The Big Show Talks Returning to the Ring, Randy Orton and His Legend Status

The Big Show is a constant on WWE programming, even in 2020.

Since bursting onto the scene for WCW in the mid-'90s, Big Show (real name: Paul Wight) has kept wrestling fans entertained. However, the 25-year veteran is seeing a surprising resurgence in the past few months.

Not only has the 48-year-old become a fixture on Monday Night RAW since his return the night after WrestleMania, he has had a title match against Drew McIntyre and is now embroiled in a feud with Randy Orton, one of the hottest talents in the company. Not to mention that he launched his own Netflix original series, The Big Show Show, back in April.

"Right now, in July 2020, with all the craziness going on, in this stage of my career, to still be relevant, to still be able to contribute and entertain the fans, I'm extremely grateful," Big Show told Newsweek on Monday. "Tonight, I'm going to give 110 percent."

Big Show looks to stop Randy Orton's "legend killer" path of destruction tonight when they go one-on-one in an unsanctioned match on Monday Night RAW. Newsweek caught up with the multi-time world champion to talk about "The Viper," his own return to the ring, and the changing wrestling industry. This interview has been edited and condensed for the sake of clarity and length.

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How does it feel to have the spotlight on you, so deep into your career?

It's a little surreal to be back in the spotlight in the advertised main event of Monday Night RAW. Certainly I'm not a stranger to it, but this stage of my career, it's still nice to know I can pull it off. Well, we'll see after tonight if I can still pull it off—I'm getting a little ahead of myself. [Laughs]

Since your return after WrestleMania, how has it felt to be a fixture in WWE again?

It feels great. I don't know if a lot of people know, but the past two years I've had six hip surgeries. The reason I wasn't around was I was dealing with a hip infection from the first metal piece they put in and I tried to fight the infection, but after so many setbacks and getting cleared and getting back, the infection came back. It was very aggravating, so I had to knuckle down and do a full hip replacement and other stuff to get myself right. But I was pulled out for a while. That was one of the things that was frustrating for me. I was having a good time rolling with great feuds with Braun Strowman, working a little bit with Sheamus and Cesaro—the Bar—and then I had that hip trouble.

We got that squared away now and I'm 110 percent. I think I'm better now than I've been the last 15 years as far as physical conditioning and shape. Now it's just figuring out the creative part of it and how I can come in and compete and be a part of the program. Help the younger talent out and I'm enjoying this as long as I can.

I've had a fantastic career, so whenever I get to come to work it's a bonus. That's the best way I can describe it. It's fun.

Randy Orton is your opponent for tonight, and I—along with many others—would say he's at the top of his game right now.

I've been a fan of Randy Orton since I saw him in Louisville, Kentucky, in OVW. Randy doesn't realize sometimes how good he is, you know? And one of the great things now is that Randy has his head on straight. Stepped into a leadership role here, not so much holding meetings in the back or holding court or any of that kind of stuff—just the way he's performing raises the bar for everyone else around him. And it's nice to see him have that focus and that intensity, and it's paid off for him.

I don't think we've seen a sharper, better Randy Orton. He's involved now. That's the biggest difference now, and he's committed 100 percent. For me, it's fantastic to see that with a competitor who I've been a fan of. He makes everything look so easy and effortless. It's one of those kinds of things that you envy as a performer when someone can make it look like pouring water out of a pitcher.

Randy has revived his "legend killer" persona and has his sights set on you. Your career has been legendary, but do you tend to think of your status in the company very much?

It's not something I think about. A lot of guys would have memorabilia around the house or in their office with their championships and action figures and photos—I don't have all that. I have one photo of myself, John Cena, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels after WrestleMania in Houston when we were all together. And I have a world championship title up where Paul Heyman and I beat Brock Lssnar at the Garden. And that's because Paul framed it up nice for me and sent it to me.

But I've never been a guy who looks at accolades or any of that. I'm a "what's today, what's tomorrow?" kind of guy. That's one reason I've had the longevity that I've had, for four decades, is that I'm always looking for that next match, next opponent, next storyline, next angle because that's what I enjoy. I enjoy when I get to invest character into the storylines. That's what keeps me going.

