Was Goldberg really that good?
That time of the week has come back around, where we look back on a legend's career and ask the question; Were they really that good? This we we take a look at Goldberg! Enjoy.
Not many people have entered the wrestling business from another sport and made a name for themselves. Yes, you have your Kurt Angle’s, Brock Lesnar’s and Ronda Rousey’s, but I’m talking a sport outside of combat. If they have had an impact, none have had one quite as huge as Goldberg! With an “official” undefeated record of 173 straight wins (there is however, some controversy over the amount as some believe it was inflated and have claimed it was actually 162 wins) and being handed every belt the company had. According to many, he was stiff, reckless and notorious for dishing out injuries. So, grab a snack, make a cup of tea and kick back as we take a look at his ever-controversial career and ask our favourite question; Was Goldberg really that good?
Born in 1966 and name William Scott Goldberg, he hailed from Tulsa, Oklahoma (BAH GAWD), where he attended high school and developed a love for American Football. That love continued after he earned a scholarship with the University of Georgia Bulldogs as a defensive tackle. He was drafted by the LA Rams in the 11th round and was the 301st NFL draft pick overall in 1990. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Sacramento Gold Miners in the CFL. During the 1995 draft, he was picked by the new expansion team the Carolina Panthers and never played a game for them before being cut from the team. His professional football career was over after he “tore his lower abdomen off my pelvis”. He had dreams of returning to football, but never made it back. Due to his lack of success, he wasn’t considered a major asset and wasn’t drafted.
He found power lifting and MMA training during his rehab for his groin injury and was spotted by Lex Luger and Sting who steered him towards pro wrestling. Bill wasn’t a fan of pro wrestling but saw it as a way of making big money after the football thing didn’t pan out. He joined WCW’s Power Plant training facility. He wasn’t there long. While they saw how big and intense he was, they neglected to see how green he was. He wrestled five matches as Bill Gold between dark matches and at house shows. His first match was a win against Buddy Lee Park and he wrestled against and defeated Hugh Morrus, John Betcha, Chip Minton and Buddy Landell. His final pre-tv match was against Chad Fortune in a losing effort.
He debuted on TV 22nd September 1997 and defeated Hugh Morrus starting his undefeated streak. Fans were in awe of this massive bull who was silent, was followed to the ring by security, beat the piss out of people in 60 seconds or less and did the occasional back flip. He was getting over, and getting over fast! WCW quickly laid titles at his feet as he was garnering more and more popularity. In early 1998, WCW hosted their Spring Stampede PPV where Raven successfully captured his first and only US title only for Goldberg to take it from him the next night, WCW booking strikes again.
Bill was on his way to becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. There was no mistaking that. The champion at the time was Hogan, he promised Goldberg a title match but first he would have to beat his NWO team mate Scott Hall, in which he was successful picking up the win in just three and a half minutes. He finally captured Big Gold later that night after an eight-minute match against Hogan, but as with all of Hogan’s losses it wasn’t without shenanigans.
Goldberg held the title a little over 5 months, when at Starrcade Kevin Nash booked himself to beat Goldberg claiming that he was losing his hold on the fans and he was almost as hot as him. In a quote from Kevin Nash
“You booked yourself to beat Bill Goldberg! Yeah, I was almost as hot as you were Bill at the time, as a babyface. They were having to put in Goldberg! Goldberg! [chants] because they were chanting Goldberg sucks in the buildings.”
He would never capture the title again.
After WCW was purchased by WWE, Goldberg didn’t move over to WWE, instead opting to wait out his Time Warner contract and get paid while not working. When the contract had ended, he went and had a forgettable stint in Japan, and eventually landed in WWE and had a largely forgettable run there, with the exception of his WrestleMania XX match with Brock Lesnar (my personal pick for worst match ever) and that’s remembered for all the wrong reasons, because it was f*cking awful!
During Goldberg’s career, he had some terrifying lasting effects on wrestlers. Most famously, he ended Bret Hart’s career with a thrust kick to the head at Starrcade 99. It was a full contact kick to the head and to make matters worse, Bill couldn’t take submission holds correctly and wound up slamming The Hitman’s head into the mat several times thereafter. Bret has been very vocal about how unsafe Goldberg is to work with saying in an interview with JR:
“You only got one brain, when you realise your brain got damaged, you have to stop and make that the priority of your wellbeing. I found out with Goldberg when he kicked me in the head that, you know, a year later and I still had problems with headaches and vision and balance, and I still have balance issues today. A lot of my balance issues, they were never sorted out after he rang my bell. It was always a problem.
I always wished he'd have been a little more careful. I hate to say it but it's inexcusable to kick someone the way he kicked me, it's not acceptable!”
