Goldberg Is Back…But At What Cost?

goldberg-vs-lesnar-survivor-series-promo2016 has been an absolutely landmark year everywhere in the world. From politics to entertainment, the year has been filled with comebacks, swerves, and historic moments that very few, if any, accurately predicted. Such is true in the beloved world of Pro Wrestling. This weekend at the 30th Anniversary of WWE’s Survivor Series, we witnessed another such moment with the in ring return of WCW icon Goldberg.

It’s been 12 years since we’ve seen Goldberg inside of the squared circle. His last match was at Wrestlemania 20 against Brock Lesnar. With Stone Cold Steve Austin serving as special guest referee, this match, on paper, should’ve been a showstopper. Well, the match ended up being a complete flop, with Lesnar leaving for a failed attempt at the NFL and Goldberg riding off into the sunset. Even with this being the final match on his resume, it in no way damaged his reputation or image as being one of wrestling’s most popular figures.

goldberg-twitterFast forward to 2016 and the rumors of Goldberg returning to WWE become stronger. He becomes a playable character on WWE’s video game WWE 2K17. Couple that with an ESPN SportsCenter feature and we now have the return of Goldberg! Not just do we have the return of Goldberg but it’s now in the main event of Survivor Series against the WWE’s biggest monster, former WWE and UFC World Champion Brock Lesnar.

After a month of build up and 12 years of speculation, the Survivor Series delivers the most UNTHINKABLE result. Goldberg TROUNCES Lesnar in 90 seconds!! Two spears and a jackhammer and it’s over!! Goldberg’s return again has the wrestling world on fire. With memories of Goldberg’s historic victories over Hulk Hogan, Sting, Triple H, and Diamond Dallas Page flooding the minds of Goldberg fans, it appears as though WCW’s single greatest creation of the 90’s is BACK!!

But at what cost?

goldberg-spears-lesnarThe collateral damage to THIS return of Goldberg has left many wrestling purists scratching their heads. Let’s be clear. Bill Goldberg defeating Brock Lesnar after a 20 minute “Clash of the Titans” seems reasonable and fathomable. However, a wrestler who last saw in-ring competition 12 years ago SQUASHING the WWE’s biggest monster in 90 seconds seems outrageous, unreal, and downright WRONG! Why is this wrong?

Let me be very clear. I am NOT a fan of Brock Lesnar. His commentary on the Stone Cold Podcast makes it clear that he is not a student of our industry nor does he really care about the future of the business. He is absolutely in this for an easy paycheck. (Those are his thoughts not mine.) With all of that said, there has been no more dominant wrestler in the last four years than Lesnar. From his 2012 return which featured him steam rolling through many of WWE’s finest to his conquering of The Undertaker’s coveted Wrestlemania Streak in 2014 to his annihilation of John Cena to win the WWE title at Summerslam 2014, Lesnar has been THE MAN! He’s been unbeatable. The WWE’s finest have been served up to Lesnar to for him to absolute steamroll over, giving them each a home in Suplex City.

So what does it mean when arguably the most dominant combat athlete we’ve seen since Mike Tyson loses in Mike Tyson-esque fashion?

This upset, and yes, I called it an upset, could go down as one of the biggest upsets in pro wrestling history.

So, what is the cost of the return of Goldberg? Well, it’s clear that WWE looked to create another memorable Survivor Series moment. They did that and then some. This has to go up there with one of the Top 3 moments in Survivor Series history, next to the infamous Montreal Screwjob in 1997 and the debut of Sting in 2014. The mainstream buzz and social media attention around this match and its outcome has been off the charts with both Goldberg and Survivor Series trending Sunday night. There’s even talk that longtime WCW and Goldberg fans are returning to the world of pro wrestling.

the-undertaker-2However, was it worth sacrificing Brock Lesnar? Far more significant than the sacrificing of Brock Lesnar is the sacrificing of the legacy of The Undertaker. Very few, if ANY agreed that Brock Lesnar should have been the athlete to break the revered Wrestlemania Streak of The Undertaker. With Lesnar’s 2014 Wrestlemania win, the company was saying, in essence, that Brock Lesnar was worthy of the honor and better than The Deadman. Add to this, The Undertaker has yet to score a clean victory of Brock Lesnar. So, does Goldberg’s 90 second squashing of Lesnar now make him better than the esteemed Undertaker?

The fact that this is even a question is deplorable and reprehensible. The Undertaker has been called both the “constant” and the “conscience” of the WWE. He’s the most respected athlete in our business with a resume and track record to support this. Taker’s 25 year body of work reaches farther and deeper than Goldberg’s less than decade of work. In 2010, the WWE released a DVD titled The 50 Top Superstars of All Time. The ranking of superstars was compiled by the then WWE roster of athletes who ranked wrestlers past and present. The Undertaker was ranked #2. Goldberg never made the list.  And somehow we as fans are supposed to believe that Goldberg is better than Taker?

Perhaps this is leading to a confrontation between Goldberg and The Undertaker. We’re aware that unlike Goldberg’s October assertion that Lesnar would be “last match”, he has reportedly signed to appear at the 2017 Royal Rumble. (http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/776421-goldberg-reportedly-signs-deal-for-2017-royal-rumble-match-appearance) So we will get to see Goldberg again.

goldberg-beats-lesnarLet’s also establish another clear point. There really IS a difference between the casual wrestling fan and the wrestling superfan. Superfans are often the ones who look to predict the storylines and live for the “behind the scenes” action. For the superfan, Goldberg/Lesnar 2 was a tragedy. However, history has proven that Vince McMahon and WWE are far more interested in appeasing the casual fan who still cares about story and actual action. For the casual fan, the return of Goldberg and his domination of Lesnar was fantastic! It represented the bully and unbeatable villain being overcome by the superhero.

So, what really was the cost of the return of Goldberg? Well, it got the world talking about our wonderful sport of pro wrestling yet again. Goldberg represents an excitement level that is on par with the industry’s biggest draws such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, and most recently, John Cena and Daniel Bryan. At the end of the day, WWE’s mantra is to put “smiles on people’s faces”. For many, with the return and domination of Goldberg, WWE has again accomplished its mission.

It appears, for now, that the cost of his return could be worth the sacrificing of Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. After all, it’s the holiday season and wouldn’t any parent give their last to put a smile on the face of their children?

(Check out an opposing view from another co-host of The Faction, as Courtney Beard shares how Brock’s win equates to a Ted Turner victory over Vince McMahon. http://www.bonnerfideradio.com/ted-turner-trumps-vince-mcmahon/)

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