A Career Retrospective: Goldberg

This is the final part of a five-part series looking at the 2018 inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. Career retrospectives of  Hillbilly Jim, Ivory, Mark Henry, and Jeff Jarrett are here on the website so check them out. Today we will be looking at Goldberg. No one in the business has had higher highs and lower lows than him, but he finished strong.

William Scott Goldberg was born on December 27, 1966, in Tulsa, Ok. Bill went to Tulsa Edison High School and was a bouncer, already, by 16. Goldberg was proud of his Jewish heritage and refused to hide it. He often refused to wrestle on Yom Kippur.

In the 1990 NFL draft, Goldberg was taken in the 11th round and 302nd overall as a defensive tackle. He played with the Rams in 1990, the CFL and the Atlanta Falcons from 1992-1994. He was then drafted and cut by the Carolina Panthers. A lower abdomen tear ended Goldberg’s NFL career.

Goldberg began training as a powerlifter when he caught the eyes of Sting and Lex Luger who suggested he try pro wrestling. Although Goldberg wasn’t really a fan, he began training at The Power Plant, WCW’s training facility. Goldberg’s debut was in June of 1997 as Bill Gold, and he wrestled 5 matches under that name winning 4 and losing one to Chad Fortune. Many people think they remember Goldberg wrestling in March, in a failed Roddy Piper segment and some articles mention it as fact, but that was the future Luther Reigns in the segment.

Bill Goldberg, under that name, debuted on September 22, 1997, quickly defeating Hugh Morrus. Like so many things, Goldberg’s popularity was a fluke. Something about his quiet intensity, athleticism, and quick matches appealed to fans. He began to have a number of 1-2 minutes matches winning each easily.In March of 1998, WCW began keeping track of Goldberg’s streak of wins. The 75th in his streak was a US title match against Raven which won him his first major title. It was at this point that he began using his famous “Who’s next?” slogan.

In July of 1998, Goldberg faced his biggest challenge in WCW champion Hulk Hogan. Hogan told Goldberg he had to beat Scott Hall to get to him and Goldberg beat both becoming the new WCW champ and vacating the US championship.In December of 1998, at Starrcade, Goldberg’s streak of 173 wins ended with a loss to Kevin Nash (who was a booker at the time) due to interference by Scott Hall.

WCW had badly botched Goldberg’s character. They had inflated his streak and had him lose, from there he floundered. In 1999, Goldberg got a measure of revenge by beating Nash and then took some time off, after a worked injury at the hands of the Steiners, to film Universal Soldier.

Goldberg returned two months later and feuded with Rick Steiner, Diamond Dallas Page, and Sid Vicious. Goldberg beat Vicious to win his second US Championship. Goldberg would lose the US title, in a tournament for the vacant WCW title, to Bret Hart. In November, Goldberg would team with Hart to win the WCW Tag Team titles from Creative Control, but they lost them one week later to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.

At that year’s Starrcade Goldberg faced Bret Hart for the WCW title. During that match, Goldberg delivered a stiff kick to Bret Hart’s head causing a concussion and tearing his neck muscle. Although he didn’t know it, this would be the beginning of the end of Hart’s career. Goldberg would finish 1999, badly injuring himself. He was smashing out the windows of an NWO limousine when he got too aggressive and slashed his arm, losing a great deal of blood, he would not return for 5 months.

Goldberg returned in May of 2000 feuding with Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and Vince Russo (ugh). In October, Russo gave Goldberg an ultimatum that he would be forced to retire unless he could repeat his streak. In January of 2001, Goldberg and Dwayne Bruce lost to Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger forcing Goldberg to “retire.” This was a work to give Goldberg time to repair an injured shoulder but by the time he was ready to return WCW had been bought by the WWE. As Goldberg was one of the highest paid athletes in WCW, the WWE declined to pick up his contract.

Goldberg 1
Credit: WWE.com

In 2002 Goldberg spent the year in Japan. While there Goldberg opened negotiations with the WWE and signed a one year contract in 2003.

Goldberg started with the WWE in March of 2003 feuding with The Rock, Christian and Chris Jericho. In August Goldberg challenged Triple H, in the second Elimination Chamber Match, for the WWE title but came up short. Finally, in September, Goldberg defeated Triple H for the title. Goldberg would defend his title for 84 days against Triple H, Randy Orton, and Kane. On December 14, Triple H won the title back ending Goldberg’s reign.All through 2004 Goldberg feuded with Brock Lesnar culminating in what should have been one of the greatest matches of all time at Wrestlemania XX. Unfortunately, it leaked that neither Goldberg nor Lesnar was resigning with the WWE. That knowledge and the slow-paced match, made the crowd boo the contest loudly. Only Steve Austin, as the referee, slightly saved the match.

Goldberg would not wrestle again for 11 years returning briefly at a Legends of Wrestling show in June of 2015 feuding with Scott Steiner. On October 17, 2016, Goldberg returned to WWE television to accept Brock Lesnar’s challenge at Survivor Series. There Goldberg defeated Lesnar in one minute and 26 seconds. Goldberg continued to dominate Lesnar eliminating him from the Royal Rumble before being eliminated by the Undertaker. Lesnar challenged Goldberg to one final Match at Wrestlemania 33. Before this match in March 2017, Goldberg beat Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. At Wrestlemania 33, Lesnar overcame 4 spears to beat Goldberg for the Universal title giving him his first clean loss since being Bill Gold.

One could argue that Goldberg’s legend is larger than Goldberg’s accomplishments nevertheless he will always be remembered for his long win streak.

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