Even for a man who’s seen just about everything in wrestling, this month’s AEW All In show at Wembley Stadium will feature another special moment for Paul Wight.
Wight – officially known as The Big Show in his WWE days – has four decades of wrestling experience. littered with some of the biggest names and moments the industry has to offer.
Still, as the days tick down to AEW’s biggest show on August 27, when more than 70,000 fans will flock to Wembley Stadium, Wight admits he’s so excited to be part of another historic event.
“In my career, I’ve seen a lot of moments in history, in wrestling history.” The wrestling veteran said in an exclusive interview with SportsMail’s Alex McCarthy from inside the famous London venue.
“When you’ve seen a lot of moments happen over the years and you think ‘Oh, I wish I was there’ – that’s one of those moments.” I’m so glad to be here for this, it’s a moment in time.
Paul Wight will be part of AEW’s huge All In show at Wembley Stadium later this month
Tony Khan was told by Wight that the UK market was the one to be explored by AEW
Wight spent over twenty years with WWE as Big Show before moving to AEW in 2021
The 51-year-old is no stranger to performing to UK crowds, having toured those shores throughout his career. However, interestingly, the UK market was at the top of his agenda when he first spoke to AEW owner Tony Khan about his move into the company.
Wight left behind a 22-year legacy with WWE to sign with AEW in 2021, and much of his initial conversation with Khan as they dined inside Jacksonville’s Jaguar Stadium – another of the teams of Khan – was how to take advantage of the huge wrestling fanbase in the UK.
“One of the things I spoke to Tony Khan about when I first dined with him at Jaguar Stadium was getting into the UK market. explains Wight.
“I said it was imperative that we have our brand there, it is imperative that our talents know the UK market. This market is unlike any other market in the world, it is one of my favorite markets, and one, in the beginning, I had to earn respect. Then once I won it, it became one of my favorite places to go.
No matter what kind of year you had, you knew you were going to have great shows, the fans were going to be hot, and they were going to be receptive to the product. If you wanted to try something known and evaluate its response, you would try it here.
So for our talent to come here and perform in this fast, gargantuan crowd is insane. It’s insane, the only thing that would make things better would be if I could come across as a bad guy. Can you imagine 80,000 people shouting ‘You fat w***er’ – that’s awesome. I never take it personally, I’ve always loved it and it showed how great they were into the product.
Whether he was a good guy or a bad guy for the company, Wight remained a major name in WWE throughout his tenure with the company and was embroiled in memorable rivalries with names such as John Cena, Undertaker and The Rock.
Now he’s in a new role in AEW, seeing WWE and Executive Chairman Vince McMahon as the “competition.” So what made Wight take the leap after so many years as Big Show.
“Vince stopped calling me Show and started calling me Paul – and I’ve known him for a long time.” Wight reveals.
‘I wasn’t ready to be called Paul backstage at WWE, I still want to be the Big Show and contribute and do things and be on the road with my guys in the locker room, guys like Kevin Owens and Kofi and Big E. At the same time, Vince knew I had done a lot of miles so basically he was trying to tell me “good job, boy” because you don’t get anything from Vince McMahon for free – you go to work for that somehow.
My thing was, I didn’t want to go that route, not yet. Even when I signed with AEW, Vince called me and congratulated me and told me I had a lot to offer and wished me luck. There’s no ill will or anything like that, it’s business. Vince had NXT and a myriad of talent to invest in, he rode my back pretty hard for 12-13 years. It’s hard to get out of this machine, but sometimes you slow down and want to have fun.
Vince McMahon saw a different role for Wight in WWE towards the end of his time there
Wight thinks CM Punk has been massive for AEW despite the controversy he brings
Brock Lesnar was helped by Wight during his WWE debut and their memorable feud
In AEW, Wight now gets the best of both worlds, where he remains an active member of the roster and can pass on advice in the locker room from his years in the game – he’s even dabbled in commentary, which he admits that he may well return in the future.
However, being a locker room example is nothing new for Wight, having filled that role for many years in WWE. After enduring his own backstage initiation into old school pro wrestling, he became someone new talent could lean on – including a certain Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar and Wight were involved in a memorable program during Lesnar’s WWE debut and although it’s seen as a rivalry that helped the eventual UFC champion take the next step in his journey to the top, Wight also credits the feud with saving his own career.
He admitted ‘To be honest, Brock didn’t need me. Brock had so much power, so much energy that I think he scared everyone around him. What I was to Brock was someone he could open up to a bit, go hard and put some good games out there and tell some good stories.
Everyone was looking around the curtain and asking if he was still breathing? Can this guy work? How was Broc? And I would say he was awesome, he was awesome. And also, Brock did it for me too.
At that time in my career, I didn’t have much faith in some bad decisions I had made and I got a bit of “heat” because I didn’t fit the mold of the company at the time. I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, drank whiskey, ate hot dogs and did whatever I wanted.
I was not determined to work and it was Brock who said I could work. I owe this whole career turnaround to Brock and he helped put me back in the light that the office could see me as a viable talent they could count on.
Lesnar isn’t the only major star Wight has had to deal with over the years, and another one made AEW headlines this year both in and out of the ring, in CM Punk.
Punk is likely to be part of All In later this month after returning to the company in June after a well-publicized fallout and injury hiatus last year.
Despite the controversy that accompanies punk, Wight insists it all comes from passion and no one has had the impact the Chicago-born superstar has had since coming out of a seven-year semi-retirement. years of struggle.
Adding: ‘Name someone who has had this kind of impact in wrestling for years. To come back, a legitimate comeback, not just come back to promote a movie, but come back and come back to compete.
Wight teased that we could see him compete at Wembley in front of a massive British crowd
CM Punk being in AEW was a huge score for AEW, he brings an extremely loyal fan base and Punk brings an attitude that in our current position is perhaps not the most popular attitude, but of a from a business perspective, it works.
He would be the first to tell you that he’s not here to make friends, he’s here to do business. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing. But I’ve known Punk a lot longer than some people, so when Phil gets upset about something and Phil pops a joint, he’s upset he’s p****d, but he gets over it.
He is emotional about things because he is passionate about them. I think a lot of people who didn’t know Phil didn’t understand that was part of his process.
Punk is set to be part of a card that will feature the biggest names AEW has to offer and will be headlined by the AEW World Heavyweight Championship clash between champion MJF and recent partner and pal Adam Cole tag team.
However, we let Wight ask him the more important question. Can this industry veteran add another meaningful moment to his impressive legacy, competing in front of a fast-paced crowd at Wembley later this month?
“Chances are pretty good you’ll see my ass waddling on Wembley Island.”
Who are we to argue with a man once known as The Giant.
Watch AEW All In on Sunday, August 27 on FITE TV