REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS THE BIG SHOW
I am a longtime fan of the WWE -- long enough to remember when Hulk Hogan ruled the roost and it was still known as the WWF. I remember the "Attitude" Era, the "Monday Night Wars" against WCW, and much more on either side of these monumental times. And I still enjoy watching RAW and SmackDown on a weekly basis.
What I haven't done, for some reason, is collect the action figures, and there's certainly been no shortage of them over the years. I don't really know why not. I suppose it was just that I had other priorities. Perhaps I simply preferred to bring in super-heroes, G.I. Joes, Transformers, and such instead of wrestlers.
Certainly there's been plenty of WWE action figures over the years, and I've had a few here and there. Hasbro crafted a rather amusing line of rather exaggerated figures for a time. Later, Jakks Pacific had a very lengthy run. And more recently, Mattel has been the primary licensee for the WWE.
In 2013, I decided to have a closer look at Mattel's product. There's no question that their merchandise has a significant spot in any toy department. Anything that takes up as much room as it does is worth some consideration.
Mattel's most basic figures are presented on a card that is primarily white with red trim, with a photograph of the individual on it. It's generally known as the "Superstars" line, even though certain assortments may have a sub-heading of some sort. The assortment from which I acquired this figure is from a group dubbed "Raw SuperShow", which is the common name for the WWE's non-televised "house shows". Just about any currently active WWE Superstar is a contender for it, even as Mattel maintains an "Elite" line, as well as some other collectible series, and a number of figures with various action features.
For the most part, I liked what I saw with the "Superstars" line -- including the price tag. The worst thing I could say about any of the figures is that some of them didn't have the best likenesses in the world, or for whatever reason, were given rather quirky facial expressions. It's one thing for a WWE Superstar to look determined or angry. It's another thing for him to look like he's got some sort of nervous twitch that contorts his face.
One of the figures I decided to pick up is of someone who is, in a very literal sense, one of the biggest superstars in the WWE. He goes by the name of -- THE BIG SHOW!
Let's consider some of the history of the real-life WWE Superstar Big Show, and then have a look at his action figure.
Big Show -- real name Paul Wight -- was born February 8, 1972, and is a seven-time world champion, having won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship twice, the WWE Championship twice, the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once, and the World Heavyweight Championship twice, making him the first and only wrestler ever to hold all four championships.
In addition to these championships, he has also won the WWE Intercontinental Championship once, the WWE United States Championship once, and WWE Hardcore Championship three times. Wight is also an 11-time tag team champion, having won the World Tag Team Championship five times (twice with The Undertaker, and once each with Kane, Chris Jericho, and The Miz), the WWE Tag Team Championship three times (once each with Chris Jericho, The Miz, and Kane), and the WCW World Tag Team Championship three times (once each with Lex Luger, Sting, and Scott Hall).
In addition to these accolades, Big Show is the 24th WWE Triple Crown Champion, the sixteenth Grand Slam Champion in WWE history, and the third wrestler (after Kurt Angle and Edge) to have held every currently active male championship in WWE. He was also the winner of WCW's annual World War 3 60-man Battle Royal in 1996. Between WWE and WCW, Wight has held 23 total championships.
Outside of professional wrestling, Wight has appeared in feature films and television series such as The Waterboy, Star Trek: Enterprise, and USA Network's comedy-drama Royal Pains and the action-drama Burn Notice.
He played an Orion pirate in that Star Trek: Enterprise episode, which meant that he had to have green skin for it. I remember seeing a behind-the-scenes video of that, and most of the make-up was applied by having Big Show stand up against a backdrop, arms spread, and hitting him with some sort of huge paint sprayer.
According to a book written by "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, he saw Wight sitting in an audience at a WCW event. At seven feet tall and 440 pounds, Wight would be hard to miss. Somehow, Wight was introduced to Hogan, who suggested that Wight consider entering the profession.
Wight was briefly billed as the son of the late Andre the Giant, one of the best-known super-big men in professional wrestling, but this connection was soon dropped. Wight made his professional debut for World Championship Wrestling at the Halloween Havoc 1995 event, known simply as "The Giant", defeating Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship via disqualification, with the pre-match stipulation that the title can change hands in disqualification finish.
