It is amazing how people can relive a character who was popular 18 years ago. Not because he is an amazing worker in the ring, or because he can cut a promo, but due to what the essence of professional wrestling is all about: investing in larger-than-life characters, while going through the ebbs and flows of their journey to the top of the list. For Bill Goldberg, high intensity and the catchphrase of “You’re Next!” was his bread and butter to becoming one of the most exciting talents pro wrestling has ever presented.
Returning to the ring after an over 12 and-a-half year absence rightfully caused many to have doubts. Factors such as whether he is still in shape, if his stamina is suitable for in-ring competition, and if the crowd was still going to be invested in him were all hurdles of making this Goldberg return experiment successful. Over the past month, Goldberg has shown that all of these potential issues were, aptly put, speared.
The build-up for the “Fantasy warfare just got real” theme that WWE based the foundation of his Survivor Series match against Brock Lesnar was one of the best and most timely choices that could have happened. Promoting the release of WWE 2K17, it was only fitting for two of the featured names for the game to compete in a real-life showdown. For Goldberg, it was much more than that. It was an opportunity for him to compete for his wife Wanda and son Gage. While a full-time wrestler, Goldberg was not married and had no children.
Goldberg stated in some interviews, one being Booker T’s Heated Conversations podcast, that he wanted to step in the ring one more time for his family, and to revive what it looks like to be a superhero to the kids.
For most of his short stint to promote his match against Lesnar, Goldberg has been vocal about this match being the only bout that he is preparing for, as there have been no other talks regarding him extending his stay in WWE past Survivor Series. Even during his initial promo when he returned to Raw on October 17, Goldberg accepted the challenge that Paul Heyman laid out on behalf of his client. His parting words to Lesnar on that night were, “Brock Lesnar, not only does this mean you’re next, but most importantly, it means – Brock Lesnar: You’re last!”
Many believed that those words indeed meant that it would be a sendoff for the former WWE and WCW World Heavyweight Champion, especially after an abysmal run he had from 2003 to 2004.
Up until Survivor Series, Goldberg even confirmed that he would be competing in the ring for one final time via Twitter.
“#ThankYou for all the support???? 1 Last night of sleep before my final time in the ring…… Bringing HELL with me tomorrow #WhosNext @wwe #wrestling”
Despite Goldberg promoting his match against Lesnar as his swan song, WWE is apparently capitalizing on his reignited flame.
Per James McKenna of Pro Wrestling Sheet, Goldberg signed a deal to compete in the 2017 Royal Rumble match before his Survivor Series bout with Brock Lesnar. Aside from tweaking his shoulder during his encounter on Raw with Lesnar, according to an interview with NBC Sports, this signing could have been what caused the squash match against Lesnar.
Whether for the purpose of setting up a third match between the two, building him up for an up-and-coming star, or having another behemoth-style match at WrestleMania against the likes of Braun Strowman, it appears as if the company is grooming another short run for Goldberg, who turns 50 in December.
It looks like this road to one last run starts tonight, as WWE is now promoting him to appear on Raw to address his huge victory.
Goldberg is exactly what WWE needs to draw in lost fans from over the past decade. While most of their emphasis is to cater to the ever-vocal diehard fans and internet wrestling community, numbers have shown that this strategy is not working to reel old or new viewers in. As much as many fans enjoy the flips and dives that a majority of wrestling matches consist of, it will never drive away the fact that successful eras in wrestling have always been more about what happens outside of the ring – how a character is developed, which causes spectators to invest in him or her – than what happens inside the ring.
The match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar showed that moments are still more important than matches in the world of professional wrestling.
[Featured Image by WWE]