Now, there is some truth to Bret’s words here and he is right, after Goldberg ‘rung his bell’ he was never right again. I am notorious for being a huge Bret Hart fan, I cite him as my favourite wrestler of all time, I don’t even need to think about it, but the man can’t let go of a grudge and struggles to let bygones be bygones. So, yes there is truth in what Bret's said, but in Bill’s defence, he has apologized profusely to Bret and still feels bad about it to this day!
He has also allegedly injured Curt Hennig and Haku too. At the yearly Saudi show, Super Showdown in 2019, Goldberg stuck once again, this time attempting a Jack Hammer on the Undertaker and dropping him straight on his head. The Undertaker repaid in kind dropping big Bill on his head with a Tombstone piledriver (there is rumours online saying it could be that this was Undertaker dishing out a receipt, there is nothing official said about it and Undertaker hasn’t said anything, it’s all conjecture and rumours so take that with a pinch of salt!), neither man should have been in that ring.
He was also a bit of a whiner backstage in the WCW days. He would complain about who he was working with and what they wanted to do. He also took himself way too seriously. The following is a quote from a telephone interview with Chris Jericho that I found:
“[Eric] wanted to resign me early, and I'd just turned heel and Goldberg didn't want to work with me and it turned it just turned into a real mess.
I tailored this little angle of mine where I was doing this feud with Goldberg that he really wasn't involved in, and he didn't like that. He thought it was comedy and he was getting mad at me. Fans had signs in the crowd [with] ‘Jericho 4 - Goldberg 0’ or ‘Goldberg is gonna kill you.’ My idea was I'll do this angle and we'll have a PPV match and it'll be a squash match, but the greatest squash match of all time.”
As a kid watching this unfold as it happened, I wanted Goldberg to beat Jericho to death with his own dad. As an adult though, I see what Jericho was doing, I see that even in the early days he understood how to draw and how to work a crowd. Goldberg on the other hand didn’t. The quote continues:
“I show up one day in Phoenix for Nitro, and they say you're working with Goldberg tonight. I said what's the finish? And they said the same finish as every night, Jack Hammers and Spear’s you in a minute. I said, “why are we doing this? We just built up these last four weeks of me claiming I beat Goldberg 4 times, I thought we were gonna do this on Pay-Per-View?” They said “no, we're not gonna do that" I'm thinking, you know what? I'm standing up for myself because I know this is good and I know it's gonna draw money so I said “no, I'm not doing it.” I remember, I think it was Terry Taylor who said” it's never bad to lose to the world champion, it's a good thing you're losing to the world champion” and I said “not in a minute, and we're doing it on PPV, we're doing the 5-minute squash like we talked about. I'm not doing it.”
This happened again in long island and he was called into a meeting with Goldberg, Bischoff and Hogan. Hogan wasn’t even involved in the angle, but he involved himself in everything in WCW. Jericho continues:
“The 3 of them were basically yelling at me, like “why are you refusing to do the job for Goldberg, and who do you think you are?” And I said, “I’m not refusing to do the Job for Goldberg, I'm just sticking to the plan, to this angle that I got over.” Jimmy Hart told me the only way you can really judge how fans are reacting to something is by the chants they give in the ring and the signs they bring. You can always tell what's getting over by the signs. Goldberg was flipping out and he was like “I'm the guy who stands in the sparks, I breathe in smoke, I breathe in sparks, I breathe in fire, I’m the world champ!” And I said “yeah, If I kick you in the nuts right now, you'll go down like everyone else.” I showed up at the PPV and Bills not there, he decided to go hunting instead.”
Not the most professional of conduct.
Looking solely at his body of work there isn’t much to go on other than his WCW run and his awful WWE run in the early 2000’s. He has never worked a real match and even to this day he still works green. Discounting his spoilt brat behaviour backstage, his style of rag dolling people around the ring may have looked good, but he never considered the safety of those he was working with until it was too late. Considering he was notorious for causing injuries and even ended the legendary Bret Hart's career, he could have put some energy and effort in to becoming a safer worker. This isn’t his fault though. While in the Power Plant, they called him up way before he was ready and he was working the only way he knew how, which was not working.
So, Was he really that good? F*ck no he wasn’t. He’s probably one of the most unsafe people to ever step foot in the squared-circle. Did he draw? Yes. Did fans get behind him? Yes. Did he make money? Yes. So why is he not that good? The answer is simple. He never bettered himself. He believed he was amazing, believed his own hype and never saw any reason to better himself, even though the pile of injured talent he left in his wake was piling up. This affected his work and really, he was a stiff, three-trick pony who could lift big guys and do the odd backflip. He failed in the NFL and in this writer's opinion, he was a piss poor wrestler as well.
And that’s just my two cents.