Goldberg’s wrestling persona patterned after MMA before MMA fashionable


Miami Herald Writer

In less than a decade, Bill Goldberg cemented himself among the biggest names to breakout in the 1990s and in pro wrestling history.

The former WCW and WWE superstar managed to strike while the iron was hot in the business, making an immediate and lasting impact on the audience.

So much, in fact, his name has popped up on more than one occasion as a possible inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame over the years. With the company releasing a Goldberg ultimate collection DVD and his inclusion in the upcoming WWE 2K14 video game, could now be the time?

“To me does it mean I’ve accomplished greater things in wrestling [if inducted]? Absolutely not,” Goldberg said. “Is it something before I die I have to strike off my bucket list? Absolutely not. If it was offered to me, I’d seriously consider it. Is it something I’m longing for and that my life isn’t complete unless I’m in the WWE Hall of Fame? No.

“I love Pete Rose to death, but Pete Rose is in the Hall of Fame. He didn’t put asses in seats like I did. Maybe on the baseball field, sure.”

On the chances of trying his hand at mixed martial arts and joining others from pro wrestling who transitioned, Goldberg believes that ship of opportunity has sailed. Although he has been an MMA color commentator and big supporter of the sport.

“They’re doing it for business,” Goldberg said. “They are doing it purely for business, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m old comparatively. I used to own the largest MMA gym in the United States back in the late 1990s when [Randy] Couture, [Don] Frye and [Mark] Coleman were coming to my gym before it was even cool. Where do you think the [Goldberg] character came from? I went to the first UFCs.

“I knew it was going to be big. I patterned my character after a 295-pound defensive lineman who knew Russian Sambo and savate kicks and stuff like that. I thought it was cool. So my opportunity to get in it was way back then.”

Goldberg had an MMA influence, from submission moves to the gloves, which he said he wore to create a more “realistic” look. He enjoyed rivalries and matches involving those who didn’t mind getting physical.

“My feud with Scott Steiner was electrifying,” Goldberg said. “I was so excited every time we got in the ring. I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but it was a stiff working match. I like that. It means you’re alive. It means you’re there. It means that it doesn’t look like it’s staged or predetermined. What you want to do is put a sense and question in everybody’s head…That was my goal is to make people wonder.”

The Big Show, who worked in WCW as the Giant, was another opponent the dominating performer reflects on fondly.

“We went all around the country,” said Goldberg, a former defensive lineman for the University of Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons. “A lot of times we did dark matches where he would smoke a cigarette and come in the ring. The referee would come up and reprimand him, and he picked the referee up with one hand. I’d come running from the back, and they played my music. I’d spear him and jackhammer him. It was the main event all around the country, and the people went nuts.

“So everybody that says Goldberg can’t wrestle and only does two-minute matches. Why should I do anything more? Why would you do anything more to satiate the people when they’re already standing on their feet? I don’t care. Show me a 295-pound guy who can do a standing back flip in the ring. I can still do it.”

Goldberg is proud of all he has done in professional wrestling and remains grateful for all the opportunities.

“I’m luckier than anybody in the world to accomplish what I did,” Goldberg said. “I got so many second chances in my life. I fulfilled my dream of playing professional football. I got hurt and down in the dumps and lived out here with my brother. I was checking engine discs at every freaking freight line that he owned. Every single engine on every plane, I had to check them. It was miserable. Low and behold I got to go into wrestling. I worked my a-- off, and I was in the right place at the right time…I was gifted and had timing on my side. We had the Monday Night Wars.

“They had a guy named Steve Austin that looked eerily similar to myself. Our styles were totally different, but we were leading each league against each other…Any other time in any other place I may not have prospered.”

Bret Hart is a name he enjoyed working with, but every time Hart is mentioned he feels a sense of remorse. A kick Goldberg landed on Hart during their match at WCW Starrcade 1999 gave Hart a concussion. The Canadian icon was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, forcing him to retire from the ring.

“Though Bret and I are very good friends and he doesn’t hold it against me, until the day I die, I’m going to feel bad about it,” Goldberg said. “There is nothing that I can do to take it back. I’ve explained myself millions of times. I’m remorseful. What else can I do?

“I had a wonderful time with him. Any time I’m in the ring with a legend like that and have the honor of being there, it’s a dream come true.”

Goldberg was joined by Hart and a host of other top names as part of the Miami Marlins’ “Legends of Wrestling Night” at Marlins Park. The former world champion continues to stay busy. He says he has two movies on the horizon, as well as car show projects he hopes to shop around to networks. He even mentioned the possibility of working on camera with Austin. Between his work and his family, Goldberg’s life is pretty fulfilled.

• Follow Goldberg on Twitter @Goldberg.

• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN,!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.

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