Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar – The Trilogy

Two unstoppable monsters. Two men who came into their respected companies and got the rocket of all rockets. It could well be argued that nobody in WCW’s history got a better push out the blocks, in terms of homegrown talents, than Bill Goldberg. Everybody knows of the undefeated streak, culminating in the legendary title win against Hollywood Hogan. His status as a top name in the industry was unblemished, despite the failings of the company he called home going to the wastelands.

It seemed inevitable then that he would come to WWE. And so, the night after WrestleMania 19, he confronted The Rock, and bill Goldberg’s WWE run began. Naturally people were excited, dream matches a plenty and a classic run could well be about to begin we thought… but whilst it was… OK… It was a 1 year deal. And it was only ever going to be a 1-year deal. And so, really, there was only so much you could do with Goldberg in a 12 month span. You can’t have him just murder everyone (which is what the Goldberg character was all about), because if the guy who beats everyone then leaves, what are you left with? A bunch of losers… And yes he should’ve won the World title at the SummerSlam Elimination Chamber a month before he actually won the title from Triple H, and yes it was cool he then beat Triple H in the main event two months in a row… but he wasn’t going to keep the World Heavyweight Championship for too long… So what next? Well, he would have to go down another route… The Royal Rumble match… where he would enter number 30 and attempt to earn himself a shot at reclaiming his World Heavyweight title that he (rightfully) felt he had stolen from him… It was at this PPV he was confronted by the then WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar…

So, let’s talk about Brock Lesnar. Much like Goldberg in WCW, Brock Lesnar was set up from day 1 to be THE star of WWE. As he was approaching nearly 2 years on the main roster, Lesnar was a 3x WWE Champion, a King of the Ring winner, a Royal Rumble match winner, and had PPV wins against the likes of The Rock, The Undertaker, and over Kurt Angle in the main event of WrestleMania 19. As we came into the year 2004, Lesnar had reverted to being a monster heel. Who could stop him? Who was his equal? Well… what about the other monster? The other unstoppable force? And so we eventually had it set for WrestleMania 20. Madison Square Garden. A DREAM match for the ages… Right? Well…

As good as this hype video is, what it doesn’t do is explain the reality of the situation. Leading up to WrestleMania 20, it became apparent that Goldberg wasn’t signing an extension to his 1 year contract, and so once the show was done, he would be departing WWE. And to make matters worse, WWE were about to lose their own homegrown BEAST. Brock Lesnar had grown tired of the travel, the politics and general lifestyle of a professional wrestler, and stated to WWE that he would be leaving the company in order to try out something completely different… American Football.

So going in… we have a match on the biggest show of the year, between two wrestlers whose futures both lay elsewhere, in front of a raucous New York crowd. What could possibly go wrong…

WRESTLEMANIA 20 (MARCH 14TH 2004, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK) – Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar (with Special Guest Referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin)

Austin entered first on his ATV. The crowd’s cheers turned to boos when Lesnar came out after, which given a year prior he won the WWE Championship as the top babyface in the main event is really sad. Goldberg got a better reaction from the crowd during his entrance than his opponent, although both received less than complimentary hand gestures from those in the front row. They had a long stare off to start the match, to a chorus of “you sold out” chants, Austin tried to encourage both men to lock up… they still didn’t as the crowd went into “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, GOODBYE…”… Goldberg and Lesnar verbally jousted, with even Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary beginning to question the lack of ANY physical contact at the start of the match.

And when they FINALLY locked up, it must have been a full minute of a collar and elbow tie up, which naturally drew more boos from the New York crowd. When then had more verbals, more staring, and more locking up, to MORE BOOS, a “this match sucks” chant, followed by a side headlock by Lesnar, some shoulder tackles, a stare off, a clothesline spot that sent both men down, some stomps from Brock, a quite amazing Gorilla Press by Goldberg into a slam/spear type move, Goldberg then went for the big spear but crashed into the turnbuckle. And after Lesnar threw him into the ring steps on the outside we got some “Goldberg Sucks” chants… Once back in the ring, Lesnar hit a vertical suplex for a 2 count, them another vertical suplex, a side headlock, some long submission hold that was really boring to watch Goldberg try and counter out of, some more really boring exchanges that drew a deserved “this match sucks” chant, some more boring offence, Goldberg hit a spear for a 2 count, which drew an upset reaction towards our guest referee, Brock then hit the F5, but only got a 2 count. Lesnar was then the one unhappy with Austin. Brock charged towards Goldberg but he instead met the turnbuckle, Goldberg then hit the spear, a Jackhammer, and got the pin. AWFUL match.

1/2* (0.5)

Stone Cold raised the hand of the victor, but when the defeated Brock Lesnar stood up, upon hearing the Goodbye song being directed towards him by the crowd, Brock gave the fans the…

After turning them towards Austin, he got a Stunner for his troubles. Goldberg then entered the ring, and he also got booed, but Austin looked to be willing to share his beer-bash celebrations with the match winner… until Goldberg also got a Stunner from Austin. The crowd popped huge for this, maybe the biggest pop of the whole disaster.

And even with maybe the most over babyface figure in WWE history trying to steer it, there can be no debate that the first match of this trilogy was nothing short of an absolute abomination.

A lot can happen in 12 years… Well, one of our topics stayed quietly in the pro-wrestling shadows, the other dominated UFC and then came back to dominate WWE. But one thing that can be said about nostalgia is that it sells. And so it was no real shock then that the pre order bonus character of the new WWE 2K17 game was announced to be…

And who was the COVER star of this same video game?…

It writes itself doesn’t it….?

Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter “Off The Top Rope” segment with Jonathan Coachman in October of 2016 when promoting the game, Goldberg was asked about possibly returning to the ring after 12 years away, where he replied stating he was 49 now, and didn’t want to tarnish his legacy. He was asked how much time he would need to be ready? And he said he didn’t know but would need to talk with his family. He then joked he wanted until the end of the year for god’s sake. His final point was the most headline grabbing, saying “I don’t owe Brock Lesnar a rematch”, adding though that if he was to return that would be the match.

So… the first wheels had been set in motion. And on Raw on October 10th, Paul Heyman officially laid out the challenge on behalf of Brock Lesnar…

1 week later, and I remember it clear as day because I stayed up all night to see it. After 12 years away, he was BACK!

So… one last time… One last dance, WCW’s gunslinger was gonna come out one more time to take on The Beast. But this was in the era of SUPER Lesnar, of SUPLEX CITY, BITCH! Not even superman Bill Goldberg could stop Brock… could he..???

Over the next few weeks on Raw, appearances by Goldberg and Lesnar/Heyman hyped up the match and the battle lines were drawn. The hype was unlike anything I’d seen for a WWE match outside of WrestleMania for a long time. On the final Raw before Survivor Series and the long-awaited rematch, the two behemoths came face to face once again…

And so… it was time…

SURVIVOR SERIES 2016 (NOVEMBER 20TH 2016, TORONTO, CANADA) – Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)

When that match ended, when that ref counted the 3, I experienced emotions I have never before or since felt watching professional wrestling. Complete and utter amazement and shock and awe. I didn’t even imagine in a million years that Brock Lesnar would lose to Goldberg, let alone in EIGHTY SIX SECONDS???!!!

The immediate reaction among many was the same utter shock I felt, but others pointed out that WWE built up Lesnar as the man, they gave him THE STREAK, they fed to him John Cena, and more recently Randy Orton at this same year’s SummerSlam… and now they just had him completely DESTROYED by a returning legend in his first match in 12 years??? Whatever people felt, it certainly got people talking… Me personally… I did then and still do now, ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MATCH!!!

As it turns out, Lesnar was NOT in fact LAST… It was felt by those in WWE that the Goldberg hype and run so far had gotten over very well… so they let the adventure carry on… and on… and on… Lesnar became somewhat of a recluse in the time after this. We didn’t see him in fact. We barely even saw Paul Heyman… And when we did… well… we’ll get to him… But to the victor goes the spoils, and so having conquered the conqueror Goldberg wanted more. One last title run in fact. And to do this… he had a plan…

So let’s now see how Paul Heyman would respond to this revelation… We know of the Advocate for the Beast to always be full of confidence regarding his client… well… I guess an 86 second loss does things to people… A shellshocked, dishevelled-looking Heyman would then appear on the episode of Monday Night Raw the following week…

And at said Royal Rumble? Well… Lightning did indeed strike twice…

This time, Goldberg entered, hit one Spear, and then clotheslined Lesnar over the top ropes and OUT of the Royal Rumble match… all just EIGHTEEN seconds after entering the match himself.

From here, although neither man of course won the Rumble, Goldberg would find himself in line for what he had wanted. And at Fastlane 2017, just prior to WrestleMania, Goldberg defeated Kevin Owens to win the Universal Championship. The final chapter of this trilogy would now have an extra added element…

Strap yourself in, because this trilogy goes out with a BANG! And with this match taking place immediately after the abortion of Bray Wyatt losing the WWE title to Randy Orton, I was in need of a pick-me-up… this more than did the trick…

WRESLTEMANIA 33 (APRIL 2ND 2017, ORLANDO, FLORIDA) – Brock Lesnar (With Paul Heyman) defeated Goldberg (C) to become the NEW Universal Champion

(Review taken from my WrestleMania 33 review blog: https://nobodyisready.com/2019/04/02/wrestlemania-33-review/ )

The video package shown was incredible. It was narrated by Heyman so that was a big plus right away, and it just reminded me how perfectly booked Goldberg’s entire 2016-17 run was. Lesnar as the challenger came out first and got a big ovation (with his WrestleMania attire… his trusty black beanie hat…), Goldberg followed with his OG entrance and the chants echoing around the Citrus Bowl. Heyman got a huge reaction doing his introduction for Lesnar and it became clear very quickly that although Goldberg was over this was definitely a pro-Lesnar crowd. So this is exactly what happened move-for-move in the match: the bell rung, Lesnar hit Goldberg with 3 German Suplexes, Lesnar roared, the camera didn’t pick up the oncoming Goldberg though who hit a big Spear, then he hit a 2nd Spear but Lesnar rolled to the outside, then Goldberg speared Lesnar through the barricade, Goldberg hit Brock with a knee to the stomach then rolled him back into the ring, Goldberg tried for the Jackhammer, Lesnar maneuvered into a possible F5, but Goldberg got out of it and hit another Spear, Goldberg hit a Jackhammer, the referee counted 1 then 2 but Lesnar then kicked out as the crowd went wild and loudly did the YES chants, Goldberg set for another Spear but Lesnar JUMPED OVER GOLDBERG and Goldberg went into the turnbuckle, then Lesnar hit SEVEN German Suplexes as the crowd went wild for the 10th, Lesnar roared, the he hit the F5, and then he covered Goldberg and got the pin. The crowd went wild for the finish and Brock Lesnar is the Universal Champion. The match went 4 minutes and 45 seconds AND IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT! EXACTLY what it should have been, short and action-packed, it was big moves ONLY and it was just GREAT! It was the pick-up we ALL need after Bray Vs Randy. Do not see my rating as a sign this match was anything short of exceptional, bare in mind this match went less than 5 minutes and it managed to get a rating even this high which is exceptional. If wrestling matches were usually around 5 minutes this would be 5 stars easily. You will never see a sub-5 minute match as good as this!

***1/4

… And we never heard from either man again…

Josh.

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