What's next for Bill Goldberg?
By Mike Mooneyham
April 27, 2003
It's not exactly a question of "Who's next?" for Bill Goldberg. It's more a question of "What's next?"
Last Monday night on Raw, just six days before his debut match with WWE, the once-invincible Goldberg was laid out twice in front of his hometown Atlanta audience. While that may constitute the typical modus operandi heading into a pay-per-view in which the babyface (Goldberg) will get his heat back against the heel (The Rock), that type of booking strategy raises some eyebrows in this particular case.
It's not that WWE should have Goldberg embark upon another 15-month-long unbeaten string like he boasted several years ago in WCW. But there's no logical reason for the company's latest meal ticket to show such vulnerability only three weeks into his initial run.
With the angles and character development this company has botched during the past couple of years, Goldberg's treatment shouldn't be surprising. The ex-NFL journeyman was, after all, leading the charge when WCW was hammering its rival every week in the ratings. And while business is business, it's doubtful that some high-ranking WWE personnel can forget that Goldberg was, at one time, the "enemy," as were Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair, Booker T and other WCW transplants who have paid penance for their past affiliations.
No one, though, should doubt that Goldberg is a key to the immediate success of WWE. With the possible exception of Sting, he is the last big-money holdout from the ashes of WCW. There's no doubt that Goldberg would have made a bigger impact had WWE bought out his lucrative contract at the same time it purchased WCW in early 2001. It's now even more important for the company to make up for lost time and refresh fans' memories about just why Goldberg set the wrestling world on fire during the late 90s.
His first three weeks on the job, however, hasn't done the trick.
While Goldberg has looked great delivering bone-jarring spears to mid-carder Christian, there has been little storyline detail given as to why he's even in WWE. Since mic work has never been Goldberg's forte, it's quite likely that the office has limited him in that respect. But at some point Goldberg has to further develop his character and, like all who succeed in WWE, cut compelling, ticket-selling promos.
Neither Goldberg nor The Rock has presented a strong case why a victory at tonight's Backlash pay-per-view is important. The Rock has been tremendously entertaining since his return, but the fact remains that most wrestling fans still want to see a major PPV match built around issues and not showbiz-style entertainment. Last week's Raw did nothing to advance Goldberg's reputation as the toughest guy on the WWE block. Just a week after having Goldust place a blond wig on the former WCW champ's head, Goldberg was made to look weak at the hands of The Rock and, no less, the hilarious Gillberg (Duayne Gill).
Goldberg gets credit for taking some painful-looking chair shots from The Rock, but gets points taken off for his needlessly ultra-stiff work with the "security staff" made up of a number of NWA Wildside workers.
Perhaps the most embarrassing part of last week's show was when Goldberg took off after Rock backstage in his muscle car, but it stalled.
Just like this angle.
- Insiders and fellow wrestlers had seen it coming for months, but WWE made it official last week when it severed ties with Jeff Hardy.
Hardy, who with brother, Matt, captivated WWE audiences with their innovative, daredevil style, had grown increasingly distant with the business, admitting on a number of occasions that he no longer shared the passion for the game that his brother had, and hinting that he'd like to pursue his lifelong interest in music.
Hardy had a reputation for arriving late for shows, resulting in fines and serving time in the company doghouse. He and his brother's penchant for putting on breathtaking spot fests at big shows, however, earned the two tremendous respect among their colleagues.
Hardy's most recent storylines involved a "mentor-student" angle with Shawn Michaels and one with Trish Stratus as a love interest.
- Congrats to College of Charleston alumnus and sometimes indie wrestling promoter Thomas Simpson for being named 2003 Distinguished Teacher of the Year at the University of South Carolina-Union. Simpson has been a math instructor at the school for three years and was a finalist for the award the past two.
Simpson was a driving force behind the critically acclaimed North Carolina-based OMEGA promotion that spawned such stars as Jeff and Matt Hardy, Lita (Amy Dumas), Shane "Hurricane" Helms and Shannon Moore.
- George's Sports Bar and Grill, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Backlash pay-per-view tonight beginning at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.
- Ric Flair competed in a celebrity doubles match Tuesday night at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston. Flair teamed with Houston Chronicle TV columnist Ken Hoffman against a pair of youngsters who were ranked junior players.
Flair launched a barrage of "Whoos" (which are now banned in WWE) that prompted 8,000 tennis fans to follow suit.
"Harry Fowler, 11, and Geoffrey Hernandez, 14, had an unfair advantage," Hoffman later wrote in his Chronicle column. "They're good. Flair and I stunk ... In Flair's defense, he did not bring his tennis stuff and had to use a loaner racket and borrowed socks from No. 3 seed James Blake. Too bad he didn't borrow Blake's ability."
- The "suspended" Hulk Hogan will be returning to Smackdown under a mask as Mr. America.
- Bob Holly, who is recovering from neck fusion surgery, voiced skepticism over the alternative surgery that Kurt Angle had to repair his injured neck.
"I'm glad I went to Dr. (Lloyd) Youngblood," Holly said on the WWE Web site. "He took care of my nerve problem and ... all my strength came back. I just think (the surgery Angle had) is a quick fix. This is just my opinion, but I think Kurt's going to have to go back and have it done again. I don't know everything there is to know about that procedure. But from what I heard, I just don't know. I'm just glad I went to Dr. Youngblood."
- Triple H (Paul Levesque) and Stephanie McMahon reportedly have set their wedding date for Oct. 25.
- Jeff Jarrett and Sting are expected to headline next month's World Wrestling All-Stars show in New Zealand.