Today, Bill Goldberg is a divisive name in the wrestling industry.
Many fans feel like the veteran may have outstayed his welcome with his limited move set and judging by his recent track-record, they may have a point.
A section of WWE fans were not happy with Goldberg’s second Universal title reign in 2020WWE
Other fans welcome the star power Goldberg brings whenever he is on television and enjoy the nostalgia his presence stirs.
There’s no doubt he was a major star around 1998 where he was undoubtedly one of the biggest draws in the business for a couple of years.
However, unlike his rival at the time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, he didn’t always dream of becoming a wrestler or work his way up to do so.
American Football consumed Goldberg. Speaking on a WWE documentary, he said: “I was born to be a football player. I grew up with two older brothers who played Division 1 football, my father played football, everybody I knew played football.
Goldberg made it to the NFL where he played for the Atlanta FalconsWWE Untold – WWE Network
“The only thing I ever wanted to do was play football. Once I got the helmet and pads on and I was able to hit somebody, that was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my entire life. And it’s a feeling I could replicate after it.”
He was picked in the eleventh round of the NFL draft in 1990 by the Los Angeles Rams after coming out of Georgia as a defensive tackle.
In his four years in the league, Goldberg played 14 times and started once, all for the Atlanta Falcons.
His career came to a halt when he tore his abdomen of his pelvis in a game, which led to his release by Atlanta after falling down the pecking order during his rehabilitation.
However, his NFL career was short lived as injury wreaked his dreamWWE Untold – WWE Network
“Unfortunately for me, that was the beginning of the end. Fact is, I wasn’t an all-pro defensive tackle. I had to fight practice after practice to keep my job,” Goldberg said.
In 1995 he was selected by the new expansion team, the Carolina Panthers, in the 1995 NFL expansion draft but never played a game for the franchise and he was the first player cut by the Panthers.
“Though football was the only thing I ever aspired to do, I fell short. I had to figure out a plan B, the only problem was, I didn’t have one. I had nothing to fall back on. I had no desire to do anything but lift. And lift. And lift.”
“I worked out at main event fitness throughout my entire career with the Atlanta Falcons for four years. I’d run into Lex Luger, Sting, Buff Bagwell. I’m training and I hear someone making fun of me in the back.
Goldberg prepping for his legendary spear during his prime
“I look, and it’s the three of them. I’m a sensitive guy so I just exploded instantly. I turned to them and said ‘blow it out your ass!’ and I was waiting for any of them to step to me, because I would have ripped their face off at that point. I was not anything but someone to stay away from,” Goldberg recalled.
Not in a good space, Goldberg was looking for his next venture. While the 6ft 4in athlete was in amazing shape, he didn’t know what he was going to apply himself to.
Then, a chance meeting with Diamond Dallas Page in a strip club of all places changed everything.
“The first time I met Bill Goldberg was actually in the Gold Club, a gentlemen’s club,” DDP began. “And I was actually with Eric Bischoff at the time. I’m talking to this cat and back then Bill had a full head of hair and I’m like ‘man, this guy is money. Eric, meet this guy!’ They get talking and I’m like ‘Dude, you need to do this.’
Goldberg during his unbeaten streak was arguably the biggest star in wrestling
At the time, WCW was surging upwards in the Monday Night Wars with WWE behind the NWO and Goldberg soon learned there was an amazing amount of money to be earned.
“So, I made the decision. I picked up the phone and called Eric Bischoff. I’ll never forget what I told him. ‘I’ve decided to wrestle and I’m not going to be one of those $500 throw-around-the-ring pieces of s***. I’m going to make a difference.’”
As Goldberg himself admits, that’s a pretty bold thing to say when you’re completely new in the business, but he was also right as he embarked on a streak of 173-0 in WCW and held the title for 173 days by the close of 1998.
Kevin Nash was the man to defeat him – thanks to a cattle prod at the hands of Scott Hall – and many argued his aura was never quite the same after that.
Bret Hart on Goldberg: “Goldberg to me, he was one of the most unprofessional wrestlers to ever work in the business. For Bill Goldberg to be in the HOF… he hurt everybody that he worked with. You might as well wrestle a real gorilla. He was the most dangerous guy to work with” pic.twitter.com/VVgllfkZpZ
— Alex McCarthy (@AlexM_talkSPORT) March 17, 2020
Still, he remained a huge star for the promotion and even had a year long run in WWE from 2003-04 following WCW’s demise in 2001.
He returned to WWE after 13 years in retirement in 2016 and began working with Brock Lesnar before being inducted into the Hall of Fame two years later, much to the chagrin of the legendary Bret Hart, whose career was brought to an end after a match with him.
“He was one of the most unprofessional wrestlers to ever work in the business,” he said when discussing the care he had for his opponent in the ring.
“For Bill Goldberg to be in the Hall of Fame… he hurt everybody that he worked with.
“You might as well wrestle a real gorilla. He was the most dangerous guy to work with. He hurt everybody that he worked with; I remember Curt Henning being in pain all the time from the matches they had.”
Goldberg was at his apex in 1998
Regardless, Goldberg remains a part-time competitor at the age of 54 and is on course to face current champion Drew McIntyre at Royal Rumble.
ANd he knows who he has to give massive credit to for his success.
“DDP, every time that I say your name or think of your name, it brings one of the largest smiles to my face, ever.
“For one reason or another, I can’t pinpoint it, it’s for many reasons. Your enthusiasm is unparalleled, in the business or in the world. Your passion is unparalleled, your knowledge is unparalleled, and your workmanship, your dedication to detail is unparalleled.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to know you, it’s an honour and a privilege to be taught by you. I owe everything to you, my man and I just love you, my man, I just want to tell you.”
And the Gold Club, of course.
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