WWE Superstar The Big Show, also known as Paul Wight, has been away from the ring since November 2018, recovering from his hamstring injury and hip surgery. But he’s put that downtime to good use, continuing to train hard in the gym. He started this fitness journey back in 2016 in preparation for a bout with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. The wrestler began working with celebrity trainer Dodd Romero to change his diet and lose weight, leading to him getting a six-pack which earned him the nickname of “giant with abs.”
In a recent WWE Network documentary, Rebuilding Big Show, Wight spoke about what motivated him to commit to this physical transformation. “For a long time in my career I hid behind my size,” he said in the film. “I knew that at 500 pounds I wasn’t going to be asked to do a lot of things, so I didn’t have to do a lot of things, and that limits you. As a performer and a talent, that limits you.”
He also noted that he was approaching the same age that wrestling icon Andre the Giant was when he died, and he wanted to make some changes. But it wasn’t until he had a conversation with his fellow WWE star John Cena that things really got set in motion.
“John and I were joking back and forth, and we were talking about something, and I was making a joke about, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to go out and get me some abs, and be a bodybuilder,'” Wight says in the film. “I said, ‘Who would want to see a giant with abs?’ John just looked at me deadpan and goes, ‘Yeah. A giant with abs —who would want to see that?’ And he walked off.”
Wight remembers feeling as if he had just been issued a challenge by Cena, and given his admiration for the wrestler-turned-movie-star, he felt compelled to follow through on what had initially started as a joke.
“This is coming from a guy who I have the utmost respect for,” he says, “for his work ethic, his commitment to our industry, his commitment to setting the bar, as far as he’s on time, everything’s 100%, the way he works his body, the way he takes care of himself, the way he lives by example and the way he gives back… So, this is someone that I respect, and the way John hit me with that comment, for once in forty-something years, lit a fire under my big fat ass, a huge fire, and I went and found Dodd Romero.”
Challenge accepted! Four years later, Wight is still pumping iron in the gym, and his inevitable return to the ring will be a moment wrestling fans won’t want to miss.