Advice to WWE Creative: How to Make Goldberg and Lashley Look Good in Their Feud
On paper, it's not a bad decision. The former WCW juggernaut was almost unstoppable at his peak and is one of the biggest names the industry produced.
The marquee is already out there, but that was the easy part. Now, WWE must spend the next month building hype and crafting the storyline.
Here is some advice to WWE Creative on how to best make sure both Superstars look strong for this feud.
Examining the Situation
The easy way to execute this feud is to focus almost entirely on Goldberg, as he's the challenger.
Lashley has already been built up over the last year, dominating most of his opponents until he reached the pinnacle of winning the WWE title. Even after that, he has destroyed Kofi Kingston and others to prove he's the toughest on Raw.
Theoretically, this means more attention needs to be put into Goldberg so he is shown as a viable contender who may be able to topple The All Mighty.
The problem, though, is that WWE often lacks balance with this sort of booking philosophy. Rather than keeping Lashley at the top of his game and showing how the veteran is at the same level or better, the company thinks tearing someone down is a way of leveling the field.
All that does is hurt the champion going forward, though. WWE must avoid falling into pitfalls of belittling either of them and focus on boosting each Superstar's reputations.
Avoid Making Bobby Lashley a Coward
After their only interaction so far, WWE has already made the mistake of docking Lashley some points.
After defeating Keith Lee on last week's Raw, The All Mighty was propositioned by Goldberg for a title match. Rather than answering it, the champion and MVP walked away.
WWE likely thought a win over Lee would counterbalance any negatives Lashley received. Instead, since them walking away was the last part of that promo, it's what sticks in the memory longer.
MVP's excuse of not giving Goldberg a response does nothing. Nobody takes that as a power play because they're the heels. It was clearly a coward's retreat.
WWE must avoid the temptation of positioning Goldberg as the hungry warrior looking for a fight only for the champion to back out of the ring and run to the back.
This also means Lashley shouldn't attack Goldberg from behind. That's a move for someone with a weaker but more calculating character, such as The Miz or Sami Zayn.
Don't make Lashley a weasel or the fans will reject it. All that would do is undermine the WWE champion for the future.
Give Lashley Dominant Victories
Lashley works best when he asserts his dominance. The more people he destroys, the better he looks.
There are four episodes of Raw before SummerSlam on August 21. In at least two of those, The All Mighty should wreck someone on the roster.
Ideally, at least one challenger in the coming weeks should be a sacrificial lamb who is low on the totem pole like Titus O'Neil or even local competitors. If it's the latter, Lashley should beat more than one with ease to underline his strength.
Reminding the audience that power is Lashley's game will keep his character consistent and help tell the narrative WWE is striving for, which is to question whether he's strong enough to take down Goldberg.
The key issue is to remember it's not a question of whether Lashley is strong, but instead it's whether his impressive feats of strength can match one of the most dominant wrestlers in history.
At no point should we question The All Mighty as the top guy on Raw.
Preserve Goldberg's Dwindling Mystique
While the key to Lashley is continuing to show how powerful he is, Goldberg presents a different challenge.
He has long established his dominance and won multiple world titles over the course of his Hall of Fame career. The problem, though, is that his mystique has faded considerably over the past few years.
It's sad to admit, but Goldberg is no longer the monster he once was.
He's only wrestled in nine matches over the past 17 years and lost five of those. WWE cannot feasibly bring him back to the level he was at in the late 1990s.
What can be done, though, is to remind fans of what he used to be. Video packages should showcase his impressive undefeated streak. Specials should air on YouTube, and vignettes should focus on breaking down his most destructive victories.
Every effort should be made to remind the WWE Universe this isn't an older, beaten-down legend.
Play to Goldberg's Strengths and Hide His Weaknesses
Goldberg was never known for his promo skills. While he's far from the worst on the mic, he's never been Ric Flair or The Rock.
At times in recent years, his promos have done more damage than good. If he stumbles over his words, it's worse than if he said nothing at all.
Any future promos will likely be long-winded and superfluous. All he'll talk about is the same few things he keeps saying with every feud: how he's been sitting home and watching Lashley running through the competition but that stops now.
We've heard it before and we've seen Goldberg lose. It's not as intimidating as it once was.
Instead, as WWE focuses on continuing Lashley's dominant streak, Goldberg should get a chance to destroy someone, too. That way, he can show that he hasn't lost a step and he has the same commanding presence as the champion.
Book a backstage segment where former Hurt Business member Cedric Alexander picks a fight with Goldberg and gets squashed in a quick match. Set it up so the veteran wants to silence MVP and runs through him to send a message.
Keep things short. He's made a career of doing not much more than Spears and Jackhammers. The smaller his opponents, the less likely he'll struggle to pick them up for his finisher.
If Goldberg is booked to resemble the unstoppable force of the past and less of the guy we've seen in the past five years, the better it will be for him and the more it will mean when Lashley defeats him at SummerSlam.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.