Paul Wight is a different World Champion this time around.
Forget the name change from The Giant to The Big Show, and the switch in organizations from WCW to the WWF. This time he appreciates it.
“The first [title reign] I had no idea what to do as a world champion,” said The Big Show after his match at Toronto’s SkyDome Saturday night. “I had no idea what kind of respect was involved, I had no idea what kind of responsibility was involved with being a world champion.”
He won the WCW World title for the first time on October 29, 1995 at Halloween Havoc in Detroit by beating Hulk Hogan. He actually won by DQ, and was stripped of the title weeks later. His second WCW reign came on April 22, 1996 when he beat ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair in Albany, GA. This time was the real thing.
The Giant held the title until Road Wild that summer, when he lost the belt to Hulk Hogan on August 10, 1996 in Sturgis, SD.
“When you’re world champion, that means that you’re the flagship of the organization that you’re representing,” said Wight, on his way out of Toronto to Montreal for Sunday’s matinee. “It means that you’re the Man, you’re the lead dog, and all the responsibilities tend to shadow on you. You’re the one with the main responsibilities for drawing tickets, and ratings.”
His WWF World title reign, crowned at last weekend’s Survivor Series, has to be a bit of a surprise to many. For one, he wasn’t scheduled to even be in the main event, but Stone Cold Steve Austin’s injuries forced the WWF’s hand.
Wight believes that while he may be on top as the World champ, he recognizes that there are many other superstars carrying the load.
“In our company, the World Wrestling Federation, things are a lot different because there is such a vast amount of talent that is so popular, that is so over that the pressure’s a little bit easier,” he said. “But the pressure to perform is still there. I mean, it’s a big respect thing too. When you’re the world champion, it’s a symbol of your peers that you’ve arrived, you’re here and you deserve it.”
Wight beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley clean in the sixth match of the night, just before intermission. The early slot didn’t bother Wight at all. It even gave him a chance to wash up, and go visit old WCW friend Diamond Dallas Page in a SkyBox before the night ended.
“It’s got nothing to do with being on last,” Wight explained. “A lot of times, Hulk Hogan when he was world champion, he would be the fourth match on. You know, it’s just different things. They’ve got a world title match just before intermission. The match before intermission makes [the fans] happy. And when they leave, they see the biggest star. And that biggest star is Rocky [Maivia, aka The Rock].”