Thursday, January 21, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
How to solve a Giant problem
"The Giant wants to eat MEAT for Thanksgiving!"
"Nash, I gotta warn you, I've got a surprise for you too..it's called THE CHOKESLAM!"
"Dallas Page, I am the Bang."
Ok, so granted that Paul Wight is not being given the best dialogue to work with in the world. And granted, when the fans are cheering on Kevin Nash and the now leftover NWO Wolfpac over you, it tends to diminish your enthusiasm for witty in-ring interviews. But Paul Wight is a great commodity in wrestling. Unfortunately, it looks as if internet rumors may turn to fact later this year as Vince McMahon moves his grubby protuberances to snatch up a number of talented, yet underused, WCW stars.
For what purpose?
When Vince McMahon does sign Paul Wight to whatever gimmick he deems worthy, there will be one end result:
"Stone Cold Stunner! He hit it!"
Who honestly believes that in a federation where four of the titles have a reputation of being paper championships (though the Hardcore title has grown in respectability with a weekly defense schedule) that Paul Wight would get a fair shake?
When it comes down to it, "The Giant" is part of wrestling's past...an anachronism who would have succeeded in the days of John Studd and Bruiser Brody, but not today.
For a point by point comparison, let's take a look at the two WCW "hotshot rookies" side by side: Giant vs. Goldberg.
With the Giant, WCW pretty much rolled over onto its side and gave him a title early. THE title, by defeating Ric Flair.
Compare to Bill Goldberg, who suffered a forgotten forfeit-loss to Steve McMichael (later overturned, but a loss nonetheless) at a PPV when he was assaulted with a lead pipe. Goldberg spent the better part of his career fighting men like Bobby Blaze and Lenny Lane, or the Mexican contingent, who, despite respectable abilities, have never been better than preliminary characters.
Goldberg was given a chance, however, to hone an in-ring personality with each successive match. The Giant found himself pitted against big names...and was forced to develop the "Big" persona that is used by Scott Norton, Hugh Morrus, Road Block,and any number of other low card names who are in development themselves.
Mike skills? Until Goldberg had developed, he wasn't even let near a mike. The Giant? Had something to say, often...and very little of it was taken seriously. His mike skills were atrocious, like Vader in the WWF. A lot to say, and in a very inarticulate way.
Goldberg gradually grew to bigger name opponents, and, in my opinion, his best match was NOT against Kevin Nash or Hulk Hogan, but against Raven the first time. Raven is another wrestler who deserves a lot better, but that's a topic for another mail. When he jumped past the prelim maches, he actually proved he was capable of handling a bigger name. Like in roleplaying games, he built up experience, and his attacks were more efficient. The Giant had a strongman's attack...and when the other wrestlers got used to his tactics, he started to falter.
After all, where can you go after beating Flair but downhill?
Goldberg has done well as an individual, and has the Steve Austin mindset of "trust no-one" in mind. The Giant, unfortunately, is very much a thug style character. Like the Spanish Galleon, his mindset is to break things...and when too many insects are around, too many smaller ships, you set sail with faster warcraft...in the Giant's case, the nWo.
Where can the Giant go from here? Well, Vince McMahon has the chance to grab him at a greatly discounted price...but for what use? Look at the other "bargains" he picked up...and note that only Gangrel (Vampiro Canadien) and X-Pac have been "real" payoffs. Steve Williams, Jeff Jarrett, Steven Regal, and even Al Snow have been pretty disappointing. When it comes to signings, McMahon is better served to focus on people who can be developed...not pre-developed. What's George Steele going to do there? Wait until Wight joins for a feud?
Five ideas for WCW to improve Paul Wight's career, and five ideas for Vince McMahon should he sig Paul Wight and be willing to listen.
1. Validate the US title by giving it to the Giant. He could conceivably defend it every week, and it would re-establish him as a name wrestler.
2. Find him a manager. While it's doubtful Harley Race would work in this case like he did for Vader, the Giant would be well served to use someone charismatic who knows the sport, like Stan Keirn.
3. A new finishing move will do wonders. Think of the chokeslam's effectiveness and then turn it into a setup move. How fearsome would the Giant be with a finishing move like arunning powerbomb?
4. A new style might help him along. While "Thog Smash" has served him well, imagine what a few sessions with Ric Flair would do for his mike skills...
5. Keep him out of any and all groups. If he can re-invent himself with a no-sell, a la "Kane" when he first appeared, he'll be more fearsome than Goldberg. IN fact, if the Giant were to "train" with Keirn, and face Goldberg early on, and Goldberg's spear didn't topple him...how would the fans react? Or if the nWo were to attack..and three or four couldn't knock him down?
If Vince McMahon signs the Giant:
1. See number five.
2. Paul Wight is in a bad place, being big, but not as big a name as he was before. An almost immediate title victory (major title, please. I'm thinking IC) makes him respectable immediately.
3. Don't cater to Steve Austin! The Giant should be able to beat him...and a feud with the Undertaker or Kane makes more sense...don't play to Steve Austin's ego any more!
4. Lose the Corporation storylines involving him. The Giant isn't going to sell out EVERYWHERE.
5. Give him some good theme music. Rob Zombie instills the proper amount of respect in people.
Paul Wight is better than the storylines he's been given. But he represents a question in wrestling today: can a 1980's style wrestler adapt to the 21st century style? It's not impossible for the Giant to regain his respectablity. Given Mankind's giant leap forward, one small step for Wight will push him in the right direction again.
Andre V.T. Dec is from Brookline, MA and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org