After months of speculation, Bill Goldberg returned to WWE, last night, on Monday Night Raw for the first time in over twelve years. He accepted Brock Lesnar’s challenge, with the expectation that Goldberg vs. Lesnar will eventually be made official for Survivor Series on November 20.
The crowd inside the Pepsi Center came unglued as they chanted “Holy sh*t” and “This is Awesome” before Goldberg said a word. The real emotion exhibited by Goldberg anchored the segment as he turned to his wife and son at ringside and said it was their first time seeing him live.
Goldberg closed out the segment by saying that maybe he has one more ass kicking left in him, and maybe one more spear left in him. “So not only does that mean Lesnar is next, but more importantly “Brock Lesnar, you’re last.” Goldberg then left to a huge ovation and pulled his son Gage from the front row and hoisted him on his shoulders.
In many ways this was Goldberg’s second chance to make a first impression in a WWE setting. Nostalgia acts in professional wrestling work to varying degrees and while Goldberg’s return has energized fans for the moment, things could easily go in the other direction.
My podcast partner Adam Kohn started watching wrestling in 2009, which is five years after Goldberg was last seen in a wrestling ring. When I asked him for his take on Goldberg’s return, he said that no one has ever told him to go out of his way to watch a Goldberg match.
The only match I could recommend would be Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page from Halloween Havoc 1998. While this is considered Goldberg’s best in-ring performance, it’s hardly a classic match. The former WCW World Champion was a limited wrestler in his prime, and now we’re talking twelve years later and at 49 years old.
Plus, Goldberg’s 2003 – 2004 WWE run was awful due to creative differences behind the scenes.
Goldberg didn’t get over by having five-star matches, though. He got over with the audience because he portrayed the role of an intense bad ass who would roll over his opponents while looking the part, too. He didn’t do much once the bell rang because he didn’t need to.
A couple of power moves followed by a spear and a jackhammer for the 1, 2, 3.
I hope that the storyline of Goldberg being the one guy that Brock Lesnar has never beaten can manifest itself into something memorable from beginning to end. Entering to his WCW theme music and exiting stage left to his WWE music bookended the narrative of a return that we won’t soon forget.
Wrestling has and always will be about the moments.