The door shuts behind with a resounding thud. And now you’re inside a heavily-padded room full with plush furniture, one that can easily muffle your squeal. No chance of your voice leaking out. Everything around is tiny, you are tiny. Then you see him, sketching patterns on a notepad with his huge hands and pudgy fingers. He still doesn’t know you’re inside. Until, he gets up from his chair to greet you! When 7-feet of monstrosity walks towards you with some intent, you stutter, fumble for words. But then, he calms your frayed nerves with a warm smile and a gentle handshake. And then he invites you for a selfie! Suddenly, you’re glad you met him. That’s the thing with the ‘Big Show’: he’s big, but he doesn’t make you feel small.
I sit next to him, and observe his hands in awe for a few seconds. “That’s why I can’t play the guitar,” says WWE superstar ‘Big Show’, drawing his hands into a fist. “My fingers are big and I can’t get my middle finger (no pun intended) to play the notes,” he shrugs.
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He’s in India for two days to promote World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). As he gets talking on his illustrious career starting from WCW to WWE, he admits he still gets butterflies in his stomach inside a ring. “It’s exhilarating to see so many people scream your name. It feels exactly the same even after 18 years in the entertainment business,” he tells The Indian Express.
When he first joined WCW at Slamboree in 1995, he was known as ‘The Giant’, entered the WWF as Paul Wight (his real name) and later in WWE changed his name to the ‘Big Show’. Before his debut at WCW, he was an obscure character lurking in the background of WCW events. One day, while Hulk Hogan was giving an interview, he took a mic and proclaimed himself to be the ‘The Giant’, son of Andre (which he isn’t) and enemy of Hogan.
From then on, his rise in WCW and WWE was phenomenal. He was the first man to hold the Extreme Championship Wrestling belt (ECW), and become a WWE and WCW champion. But the ladder of success wasn’t an easy climb. He said his father was an airplane mechanic and mother a cop. In fact, at the beginning stages of his career, he did odd jobs to make a living. “I sold bathroom deodorisers for state manufacturers and even answered phone calls at karaoke companies,” he says.
But looking back, things have changed for the good and he’s quick to give credit to the WWE fraternity. “My association with WWE has made me a complete man. I’ve got a sense of humour, broached some unknown territories, took up challenges and have become a more sensitive person. WWE has given me a chance to travel the world and I’m grateful for it. For instance, I went to see castles in England, something I only read in books. I am not concerned about being famous, because I get to see these places in the world, other people don’t get this opportunity,” he says.
Naturally, listening to how the pieces of his life’s puzzle fell in place, you’re interested to ask him his recipe for success in WWE. Definitely not bench-pressing insane amounts of weight, he quips. “Bench-pressing is only an ego trip. You’ve got to be an athlete, an entertainer with smart business acumen, possess ample social skills, and be a terrific brand manager,” he adds.
While it is common knowledge that the stories in WWE are often scripted, the pain, sweat and emotions are all real. “This is physical entertainment and it requires a great amount of athleticism. All emotions you see on screen, be it pain, anguish or happiness, are very much real.”