Back in 1999, a young Big Show was partnered with The Undertaker on screen.
For any young kids watching, it seemed like these two would be absolutely unbeatable. They were two giant men who could easily dominate anyone they wanted to.
But there was far more to the pairing that just the aesthetics.
Behind the scenes, WWE had realised pretty quickly what they had stolen from WCW had massive, massive potential, but he was far from polished.
Putting him with the locker room leader and one of the standard bearers of the business in The Undertaker was a chance for Big Show to learn from the best.
But it was often tough love from The Deadman and it took years for ‘Taker to finally acknowledge that he had made it.
With Undertaker’s career seemingly over, talkSPORT asked Big Show about their time together as a team and how long it took to get The Phenom’s respect.
“I had to fight really hard to earn Undertaker’s respect because one I got to quote-en-quote ‘sit under the learning tree’ I didn’t get free passes, I didn’t get exceptions.
“I didn’t get ‘oh, it’s OK. Don’t worry about it.’ My ass got chewed out every single night and the only thing I could try to do was not make the same mistake twice.
“He held me at a different level to the way I conducted myself out of the ring, the way I conducted myself in the locker room; he was just really instrumental in my career and shaping me into the talent and mentor I am now. I find myself transferring a lot of the lessons I learned to the talent now. Just common sense and experience things that help them on their way.
Years later during a European tour, Big Show had the chance to work with The Undertaker in the main event and he finally got the nod of approval he long desired.
“I remember working with ‘Taker in France in a coliseum that was built in 300AD by the Romans,” Big Show started.
“They had used it for gladiator games, it was a hospice during the plague, they used it as a fortress to defend themselves – this arena had so much history.
“I wrestled ‘Taker that night and we probably went close to 40 minutes, maybe 43, 44 minutes. Mike Chioda was the referee and he nearly had a heart attack that night because ‘Taker and I wouldn’t tell him the finish. We were getting dressed in the locker room and Chioda comes in ‘OK guys, OK, OK, OK, OK! What’s the finish?’ and Taker goes ‘I don’t know, Show, what’s the finish?’ and I said ‘I don’t know, boss. You’re in charge, whatever you say.’
Undertaker being the veteran he was had the power to make such calls, Big Show was simply following his lead.
“‘Taker said ‘Well, Mike, we’ll just see what happens out there,’ and Chioda’s face was just a picture.
“Ya know, the ref kind of needs to know the finish [laughs] but it was one of those things where if someone taps out, that’s the match. If someone’s shoulders get pinned, that’s the match.
“And that’s as much planning as ‘Taker and I put into it going into that match that night. The way the acoustics were made in that stadium, even though it was an outdoor with no roof on it, when they chanted ‘Under-Taker!’ it’s almost like when you’re in the ocean and you feel the waves push up against you. You could feel that in the ring from that energy and it was just one of those magical moments for me in my career that I’ll never, ever forget.
“At the end of the night, after the match when everything was done – I think I ended up tapping out to the Gogplata [Hell’s Gate] after Chokslams and all kinds of crazy stuff that we did that night – we toasted. And he said ‘good job, kid. You made it.’
After years of trying to live up to the potential Undertaker an everyone else saw in the giant, Big Show felt like he finally arrived.
“And that was, for me, my crowning [moment]. I made journeyman that night. I was no longer an apprentice, I became a journeyman.
“It’s a pretty big deal and it was pretty emotional for me. I’ll be honest, I worked for so many years and so hard to get that nod and I think I drove him nuts for the next couple of days because I was so appreciative of it.”
Undertaker has signalled that he has no desire to get back in a wrestling ring right now and he is happy if his WrestleMania 36 classic with AJ Styles is his final bout.
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If it is, his in-ring career will stand the test of time and Big Show respects no one greater than The Deadman.
“He’s one of the greats and everything that they’ve said on The Last Ride, it wasn’t propaganda. It wasn’t a pretty piece or anything like that. Undertaker definitely commanded that much respect with his work ethic, he set a bar the rest of us only tried to achieve.
“I don’t think I have more respect for anyone in this business as much as I do for him and I’m so appreciative of everything he did for me in the ring, just by work ethic and understanding what our business is about.”
The Big Show Show is streaming on Netflix NOW!