WWE proclaimed it was entering into a “new era” with the recent brand split, and their commitment to making new stars was highlighted by SummerSlam 2016. A few superstars that have been on the main roster for just a few months defeated established veterans in some of the biggest matches of the night, and the longest-tenured wrestlers in WWE were left off the card completely.
Big Show, Mark Henry and Kane, all of whom have been with WWE since the Attitude Era, found themselves without a match on the year’s second-biggest show. None of them were selected in the top 20 in last month’s WWE Draft, and it’s hard to imagine any of them holding a major title again.
Going 23rd overall to “Monday Night Raw,” Big Show was the highest draft pick among WWE’s elder statesmen. Nearly 21 years after he debuted in WCW and defeated Hulk Hogan to become the promotion’s top champion, Big Show is more than willing to step aside and let younger stars have the spotlight.
“Right now I’m facing the fact that there's a whole new era, and that's a positive era,” Big Show told International Business Times last week when WWE hosted the Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game in Brooklyn. “There are great, young talents out there. There's a lot of young talents that deserve the attention and focus. So you know, I’m always around to contribute and help when I can, and I'm also looking to move on to other things, and doing other things within WWE to help build this company that I love and extend my brand.”
Finn Balor became WWE’s first Universal Champion on Sunday, winning his first ever match on a WWE pay-per-view. AJ Styles made his debut with the company in January, but he’s quickly become a top star, defeating John Cena clean at SummerSlam in a candidate for match of the year.
But with all of the talented wrestlers in WWE, Big Show believes one stands out above the rest, making him the clear top choice for the WWE draft.
“I would've taken Seth Rollins, without a doubt, as the No.1 pick,” Big Show said. “When I look at our roster and who can get the job done the best, you got a guy that can get people over in the ring, that can get beat in the ring, that can talk on the microphone, that can create emotion within the crowd. He can get the crowd emotionally involved. Seth Rollins is right now the best.”
“Seth is that kind of guy that enhances everybody around him. That's the kind of guy you want as the No.1 guy. That's why John Cena was No.1 for so many years. Because every time John got in the ring with somebody, he made them better than they were. That's the key to it. The key is not about popularity. The key is not about selling merchandise or the other stuff that just happens to go along with that position. What that position is really about is making people around you better, and Seth does that.”
Rollins was the top pick by “Raw” commissioner Stephanie McMahon and general manager Mick Foley. He held the WWE World Championship from WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015 until Nov. 5 of last year, and he was defeated by Balor in the SummerSlam Universal Championship match. Despite the loss, Rollins remains WWE’s top heel, and he figures to be in the main-event scene for years to come at just 30 years old.
Big Show might never fight for the WWE Universal Championship or have a feud with the likes of Rollins, but his time in WWE is far from done. WrestleMania 33 is still more than seven months away, but it appears that the 44-year-old will be featured in one of the event’s marquee matches.
After Shaquille O’Neal made a surprise appearance in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, the former NBA star and Big Show discussed having a future match against one another at the ESPYS in July. The match hasn’t been made official by WWE, though it looks to be the direction in which the company is headed.
While Big Show’s time participating in top matches might be coming to an end, he dispelled the notion that he’s looking to retire after WrestleMania 33.
“There's a lot of speculation on that. What I said was, it was probably misconstrued, was that's probably my last competitive, featured match at a WrestleMania,” Big Show said, clarifying comments he made to a Miami radio station two weeks ago. “I think I've been in like 16 or 17, something like that, 15, 16. So the sun stops shining on every career. I'm OK with that. If I have another opportunity a year later, OK I'll take it.”
After two decades as a star in the wrestling business, Big Show has afforded himself plenty of opportunities outside of the ring. A year ago, he starred in the film “Vendetta,” which was produced by WWE Studios, and more such opportunities could be on the horizon.
“I've got a lot of things going on, and as they used to say in the old days when I grew up watching wrestling, ‘Stay tuned for more info.’”