One of the WWE’s longtime stars, and also one of its biggest, is set to retire from the wrestling ring early next year. While there are all sorts of WWE rumors swirling as the road to WrestleMania is now being paved on each episode of Raw or SmackDown Live, there’s been some big news reported off television. So which of the professional wrestling company’s former heavyweight champions is set to hang up his wrestling boots?
As reported by a Yahoo! Sports interview, The Big Show will officially retire from wrestling as of February 2018. Show talked about how he’s in his final months of his contract with WWE as well as his vigorous training to get in better shape and his disappointment in NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. Show and Shaq had been mentioned for months in WWE WrestleMania rumors as the two were set to have a match on “the grandest stage of them all” in Orlando this year, ahead of Show’s retirement.
In his Q&A with Yahoo, Show talked about knowing when it’s time to end his run with the company, at least in terms of working matches.
“I know I’m done February 2018. That’s when my contract ends as a full-time, live event guy. We’ll see what happens after that, whether I roll into an ambassador role or what WWE has for me. I know I’ve been with them for a long time and I have a great relationship with them. I also understand there’s a time for me to step aside and for other guys to step up. We got a lot of great new athletic talent that will probably be coming up at WrestleMania to be introduced.”
Big Show, real name Paul Wight, has been a member of the WWE since signing in February of 1999. He had left World Championship Wrestling (WCW) feeling he was being underpaid at the time and signed with WWE just a day after letting his WCW contract expire. He debuted with WWE as a member of Vince McMahon’s “Corporation” stable and attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin in a steel cage match he had against Vince.
Show went on to win just about every championship imaginable over the course of his career with WWE including the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship two times each. In addition, he’s held the ECW World Championship, Intercontinental, United States, Hardcore, and Tag Team Championships. He also became a winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy by winning the battle royal at WrestleMania in 2015.
The heir apparent to Big Show’s legacy in the ring seems to be Braun Strowman. Ever since he was split up from The Wyatt Family and drafted to Raw, Braun’s singles push has established him as a monstrous and dominant heel. Show and Strowman had their first-ever match weeks ago on Raw and the bout was rather well received by fans and wrestling critics.
A big match had seemingly been in the works for Big Show’s final appearance on a WrestleMania card. During last year’s ESPN ESPY Awards show, Big Show and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal met on the red carpet with a match suggested between the two. However, in recent weeks, it’s questionable if the match will happen. Show even made some recent comments about Shaq indicating that he is too out of shape and is the one who has backed out of the match.
He commented on the situation to Yahoo during the interview, suggesting Shaq needs to man up.
“Shaq is a busy dude and he’s got a lot of business going on so we’ll see. Hopefully, he will be able to work it out, get the courage to show up.”
While Big Show has indicated Shaq is packing on the pounds as he sits behind the desk as a basketball analyst, Show himself has done the opposite. Over the past months, Show has slimmed down and shown off an impressive new physique on social media including six pack abs. It’s been reported that it was partly for preparation for the WrestleMania 33 bout with Shaq, but also because Show felt it would help with his post-wrestling career in movies, television, or other ventures.
With a retirement less than a year away, one would think that WWE would want to give a legend like the Big Show a proper sendoff. He’s fought the best of the best in the business over the years including Steve Austin, Triple H, The Rock, The Undertaker, and John Cena. Show also participated in a match against boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. at WrestleMania several years ago, so having s match against a huge basketball icon like Shaq seems like something that has to happen. It’s one of those types of encounters you only witness once.
It’s quite possible that Show’s comments about Shaq are part of a work, so wrestling fans can only hope that’s the case and that the NBA Hall of Famer shows up in his former stomping grounds of Orlando on April 2. If not, fans can only hope that WWE has something big in store for the man billed as “the world’s largest athlete” before he hangs up the boots.
[Featured Image by WWE]