It’s been a few years now since Brock Lesnar and Goldberg wrapped up their rivalry for good. In many ways, it’s a bit surprising that they managed to walk out of their rivalry with their heads held high and both coming out of it looking amazing. As you’re probably aware, the same wasn’t the case in 2004 when they had their rivalry.
The seeds were planted in late 2003, when Goldberg was World Heavyweight Champion and Brock Lesnar was WWE Champion on SmackDown. Goldberg wouldn’t walk out of 2003 with the title intact and at the Royal Rumble, he was eliminated courtesy of an assist from the WWE Champion. A month later at No Way Out, Goldberg played a big role in helping Eddie Guerrero secure the most emotional WWE Championship win ever.
With both superstars having lost their title, it only made sense that they were going to cross paths at the grandest stage of them all – WrestleMania XX. It was a feud big enough that it didn’t require any title, but there was one major problem – fans were in on the fact that both would be leaving after WrestleMania.
With Madison Square Garden angry at both men, the stage was set and their “dream match” turned out to be an absolute flop. The crowd jeered them from the get-go and Jim Ross himself had no choice but to acknowledge the reaction. Brock Lesnar was leaving because he was tired of the WWE schedule and hectic road life, while Goldberg had decided not to renew his contract with the company.
The only saving grace of the match was the fact that guest referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin hit both with stunners to end their run.
Goldberg had a brief stint in Japan while Lesnar fell short in an NFL tryout. He did find success in a brief sting with New Japan Pro Wrestling and then transitioned into MMA, where his star power skyrocketed as he became the UFC World Heavyweight Champion.
It was only 12 years later in 2016 when Goldberg considered a WWE return. After being announced as a pre-order bonus on WWE 2K17, Goldberg began making more appearances for the company to promote the game. It led to a Sports Center interview with Jonathan Coachman, where Goldberg did openly admit that he would like to give Lesnar another chance as well as redeem the demons from 12 years prior.
It finally resulted in his long-anticipated return, when Paul Heyman challenged Goldberg on Lesnar’s behalf. Around late October 2016, Goldberg returned to RAW in Denver, receiving a hero’s reception. It was surreal to see him return like that and there was instantly a sense of excitement, with Goldberg vs Lesnar being confirmed for Survivor Series 2016.
Naturally, they were the main event and followed what was, in reality, the greatest Survivor Series match of all time (between the men of team RAW and SmackDown). Fans didn’t know what to expect and while there was some concern that the Toronto crowd would boo him, those fears were soon put to rest when he received another hero’s ovation.
What fans didn’t expect was a squash match – a 1 minute 26-second squash match to be exact. Goldberg dispatched Lesnar, a man who hadn’t been pinned in over 3 years. There was a lot of shock as to why it happened, but it was later revealed that Goldberg signed on to perform at the Royal Rumble.
Come the Rumble, Goldberg’s main role was to eliminate Lesnar and it only furthered their storyline more. The following month, Goldberg became Universal Champion in a 22-second match, but prior to that bout, he accepted Brock Lesnar’s WrestleMania 33 challenge. Naturally, the match turned into a Universal Championship bout.
The Big Day
It was April 3rd, 2017. WrestleMania 33 had arrived and fans once again had no idea what to expect from Lesnar vs Goldberg. Naturally, it wasn’t going to be a squash match. But at the same time, fans knew that Goldberg was very limited in the ring, so going on as long as they did in 2004 would only result in another disaster.
Goldberg had gotten booed at that point and the tides had turned, but little did fans know that his final WrestleMania match would be one for the history books. From the opening bell to the finish, fans weren’t given a moment to breathe. Lesnar would hit a whopping 10 suplexes on Goldberg, while Goldberg himself landed four spears (one of which was through the barricade).
The match itself was very limited in terms of moveset, but none of that mattered. Fans were on their feet throughout the match and went wild as Lesnar kicked out of the Jackhammer. Lesnar even took a stunningly high leap to avoid a spear and would end up finishing Goldberg at last, hitting an F-5.
Interestingly enough, that would mark Goldberg’s first-ever clean defeat in his career (you read that right). Lesnar had gotten his redemption (along with the Universal Championship) and though Goldberg didn’t walk out victorious, he did walk out a proud man, knowing that he had overcome the demons of 2004 and earned the respect of the WWE Universe.
Most importantly, he got to show his son the superhero side of himself from the past. It was a truly sweet moment and the perfect conclusion to the storyline.