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PRO WRESTLING: Former WCW, WWE talent Bill Goldberg at Magic City Comic Con in Miami

Photo Courtesy Magic City Comic Con

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Bill Goldberg, one of the biggest names in the history of pro wrestling, makes a rare appearance at the Magic City Comic Con on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Miami Airport Convention Center.

“Any time I get down to Miami it’s a wonderful thing,” Goldberg said. “My mom still lives there. Firstly, to get to see her for an unannounced visit is pretty awesome. To get to see the fans at an event that I rarely attend is equally as awesome. I get to shake the hands of some of the fans who helped put me in the place I’m in these days. I try not to do too many of these types of events, but with it being in Miami and the people it had, I had to attend. Let’s not forget I’ve got to go to Joe’s Stone Crab and train with American Top Team while I’m down there. So I get to kill about 15 birds with one stone.”

From the late 1990s into the new millennium was one of the greatest times to follow pro wrestling. During the “Monday Night War” it was Goldberg who was instrumental in keeping WCW in the running against WWE. In less than a year the master of the spear and Jackhammer captured the attention of viewers worldwide. The former member of the Atlanta Falcons’ undefeated streak reached an apex when he defeated “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan in a sold-out Georgia Dome in Atlanta. During his run in WCW, Goldberg recalls a memorable moment happening in Miami as well.

“I was being pulled preshow out of the event by Jimmy Hart, and on the fly, going to see the Cardinals and the Marlins play [at Sun Life Stadium],” he said. “I was between Barry Larkin and Mark McGwire. For me, my coolest wrestling moment wasn’t really wrestling, but it was attached to wrestling. I wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity if I wasn’t wrestling.”

After WCW closed its doors, Goldberg found himself in WWE within a few years. He quickly rose up the ladder winning the WWE championship from Triple H, as well as working against the likes of The Rock. His last appearance for the company happened at WrestleMania XX against Brock Lesnar. Even though he admittedly doesn’t follow the product regularly, Goldberg is grateful for everything he accomplished in the squared circle.

“I probably watched it a handful of times since I retired,” he said. “I think there is so much more on television. Number one, I don’t have the time to do it. I’m training most of the time and spending time with my family, my eight-year-old boy and beautiful wife. My life has kind of changed in that I don’t sit arbitrarily watching two hours of mindless soap opera.

“…We know it was a kind of a disgruntled marriage between myself and WWE. I don’t really sit down and watch the product with my son. If it was something he came up to me and asked me to do I would do it. He has yet to do it. We are a traditional sports family as of right now. Growing up, the last thing I want him to do is think he is going to become a professional wrestler at age 8. We are concentrating on Muay Thai, baseball and hopefully football here.”

Though unlikely, the consummate athlete would be ready to go if he ever had one more match.

“I could still do it,” Goldberg said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now…I made the statement that I would never consider wrestling over the age of 40 when I was over 40 years old. Here I am two clicks away from the big one (50). Having children changes your outlook 100 percent of your life. If it came to fruition, I would seriously consider it. With that said, it’s not going to stop my heart that I didn’t attain that by any stretch of the imagination.”

The question is if never say never happened, who would his opponent be?

“Who knows? I really don’t know,” Goldberg said. “I wouldn’t know what they would want to do. If it was left up to me creatively, and with creative control, I think the dream match would be me and [Steve] Austin. That was the dream match 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Would it be a reality now? Probably not. Is there anyone on the current roster? I’d go with anybody. It doesn’t matter.”

WWE has proven its “anything can happen” mantra many times. One of its latest happened in 2014 when Sting appeared for the company. The iconic figure was really the only big WCW name to never step foot in a WWE ring until the Survivor Series.

“I made the final decision to become a professional wrestler because I was able to look at Sting and what he was able to do inside and outside the ring,” Goldberg said.

“He still kept being the wonderful guy that he was prior. Any decision Sting makes in this business I’m 100 percent behind. Did it surprise me? Yes. Did it floor me? No, because it’s just another opportunity. If he feels he can have the control to the point where he doesn’t bastardize his legacy, then more power to him. I hope the best for him.”

Another moment members of the WWE Universe can’t believe is finally happening is “Macho Man” Randy Savage going into the WWE Hall of Fame. Goldberg, who worked with the Savage in WCW, is supportive of the decision.