The Giant teamed with Ric Flair to defeat Hogan and Savage at Clash of the Champions XXXII, but was decisively beaten by Hogan in a cage match at SuperBrawl VI. The Giant later won the World Heavyweight Championship a second time by defeating Ric Flair. After Hogan formed the New World Order (nWo), he defeated The Giant for the Championship following interference from Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The Giant joined the nWo twenty three days later, citing Ted DiBiase's money as his primary motivation, feuding with Lex Luger and the Four Horsemen. The Giant was thrown out of the nWo on December 30 for asking Hogan for a World Heavyweight Championship title match. He fought against the nWo along with Sting and Lex Luger, winning the WCW World Tag Team Championship twice.
On the October 11, 1998, episode of WCW Monday Nitro, Goldberg defeated The Giant in a no-disqualification match; in a show of strength, Goldberg executed a delayed vertical suplex before hitting the Jackhammer on The Giant. After the nWo Hollywood and the nWo Wolfpac merged again in January 1999, Hogan declared that there was only room for one "giant" in the group, and forced Giant and Nash to wrestle for that spot. Nash defeated him following a run-in by Scott Hall and Eric Bischoff. The Giant was then attacked by the entire nWo. Wight allowed his WCW contract to expire on February 8, 1999 at his 27th birthday.
Wight signed with the World Wrestling Federation on February 9, 1999, debuting as a villainous member of Vince McMahon's stable, The Corporation, at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House pay-per-view. During the McMahon versus Steve Austin cage match, Wight tore through the canvas from underneath the ring and attacked Austin. However, Wight cost McMahon the match when he threw Austin into the side of the cage and the cage broke, spilling Austin outside to the floor and granting him the victory. Wight subsequently served as McMahon's enforcer.
Wight performed as "Big Nasty" Paul Wight for several weeks before being renamed "The Big Show" Paul Wight. He then gradually dropped his real name, eventually being referred to simply as Big Show.
Since that time, he has been a near-constant presence within the WWE, alternating between being a good guy and a villain, or "heel", as the term is known. His career us far too lengthy and diverse for me to get into here in any great detail. However, a few personal highlights for me would be the fact that he has always been a supporter of the WWE's annual "Tribute to the Troops" event, when the WWE puts on a massive show for the American military (although apparently on one overseas expedition there was some trouble fitting him with a bulletproof vest), and I also distinctly recall one match where Big Show faced off against Kane, another very large individual within the WWE. One would have expected it to be a knock-down-drag-out sort of match, but instead, these two huge men wrestled one of the finest purely technical matches I've ever seen, no doubt surprising the crowd.
Like André the Giant, Wight used to have acromegaly, a disease of the endocrine system. By the age of twelve, Wight was 6 ft 2 in tall, and weighed 220 lb. In 1991, as a member of the Wichita State University basketball team at age nineteen, Wight was listed at 7 ft 1 in. He underwent successful surgery in the early 1990s on his pituitary gland, which halted the progress of this condition. His shoe size is 22 EEEEE, his ring size is 22, and his chest is 64 inches in circumference. Prior to attending Wichita State University, Wight attended Northern Oklahoma Junior College in Tonkawa, OK, competing on the basketball team. In 2005,
Wight leased a bus and hired a bus driver because of the practical problems his size presents to air travel and car rental -- and one can hardly blame him for that. Even I'm not that comfortable in airplane seats, and I'm nowhere near Big Show's size.
Wight played basketball and football in high school at Wyman King Academy in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina. He was a standout center for the basketball team and a tight end for the football team. While at Wichita State University, Wight played basketball. Wight also attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville from 1992 to 1993, was a member of the NCAA Division II Cougars basketball team. During his year at SIUE, Wight scored a total of thirty-nine points for the Cougars in limited action.
So, how's the figure? Really superb. Also -- not small. A great deal of credit needs to go to Mattel for maintaining a sense of proportionate scale in their WWE line. The figures are more or less to scale with each other as their real-life counterparts are. That being said, one wonders if they lost money making this guy.
Take a look at any other figure in the assortment that Big Show comes in, and you'll notice that there's a fair amount of space in the plastic "bubble" on the card for them, especially below their feet. One might wonder -- why the excess space? Well, maybe The Miz and Randy Orton and David Otunga don't need that much space, but Big Show does. He's so big that his lower legs extend beyond the internal plastic housing of his bubble.
The last action figure I bought that didn't quite fit his package was the 6" scale figure of the Incredible Hulk from Hasbro's line based on The Avengers. A Walmart exclusive, this line featured some really outstanding figures of the core members of the team. But the Hulk actually had to be posed in a crouched, half-seated position to fit in his package, the design for which had obviously been scaled for the other members of the team.
