It’s rare to see a storyline play out in WWE with that perfect combination of boring corporate power struggles, gaping plot holes, heel authority figures, stupid babyfaces, kayfabe firings, historical revisionism, gimmick infringement, and McMahon hypocrisy. Sure, you might see three or four or five of those elements in a single angle, but all of them at once?
You don’t need to be Stardust or Zodiac to appreciate such a rare alignment of the stars, but if you happen to write for a site called Wrestlecrap, an angle like the Big Show vs. The Authority feud will have you trembling in awe.
Our story begins just two weeks after The Authority began their reign of terror and oh-for-the-love-of-God-not-this-crap-again.
In one of the most exquisitely preposterous promos in wrestling history, Stephanie McMahon introduced the Big Show as “my giant” and claimed that Show, a mere four years Stephanie’s senior, mentored her as she grew up backstage at her dad’s live events at the tender age of twelve. (And, of course, the announcers never once attempted to correct her.)
So either a sixteen-year-old Paul Wight happened to follow the WWF from town to town in the eighties…
…or Stephanie was being extremely generous with her age, putting her at 12 years old in 1999, the year of Big Show’s debut with the company. The same year she married Triple H on TV, by the way.
There’s also a third possibility: Stephanie was retconning Big Show and Andre the Giant (who would have fit perfectly into the timeline of events given) into a single person.
At least WCW only tried to pass Paul Wight off as Andre’s son, not Andre.
According to Stephanie, Big Show was now in dire financial straits due to the failure of his investments and the downturn on Wall Street. This should sound familiar to anyone having watched WWE in late 2008, when JBL made Shawn Michaels his employee under similar circumstances. As hard as the storyline of an active veteran wrestler being entirely broke was to believe at the time, there was at least an actual financial crisis in 2008. Had Big Show run afoul of the dreaded Stock Market Crash of 2013?
Steph not being content with re-hashing just one recent storyline, the rest of her promo was virtually identical to one Eve cut on Show just one year earlier about how Show, a giant freak, couldn’t possibly have a career outside of a WWE ring. Never mind that Show already had over a dozen acting roles on his résumé, but I guess Stephanie wasn’t any more impressed with Knucklehead than you or I.
I guess she’d never seen Show’s classic performance in The Princess Bride.
Oh yeah, and Steph also delivered what every wrestling fan wants to hear: a grim reflection on mortality. See, giants like the Big Show tend to die prematurely. Why, just look at Andre the…
What? Who’s that, you say? You don’t know Andre the Giant? Come to think of it, that name doesn’t ring a bell to me, either.
The point of all this was that the Big Show would be forced against his will to do The Authority’s dirty work. First among their targets was the company’s number-one babyface in Cena’s absence, Daniel Bryan.
Now, Big Show didn’t want to knock out Daniel Bryan, but The Authority ordered him to do so under penalty of termination. This, despite the fact that the year before, Big Show had signed what was specifically identified as an ironclad contract. In storyline, Big Show should have been the very last person whom the Authority could boss around; anyone could have been tapped for the role of reluctant warrior-slave except Show. This would be like The Joker holding a random innocent civilian hostage, and that hostage happened to be Superman.
Fortunately, Stephanie (and this is still the same promo we’re talking about) hand-waved that inconvenient plot point with a dictionary-defying explanation that had Noah Webster spinning in his grave.
Thus, after that night’s main event, Big Show stood in the ring with a defenseless Daniel Bryan and had little choice but to, as Stephanie’s new catchphrase dictated, “knock ‘im out.”
Triple H and Stephanie continued their threats to rescind Big Show’s IRONCLAD contract. Later, once WWE writers remembered what “ironclad” meant, they changed their story. This time around, Triple H revealed that the ironclad contract Big Show signed the previous year wasn’t really ironclad, but was full of unspecified holes thanks to the incompetent John Laurinaitis. Among those holes, apparently, was the fact that Big Show could be fired for refusing to do exactly what his bosses said at any moment, including tasks (such as knocking out senior citizens) which were neither part of his job description nor, you know, legal.
Hold on. If Johnny Ace really did trick Big Show into signing a document that Show thought gave him 100% control of his career, but which effectively made him the slave of WWE, wouldn’t that make Johnny a genius?
Since the whole “ironclad” contract still made the entire storyline wholly implausible, the plot thickened, with The Authority having bought out Show’s mortgage some time in the recent past in order to gain unfair leverage on him.
The traditional way to do that is to just put your feet on the ropes, guys.
So on Big Show went, knocking people out at Triple H and Stephanie’s behest, whether it be easy targets like the Miz…
…or people whom someone might possibly not want to punch, such as 67-year-old Dusty Rhodes.
