The Big Show was offered the chance to wrestle Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania – citing not wanting to lose to the Hulkster as the reason.
At Wrestlemania 23, WWE pondered the idea of recreating the titanic battle from 20 years ago. In 1987, Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant in the main event of Wrestlemania 3 to retain his WWE Championship and create one of the most famous moments in wrestling history. 93,000 fans saw the famous slam and the match went down in history as the biggest in wrestling history.
That match helped make Hogan the most popular wrestler of all time. It was such an iconic moment that Vince McMahon seemingly wanted to recreate the moment two decades later, but with one key difference. Andre the Giant had passed away in 1993 so was unable to take part in the match, so the best like-for-like replacement was chosen to be The Big Show.
The seven foot tall giant was billed as the son of Andre when he made his 1995 debut in WCW. He even wrestled Hogan in his debut, beating the Immortal One to win the WCW Heavyweight Championship in his first ever match, a feat that has never been matched (AJ Styles won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first NJPW match, but had over a decade experience before joining the company).
The Big Show was picked as the closest replacement to Andre, and would have been the perfect opponent. He was a big star at the time, just coming off the back of an ECW Championship run back when the revived title actually meant something (not a lot, but something). However, he was in rough shape, with a bad back and with weight issues (he was pushing 500lbs by 2007) which would have made it rough for the aging Hulk Hogan to slam him as he was. Sadly, the match did not take place, for a few reasons.
The Big Show turned down the match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 23 because he had back troubles and he didn’t want to lose to Hogan. Hogan was near the end of his career at this point and had already wrestled his last match in the company. Losing to him would do nothing for either man, although it would have made a great Wrestlemania moment.
Big Show was also struggling with back issues at the time. His injuries were so bad that he left the company in February 2007, after dropping the ECW Championship to Bobby Lashley. He hadn’t wrestled for two months after losing it, due to injuries sustained during his time in ECW. He was in no fit shape to wrestle at the time so a match with Hogan was out of the question.
Except it wasn’t. A few weeks after Wrestlemania 23, Big Show wrestled Hulk Hogan on a Memphis wrestling pay per view. He was a last minute replacement for Memphis legend Jerry “The King” Lawler, who had been pulled from the event by the WWE for an unexplained reason. Despite turning down big money to wrestle Hogan in the biggest show of the year, he stepped up against up in Memphis in a much less grand arena. He also didn’t go by the name Big Show, instead being billed as Paul “The Great” Wight – citing Big Show as his “slave name”.
Jim Ross revealed on a recent episode of the Grilling JR podcast that the reason for him turning down the match was due to his back injuries and not wanting to lose to a geriatric Hulkster.
“Other than his back being problematic, he didn’t want to job for Hogan. I’m sure Big Show thought ‘It’s my time for Hogan to put me over.’ And that was never in consideration quite frankly.”
Big Show vs Hulk Hogan happened multiple times in WCW, so it wasn’t like we missed out on a dream match. WWE did try to sign John Cena to wrestle Hogan at Wrestlemania 25 instead, but those negotiations fell through and we never saw the two legends face off.