If you’re someone who thinks that Goldberg isn’t a great pro wrestler, then you’re not too much in tune with the history of pro wrestling. There are fans that take the “wrestler” aspect of the term quite literally. Some only believe it to be regarding the in-ring work of said competitor, but many also know that there is a lot more to the business than perfectly executing a top rope northern lights suplex. That’s just one third of the equation (and maybe a little bit more being in today’s day and age of G1 amazement), but the majority has and will always be the charisma side of the coin. Goldberg has that and that’s what made the man “Da Man” in Bobby Heenan’s eyes.
Cut from the same cloth as a Nikita Koloff, Goldberg’s presence, power and quick work of foes is what made him so special. His snorting, spears and smoke-filled entrances is what saved Nitro from an earlier-than-expected downfall and gave the fans an alternative to the well-worn N.W.O. angle at that juncture.
Which is why it makes perfect sense for Vince McMahon to bring him back for SummerSlam, even if it’s against perennial loser Dolph Ziggler. Almost immediately after The Super Show-Down debacle, Goldberg went to social media to express his apologies for his match against The Undertaker and conveyed the itch to redeem himself. We got confirmation of that itch being scratched on RAW last Monday, which I was on hand for in Pittsburgh. The reaction Bill got is what Vince hopes for regulars Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns every week, but seldom get. Some of it’s on the stars, most of it’s on the booking of said stars.
— Dominic DeAngelo of WrestleZone.com (@DominicDeAngelo) August 6, 2019
But leverage and absence is what makes a personality like Goldberg so tangible even today.
Number one, we don’t see him every week. He isn’t over-saturated. Number two, he isn’t scripted (at least to the extent that the usual talent is) so what you see is what you’re getting from Bill. Number three, he doesn’t have a legacy that’s damaged. Look at a legend like Kurt Angle, Pittsburgh’s hometown hero. Wouldn’t it have been way more unsettling if “The Fiend” attacked a man who won his retirement match at WrestleMania 35 in a heartfelt send-off, who was booked like the American hero and one-of-a-kind talent that he exemplified throughout his 20-year career, rather than a sheepish, subordinate GM who was washed up? Luckily, Goldberg has escaped that WWE creative pitfall and has been kept fresh even at the age of 50. The only other legacy talent to do that is Lesnar.
Yet ardent fans will go against that ideal because Goldberg “leap frogged” the regular main roster talent. They’ll chirp on Twitter, Reddit or whatever platform they choose to claim that Bill has big-footed his way into the top of the card. What they don’t factor in is that their everyday stars have been subject to “even stevens” booking and inconsistent storytelling. Don’t blame Bill for that. Blame Vince and only Vince. Bill didn’t leap frog. He’s just a bigger star. Plus, seeing a grizzled vet who still looks like he did in his prime, still able to kick ass is one pretty great story to tell.
Dave Meltzer made the perfect comparison for today’s Bill Goldberg by sizing him up against a 1986 Bruno Sammartino. Back then, Bruno would show up to face hot heel stars such as Randy Savage and Roddy Piper in short-term feuds. He’d also team with talent like Tito Santana against the likes of Adrian Adonis. It was a mix of old and new. Legends and the talent of today.
WWE must get better at helping both parties if they want to have a stellar start on FOX. They’ve done that with Goldberg, but didn’t do that with Dolph. Remember Survivor Series 2014? I barely do too and that’s a shame. Instead Dolph has been scarlet lettered as a loser on air and that’s all anyone can think about when seeing him.
Rest assured, both will put on a great match Sunday. Someone who won’t look like a loser will be Bill Goldberg. Enjoy him for the star he is and for what you want your star of today to be.
This editorial was written by Dominic DeAngelo and does not reflect the opinions of WrestleZone as a whole. We encourage you all to discuss Dominic’s thoughts in the comments section and follow him on Twitter @DominicDeAngelo.
Dominic is the daily coverage writer for WrestleZone and writes for MLW doing their weekly Fusion recaps.