Bill Goldberg was a phenomenon in WCW, a man who headlined for Ted Turner during the company‘s highest point. Though he walked away from the business back in 2004, it seems as though fans cannot forget him and will not stop talking about him.
Goldberg is the quintessential example of a guy who was in the right place at the right time. WCW was red hot, with Hollywood Hulk Hogan and the nWo running the show every time they were on the air. The company was at the top of the mountain, constantly up in the ratings war with WWE.
Sting was walking in the rafters, randomly attacking the nWo whenever he wanted. Ric Flair was riding with a revamped Four Horsemen and the Luchador stars from Mexico were providing one thrilling high spot after another.
Fan interest was at an all-time high. There was no better time to introduce a new face with insane potential.
Try crazy insane potential.
Bill Goldberg was 6’4”, 285 pounds of solid muscle and monstrous intensity. He was a freak of nature, a man who could suplex The Giant (Big Show) and who could do a standing backflip in the ring. He was deceptively fast, extremely athletic and had a very basic yet very marketable look.
He was custom made for WWE but was born in WCW. And Eric Bischoff reaped the benefits.
Fans loved Goldberg. When he was at his best, the crowd ate it up. His physical style and no-nonsense approach connected with fans on a very primal level. He was Conan the Barbarian fighting his way through one enemy after another, destroying anyone who got in his way.
He was WCW’s answer to Stone Cold Steve Austin and he was on top of the world.
His WWE career, however, did not go quite as well. He was essentially the same man he had been in WCW, but that made little difference in Vince McMahon’s company.
He was only two years removed from being one of WCW’s top draws when he debuted in WWE so fans loyal to McMahon’s product may not have been quite so willing to accept him as one of their own.
By the time WrestleMania 20 rolled around, Goldberg was ready to move on with the next chapter of his life. In any other situation, this would have been the end of the story and WWE fans would have moved on as well.
But then Ryback happened and the Goldberg conversation began once again.
And despite how much Ryback has tried to carve out his own niche or how hard he’s tried to prove himself in WWE, the Goldberg chants still continue in one town after another. The chant’s intensity is not what it used to be of course, but it’s still there. It seems that we just can’t let it go.
Basically, it all boils down to the fact that Ryback embarked on such a similar career path and because physically the two men share many of the same traits. But for me, that is where the comparison ends.
Ryback’s career separated from Goldberg’s the moment he did not win the WWE Championship. He suffered his first loss in his first title match and from that point on, Ryback was no longer a Goldberg “clone” or a reincarnation of Bill. Ryback is just another WWE Superstar who is trying to establish himself and excel in the company.
Bill Goldberg, however, is a man who remains an enigma in the wrestling world. He was a star who didn’t care about being a star. He had no aspirations of being a pro wrestler yet was perfect in his role with WCW. He had everything that a babyface WWE Superstar needed to succeed under Vince McMahon, yet could not fully get over despite how good he looked.
And he is a man who has had nine years to come back to the business and potentially have a very profitable payday, but he chooses to stay away.
At some point, the next generation of WWE fans will embrace the company and follow the product religiously like many of us do now. What will be said of Bill Goldberg then? Will his hugely popular WCW run still be talked about? Or will his time in WWE overshadow the subject and he will be remembered as a washout that left the company on bitter terms?
Will he be remembered at all?
Goldberg does not seem interested at all in coming back to the business. He has been perfectly happy outside of the WWE spotlight and there is no indication that he will change his mind or that Vince will make an offer anytime soon. For all intents and purposes, we have likely seen the last of Bill Goldberg in a WWE ring.
But what if the offer came? What if the time was right, the circumstances different and we could see Goldberg in WWE once more? Would fans embrace him, or completely reject him? Would we still care about the impact he had before and recognize the impact that he potentially could have again?
Or would we chant Ryback every time we saw Goldberg?
Bill Goldberg may be out of the industry but he is not forgotten. He will always be the topic of debates and his career in both WCW and WWE will likely always be under the microscope. No matter how long he’s been away fans cannot stop talking about him.
And I believe they never will.