Goldberg – 2018 WWE Hall of Fame Debate
In this series, we give our views on each 2018 WWE Hall of Fame inductee as they are announced. What makes or doesn’t make them worthy of this honor? Is this the right time for their induction? Check back here on cheatersneverpin.com as each inductee is announced to get our takes on the legends of WWE.
This week, the first member of the 2018 class of the WWE Hall of Fame was announced. After a Universal Title run that culminated at last year’s Wrestlemania in New Orleans, Goldberg will be the presumed headliner of this year’s ceremony. Below, check out the WWE announcement video followed by Tom & JC’s takes on Goldberg’s addition to the Hall of Fame.
This moment is long overdue. Goldberg was a top-driving talent for WCW during the Monday Night Wars. The streak is legendary. Now, the numbers in the streak may have been falsified but the gravity of it can not understated. Goldberg’s quick matches and powerful moves were a huge reason people tuned into Nitro and bought tickets to live events.
Was he limited in the ring? Yes.
Did every match follow the same formula? Yes.
That does not change the fact that the crowd roared for Goldberg. The chants of “Gold-berg” still hang in the air in some of these arenas today. People wanted to see Goldberg squash everyone. Fans reacted to his path of destruction. He was a unique character in a time of larger than life personalities. Bringing a unique MMA-inspired look to the ring with his trademark gloves and black trunks, he stood out from the gimmicks. His entrance was iconic. Leaving his locker room with a police escort and entering through the sparks, his entrance into the arena set the tone for what we were about to see. He was a simple man who did simple things, but he stood out as larger than life.
The crowning achievement of his career came in front of a record crowd for WCW. With a paid attendance of 36,506 in the Georgia Dome and with the World Heavyweight Title on the line, Goldberg captured the title from Hulk Hogan in the center of the Georgia Dome. This was a passing of the torch done in the biggest way possible. It was on cable so more eyes could be on it. It was done in the home of WCW in the largest venue they could find. WCW positioned Goldberg as the next top guy, and the fans tuned in to watch and the people bought tickets to witness history. He was a made man before this day, but this moment solidified his place amongst the greats of all time.
The darkest period of his career was his first run in the New York territory, and most notably concluded with fans booing his match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX. This whole run was filled with the ego of Bill Goldberg getting in the way of something that could have been special. He has admitted this on several occasions, but this year does not detract from everything before it.
When it became clear that he would return to face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016, I didn’t know how to feel. We knew what happened last time, but what we would get was something totally new. The company let Goldberg work to his strengths. Matches were kept short. Shockingly short. His promos came from the heart. We got to see Bill. It was special, and the fans reacted to it. Wrestlemania XXXIII was a much better outcome than his previous outing.
The legacy of Goldberg will always be felt in WWE. From his position during the Monday Night War as one of the central figures for WCW, to returning after a failure of a run to become Universal champion, Goldberg will be in every highlight package in the biggest moments in WWE and wrestling history. He truly deserves this honor. In my opinion, this is happening a bit late, but it took him a while to come back to this part of his life. He’s back in the family. He’s embraced what has made him famous, and it is long past time for him to be embraced as a great historical figure in WWE.
Whenever I think about Bill Goldberg, I always go back to February 9th, 1998. Goldberg, still early in his winning streak (I don’t even know if they’re calling it a streak at this point), is scheduled to face Lord Steven Regal. Regal, in interviews later, says that road agents asked Regal to work a more extended TV match with Goldberg, instead of the 90 second squashes Goldberg had been wrestling on TV up to that point. Regal, one of the best catch-as-catch-can wrestlers of the era, attempts to work a decent TV match with the up and coming star.
It’s flat out garbage. Goldberg can’t figure out how to sell moves, blown spots a-plenty, and just a mess. If it weren’t a live show, they would have stopped the match and probably scrapped the whole thing. But it’s live, so they eventually work to Goldberg and the jackhammer and the three count. Right there, red lights should have gone off and the booking committee should have seen warning signs – there’s a lot of potential here, but he’s not ready.
But, this is WCW. WWF is starting to gain some traction. And crowds are really starting to get into this guy. They ignored every warning sign and they kept pushing. He’ll learn as he goes.
The problem was that he didn’t learn. Whether this was the fault of WCW or Goldberg himself is up for debate, but Goldberg himself has admitted in interviews that he viewed wrestling as a paycheck, and that he wasn’t a fan of the product or the business. He was at the right place at the right time. He was a young version of Hogan or Ultimate Warrior – superstars that WCW’s fanbase identified with and their reactions to him were in a way recapturing the feelings they had when they were younger, seeing the unbeatable monster fighting for good, destroying all the heels in his path. He could have – he should have – been legendary. But he never got better. The personality never changed. The style never changed. Same entrance, same look, same snarling promo, same two moves of death.
So let’s look past the limits of the Goldberg character and look at the limits of Goldberg’s career. According to cagematch.net, Bill Goldberg has 364 career matches, which would be the least – by far – of any recent inductee. His peak was a three year span with WCW, then a one year run with WWE in 2003 which ended with a dud against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX. That’s it. A four year career, 75% of which wasn’t with the promotion that is inducting him.
Is that really “Hall of Fame”-worthy? I mean, Vince is going to induct whomever he wants, and there’s no specific criteria, but really? He fell into the business, was in the right place at the right time with a look that happened to fit what WCW was looking for (WCW says they were looking for a “MMA look” – others say that WCW wanted a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin lookalike), got pushed to the moon because of the look and the timing, then was gone from the business once the big money was gone. The Hall of Fame is to pay respect to a career, and the whole of Goldberg’s career isn’t worth it.
What do you think? Should Goldberg be in the Hall of Fame? Is this honor too early or too late? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter, @CheatersNvrPin.