“I think it is great. It’s very much well deserved,” he said. “The animosity between he and the company put aside, the fact is ‘Macho Man’ is a staple in the annals of the world of professional wrestling. There are few people to attain the success that he did. There are few people that had an individual character that he had. Nobody He spent many glorious years helping put wrestling on the map. It’s an honor well justified.”

Even though Goldberg doesn’t lace up the boots for pro wrestling anymore, he remains active in mixed martial arts. The avid fan says he trains Muay Thai three days a week. Going from wrestling to MMA is something CM Punk is attempting on the biggest stage. Goldberg, who has called MMA shows in the past, says UFC signing the relative untested WWE alum to a multi-fight deal was a great idea.

“It’s thinking outside the box,” he said. “There are the guys who have worked their asses off on the independents and mixed martial arts organizations and get to the UFC waiting for that next big opportunity. Then here comes a guy with a zero-and-zero record and suddenly he gets the spotlight. The analogy I can give is that it was like me when I got into the wrestling business. I didn’t ‘pay my dues’ to get into the wrestling business.

“That didn’t mean I wasn’t able to, with the certain amount of training put a lot of asses in seats with the help of everybody else. Is it an eyebrow raiser? No question. I made the statement before that if they are able to steal a quarter of the pay-per-views from WWE and have people buying the pay-per-views for the UFC, then I believe they won. I don’t think they are going to turn any traditionalist off in that they aren’t going to buy a pay-per-view with CM Punk on it because these traditionalists and a lot of the MMA community wants to see him fail. They are going to want to see that.”

Goldberg says nobody can really pass judgment on if the “Best in the World” will succeed in the octagon or fall flat on his face.

“He is in a great training camp,” he said. “From what I’ve read, CM Punk is like a sponge when it comes to training. So as long as he can digest what is thrown at him, he is in a great camp. Anthony Pettis is a superstar in mixed martial arts right now. I think [Duke] Roufus was an underachiever in the kick boxing world, and he worked his ass off to obtain the level he attained as a coach. I believe he can see himself a little bit in CM Punk and work slowly with him.

“Age is nothing but a number. I wouldn’t be going down to Miami and be willing to train with American Top Team if I didn’t feel I had the ability to get in a cage or the ring with anybody. I’m not about emasculating myself. I’m not about doing something to waste people’s time. The fact is I train regularly. I’m looking to get better. I’m 48 years old, 12 years his senior or however it is. If I can do it at my age and seriously consider getting in there with competitive guys, he can do it.

“I really do it for fun. I was supposed to train with Quinton [Rampage] Jackson. He got sick. King Mo was willing to hold pads for me at ATT. I learn the martial arts because no matter how old you are or how much you train, you don’t know it all. There is always room to grow. I’m a very competitive person. I truly believe if I didn’t do Muay Thai right now, then I would probably be in jail with my general ability to deal with the general public [humor].

“For me, it’s fun and a challenge. I get hurt doing it all the time. Doesn’t make me want to stop, but makes me hungry. I have that competitive edge. I think Punk has that to. This is by no means a financial ploy for him. I think it’s something he really wanted to do for a long time. Who am I or anyone to say he can’t do it? If Dana White and UFC as a whole sees it as a smart business move and willing to take a chance on it, then why the hell not?”

Goldberg is looking forward to a busy 2015 with a handful of convention appearances sprinkled in with his endorsements, potential movie projects and his podcast “Who’s Next with Bill Goldberg” on PodcastOne. He is also attached to a celebrity drag race pay-per-view in the summer. The car enthusiast couldn’t reveal many details other than it will see fan interaction and cater to the whole world.

He is up for anything, as long as he makes it back in town to catch some of his son’s baseball games, a top priority.

- Magic City Comic Con takes over the Miami Airport Convention Center from Jan. 16-18. Catch Goldberg on Jan. 17 when he joins other wrestling superstars including Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Raven, Shane Douglas, Ron Simmons, Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne in WWE), Colt Cabana, Al Snow, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka.

Visit www.MagicCityCon.com for information.

Twitter @MagicCityComicCon

Visit www.roninprowrestling.com for details on the Ronin Pro Wrestling show on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the event.

- Follow Goldberg on Twitter @Goldberg

- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN

PRO WRESTLING ON THE WEB

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

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