I'm afraid that if I sit back and think about being a "legend" and all this other stuff, I'll lose some of the passion I have for it. And that will come someday, I know it will. I know someday I will have to walk away. But at this point, I'm enjoying every day, every opportunity to be around these amazing, talented, young people.

I have to keep up with my texting, though. Apparently, I kept calling a meme a "may may," so that was amusing to Kofi Kingston and Big E, but I'm learning and I'm trying. If I really want to confuse them, I'll pull out an atlas because none of these guys know what it is, they always use Google Maps. We had to map out our road trips, find the best food and gyms on our way to the next stop. "This is how we used to do it back in the old days, kid. It's called an atlas. We didn't have access to a cellular device." [Laughs]

Just as they teach you, you have to teach them.

I have to bring it back a little bit to let them know why they are [in this profession]. That's the thing. Some of them get it, but some of them still put too much pressure on themselves. They are worried about getting "over" and that stuff. It will happen, just keep doing the right things and it will happen.

Is that the one piece of advice you'll give an up-and-comer in WWE? Not to put so much pressure on yourself?

Yeah. The biggest advice is, to not use an over-coined term, be authentic. Be yourself, because it's your character out there and if it's anything contrived, the audience will see right through it. Appreciate every day and understand that just because you made it to the main roster or you get signed or become the champion it doesn't mean you've "made it." It just means that you're doing something right and you have to work harder. Trust me, what's here today can be gone tomorrow, so don't take it for granted.

You talk about the young talent and many are now more athletic and smaller than during the days of The Undertaker, yourself and other big guys. Is the time of wrestling big guys over?

I tend to feel that it's all very cyclical. There will be lulls and highs in the business, there will be very few guys over 6'4". You look back at some of the '70s and '80s, the top talent weren't necessarily big guys. Those who drew money were Andre [The Giant], Big John Stud, Giant Baba in Japan, but that was a small, limited few. You look at guys like Jerry Lawler, those guys weren't massive men and they were stars. That's where our business is now, especially with these kids learning without a live audience, that they have to work on their craft. You can't take shortcuts because everything is exposed in the ring now. You'll have to work harder, which makes you a better talent.

As far as big guys, I look at the Performance Center. There's five, six guys who are between 6'10" and 7'4". There may be a lull of big guys now, but I have a feeling that in the future ... There will be a lot of big guys in this business. It's just setting yourself apart and becoming dependable and understanding first and foremost that this is a business. And those who get that right off the bat will have successful careers, men and women.

Another name who wasn't big, but was a draw, is Ric Flair, who is involved in your feud with Randy Orton. His time in the ring is over, but has made a point of being a part of the show. When you decide to not wrestle again, is there a role for you in the company? Maybe as a backstage producer?

No. Being a backstage producer, I may as well put my head under a car and back over it. I wouldn't want the headache that our backstage producers go through.

I'm in a unique position that I don't have to work five nights a week like when I was full time. If you have a talent that is on their way as a big guy or medium-sized guy and I get the chance to get in the ring and work again and ride with this guy for a few days and help them that way, that's where I get to do my best work—being in the ring with them and work out their timing and what's going on in their head, and take them where they need to be.

The toughest part is getting the younger talent to let loose and relax, and let the flow of the match be fluid, and not force stuff or plan a bunch of spots in the back and hope they work out. It's different now because they don't have an audience to have a connection with, so they have to create a connection with hard work in the ring.

As far as me: I'm around as long as I'm still able to compete and produce. I know that those times are not as much as they used to be back in the day. Father Time is undefeated, but I'll always respect and love this business and I'm always around to help anyone, whether it's a talent from the Cruiserweights on up, I'm willing to help anybody. If the experiences that I've been through can help and make things easier, I'm always willing to give it.

Watch The Big Show take on Randy Orton on Monday Night RAW tonight, starting at 8 p.m. EDT on USA Network.