World Wrestling Federation officials sent the Big Show to Louisville, Ky., to improve his conditioning. When he responded by dropping 72 pounds in just three months, he was rewarded with a berth in the Royal Rumble.
Big Show said Jim Ross, the senior vice president for talent relations, called him last week to tell him to pack his bags for New Orleans, site of this year's Rumble.
"It's the best news I could have heard," Big Show said in an interview after he was spotted backstage by WWF.com. "I was so ecstatic I jumped up and down."
Ross said that the bottom line was that the Big Show earned his spot.
"We felt like he had made the right strides in getting himself in better condition and recommitting himself to his profession," said Ross. "Hopefully he'll live up to his potential. We have great expectations for him."
When he arrived at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in Kentucky late last summer, the former Federation Champion tipped the scales at 480 pounds. Today he's 418, and he says he's not done yet. Once he realized that he could maintain his size and still lose weight, he set his goal at 380 pounds.
"I think the best thing that I've learned is that I'm not bulletproof," Big Show said. "I do have a lot of things to work on. And I'm gonna do it. It's important that people know that the Big Show from seven or eight months ago is nothing like the guy right now. I've done a lot of changing.
The Show kept in touch with several Federation Superstars while he was away, and many of them didn't know he'd be at the Rumble. So it was hugs all around as the 7-footer arrived at the New Orleans Arena. He was so anxious to show everyone the "new, improved" Big Show that he admitted to being very nervous before the event.
But while he was emotionally shakey, he's 100 percent physically. The herniated disc in his back and the sore knees he was suffering from three months ago have healed. And he anticipates that he'll be less likely to incure injuries in the future, as his reduced weight means less pressure on his muscles and joints. He's also faster and has much more endurance than last time he appeared on Federation television.
Although the Show is back full-time in the Federation, he still has a few OVW committments. He'll be at the Christmas Chaos event on Jan. 31 at the Louisville Gardens, and he says he'll be happy to return for any dates in the future.
"Because of everything they did -- basically taking a spoil brat and helping me become a better person -- I'll never forget them for that," he said. "There's a bunch of shows that I can guarantee I'll go back and do for (OVW trainer Jim) Cornette for nothing just because I really, really appreciate what he did for me."