first major break in pro wrestling.
Speaking with Tempest prior to AEW All In in London, England, Wight reflected on his advice to young wrestlers and his most important rule being that the match's finish should have the loudest reaction.
"I try to. I think sometimes when the kids come over and talk to me, I think they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t know I was gonna be here this long.’ I tend to over-explain things," he said. "My advice is not about what moves to do. I’m not gonna tell them what move to do. My thing that I try to preach upon is making a connection with the audience, telling a story in the ring, making what you do in the ring mean something. Don’t do something just to do it. Make it lead to something. Make it count. If it doesn’t count, then why the hell are you doing it?
"I tease them all the time," he continued. "They’ll say, ‘What did you think of my match? What did you think of this?’ I say, ‘Was the biggest reaction of your match the finish? Win, lose, as long as it’s always the biggest reaction.’ ‘Oh, no, it was this one thing.’ ‘Then you’re not doing it right,’ ‘cause if you do it right, the biggest reaction is the finish. Because that’s when the people are the loudest, that’s when you took them on a journey through the entire match and when that 1-2-3 happens, whether you’re the bad guy getting pinned or the good guy winning, if they’re not the loudest there, then somewhere you made a mistake."
However, Wight has a different stance when he's giving advice to giants of the squared circle. As one of the most famous big men wrestlers of all time, Wight advises those following in his footsteps to worry less about the match quality and focus more on the psychological aspect of professional wrestling by preying upon built-in fear an audience may have of an evil giant.
"Giant wrestlers are a little bit different. Because we’re not five-star guys. We’re not guys who’re gonna go out and have outstanding matches. I don’t think so. That’s not what you see from giants. Giants are spectacles. Giants are attractions. Giants should be doing things that people are in awe of. If you’re a bad guy giant, or heel, you should try to tap into people’s fears of ‘What if I ran into that guy in a dark alley and he was that aggressive toward me.’ You want to instill a little bit of fear. If you’re a face giant, you want to try to make them feel like, ‘Oh, he’d be a fun guy to hang out with.’ The main thing about being a giant is just presence," he said.
Wight also advises giant wrestlers to work safely with smaller talents because if you make them feel comfortable, they will come up with creative spots for those who work with them best.
"Of course, like anything, everything you do should mean something, and you shouldn’t be in a hurry," he said. "It’s kind of the same thing. Sometimes, when you get the right opponent as a giant, and I tell them—some the big guys that I’m working with—you gotta be safe. Because if you’re safe and a smaller guy trusts you, smaller guys will come up with crazier ideas than you ever will because they trust you. Then it’s your job to make them earn it. If you go out and you do stuff and oversell and don’t make them earn it, then they’re not really David slaying Goliath. They’re not chopping down that giant tree. Part of the drama that helps with fans is a smaller person that’s aggressive that stays after it, stays after it, stays after it and then you pay it off. That’s why giant matches are different. It’s the same philosophy, but they’re executed on a different level ‘cause, in my opinion, you want to start tapping into psychology that people understand. Everybody understands, at some point, what it’s like to be bullied or be intimidated.
"It’s part of our human evolution—famine, disease, war—all these things that we’ve had to overcome to survive the elements," he adds. "It sets in when you have this big imposing figure that people have to overcome. It’s a unique addition to the show. It’s an attraction and makes it fun. That’s our role. As far as giants at this stage of the game running three year world championship reigns? I don’t think we’re there yet. I think let’s go out there, do the best you can to make the talent you’re working with. That’s the role for giants."
Elsewhere in the interview, Wight praised The Acclaimed for making the most of their opportunities in AEW. Learn more by clicking here.
Fans can see Fightful's full interview with Paul Wight linked above.