What we learned from: Paul Wight on Talk is Jericho

Image credit: Westwood One

AEW star Paul Wight recently appeared on the Talk is Jericho podcast. They discussed why he left WWE for AEW and issues he had on his last appearance on WWE RAW. They also discussed Vince McMahon’s reaction to him leaving, and how close Justin Bieber got to wrestling at Summerslam.

On his decision to leave WWE and keeping it quiet:

“When my deal ended with WWE, I ended up signing a termination of services agreement. They wanted to try and give me a legends deal and stuff like that, and I wanted to move on and do other things. Let’s face it I sat on the bench enough there for a while. I talked to Tony [Khan], he kept it quiet and it was good. I didn’t tell friends because I knew that those in the business would appreciate getting popped.”

On backstage frustrations:

“The writing on the wall when I knew I couldn’t change anything in WWE was about 5 years ago. I got a speech where I was told I would never main event a Wrestlemania again, I would never main event a pay-per-view again and I would only be used to get over NXT talent because they have to think about the future of the business. I was told that to my face. Not by Vince, but by someone high up in the organisation. At the time 5 years ago, there wasn’t any other options. They felt that because I was very frustrated about positioning and I felt a little bit handcuffed because I couldn’t help like I wanted to help. Then it’s like what’s going on, you guys aren’t letting me contribute you’re kind of handcuffing me a little bit. Then I had that meeting and I was told why. That was the start of me realising that I will take the challenge and I will work my way out of here. Then foolish me, the harder I worked it didn’t matter. They thanked me for my hard work and paid me, but there was nothing I could do that would change their minds.”

On momentum struggles:

“I always hit a ceiling in WWE. I would start to get over and start accomplishing things and then either I would be off TV for a few months or for some unknown reason I get knocked out by a mechanical bull. [Jericho interjects] ‘That was 6 months of us being this tag team where we rebuilt you into what you should be, this giant this destroyer. And then the week after we break up then you’re funny show fun guy again.’ [Big Show continues] “It’s so hard trying to understand what it is. For a lot of times, WWE is an incredible organisation, it’s a very well run machine. But it’s also a shark tank, and was one of the things that I had trouble adjusting to that when I first got there. I wasn’t prepared for the constant turmoil. For me, I think a lot of it was, and I made this joke to Vince, ‘when I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes and was 500lbs, I was a world champion. Now I’ve got a six pack and I can’t even get a f*cking match?!’ Explain that one to me.”

On original plans for Wrestlemania 30:

“I signed a contract, so I’m not going to sit there and argue. I was never going to do the political fight and argue and text and that stuff. I trusted WWE to have my best interests. Sometimes, in the big picture, I had a good career. I made a living, I travelled the world. So it seems counter productive to say I could have done a lot more. But I think that every talent feels that way that things don’t turn out the way they should. But I think I could have been a lot better asset, but WWE got to a point where they were bringing in so much new talent. They weren’t building talent like they used to, it was newer is better. Every 2-3 weeks, something new. I went through that first battle royal and I was meant to win that. Then the day of, they went oh we’re going with Cesaro. I was like OK, Cesaro is an incredible dude, he speaks 5 languages, this is a guy I will get behind no problem. I will put him over the best way I could. He slammed me over the top, I shook his hand at the end. That’s what you want to do in this business you want to make guys. Then I watched Cesaro wither on the vine, because they didn’t do anything with him. He was just a piece to give a chance for Paul Heyman to be on TV until Brock came back. That was the stack of the cards to get to the talent that they wanted to use and depend on. I’m not bitter, but it’s one of those things where I feel a bit sad that I didn’t get to do all the things I could have done. After a while, when the opportunity came up, I got tired of trying to prove to them what I could do for them. I can’t walk down the street without being recognised. I’m a constant billboard of everything that I’ve done, and I feel like WWE never took advantage.”

On a possible match with Triple H during the authority era:

They kind of half-assed it on some things. Like the whole angle with Hunter. The fans went crazy because we had that look on the ramp, when they were doing the running the company and screwing the guys over. Just off the look, the fans wanted to see it. So we built that up and it never turned into a match. Hunter didn’t want to wrestle me at Summerslam, he didn’t want to put me over at a pay-per-view, there’s not going to be a match. I get to knock him out and that’s the end of it. I’m there like there’s this creative that has this natural momentum, why wouldn’t we go to a PPV? Why wouldn’t we further it, it would help my career and my positioning. I don’t care about winning, Hunter can drop me with a pedigree, I don’t care about that. I just want to tell good stories, I went from not telling stories to being 7 foot enhancement talent. That’s what it was, because I could work with anybody and I could get anybody over. Sometimes, even at the point where I was trying so hard to get people over that it took away from what I could do. I’m not going to go out there and do all my moves just to get them in. There’s a story and a psychology to it. You’re trying to bring other people up and bring them along, a lot of those situations I was put in was because I was the only guy that could give any validity to who they were trying to build. They have run through so much talent that nobody was really over enough.”

