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, rolling back the years to see Hulk Hogan slay another giant in front of thousands of fans at WrestleMania.
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 big issue – Andre The Giant was dead, so he needed a replacement.
Andre the Giant had passed away in 1993, so he was unable to take part in the match. His death made shockwaves across the world, with many in wrestling and in Hollywood paying their respects to wrestling’s greatest giant.
Needing a replacement for Andre, WWE turned to the former Giant of their own, and a man once billed as the son of Andre The Giant himself. This man was former WWE, WCW and ECW Champion, The Big Show (AKA Paul Wight).
The seven-foot tall giant was billed as the son of Andre when he made his 1995 debut in WCW, although that was quickly dropped when fans would come up to Big Show, thanking him for all the work his father did. This made him deeply uncomfortable, especially as his own father was alive and well during this period.
Big Show even wrestled Hogan in his debut, beating the Immortal One to win the WCW Heavyweight Championship in his first ever match. This is a feat that has never been matched by anybody in the WWE or WCW, although AJ Styles won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first NJPW match, but had over a decade of experience before joining that 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. Logically, there was no way Big Show could win the match. The whole point was to recreate the iconic slam from WrestleMania III, but Andre The Giant did not kick out of the slam.
For Big Show to win, they would have had to turn the match on it’s head, sending the fans away disappointed to see the end of Hulkamania, and the evil Big Show winning against their hero, ruining a potentially iconic moment in wrestling history.
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. Big Show was in no fit shape to wrestle at the time, so a match with Hogan seemed 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 being his “slave name”.
It seems very odd that Big Show would take up this match with Hogan so soon after rejecting the same match in a huge stadium show in Detroit. To make matters worse, he lost to Hulk Hogan in Memphis, making his objections to the WrestleMania bout even more perplexing.
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 get John Cena to wrestle Hogan at Wrestlemania 25 instead, but negotiations fell through.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.