Paul Wight, aka The Big Show, recently announced that he has entered his last year as a professional wrestler, and will presumably retire sometime in 2017. Though he is famously one of the most respected and well-liked members of the WWE roster, Big Show's increasingly infrequent appearances have recently been plagued by chants of “please retire” from an audience that has watched him wrestle for more than 20 years. It's not just the fans' obvious desire for new characters to be featured on WWE programming that has them booing the big man. Show's reputation as “King of Turns” – he has turned face or heel more than 30 times over the course of his career – and frequent involvement in comically embarrassing feuds have also given many fans the impression that there's no such thing as a good Big Show story.
It's important to note, however, that while Big Show's character is inconsistent, his presence in professional wrestling is not. Over the course of the last two decades, he has feuded with every major star in the company, and most of the minor ones. And he has been at the center of some great storylines over the years.
With this in mind, as a celebration of the strange career of the Big Show, here are eight of the best Big Show storylines you may have forgotten...and yes, because a lot of the criticism is true, seven of the worst Big Show storylines you might not want to remember.
15 AWESOME: OPPOSING ANGLES
Big Show's abrupt and frequent turns are a running joke among wrestling fans, largely because switching between good and bad as often as he did renders the whole idea of a turn irrelevant. But in 2004, turning Big Show actually worked. After losing a championship match to Eddie Guerrero, the heel Show went off the deep end. He attacked Torrie Wilson, dragging her up onto a balcony and threatening to throw her off, all the while mocking her in the style of all the best insane movie villains. He ended up throwing Kurt Angle off the balcony instead, in a moment that gave us the memorable shot of Angle crumpled on the ground, his leg bent beneath him, a pool of blood forming beneath his head. As a result of his actions, Show was removed from Smackdown (in reality, he was injured).
A few months later, however, Big Show was reinstated and had the opportunity to attack either the fan favorite, Guerrero, or the recently-turned and thoroughly despised heel, Angle. Show attacked Angle, turning him face and leading him to probably his most popular period as a wrestler. It was brilliant because Show had been established as a monster before his hiatus, but at the same time, turning him face against Angle made sense in the context of the character. Before the turn, Show was a dominant force who hated Kurt Angle; after the turn, he was still that, but the fans cheered him for it.
And as a bonus, Angle shaved Big Show's head in the subsequent feud, giving Show the look that has since become iconic.
14 FAILED: EVERYTHING ELSE INVOLVING GUERREROS
While Big Show's world championship feud with Eddie Guerrero led to the excellent Kurt Angle story, their previous feud in 2003 over the United States championship was somewhat less memorable. The primary elements of the story revolved around two of Vince McMahon's favorite things: Making fun of a wrestler's race, and poop jokes. This story can be characterized best as being about burritos, as Show would first hock a loogie on Eddie's burritos, and then eat bad burritos himself, paying for that decision in uncomfortable digestive fashion. Guerrero would later spray Show with a sewage hose, confirming that their feud had its roots in the toilet.
Years later, in 2009, Big Show would align himself with Eddie's widow, Vickie Guerrero, the dubious highlight of the pairing being John Cena's revelation that the two were having “relations.” Big Show and the Guerreros are equally important parts of wrestling history, but the two names don't go well together.
13 AWESOME: A MCMAHON IN EVERY CORNER
Big Show doesn't have the greatest record at Wrestlemania. But in 2000, he was part of the main event of Wrestlemania XVI, the “A McMahon In Every Corner” fourway elimination match for the WWE championship. It's true that Show was the least important participant in that match, and the first to be eliminated, but the story leading to his involvement was a compelling one. Having been the last man eliminated in the 2000 Royal Rumble, as his feet hit the floor before The Rock's, Big Show appeared on Raw with doctored footage of the Rock's feet hitting the floor first, instead. This questionable tactic earned him a match with The Rock for the Wrestlemania title match, which Show won thanks to the interference of Shane McMahon. Of course, The Rock would eventually win his spot back, and Mick Foley would be thrown into the mix, as well, all thanks to the overarching story being primarily about the McMahons. But the fact remains that Show was a prominent part of the McMahon family feud, one of the most famous dysfunctions in wrestling history.
12 FAILED: IMPRESSIONISM
More than a decade before Damien Sandow almost saved his WWE career with impressions, the Big Show would do the same thing, with significantly less entertaining results. After main-eventing Wrestlemania XVI, Show was immediately dropped down the card and turned into a comedic babyface, coming to the ring dressed like his opponents (such as Val Venis) or tag team partners (such as Rikishi) and affecting their mannerisms. He even wrestled Kurt Angle at Backlash 2000 dressed like Hulk Hogan. Much like Sandow's initial attempts at impersonation, the gimmick didn't go anywhere. The “story” culminated in a match between Big Show and Shane McMahon, who berated Show for making a fool of himself. And even this paltry feud was short-lived, as Show would almost immediately turn heel again and re-align with Shane, making it one of the best examples of Show's infuriating face/heel switching.