On issues at legends night:

“I was going through contract negotiations then [legends night]. When you are going through negotiations they will try to make things a little more awkward or difficult or to prove a point. It’s part of the psychology to improve the game. So they wanted Randy Orton to pie face me into a chair, and knock me down. I’m just supposed to sit there in a chair and take it. I’m like well he’s not going to shove me on my ass. No disrespect to Randy, but he knows he couldn’t do it if I didn’t want him to. But then to go to the ring and sit on the ramp with Hogan, Flair, Booker, a lot of legends. They are trying to shove me down the road. They wanted to use my notoriety to do community work, to do overseas media. They were taking my passion away from me, they were taking wrestling away from me. And to just sit there on the ramp and get called a has been, while I sit there and watch a match. You talk so much about respect for legends and respect for hall of famers, but any time hall of famers are around, they get run into the ground. That machine is always moving forward, any blood they can get out of any stone they are going to get that last drop until there is nothing left for anyone. The talent doesn’t have anything left, the fans don’t either. That was the icing on the cake for me. I have to restart, I have to rebrand myself.”

On his idea for The Big Show Burgers:

“There’s a couple of business deals I tried to do with WWE using my own brand, and it was incredible to me after 20 years of building a brand because they own the intellectual property. I wanted to do a Big Show burger. It was a half pound patty, no antibiotics no hormones, anywhere in the USA within 36 hours. Order it online, humane etc. I went to pitch it, you would have thought that I was some guy that had walked in off of the street, with the numbers that they hit me that they wanted me to to use a brand that I have helped build. We’re talking 7 figures upfront, 18 months later another instalment of 7 figures, 30% of profit. They wanted that from me, they wanted me to cough up 7 figures right from the bat. Then 18 months later another 7 figures. I wanted to get some food trucks, brand them and cook burgers at fan access. But for whatever reason, the people I was dealing with, turned me off so bad and put things in perspective. I’ve been playing The Big Show for 20 years. But as far as they were concerned, anyone could play The Big Show. The writing on the wall was either we don’t want you to be successful or we could make a cash grab. They say they are family, but only when it suits them. When it doesn’t suit them, it’s business. People may think that I am bitching, and I’m not. But there comes a point in a talent’s life where you have to do what’s best for yourself mentally. It’s not about the financial dollar.”

On trying to get Justin Bieber involved in WWE:

“In one of the Summerslams in LA I had worked out with a very good friend who was working with Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber. It was going to be The Big Show, John Cena and Justin Bieber vs The Wyatts at Summerslam. Bieber was excited, he was on board, he would work out with John and I. This was a really big deal, this was when the app first came out. One of the people making the decisions said I don’t see how Justin Bieber is going to relate to our audience. Does anyone not see the amount of eyes that Justin Bieber would bring to that match. I think WWE offered to promote his album too. You’re dealing with Scooter, and he is all about cash. WWE jacked him around for about 2 weeks and in the end he said ‘listen it’s not going to happen I’ve got the kid $1 million dollars to watch a soccer game.'”

On Vince’s reaction when Paul left for AEW:

“Vince and I didn’t talk [when I was leaving]. I dealt with Mark Carrano and we went back and forth a little bit and I wanted to leave, that was that. The money was OK, the years were a little light. It felt like something they were not investing in but something to hold onto. When they offer you a year, that’s not investing too much because a year goes pretty quick, the writing is on the wall. They wanted to move on and I did too. When I came to AEW and we made the announcement, Vince called me. It was the first time that I spoke to him in 6 months. The TVs before, he was unavailable, but there was no heat though. He said congratulations, you’re doing do fantastic over there you’re really going to help that company. It was a very classy move.”

On his no BS T-shirt, favourite WWE matches and dream matches in AEW:

“It seemed apropos because I never got merch. I got told I pay you to sell tickets not sell merch. But I’m the one making John Cena look good but I can’t get merch. My number 1 pick is Darby Allin, I’m a huge fan of his presence and character. If I’m working face I want to work Kenny. I see a lot of stuff in him, he’s an aggressive, nasty heel that I could sell for and have a lot of fun with. I loved the matches I did with Braun, even though they should have been on pay-per-view, instead they were all on free TV. My favourite feud was matches with Sheamus, he would work snug and I was covered in bruises when I got to the back. But I didn’t have a problem with it. It was kind of like being in a fight.”

Full podcast audio can be found here.

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