Friday Focus: Goldberg

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Popularity in wrestling is sometimes just a matter of lightning in a bottle. It’s not about a gimmick, it’s not about vignettes before their arrival, it’s not about mic work – it’s just about the fans making an instant connection with a wrestler.

No one knows why some wrestlers become so popular, so fast. It just sort of happens. Such is the case with this week’s Friday Focus: Goldberg.

Goldberg burst onto the scene quickly in WCW, defeating Hugh Morris much to everyone’s surprise. Mean Gene famously tried to interview Goldberg after the match; he snorted, said nothing, and left. And in reality, that said EVERYTHING about Goldberg. His demeanor and build were the perfect mix for that period of wrestling and fans were instantly mesmerized by him.

He tore through the mid-card ranks, spearing and jackhammering people in under 2 minutes along the way. The crowd chanted his name (well, when it wasn’t piped in) and his undefeated streak became legend.

Upon going 75-0, Goldberg defeated Raven to win the United States Championship, his first major title. As champion, he rocketed toward the main event, culminating in a Nitro match against Hollywood Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship. The roof on the Georgia Dome almost blew off as Goldberg defeated Hogan for the title, cementing his status as a major player of the era.

In wrestling and life, all good things must come to an end. His undefeated streak came to an end at 173 straight wins as Kevin Nash (and Scott Hall) tasered the championship from Goldberg’s gloved hands.

His credibility as one of the top faces of the company remained, but the combination of backstage politics and WCW’s eventual demise prevented Goldberg from ever reaching the same level of popularity he enjoyed during his streak. WCW would eventually go out of business, and Goldberg would surface in WWE a few years later.

Goldberg was instantly thrown into a major feud with the Rock upon entering WWE, a nod by Vince McMahon that he recognized Goldberg’s popularity with the fans. He would win (and eventually lose) the World Heavyweight Championship in a feud with Triple H.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the WWE very long but collided with Brock Lesnar before departing (around the same time Lesnar left too). The two behemoths had an infamous match, with Steve Austin as the special referee, at Wrestlemania 20. The crowd knew both Goldberg and Lesnar were leaving and relentlessly taunted them during the match. Goldberg did win the bout, but subsequently left the WWE with a soundless thud soon afterwards.

To this day, everyone remembers Goldberg and the streak, as evidenced by the crowd mocking Ryback during his Goldberg-esque build. Even while WWE took back control of the Monday Night Wars, Goldberg helped WCW win some of the battles along the way. Here’s a trip down memory lane:

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