Ironically, Big Show won the second Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal at Wrestlemania 31 by last eliminating “Damien Mizdow,” effectively derailing the career of WWE's most popular impressionist.
11 AWESOME: ANOTHER EMBARRASSING BIG SHOW WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT
Big Show has an objectively terrible Wrestlemania history, as he rarely finds himself in big matches and even more rarely wins them. That history was the main subject of his 2012 feud with Cody Rhodes going into Wrestlemania XXVIII. In response to Big Show challenging him for the Intercontinental championship, Rhodes kicked off a weekly segment titled “Another Embarrassing Big Show Wrestlemania Moment,” documenting each of Big Show's failures. It was the perfect angle to take on the feud, as it acknowledged Show's terrible Wrestlemania record while simultaneously making him a believable babyface and even an unlikely underdog, all made possible in large part due to Rhodes' tremendous work as a bullying heel. Arguably, Rhodes winning the Wrestlemania title match would have been the better move for the company as a whole, but Big Show exorcising his Wrestlemania demons was the logical payoff to a well-written and well-executed story. And giving him even a brief run with the Intercontinental championship solidified his place in history as a WWE Grand Slam Champion.
10 FAILED: DEAD DAD
By late 1999, WWF was thoroughly winning the Monday Night Wars, but that didn't stop the company from writing angles around the idea of “crossing the line” to attract viewers. Big Show's feud with the Big Bossman started with the revelation that Show's father had contracted cancer. From there, it revolved primarily around Show bawling his eyes out (as he so often does), first when Bossman tricked him to thinking his father had died, and then again when Bossman interrupted his father's funeral with bad poetry and stole the coffin. The feud also involved Bossman visiting Big Show's mother and returning with evidence that Show was a bastard. Even though it had no basis in truth, given that Show's actual father had been dead for years, it was a tasteless and ridiculous story that did nothing for the career of either participant – Big Show won his first WWF Championship during the feud, but held it for less than two months and turned heel shortly thereafter.
This story also marked the first instance of Big Show openly weeping on camera. Unfortunately, it was far from the last.
9 AWESOME: BARBED WIRE STEEL CAGE
In early 2005, the Smackdown main event scene was dominated by a three-way feud for the WWE Championship between Big Show, Kurt Angle, and the champion, John Bradshaw Layfield. The story leading up to the 2005 Royal Rumble was brief, but highly entertaining, as each of the three men took turns duping the other two into fighting one another. At the Rumble, JBL's Cabinet kept Show out of the ring while the champion pinned Angle, leading to a title match between Show and JBL at No Way Out. And the match, as it turned out, would take place inside a Barbed Wire Steel Cage.
While hardly a five-star classic, the Barbed Wire Steel Cage match did feature an extremely creative finish, with Big Show chokeslamming JBL right through the canvass and opening the cage door for the victory... only to find that JBL had crawled out from beneath the ring, technically winning the match first. And while Big Show would end up overshadowed at Wrestlemania 21 by Angle's match with Shawn Michaels and JBL's losing effort against the ascending John Cena, 2005 was a rare time in which he was involved in an excellent world championship story.
8 FAILED: YES OR NWO?
Big Show's career began in World Championship Wrestling, where he wrestled under the name “The Giant.” During his WCW tenure, he had a highly fluid relationship with the dominant New World Order stable. While seemingly dozens of wrestlers would join, leave, and get kicked out of the nWo over the years as WCW's booking became increasingly frenzied, few switched sides as often as The Giant. In 1996, he became the first WCW wrestler to join Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall in the newly-created faction. But after winning a shot at Hogan's World Heavyweight Championship later that year, he was expelled from the nWo for daring to ask for the match.
Giant would later engage in a lengthy feud with Kevin Nash, which is best remembered for Nash botching a jackknife powerbomb and injuring Giant's neck. The injury was worked into the storyline and the feud continued, and when Nash left the nWo to form the nWo Wolfpac, Giant rejoined the original group, now known as nWo Hollywood, to fight against him. But in 1999, when the Hollywood and Wolfpac stables merged to once again create a single nWo, Giant was kicked out again. And if you struggled to make it through that summary, imagine what it was like for viewers of late-period WCW trying to follow it every week on television.
In 2002, following WCW's demise, the nWo reformed in WWE, and of course, it wasn't long before Big Show joined that stable, too.
