Paul Wight has revealed that he found his numerous face and heel turns incredibly frustrating as they prevented him from gaining any kind of consistency as a character.
During his long and illustrious career Paul Wight has become known by fans for his numerous heel and face turns, as well as his physical exploits in the ring. At times during his time with WWE, Wight’s character flip-flopped between being a good guy and a bad guy with seemingly little rhyme or reason.
The near-constant turns frustrated fans as well as the man himself. Speaking exclusively to Kenny McIntosh for issue 13 of Inside The Ropes magazine, Paul Wight explained how the frequent changes impacted his career. Wight revealed that not settling into one role or the other harmed his ability to sell merchandise, which affected his earning potential.
“Oh, I think it’s super frustrating. One of the things that turning did is made it hard for me to develop a consistent identity, you know, to sell merch. Merchandise is a huge part of our industry and you either have to have a solid run as a really dominant heel where people want to buy your stuff because you’re the antihero and they like it, or you need to have a solid run as a babyface where they love your stuff and everybody wants to buy it. When you’re flip-flopping, a lot of times you’re pissing people off—you’re constantly dividing your audience.
On one hand, it’s a nod to your ability to work in the ring, to be able to switch gears, and sometimes people have problems shifting gears between heel and babyface. So, yes, it showed that I was able to do well in any situation that I was put in character-wise, but at the same time, it was tough for the brand. It was tough for building that consistency where I could sell T-shirts.”
Wight went on to recall one incident when he was just beginning his WWE run. After a show, he asked how many t-shirts he’d sold and was pleasantly surprised. That was until he found out how many shirts had been sold by The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“I remember one night we were in Anaheim when I first got to WWE and I asked Jimmy Miranda, “How many shirts did I sell?” He said “You had a good night. You sold about 600 shirts.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s cool. I sold 600 shirts.” There was 20,000 people there, I sold 600, that’s a good start.
And I walked away about ten steps and I turned around and asked him, “Well, how many did The Rock sell?” He said, “Well, The Rock sold about 10,000.” I said, “How many did Stone Cold sell!?” He said, “Stone Cold sold about 10,000 as well.” So out of 20,000 people, almost everyone bought a Rock or a Stone Cold shirt. I never asked how many shirts I sold again!
I used to say all the time that heels sold tickets and babyfaces sold merch. That was just one of those things that I realised during my career in the situation I was put in, that wasn’t going to be a main income stream for me.”
Paul Wight further revealed that far from being cast into one role, he found himself plugging gaps in the roster instead of simply being an attraction. Despite this he remains content with how his career has panned out.
During the situations, most people thought I was schizophrenic and they didn’t understand what I was doing and why I was doing it. Usually it wasn’t up to me. There was a hole somewhere in the roster that I had to fill. For a long time, instead of being the attraction that I could have been I was like the building maintenance guy, running around fixing pipes and electrics, filling all these holes because I could step into these roles and help this guy get to the next level or that celebrity do this.
But it was frustrating because you’re just like, “Why am I doing this? I was fine last week. What happened in six days that made me lose my mind?” But that’s the entertainment industry, I guess. Sure, it would have been nice to have a career that was a little bit more consistent, a little bit more solid.
But at the same time, I’ve got a very unique career and I’ve been fortunate enough to wrestle pretty much everybody that’s ever been anybody in this industry. I’ve got nothing to complain about whatsoever—I’m the luckiest giant walking the planet right now.”
Paul Wight made his debut back in 1995 appearing as The Giant in WCW. After capturing the World Heavyweight Championship twice, as well as tag team gold, the star made the move to WWE in early 1999.
During the next two decades Wight won pretty much every honour there was to win, tangling with the likes of The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H, Chris Jericho and John Cena.
Wight wound up leaving WWE in February 2021, after becoming frustrated by a lack of in-ring action. Upon exiting WWE, Wight signed with AEW where he works as an announcer as well as in-frequent in-ring performer.