The Big Show supports the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) providing entertainment under strict guidelines amid the devastating coronavirus outbreak.
WrestleMania, WWE’s largest event, was held last week and included extra precautions, such as requiring talent and staff to undergo medical screenings, People magazine reported. WWE resumed its live televised shows on Monday at its facility in Orlando without fans present, NPR shared.
“We feel an incredible responsibility, especially during times of hardship like this, to give our fans a way to escape,” The Big Show, whose real name is Paul Wight, told. “We say we’re putting smiles on people’s faces – yeah, that’s become like a slogan, but that’s in our job, our mandate, for the 20-plus years that I’ve been at WWE. You always want to make sure that the crowd has the best show possible.”
“Our number one mission is to entertain our fans,” the 48-year-old continued. “So what we were able to do, which was pretty ingenious, was put on an incredibly diverse, unique WrestleMania experience between the Boneyard Match with Undertaker and the Bonfire Playhouse with Bray Wyatt. Those are just incredible different approaches to doing our sport that our fans liked a lot.”
According to an April 9 memo, the Florida governor’s offices deemed professional sports league employees and their media partners “essential.” This allows the Orlando-based wrestling league to reopen while much of the state operates under a “Safer at Home” order through the end of the month, People shared. Other essential businesses in Florida include grocery stores, hospitals and banks.”
“Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only of the location is closed to the general public,” read the memo from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Wight revealed that while everyone in WWE is eager to give their fans some much-needed comfort during the coronavirus pandemic, they are taking their duties very seriously.
“We’re trying to do things the best that we can to entertain and also follow a lot of safety and health guidelines,” he shared. “I know that when I was there to do some things that I do with Drew McIntyre [there was] medical screening, temperature taking and social distancing. It was really nice to see how much WWE went after making the talent as safe as possible and those that wanted to compete for the fans. And that was one thing that’s been made very clear to all the talents — you don’t have to. If you feel uncomfortable, stay at home, stay with your family.”
“If you’re not in a situation where you could put someone else at risk… and you want to try to entertain your fans, you can,” he added. “I thought they did a great job and WrestleMania turned out amazing.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
Wight has found another way to give fans a distraction. He’s currently starring in a new Netflix sitcom “The Big Show Show,” where he plays a former WWE wrestler who tackles the tough challenge of raising three daughters with his wife in Florida. It also stars Jaleel White, who famously played Steve Urkel in “Family Matters.”
Wight said it’s a show he’s been wanting to do for years.
“For me, it’s a long time in the making,” he said. “When The Rock did ‘Saturday Night Live’ many years ago, we got to guest star with him. I really liked the interaction between the fans and the comedy aspect of it. … And throughout my career, we’ve done some things where my sense of humor has been able to pop out here and there. But I’ve been driving WWE people nuts for years about having my own family sitcom because in the back of my mind I said, ‘What could be funnier than me as a dad with a family, struggling with the same things that all parents struggle through?’
“And even though I’m this person of monstrous size, I still have to deal with things with heart and compassion and empathy … with the kids. So when this opportunity came up with Netflix, I couldn’t say no. And I’m very proud of what’s happened.”