Big Show was not crouched. But to give you an idea of scale, among the other figures that I currently have in my collection, The Miz and John Cena top out at slightly over 6-3/4 inches in height. The slightly taller (in real life) Sheamus is just a hair over 7 inches -- and we can credit his spiky hair for a bit of that. Big Show is very nearly 8 inches tall, which at this scale is a substantial measure, and even so, the figure looks almost too small relative to the others, compared to how he looks next to them in real life -- or at least on the TV screen.
I have determined that one of the best ways to decide whether or not I want to add a given WWE Superstar to my collection is how well-done the facial likeness, the headsculpt is. I'm really not interested in quirky facial expressions, for one thing. And I have seen a few figures that I just didn't think were especially good likenesses.
I expect it must be a significant challenge to get the likenesses just right. This isn't like doing super-heroes, or Masters, where there can be a certain amount of leeway. Even a sculpt of an actor in a movie role can be a little off. If a figure of Captain Jack Sparrow doesn't look exactly like Johnny Depp, if it still looks decently like Jack Sparrow, it can get away with it.
But, wrestling gear notwithstanding, most of the WWE Superstars don't look any different outside the ring than inside. They're real people, human beings -- just rather large ones -- who are, yes, performing a role, but they're still largely themselves. And the figures need to look like them as much as possible. And that, I suspect, is the big challenge.
In the case of the Big Show, the sculptors have done an excellent job. It really looks very much like Big Show. The only slight incongruity is the fact that the face has a pleasant smile on it. As of this writing, Big Show is very much the villain, and a rather ill-tempered one at that. The only times right now you really see him smiling is when he's resoundingly beating someone into the mat, and then it's more of an evil grin. I suspect we'll have to wait for Big Show's next turn as a good guy before we see anything like this figure's facial expression on the man himself. However, past times certainly show he's capable of a pleasant smile, so I'm certainly not complaining about it on the figure.
Since these figures represent actual people, the sort of extreme musculature that one might find in the DC Universe or Masters of the Universe lines is not present here. The Big Show figure is massive, with a proper level of musculature in accordance with how Paul Wight actually looks.
Big Show typically comes to the ring wearing what's called a singlet, which is a one-piece outfit that is essentially a combined tank top and shorts. The one that the figure is wearing is identical to the one that Big Show most often wears to the ring these days. It's black on the sides, and a camouflage green pattern on the front and back. The camouflage pattern has been very neatly imprinted on the figure, and is even consistent across articulation points.
Big Show is also wearing black, fingerless gloves, large knee pads, which were molded separately and attached to the figure during assembly, and high black boots. Also, his lower legs between the knee pads and boots are black. I'm assuming this is some sort of protective fabric or some such. This is how the real Big Show looks in the ring.
Big Show has two tattoos, one on each shoulder. The one on his right shoulder looks like a tiger, and is large enough so that when it was imprinted on the figure, it needed to be aligned with the upper swivel arm as well. The one on his left shoulder, smaller in size, looks like a lion's head.
Paintwork on the figure is excellent. I suspect that the tattoos and the camouflage are imprinted somehow rather than painted, but there's still no shortage of paintwork elsewhere on the figure, including the facial details, the rest of the singlet, the gloves, and such. Everything has been done very well and with great precision.
Let's consider the figure's articulation. It's excellent, really. The Big Show is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The knees are somewhat hindered by the large knee pads. The only slight downside to the articulation design is that the legs move forward and backward, but not outward, and there is no upper leg swivel. This, as much as anything, is evidence of the somewhat "basic" level of these figures. If you want the higher level of leg articulation, plus a mid-torso articulation, that's where the "Elite Collection" comes in.
However, I have to say that I don't personally expect these figures to see extensive play usage, and I don't really feel like paying a significantly higher price tag for the sake of three articulation points. I've got no real complaints here whatsoever.
So, what's my final word? I'm very impressed. Mattel seems to have something of a lock on 6"-7" scale action figures, much as Hasbro does with the 4" world. DC Universe, Masters of the Universe, and the WWE are all excellent product lines of highly-detailed, accurate and precise action figures. And the WWE line is certainly popular, and maintains a healthy presence in the toy aisles, and the Big Show seems to be part of a new assortment that turned up at the start of 2013, so clearly, it will be continuing.
If you're a WWE fan, and a great many people are, then have a look at this "Superstars" line. The prices are reasonable, the lineup is extensive, and you're bound to find some of your current favorites within it, and certainly some prominent names. That definitely includes The Big Show, and I was very pleased to add him to my collection. I'm certain you will be, too.
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of THE BIG SHOW definitely has my highest recommendation!