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THE BIG SHOW'S WOULD-BE BOXING CAREER LEADS TO LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST SHOW'S FAMILY AND WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT

By Mike Johnson on 2009-06-16 09:36:00

SoBe Entertainment International filed a lawsuit yesterday against WWE star Paul "Big Show" Wight, his wife Bess Wight and World Wrestling Entertainment.  The suit seeks $15 million in damages on breach of contract allegations that Wight had signed an exclusive contract with SoBe to "to act as a performer, entertainer, actor, boxer, wrestler, athlete and celebrity person for a five-year period covering March 1, 2007 through February 27, 2012."

SoBe alleges in the suit that Wight breached their contract by returning in November 2007 as a contracted performer for WWE and that WWE has "tortuously interfered with the contractual relationship" between SoBe and Wight.

The lawsuit claims that Wight breached a deal signed in March 2007 by failing to perform as contracted for SoBe, by failing to "acquire a second mortgage" on a Miami, Florida home that SoBe claims they advanced $1 million for the Wights to purchase, and by performing for WWE when he has the aforementioned exclusive contract with SoBe.

The back story of the lawsuit is that SoBe claims that in early 2007, Wight, his wife Bess and Hulk Hogan presented the company with the idea of Wight becoming a professional boxer since his size would make him an immediate attraction.  SoBe claims that Wight promised to be "managed exclusively" by their organization if they would advance costs for his boxing training.

In March 2007, the two sides entered into an agreement where SoBe would pay Wight $84,000 a month in salary (that's one Million, eight thousand dollars annually) and advanced him one million dollars for housing and "related business" expenses.  The idea here was that the funds advanced would be recouped with Wight's boxing earnings, which of course never materialized, as Wight never boxed. 

At that point, Wight began training full-time, which is how he lost all that weight during his time away from WWE.  Although not mentioned in the lawsuit, one of the plans for Wight's boxing career was that Hulk Hogan would "manage" him, although that never came to fruition, either.  Hogan is not named a party in the lawsuit.

SoBe claims they fronted the Wights $2 million between salary and an advance of $1 million for the purchase of a Miami, Florida home the Wight family still resides in.  SoBe alleges Wight used the property to help the couple get out of back tax issues, used it to "get a line of credit" and later "refused to execute a second mortgage" on the property in favor of SoBe (as per their contractual agreement when the original loan was made).

SoBe claims that in November 2007, Wight informed them he would be returning to World Wrestling Entertainment and that he would "no longer honor or otherwise fulfill his obligations under the contract."

Where WWE comes into this lawsuit as a defendant centers around Wight returning to WWE in January 2008, just a few months after Wight backed out of his SoBe deal.  This would be a month before he returned to shoot the Wrestlemania 24 angle with Floyd Mayweather Jr.  SoBe claims the angle was partially based on the public knowledge that Wight was training as a boxer during his time away from WWE.

SoBe claims that they sent World Wrestling Entertainment a letter on 3/28/08 advising the company it was interfering with SoBe's contract with Wight and requested that WWE cancel the Wrestlemania bout by not allowing Wight to perform.  That was never going to happen.  So, SoBe alleges that WWE was aware of their relationship with Wight and chose to ignore it.  SoBe noted that the PPV grossed $31 million and $7 million in profits for WWE.  Most of the advertising and marketing of Mania XXIV was built around Show vs. Mayfield.

SoBe alleges that WWE "continued showing a complete disregard" for their company by booking Wight to perform as Big Show on 7 additional PPVs and other live events promoted worldwide. 

SoBe claimed that in April 2009, they again warned WWE of their contractual relationship with Wight but were again ignored as WWE booked Wight to perform at Wrestlemania 25 in Houston in the three-way bout with Edge and John Cena for the World championship.  Noting that Mania XXV grossed $52 million, the lawsuit claims that "Again, WWE handsomely profited at the expense of SoBe."   Of course, the marketing and promotion of Mania XXV was based on the "twenty-fifth anniversary" of the company's flagship PPV.

Noting that Wight's "importance to WWE cannot be overstated", SoBe noted that Wight has performed as the Big Show on more than 60 PPV events for the company since 1999.  Similar numbers could be found for just about any WWE performer with any sort of tenure, however.

SoBe claims that, at the least, WWE has been aware of the breached contract and relationship between Wight and SoBe since March 2008 and chose to ignore it as they continue to employ Wight as a professional wrestler.

SoBe is asking the court to rule for that the Wights repay the $2 million SoBe invested in Wight's would-be boxing career, that a lien be placed on the Wight's home and that SoBe be given the profits from a foreclosure sale of the property, as well as court costs and "other further belief as this Court deems just and proper."

SoBe is also seeking compensatory damages from WWE, lost profit damages (since in their eyes WWE signed away Wight), plus additional punitive damages and whatever relief the Court sees fit to provide.

SoBe has requested a jury trial.

As the lawsuit was filed yesterday, World Wrestling Entertainment and the Wights have yet to respond.