Why Goldberg is the best part of WrestleMania 36
I’ve waffled on what to title this.
Initially, right after Goldberg won the Universal Title, looking like an absolute mauler at WWE Super ShowDown, it was gonna be in the neighborhood of “Bill Goldberg just accomplished something no other athlete ever has” – which is true. But then, there was all the backlash in the days following that absolute mauling and I started to lean into the idea of going with “We all really need to appreciate Bill Goldberg more” – which is also true.
But then I got swept up in all that backlash, though. I started reading every negative tweet, but also the ones showing Bill love. I posted a video of me reacting like a madman in real time to his win over “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and then subsequently read every comment of people reacting to me reacting. Then, Goldberg joined us on WWE’s The Bump and he reacted to me reacting to him winning the Universal Title. And within the midst of his reacting to my reacting, my reaction made him laugh. Like, a full laugh.
Guys, I made Goldberg laugh. That’s a really big deal.
Regardless, I absorbed all this content on Goldberg, all these takes on Goldberg and, after a full week of doing this, realized that, now more than ever, I had to write this article. Even without a proper title yet, I just had to do it. I had to address the history-making nature of him winning a heavyweight title at his age. I had to address the scrutiny he received for winning that title. I had to address the complete and total explosion of Goldberg being the most-talked-about, most-liked Superstar on Instagram during the thick of WrestleMania season in the year 2020 and what it all means as his title defense against Roman Reigns at The Show of Shows rapidly approaches. I had to address all of it.
So, I’m going to. Hey, readers, you’re next.
Let’s start with the history making. Bill Goldberg, as you may know because he isn’t shy to tell you, is 53 years old. However, what you might not know is that with the exception of a kind of fluky set of circumstances that once saw Mr. McMahon become WWE Champion for a few days in 1999 at the age of 54, Goldberg is the oldest heavyweight champion in WWE history. He is also the third-oldest heavyweight champion in WWE history from when he first captured the Universal Title back in 2017 at age 50. To put it all in context, Ric Flair was 51 when he captured his final heavyweight title while in WCW in 2000 and Hulk Hogan was 48 when he had one last run as WWE Undisputed Champion in 2002. To look at other combat sports, Randy Couture was heralded as a marvel when he won his final UFC Heavyweight Title at age 45 in 2007, which is the same age George Forman was when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion back in 1994.
Here’s the thing about Goldberg being Universal Champion right now, though. Not only is he older than all of those legends I just named, but he is also still wrecking dudes in under five minutes flat. And not just any “dudes,” but elite-level competition. We’ll talk about loving or hating Goldberg in the paragraph after this one, but put all that aside for a second and just look at the facts: At age 53, Goldberg is still built like a machine whose offensive onslaught is just as effective today as it was when he debuted on Nitro in ‘97. Need proof? Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt – four of the very best WWE has today – they’ve all been defeated in under four minutes in the last four years by your current Universal Champion. It’s history. It’s happening right now and it’s something we all need to take note of, whether you like it or not.
Off that though, to those who don’t like it, let me sidebar with y’all real quick. This is WWE, so you are, of course, allowed to be happy or less-than-happy with whatever or whomever you’d like. At no point in this will I back off that stance once, buuuuttt… I’m really not sure why all of you are so tight at Goldberg. I mean, nothing has changed. It’s the same man who crowds still go completely bonkers for when his music hits. The same man who has admitted to putting his body through unbelievable strain at this point in his life to still present as the Goldberg that everyone remembers. The same man who has literally walked through fire to entertain you for the better part of two decades now. And, most importantly, the same man who shows up and does everything asked of him, which just so happens to result in him destroying any and all human life put in front of him far more often than not.
If you watched WWE’s The Bump in the buildup to WWE Super ShowDown, then you know that I had an unflappable faith in Goldberg walking out as Universal Champion. And, yeah, I was aware of what “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt represented as an opponent, as well as aware of Goldberg’s age and that he hadn’t competed in the six months prior… but I believed so strongly in him because of that 23-year track record of him destroying human life. I didn’t care that Kayla Braxton, Matt Camp and Evan T. Mack mocked me for weeks on end every Wednesday morning about it, nor did I care that I was so firmly on an island by myself, seemingly not just in their eyes, but the eyes of the WWE Universe overall. With each passing week as the match drew closer, I got more and more fixated on the reasons why I picked him to win in the first place; why I had picked him to win so often since I was a seven-year-old boy.
That being that Bill Goldberg is simply a different type of force.
Those differences are why he went on the most legendary undefeated streak in WCW history in the ‘90s, why many children believe him to be a genuine, real-life superhero and why he is still just as relevant at 53 years old as he was at age 30. Those differences are also what’s causing all of this. It’s why me, you, all of us feel so strongly about Goldberg as Universal Champion right now. It’s why he broke WWE Instagram records just by holding up a championship and why his WrestleMania match is easily the most discussed right now.
And is it divisive? Sure, but admit it, you’re also having fun. Some of you are reading this and completely agreeing with me, while others have only made it this far out of rage and are already composing tweets about how you could not disagree more … but we’re all talking, we’re all invested, aren’t we? Which, that right there, is the final, and most important, contributing reason as to why some of you should be appreciating this man far more than you are. Because in 2020 there are very few WWE Superstars – hell, very few athletes at large – that you care as much, one way or another, as you do about Bill Goldberg. The aura and big-fight feel he carries with him are distinct, the emotion he invokes out of you is rare and your interest and anticipation for his match against Roman Reigns on The Grandest Stage of Them All cannot be denied. I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
Goldberg is easily the best part of WrestleMania 36… and, yep, I think I just found my title.