X

Goldberg's Last WWE Run Cemented 2018 Hall of Fame Induction

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2018

Goldberg
Goldbergcredit: wwe.com

Goldberg is next.

Goldberg's powerhouse pro wrestling career will forever be immortalized thanks to his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. The announcement was made on Monday and surely came as a pleasant surprise to his fans.

The man so many criticized for so long is finally getting his due on the worldwide stage of the company he once hated. But the past is long behind him, as it was his last WWE run that cemented his Hall of Fame honor.

Goldberg's WCW legend was mocked at one time, mostly by fans who could not forget his first WWE run in 2003. No matter what he did then, he just couldn't get over the way WWE likely wanted him to.

He looked great physically, carried himself like a star and did all the right things; despite his effort, though, Goldberg could not connect to the WWE faithful. 

Of course, bad booking was to blame for that run as well. To ask anyone, especially a former WCW top guy, to come in and get over on The Rock and Triple H, was a tall order. Had Goldberg entered WWE as a heel, things might have gone differently. However he was a straight babyface, just as he had been in WCW.

However, he was no longer in WCW. WWE belonged to The Game at that time, and Goldberg could not escape his shadow.

Considering his stature and star power, the only real road Goldberg had was to the top. Anything less would have been considered a waste of time. How could WWE book him in anything less than the main event when he came in?

It was that Catch-22 situation which kept Goldberg from exploding the way he needed to. It didn't take long for fans to see he was unhappyit was evident every time he was on camera.

His final match against Brock Lesnar in 2004 sealed Goldberg's fate with the WWE faithful. Not only was it the last match for both men, it was a subpar one at best.

Goldberg's star had dimmed and the last remnants of WCW seemed to just fade away. If WWE fans had been told during that time of his Hall of Fame induction, it would have been immediately laughed at. This was not a guy who deserved such an honor and perhaps never would. 

What a difference 12 years can make.

When Goldberg returned to WWE in 2016, he did so to a hero's welcome. The man who had been ridiculed and largely forgotten stood in a WWE ring to a deafening ovation.

Fans had moved on from 2004. Goldberg had moved on as well. Finally he was going to get some closure and end his pro wrestling career on his termsby facing Lesnar one more time.

This was the match fans wanted as Goldberg was the perfect opponent for The Beast Incarnate. Lesnar's 2004 exit had not been forgotten, but rather used to his advantage. It was part of his prizefighter character, the man who fought for money and then took it straight to the bank.

Fans cheered him. Suplex City was fun, but it wasn't fun enough.

Lesnar had dropped The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30, ending The Deadman's undefeated streak. The memory of that stayed with fans leading up to Goldberg's return, just as The Beast's constant disappearing act had. Suplex City was becoming a tired place to visit.

However, Goldberg's return meant Lesnar finally had some real competition. Goldberg was the only guy Lesnar could not get past before and the same was true when Goldberg came back.

Goldberg's shocking win over Lesnar in 86 seconds at 2016's Survivor Series was a brilliant piece of booking.

Goldberg didn't have to work a long match; Lesnar didn't have to get beat down and the sudden end left fans breathless. Lesnar did not have an answer then and that was also the case at 2017's Royal Rumble, when he ended up out of the match thanks to Goldberg.

Goldberg's comeback was pitch perfect in every way. From his interactions with Lesnar to his promos in the ring, fans could see he was having fun. This was not the same man who had carried WCW but limped through WWE. This was a man determined to impress his son and make right what once went wrong.

He finally connected with the audience. He had them and never really lost them.

Had things gone differently, there may not have been a Hall of Fame announcement in 2018. If the booking had been off or if Goldberg had been portrayed as a human Superstar past his prime, then none of it would have worked. Instead, WWE chose to show the intense monster he had become as a hero.

Goldberg was a force of nature and that was on display for the whole world to see. He was a comic book character come to life, only this time he was also a proud father and husband who wanted to prove he still had what it took to succeed in WWE. Fans saw that and related to him in a way they never had before.

The only misfire that occurred was Goldberg's Universal title win over Kevin Owens. Fans were somewhat split on the move, but his feud with Lesnar needed the championship heading into WrestleMania 33. They had an epic confrontation that night; it was a brutal contest that saw both men take a lot of punishment in a short amount of time.

Goldberg may have lost, but he gained respect from not only the fans but surely his peers as well. 

He wanted to change the perception fans had of him and he did just that. He wanted to come back for his family and change the way he left things 12 years earlier and he did that, too.

Goldberg had a mission, he put all he had into it and accomplished everything he set out to do. He also left the critics silent.

Goldberg is not just a legend, he is a Hall of Famer.

                    

Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.