7 AWESOME: KING OF TAG TEAMS
Big Show has won almost every championship WWE has to offer, but his most prolific accomplishments have come in the tag team division. Show has been a tag team champion eight times in WWE, and several of his reigns have coincided with some of the most memorable moments in his career. While he won his first two tag titles alongside the Undertaker as part of the largely-forgotten “Unholy Alliance,” it was with the Undertaker's brother, Kane, that he would find true success in tag team wrestling. Strangely enough (if you believe in the authenticity of WWE fan voting) the two were thrown together haphazardly during the 2005 Taboo Tuesday event when they lost a three-way audience poll in which the winner would enter the main event match for the WWE Championship, while the losers would team together for a shot at the World Tag Team Championship. Big Show and Kane won the titles that night, beginning a dominant reign that would last through Wrestlemania. In the competitive heyday of the original brand extension, Show and Kane carried the flag for Monday Night Raw, twice defeating Smackdown's WWE Tag Team Champions in interpromotional matches. At Wrestlemania 22, Show and Kane opened the event by destroying Chris Masters and Carlito, giving Show his first Wrestlemania victory.
Despite losing the titles ignominiously to the Spirit Squad, it wouldn't be long before Show was tag champion again, this time with Chris Jericho in 2009. The entertaining duo known as “Jeri-Show” would hold the gold for 140 days before losing to D-Generation X. However, Show avenged this defeat by taking the titles back with help from his new partner, the Miz. This time calling themselves ShowMiz, the team would earn Big Show another win at the Showcase of the Immortals, defeating John Morrison and R-Truth at Wrestlemania 26.
6 FAILED: YOU'RE BROKE
The long-running story of the Authority, the villainous company-running power couple of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, hit a new low in 2013. For daring to stand up to them, Big Show was made to watch his fellow babyfaces get beaten up in the ring, and even made to knock them out himself. If Show failed to submit to these demands, he would be fired, and in a now-infamous scene, Stephanie revealed that Show was broke, and could not afford to lose his job. Being about Show's repeated humiliation, the story naturally resulted in him shedding tears again, and quickly became a complicated and confusing jumble of events that accomplished nothing whatsoever. At Battleground, he interfered in the championship match between the Authority-supported champion, Randy Orton, and the massive fan favorite Daniel Bryan, punching out both men for no apparent reason. Because all of this was taking place in the latter half of 2013, a time when the perceived burial of Bryan was resulting in fans becoming more and more vocal about their desire to see new stars pushed over old ones, this was likely the Big Show story most thoroughly rejected by the audience, and likely the catalyst for the “Please retire” chant.
Of course, it didn't help that a year after his match with Orton, at Survivor Series 2014, Show turned on his partners in the main event and sided with the Authority.
5 AWESOME: ECW CHAMPION
The story of Show's ECW title victory in 2006 was short and strange, as it came as the result of ECW guru Paul Heyman turning on Rob Van Dam in front of an enraged crowd in Philadelphia, ECW's home turf. Van Dam, the consummate ECW original, had defeated John Cena at One Night Stand less than a month earlier, giving him both the WWE and ECW titles. Unfortunately, he was suspended for marijuana possession shortly thereafter and forced to drop both belts. The Philly fans nearly rioted at the sight of Big Show winning the title with the help of Heyman. Show was the first wrestler ever to hold the belt without having previous set foot in the ECW Arena, and the response was vitriolic. Garbage was thrown into the ring as Show stood with championship in hand, a moment reminiscent of Hulk Hogan's heel turn in 1996. For ECW fans, this was the same sort of betrayal, their own personal Bash at the Beach, with Heyman taking Hogan's place as the ultimate traitor. And for one night, at least, Big Show was one of the most despised heels in professional wrestling.
As it happens, this story also helped cement Show's legacy, as he is the only man ever to hold the WWE Championship, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, and the ECW World Championship.
4 FAILED: MONSTER TRUCK MADNESS
As the Giant, Big Show “wrestled” his first televised match at WCW Halloween Havoc 1995, fighting Hulk Hogan in a “Sumo monster truck match.” Staged on the roof of the arena where two monster trucks had been welded together inside a circle ringed with explosives, Hogan and Giant each got in a truck and attempted to push one another out of the circle. Hogan won the match, causing an angry Giant to climb out of his truck and wrap his hands around Hogan's neck. Unfortunately for Giant, he was doing this on the edge of the roof, and when Hogan escaped the choke, Giant became unbalanced and fell from the top of the building.
