The stage has been set, the hints have been dropped, and certainly out of Goldberg's camp, he's made it clear. He has openly stated that he would be willing to have one final match "so that his family could see him wrestle once in person." It's not rumour, and it's not the IWC filling the online sites and discussion boards with their own personal "what if's." This was straight from the horse's mouth. Goldberg has effectively issued the challenge to one Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Come up with a match, and get your chequebook out, and lets you and I make a lotta money.
The great metropolis of Atlanta (Goldberg's backyard) was announced already as the future home of Wrestlemania 27. It's too easy a proposition to miss. But the question remains, if this does all play out as many expect (and there's no reason to think otherwise), who will be stepping into the squared circle for one last go round with GOOOOOOOOOOOLD BERRRRRRRRRRRRG? The possibilities, one has to assume, are endless.
One thing is certain, Vince is about making money. So whatever he thinks will make the most money will be the direction he moves. So one need only put pen to paper to explore the options. There are various different factors that could play into the decision of who to pair up with him, and how to book the match. They include, but are not limited to:
1. Is the match going to be for a title?
2. Is the match meant to put over the opponent or Goldberg himself?
3. Is the match just meant to produce a "feel good" moment for the hometown guy?
4. Is Goldberg going to be courted for something longer term, or does everyone involved understand this is a one time only arrangement?
5. Is a big name superstar willing to step up and be pinned clean for the greater good?
6. In Bill willing to take the money, and do the job?
For the purposes of this article, I am making the following assumptions:
1. The match is NOT going to specifically be used to "put over" younger talent. In order for people to care about the match, there needs to be some build. And my sense with Goldberg is that he's not interested in coming back for three months of tv and go on the road prior to Wrestlemania to establish a detailed and lengthy fued with a subsequent big blowoff. So my gut says it has to be someone who is established, and who has credibility. And it's likely someone he has had previous feuds with or unfinished business.
They need to be able to pit him against someone that people actually care about, and do it quickly (say three or four weeks of RAW, and then Wrestlemania). So I just don't see it being anyone like The Miz or Daniel Bryan (if he has managed to keep himself out of the doghouse long enough) with whom he has zero history. The possible exception here is for McMahon to bring someone like the Rock or Austin back in as well, in what would amount to a "dream" matchup.
2. It WILL be a one shot deal, so him winning a title is off the table. Vince isn't going to bring someone in and hand over the hardware. He's too smart. Now with the possibility of run in's, corrupt referees, and ambushes from one or more wrestlers, there are a variety of ways to let Goldberg come off strong, and not give him the clean pin. So it could still be a title shot, but don't expect it to change hands. Depending on who the opponent is, there could be carry over effect in terms of story lines. Maybe the opponent is beat but not beaten, only to find himself weakened and defeated on RAW the following night, sold to the audience as being partially because of the Goldberg match the night before.
3. The Goldberg match is the headlining match. While it might seem counter intuitive (putting a one time only wrestling appearance as the main event) I can't see McMahon doing anything else. THAT year at THAT pay per view THAT would make the most sense. I believe based on how Goldberg and Hogan sold out at the Georgia Dome some years ago (on almost NO notice), there are enough people in Atlanta alone that they will sell out in minutes with people possibly only interested in the final match.
So he needs an opponent. In my mind, there are seemingly three categories that they could fall into. Let's explore:
1. A current WWE superstar
There are a crop of top wrestlers who probably deserve the right to main event Wrestlemania. Pending what shape they are in and where the stories have gone throughout the year, you could probably create a case for guys like HHH, Cena, Orton, or possibly even Jericho facing Goldberg. Of the various possibilities, a handful are of particular interest to me.
First, Jericho. They have history involving times when Goldberg would not job to Jericho. If not for Super Cena, one could argue that Jericho is the quintesential corporate guy. He seems to take all assignments, talks good about his boss and co-workers, and seems pretty darn loyal. Depending on where he is on the pecking order, he may be deserving of the spotlight to get a shot at a clean pin over Goldberg if for no other reason than to reward his many years of service. He's a pretty safe bet to carry the match too, given Goldberg is not exactly a scholar when it comes to his knowledge of the ring.
A second, and less likely opponent is Bret Hart. Seriously. Those of us who are students of "sports entertainment" know full well that it was Goldberg who brought Bret's storied career to an end after a reckless kick to the side of the head. The issue here is that Bret is limited in what he can do in the ring now. Add Goldberg into the mix and one can't say for sure that it's going to be a heck of a match. Bret has already had a big revenge match with McMahon so this would seem to be another of those types of stories. And I am not sure we need to see that.
A third outside chance would be The Undertaker. Once again it would be somebody versus the streak. Would Undertaker be willing to give it up to Goldberg? It seems hardly possible. Putting those two in a match seems "awkward" given their styles and the seeming importance of the streak. So probably not that either. There's always Cena, a mainstay main eventer and the elder statesman (and backstage lobbyist) HHH would probably get a look as well.
2. Former WWE superstar
There are many former stars that might prove interesting to watch in a match with Goldberg. I'll review a few. Would Rock take a match against Goldberg? They've tangled before and although they were not terrible matches, none were they classics either. If you coax Austin out for a big pay day, would he be able to give you what everyone would want to see in a match? Oddly enough, this one intrigues me and I wonder given Austin's less than budding movie career, maybe he needs a few bucks. THAT confrontation would draw money, no question.
Somehow this seems like a possibility. Goldberg and Lesnar stank out the joint in what was both of their final matches with WWE some time ago. Lesnar is too hooked on MMA now, so cross that one off your list. And finally, Batista. Should he fail at winning over Strikeforce, and if he gets over his personal issues with HHH having lobbied for movie roles (at Batista's expense), perhaps it's a battle of superpowers that marks Batista's return to WWE. For arguments sake, I am throwing in HBK.
What a difference a year can make. He has no interest in wrestling right now, but who knows where he is in nine months time. You'd at least have a ring general in there who could call the match, and make Goldberg look better than he is. But don't hold your breath.
3. Current non WWE superstar
There are only a couple of non WWE names that seem like possibilities and they all would pre-suppose that McMahon would be able to either lure them away from other companies, or out of retirement. Hogan's name would have to be tossed in there but that's really not an option. I think contracts prevent this from happening and he is far too broken down to be a main eventer anymore. There is one guy that may be viable.
Would Sting take a payday for one final match before he retires for good? THAT has some potential. Everyone wants to see Sting in the WWE hall of fame (cause no one else has one), and this would be a way to accomplish it (one match, one days employment, and into the HOF). He has always been a loyal subject to his employer so something would need to change, or he'll be hanging his tights up as a TNA employee.
There are a few different directions to take this Goldberg match, some with little promise, and some with big drawing power. Don't kid yourself, cause it is going to happen. The only question is... who's next?