Throughout Monday night’s episode of WWE Raw, the production team played a series of videos, giving a chronology of Bill Goldberg’s success in both WCW and WWE. Defeating Hugh Morrus was where it all started. Not even coming to the ring with a full entrance, and seemingly a mere jobber to be a recipient of a “No Laughing Matter” moonsault, Goldberg shocked the audience and viewers of Monday Nitro by picking up a win.
Just seven months after his first televised match, a red-hot Goldberg was able to defeat Raven and capture the WCW United States Championship on the April 20, 1998, episode of Monday Nitro.
Another video package shown on Raw was one of the most memorable moments in Goldberg’s career, defeating Hollywood Hogan to win his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Again, this came as a huge shock to fans, as he already had a match on the same July 8, 1998, episode of Nitro against Scott Hall. Moreover, a world title change on cable weekly television was extremely rare, which added an even bigger dynamic to the moment.
WWE also showed Goldberg’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship win, his first and only, against Triple H at the Unforgiven pay per view on September 21, 2003. Although his WWE career is labeled by many as potentially tarnishing the legacy of his dominance due to the Creative staff attempting to bring his success from WCW down a few notches, his brand was still relevant enough for people to become interested in a return.
So, with his return being primed and ready for a thunderous ovation, the show concluded with Goldberg appearing to the ring to accept Brock Lesnar’s challenge.
The closing segment witnessed by the WWE Universe was undoubtedly one of the most passionate and poignant moments in the history of Raw. Walking to the ring backstage with the roster applauding him, he hit the ramp to a reaction from the Denver crowd as if he was competing in a WCW match. With the arena laced with “Goldberg!” chants, it was obvious that he was shaken up in a very good way.
This even showed in the promo he cut after being given a live microphone by Michael Cole, as it was certainly a step above the many robotic-sounding promos administered in the past.
In the end, Goldberg accepted Lesnar’s challenge, and the stage is set for Survivor Series in Toronto, Ontario. He exited to ring shaking fans’ hands and picking up children. This moment was cemented by Goldberg hoisting up his son, Gage, who has never seen his father compete in a wrestling ring.
The moment created in Denver is what makes wrestling fans unapologetic about their love for watching this every week. For quite some time, professional wrestling, in general, has lost the element of having larger-than-life characters that such a wide audience was attracted to, ranging from children to adults. For a glimpse of time during Raw, we were allowed to rewind our clocks to 1998 and realize how electric Goldberg’s persona was.
As Goldberg left the ring and was celebrating with the fans, it was announced that Brock Lesnar will appear on Raw next week to address the challenge being accepted. Goldberg was given this news in his dressing room and was asked his thoughts on Lesnar appearing in the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His response: a beast-like stare, filled with loud, deep breaths.
In life, there are cases where less is more. This theory is very effective when it comes to protecting the legacy of certain characters in the professional wrestling business. Even if his run ends at Survivor Series, the closing segment of Raw was enough to refresh his brand and alleviate the bad memories that fans have of his last WWE tenure.
[Featured Image by WWE]