One of the biggest stars in WCW during the Monday Night Wars was undoubtedly the monster known as Goldberg. He debuted with an incredible undefeated streak and became one of the few people to cleanly beat Hulk Hogan in WCW history, and if not for the poor decision-making of those in charge, was well-prepared to carry the company into the new millenium. When WCW inevitably fell apart, Goldberg remained one of the most notable mainstream stars of pro wrestling. This eventually led to a WWE contract, one filled with missed opportunities and disappointment, which ended in one of the more bizarre matches ever seen. Twelve years later, Goldberg made a shocking return, declaring that he still had one more match left in him. So, for those who might not have been around the last time Goldberg prowled the squared circle, here’s a detailed look at the incredible career of The Man.
A Start In Football
Quite frankly, Bill Goldberg is exactly the type of athlete who ends up as a professional wrestler. He was a decent college football player who got drafted by the NFL in the later rounds, then struggled to earn a starting position. He bounced around between the NFL and the CFL for a few years, suffered a massive injury that made him a risky prospect for any team, and finally, after failing to catch on with the expansion Carolina Panthers, retired from the sport. While his injury may have kept him off the gridiron, however, it didn’t prevent him from wrestling, and after a chance meeting with Lex Luger and Sting while working out, he signed with WCW and began training at their developmental program, also known as the “Power Plant”.
An Understated Debut
A guy with Goldberg’s look and pedigree, in the middle of the Monday Night Wars, doesn’t get to stick around in developmental until he fully learns his craft, because there’s a ratings battle to win. So, in very short order, after a few months of training and a handful of non-televised matches, Goldberg made his debut on WCW Monday Nitro in an unpromoted match against Hugh Morrus, effortlessly defeating him in what was seen as a massive upset. The businesslike Goldberg barely reacted to his first big win, only holding up a single finger to indicate his first victory, then walked out of the ring and headed backstage. Of such beginnings are legends created.
173-0, More Or Less
It was impossible for someone like Goldberg to remain under the radar as he amassed wins in incredibly short, brutal matches. Sure, his matches didn’t involve much actual wrestling on his part, but they didn’t need to, because Goldberg was made to look so physically dominant that it was fully believable that he could defeat anyone with a limited arsenal. Eventually, WCW began to shine the spotlight on Goldberg and his undefeated streak, and he became a highlight of the weekly show. He got a unique entrance, with a camera following him from his personal locker room, surrounded by security guards (the guards weren’t to protect him from harm, it was said, but to protect innocent bystanders from his uncontrollable power), while a gladatorial march played him to the ring to the chants of “Goldberg”. Hilariously, Goldberg’s music originally belonged to another wrestler, Pat Tanaka, who was decidedly less successful. At any rate, as the wins mounted, and the fans got behind their new hero, it looked like WCW might actually have found a new star that they could use to take the fight to WWE.
Goldberg rose through the ranks quickly once his streak reached unbelieable numbers (literally unbelievable, because WCW was artificially inflating the total, which would eventually come back to bite them), winning the United States title almost as an afterthought, which some questioned if it was even a good idea, since who would ever beat him to win the title back? Whatever the case, the direction for Goldberg’s career was obvious: straight to the top, and an eventual date with the seemingly eternal leader of the never-ending New World Order, Hollywood Hogan. And with WWE making a massive comeback and actually beating WCW in the ratings, Eric Bischoff managed to convince Hogan that the time was right for Goldberg to beat him. Shockingly, Hogan went along with it, but allegedly had a condition that he would eventually “get his win back” in the future, something which would lead to problems down the road. Then, with minimal advance prom