Later in the show, Hogan's in-ring promo was interrupted by...the Giant, who seemed to have suffered no injuries and had changed into his wrestling gear. The two men proceeded to wrestle for the WCW title, a match that Giant won by disqualification when Hogan's ringside manager, Jimmy Hart, attacked the referee. Hart would then turn on Hogan, hitting him with the title belt. Somehow, Giant's DQ victory resulted in him winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, the explanation for which was complicated and involved Hart holding Hogan's power of attorney. The WCW executive committee quickly overruled this and stripped Giant of the championship, making the whole mess a gigantic waste of time.
Also, there was a mummy named “the Yeti” who would later become a ninja.
3 AWESOME: BIG SHOW IS MY SLAVE NAME
In 2007, Big Show and Hulk Hogan met in the ring once again. Except this time, they weren't wrestling for either WCW or WWE, and the story involved didn't come from the mind of a backstage writing team, but occurred in real life.
Show had retired from WWE in late 2006, as his contract had expired in early 2007. Around the same time, a major independent show was in the works, the brainchild of Hogan, who was no longer employed by WWE, and Corey Maclin, the owner of Memphis Wrestling. The show was called the PMG Clash of Legends, and the main event was scheduled to be Hogan vs. Memphis legend and WWE announcer Jerry “The King” Lawler. WWE, however, refused to allow Lawler to compete. Enter the Big Show, now calling himself Paul “The Great” Wight. Having been released from his WWE contract, Wight served as Lawler's replacement in the main event, and took the opportunity at a promotional press conference to say what he really thought of his former employer. Relishing his freedom from WWE's writers, as well from their financial structure, Wight explained his name change by saying “I renounce my slave name.”
Of course, Hogan won the match and Wight was back in WWE as the Big Show within a year, but his one-match foray into the independent scene is a fun and little-known story in wrestling.
2 SUCKED: CELEBRITY PUNCHING BAG
At Wrestlemania 21, Big Show wrestled in a sumo contest against professional sumo wrestler Akebono. Legend holds that the match was actually contested rather than predetermined, a theory that would account for its quality – Akebono tossed Show unceremoniously from the circle in just over a minute. Whether it was real or faked, it was undoubtedly boring, and hardly worth the buildup of a lackluster “feud” that consisted mainly of Show pushing over a jeep, and lengthy pre-match sumo rituals meant to add some authenticity to Show challenging a man who was, at the time, the Sumo Grand Champion.
Three years later, at Wrestlemania 24, Show tried to beat another celebrity at his own game, this time professional boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather. This was an actual feud with an actual story, in which Show was written as a heel under the assumption that Mayweather would be a crowd favorite. But Mayweather's arrogant attitude soon led fans to turn on him and support Show, instead. Nonetheless, Mayweather won the Wrestlemania match, which, while longer and more entertaining that the sumo contest, still represented a wasted opportunity to give credibility to an actual wrestler, as opposed to a celebrity who would never appear in WWE again. Between Akebono and Mayweather, Big Show became, for some fans, a symbol of WWE's misplaced priorities, its willingness to devalue long-term storytelling in favor of short-term celebrity pops, and to degrade the idea of wrestling as a whole in a desperate attempt at achieving wider cultural recognition.
Current rumors are that Big Show's final match will take place at Wrestlemania 33, and will feature retired basketball star Shaquille O'Neal as his opponent. He'll probably lose.
1 AWESOME: YOU CAN'T BEAT THE BIG SHOW
2002 was the year Brock Lesnar was handed WWE on a silver platter. Managed by Paul Heyman, he debuted the night after Wrestlemania 18, and within six months, he pinned the Rock at Summerslam to win the WWE Undisputed Championship, making him the youngest world champion in WWE history. Lesnar's undefeated streak lasted until Survivor Series, where it came to an abrupt end against the Big Show.
After Show challenged Lesnar by declaring that Lesnar couldn't beat a giant, the story became Heyman trying to talk Lesnar out of defending the title. Heyman insisted that none of Lesnar's strategies for victory – manhandling his opponents, suplexing them into submission, and delivering his finishing maneuver, the F-5 – would work on Show, and concluded by frankly stating, “Brock, you can't beat the Big Show.”
Lesnar's strength was such that he could, and did, deliver both suplexes and the F-5 to Big Show. But when Lesnar covered Show for the victory, Heyman pulled the referee out of the ring. Heyman's betrayal distracted Lesnar long enough for Show to recover, chokeslam Lesnar onto a steel chair, and end both Lesnar's undefeated streak and his first championship reign.
Both the story and its implications were, ultimately, brief. A month later, Heyman would turn on Show and ally himself with the new champion, Kurt Angle. But his feud with Lesnar featured Big Show at his best: a dominant villain who looks like he could crush you with a glance...and even when he can't, he's smart enough to win, anyway.