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Article - "5 Minutes With The Big Show"

Paul Wight is living large in the World Wrestling Federation
Credit article to WOW Magazine

Paul Wight doesnít have to stand up to stand out. At 7-feet-1-inch, 470 pounds, The Big Show is literally a big show. Simply sitting down, boarding a plane or walking through doors requires special planning. Clothes are hard to find. And meal time often looks like the mess hall for a small army.
In the ring, the Aiken, S.C., native has used his size and athletic ability that comes from a basketball background at Northern Oklahoma Junior College and Wichita State University to quickly establish himself as one of the most recognizable faces in professional wrestling.
Wight, only 27, has performed in World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. He has held both federationsí world heavyweight titles, and he has been on ďSaturday Night Live.Ē He even has his own Chef Boyardee commercial. Recently, The Big Show discussed his career and the problems associated with being big.

Q: In your Chef Boyardee commercial, you break a chair simply sitting on it. How often, because of your size, does something abnormal like that happen?
A: If Iím not thinking, it happens more than you think. Obviously when Iím on a plane or in a booth in a restaurant, Iím not going to break anything, but I donít chance those small chairs like you see in the commercial. Iíve gotten used to doors, but I have smacked my head on the overhead bin (on a plane) a couple of times.

Q: In addition to everyday obstacles, feeding a frame like yours has to be tough. What is a normal meal like?
A: I donít eat like I used to. When I used to get into an eating frenzy, I could put down burgers with the best of them. Pizza, too. Before I came to the WWF, I was almost 540 pounds. They told me I needed liposuction and needed to shave my chest to improve my appearance. I had no problem admitting that I needed to improve my look. This business is about your body and the days of the fat, immobile giant are gone. Iím different because Iím a very mobile, athletic person.

Q: A lot of your athletic ability seems to stem from your days as a basketball player. How did your affection for basketball start and how much do you credit it for how your move in the ring?
A: Thereís no question that basketball helped me as far as being athletic and mobile. It also helped me with stamina. I can go just as long as anybody in the ring. Iíve liked basketball since I was a kid. The first time I picked up a ball, I was probably 6 years old. I was in the neighborís back yard and I made the first shot I took. From then, I thought that was all I wanted to do. In high school, I dominated because I played at a small private school. I basically did whatever I wanted to do. But that hurt me when I got to college because I couldnít run an offense. I would score almost 40 points per game in high school, but I didnít know to get anyone else involved.

Q: How successful were you in college basketball?
A: I did okay my first year. I wanted to go to Wichita State out of high school, but the coach at the time wanted me to spend a year in junior college to get ready. I was all-conference that first year and I was popular on campus because I was really friendly. My teammates always got a laugh out of me when I had to go talk to the bull. (At Northern Oklahoma) we were the Mavericks and there was this bull on the other side of the gym. When I screwed up, the coach always made me go talk to the bull, hoping that the bull would understand why I was doing some things. The only thing that followed me to Wichita State the next year was the friendliness. I didnít play a whole lot, but I was popular because every time I got in the game I tried to make something happen. Usually I knocked somebody over, and I would always dive for loose balls. I transferred to Southern Illinois (Edwardsville) after one year in Kansas, but basketball and school just didnít work out for me.

Q: How did all of this lead to wrestling?
A: After Southern Illinois, I moved back to Wichita and was a bouncer for a year and a half. I had been told several times that I should be a wrestler, but I never really thought much about it until I was introduced to Hulk (Hogan). He told me he thought I had a lot of dollar signs in front of me. He hooked me up with WCW and I was in. That was almost five years ago. I enjoyed my time in WCW, but when I signed with the WWF, the WWF was really beginning to take off. They had a good plan laid out for me, and I wanted to be in the place where I felt most comfortable. I have a little family here. I really feel comfortable and couldnít ask for much more. I know some people donít think Iíve paid my dues, and in some ways I havenít. That isnít something Iíve overlooked.

Q: In the last few months, your character has had a chance to branch out Ė a television commercial, ďSaturday Night LiveĒ on March 18 and Wrestlemaniaís main even, for example. How much of what is on television is the real Paul Wight?
A: The new direction of The Big Show is a lot like what I am. I am an easy-going, fun-loving guy. I like having some creative freedom to do some of the characters and parodies weíve done. Itís nasty to have someone as big as I am be a jerk. Weíve gone down that road, but I think ďSaturday Night LiveĒ showed that I was capable of being more than just a big guy. The fun-loving Big Show is approachable and friendly. Thatís the way I am, unless Iím in a hurry or really hungry.

Q: It seems like the gentle giant would need a sidekick.
A: That could be coming. You never know in this business. I wouldnít be opposed to that. That might be kind of funny.

Q: On what terms did you leave WCW, and do you still respect the company and the guys you worked with?
A: I left WCW on what I thought were good terms. I simply got a better opportunity elsewhere and I took it. I had to take care of myself. Like I said, I enjoyed my time there. I had few complaints. I am forever grateful to them for giving me a start. Hulk didnít have to help me get in. I thank him for that, and I enjoyed working with him.

Q: Youíre still fairly new to the business, but youíve accomplished so much. Whatís next?
A: Iíve still got a lot to do in this business. I would like to have a long title run at some point. In some ways Iím still feeling my way around here. I didnít grow up in the business. I would like to get involved in more outside things and wrestling is the way to do that.

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