Welcome back to my semi-regular look at the collisions over the years between professional wrestling and the rest of the television world. In our first go-around, we threw a ton of love & respect "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's way for his contributions to FXX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as "Da' Maniac" and speculated about what could've been. This time around, I get to combine my love of NBC's Saturday Night Live with the WWE, back when they were "WWF" before those nasty pandas forced them to change their name. And with SNL on hiatus until December 3rd (with host Keke Palmer and musical guest SZA set to take the stage), it couldn't a more perfect weekend to look back to March 18, 2000. That's when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hosted (with musical guest AC/DC), beginning a multimedia crossover mission that's proven quite successful over the past two-plus decades since the show. But the reason why this episode stands out the most isn't because of The Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H, or even Vince McMahon (remember him?). No, it was how "The Big Show" (also known in the past as "The Giant") Paul Wight stole the show from all of them.
Right off the bat, you can't go wrong with a show that has AC/DC performing "Stiff Upper Lip" and "You Shook Me All Night Long." But it was the cold open that wrestling fans will walk away from the episode remembering the most. And while everyone was on-point and in character (McMahon trying to schmooze Lorne Michaels was an especially nice touch), it was Wight who really came out of the gate by showing more of himself and his strong comedic range- neither of which he had had a chance to demonstrate in the wrestling ring. And the fans liked it… they really liked it. So much so that Wight began to be given more opportunities to expand his in-ring persona and show that the big man had a lot more to offer than just size. Here's a look at the cold open from the episode, with Wight and the others also appearing in the "Nicotrel" sketch with Chris Parnell and more (definitely worth looking up online or streaming the entire episode).
And here's a look back to Wight discussing with Corey Graves on "Superstar Ink" what it was like being part of the long-running sketch comedy/music series. Make sure to check it out as the wrestling legend discusses the famous "steel chair from behind his back" moment that won us over. Seriously still can't believe he had that chair behind him the whole time:
NBC's Saturday Night Live Season 48 includes Michael Che, Mikey Day, Andrew Dismukes, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Marcello Hernandez, James Austin Johnson, Punkie Johnson, Colin Jost, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow, Ego Nwodim, Sarah Sherman, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Devon Walker, and Bowen Yang. Executive produced by Michaels, SNL is directed by Liz Patrick, with alum Darrell Hammond announcing. Based out of Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, the long-running late-night sketch comedy/music series is produced by SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video.