(Although exactly how conflicted Big Show was about assaulting seniors is debatable, as, three months later, Big Show would knock out 64-year-old Zeb Colter just for fun)
Keep in mind that all of this happened post-2007, when the WWE was trumpeting its new and improved concussion policy and a ban on chair shots to the head. Yet in storyline, a 500-pound man week after week knocked people unconscious at the corporation’s behest as if it were as routine a punishment as docking an employee’s pay or cutting their coffee breaks, with no on-air mention of the possible long-term consequences, such as brain damage, memory loss, depression, or, especially in the case of the elderly Dusty Rhodes, death.
And so Big Show cried…
…with no place to channel his irrepressible rage but this Triple H poster…
…and, of course, the many co-workers whose brains he damaged.
Big Show could only be pushed so far, though, so during Bryan-Orton III for the vacant title, he knocked out not only Daniel Bryan (a second time), but Randy Orton and referee Scott Armstrong, as well. This, of course, would cost him his job, but it was totally worth it for the Big Show to take a stand. A stand that included knocking out his friend again, but a stand nonetheless.
The next night, Stephanie McMahon continued to play the insufferable fourth-of-George-Carlin’s-seven-words she had been for the past two months, slapping Big Show and screeching at him about crying like a baby.
She also deflected Big Show’s accusation that she had ordered him to (again) knock out Daniel Bryan, saying that she and Triple H weren’t even in the arena that night and had left Brad Maddox in charge. Can’t argue with that. Not wanting to spoil a perfectly good muddying-up of the characters’ motives (or, in Creative’s terms, “nuance”), none of the announcers pointed out that Maddox and The Authority may have had access to, say, telephones on that evening and could communicate across long distances.
Stephanie fired The Big Show, leaving him out of a job in WWE for the first time since 2012, when John Laurinaitis did the same thing.
Taking a page from the Cena playbook, Show refused to stay fired. Soon, Big Show was interrupting Raw via pirate satellite and semi-truck, airing his grievances and declaring his intentions to bring down the Authority with a lawsuit (for discrimination, breach of contract, wrongful termination, extortion, and a slew of other grievances). This lawsuit, he claimed, would result in him owning the whole WWE.
(Among the accusations in the lawsuit were slander and defamation, citing the time Stephanie said Big Show couldn’t perform sexually. Good luck making it stand up in court.)
He also punched Triple H along the way, which you’d think would hurt his case.
You’d also think that if anyone had a strong case against the Authority, it would be one of the many people upon whom they’d ordered their employee to inflict severe head trauma.
If Big Show was trying to get the fans on his side, he surely took a strange course of action by not only filing a lawsuit, but getting certifiable weenie David Otunga to endorse his case.
Along the way, he also co-opted the wildly popular “Yes” chant invented by Daniel Bryan, who had been screwed four pay-per-views in a row and moved out of the title picture. Vince likes to use the metaphor of “reaching for the brass ring” or “grabbing the brass ring” because in WWE, it’s much easier to do when you’re 7’ than when you’re 5’10”.
In a tense confrontation, the Big Show laid out his demands: not only would he get his job back, but he would get a title shot against Randy Orton. Remember that this lawsuit supposedly could give him control of the whole company, and Big Show agreed to drop it in exchange for his old job, a bonus, and a single title shot at Survivor Series, hoping that the same Authority that screwed Orton’s opponent in the previous four PPV main events would give him a fair shake this month. Show was seemingly eyeing the prestigious “Dumbest Babyface” Slammy Award.
If he owned the company, he could put himself over as blatantly as he wanted, whenever he wanted, yet, even standing in the ring with Triple H, this thought never even crossed his mind.
No, Big Show wanted to be the “Face of the Company” and win the WWE title, as, in 2013, WWE had simply thrown kayfabe out the window and admitted on air that anybody who had ever held that title did so not for being the best wrestler but purely for marketing purposes.
So Big Show agreed to come back to work, resulting in immediately being booked into a four-on-one handicap match against not only Randy Orton but The Shield, the trio who, thanks to an apparent production snafu, had come to ringside ten minutes too soon while Show was in the middle of negotiating (although the presence of The Authority’s goon squad just a few feet away didn’t stop Show from re-signing).
When Survivor Series came around, the fans showed their support for the new top babyface by chanting “Daniel Bryan”, booing Big Show, and failing to muster a hint of outrage at Randy Orton’s victory following a distraction by The Authority.
Then it was back down the card for Show, who a year later at Survivor Series would turn heel on John Cena just to find favor with the bosses of the company — the same bosses he could have ousted, and the same company he could have owned himself.
It’s genuinely hard to imagine an angle exploring more avenues of stupidity than this one.
Let’s just hope Big Show’s bad luck with lawsuits doesn’t continue.