The wrestling world was stunned on February 24 when Paul Wight (The Big Show in WWE) left WWE for AEW.
Wight had been in WWE since 1999 and it seemed as if he would be with the company for life. However, WWE had begun to phase him out, and he felt he had more to offer. Thus, he jumped to AEW to continue his in-ring career and work as a commentator on AEW Dark: Elevation.
Speaking to Renee Paquette on Oral Sessions, Wight explained his decision to join AEW.
"It was a very quick decision that was made in a matter of 48 hours for me. For me, it was creative frustration. I had gone back and forth with Paul Heyman, Bruce Prichard, and Vince. I had some medical issues a couple of years ago where I had problems with my hip real bad. You know how things are there. If you get out of the loop a little, it's hard for them to work you back into the ring, no matter how much talent you have or have to offer. It was frustrating for me because, yeah, I was making money and working once against Drew and did a couple of things like be partners with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe, but I was like, 'I need more than this.' I've never been a sit on the bench guy. I'm not going to take my money, sit at home, and be happy like a little princess. I like to work for my money and earn it. I went 18 years in WWE without missing a tour. I love doing what I'm doing," stated Wight.
Wight continued by saying, "That was the biggest letdown for me; not being able to get something going creatively. I've known Vince for a long time and when he gets focused and blinders on, it's hard to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. If you're not at TV and nobody is going, 'Paul Wight is still alive, he can work.' It got frustrating and I got frustrated trying to knock on the door. They were trying to use me for other things like relations. They were trying to do me a favor and put me in Shady Pines. I didn't want to be in Shady Pines. I told them, 'Don't put me in Shady Pines.' I had the opportunity to do something else and I took it. I talked to Vince and Kevin Dunn. Nobody is mad, nobody is upset. The day I signed, Vince called me and wished me luck, saying I was a big asset for AEW and he was glad I signed. They did a lot of things for me. For me to try and bury WWE, it's not about that. It's just business."
Wight mentioned during the AEW Revolution post-show media call that there was no animosity between himself and WWE. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
Continuing the conversation with Renee, Wight revealed that he always saw himself as a color commentator and WWE knew of his desire to be in the announce booth.
"Vince let me do a little commentary, here and there, and he knew in the back of my mind that's what I wanted to do. Kevin Dunn and Jerry Lawler (also knew). When I envisioned where does my career end up, it ended up with me doing color commentary full-time. Tony was like, 'What do you want to do?' I told him, 'I want to do color commentary.' He said, 'Do you want to wrestle too?' 'Absolutely.' I've known Tony for a while and I think he was a little surprised. I hit him up and came out to Jacksonville after my WWE contract expired, I made sure everything was legal. Tony and I talked in the office, it was like 10 at night. We talked about and I talked about my passions in the industry, getting talent over, and the potential AEW has," he said.
Wight continued, "You need competition that's not in the same house. You need another brand where if someone doesn't find out who they are on one brand, there is another company where they can re-invent themselves. That's the problem when WWE was the only game in town and is one of the problems they have now. They have so much talent that they can't maximize them. They thought they were doing me favor because I had all that tenure. I don't care about titles or great matches. I could've sat on my ass and been in the Hall of Fame, which is still important because I was there for a long time and is important because of the relationships I built with the fans and company, but I'm not done yet. When I worked with Braun, I had holes in the balls of my hips and worked a year and a half like that because I felt a duty to those in the locker room. When I did the angle with The Bar, I didn't want to leave them hanging, but the metal device in my hip was broken and I had surgery the next day."
Wight went on to explain his hip issues, going through surgery, and working his way back to get into in-ring shape for a return. Wight was written off television in 2017 after a feud with Braun Strowman to get his hip fixed. He would make sporadic appearances, including a mystery main event for WrestleMania 35, but was not a full-time performer.
"I got the speech five years ago that's a pretty bad speech. I got pulled into a talent relations office and got told I will never main event WrestleMania again, I will not main event a pay-per-view again, and I will only be used to get over NXT talent. That was said to my face. There's your inspiration, now go work hurt. Vince didn't say that to me, it wasn't him, but nothing gets said to you without...you know where it comes from. It hurt a little bit, but that's where we're at. I understand where they're coming from, they were trying to give me a heads up. 'You've done everything we can do with you, you've had a great career, maybe it's time to think about slowing down.' Fuck that. I want to go to Vince and say, 'Are you going to slow down? Well, then don't ask me to slow down.' If I hadn't gone through everything I went through, I wouldn't have had the courage to walk away when this contract expired," said Wight.
Wight is set to make his commentary debut on March 15 when AEW Dark: Elevation premieres on YouTube.
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