Goldberg will be a featured character in WWE 2k17. That’s a good thing. The WWE has done a splendid job of preserving its own history, as well as the history of professional wrestling, incredibly well. The video games in particular have advanced from allowing players to relive the Attitude Era to spanning the entire history of WrestleMania, and just recently the bygone days of WCW and ECW, with all its wrestlers and arenas and storylines, have been chronicled in the format. A man of Goldberg’s magnitude is a welcome nod to the recent history of professional wrestling.
Less positively, Goldberg’s presence in the video game has led to immense speculation that a return to the ring is on the cards. Such a move would take us away from nodding to history, and into looking at it with rose tinted spectacles and forcing it down our throats.
Goldberg has even furthered the speculation by hinting at a possible return match against Brock Lesnar.
Put simply, it is really hard to see what a 49-year-old guy of Bill Goldberg’s standing could bring to wrestling in 2016. Let’s remember Goldberg’s last ever match at WrestleMania 20: a pitiful affair. It certainly didn’t kill the crowd dead – indeed, they were quite active throughout the match, expending an awful lot of energy booing him and his opponent out of the building out of anger at their imminent departures, and cheering when they were both summarily dismissed with a pair of Stone Cold Stunners.
His opponent? Brock Lesnar. And if “The Beast Incarnate” can give the finger to the wrestling fans, take a lengthy WWE hiatus, and return to become one of the most valuable pro-wrestling commodities in history, then why can’t Bill Goldberg?
Because in the eight years that Lesnar was away, he solidified himself as an atypically formidable force on the mixed martial arts scene. There is enough fan crossover between the WWE and UFC for all eyes to be on Lesnar, and it was easy for the excitement and drawing power he accrued within the Octagon to transcend UFC and find its way into the squared circle. Fans of both promotions knew that Lesnar had been a WWE guy, and so it was easy for Lesnar’s unstoppable nature to translate well to WWE – hence the monster booking we’ve seen from Brock over the past four years.
But Goldberg? His only notable accolades since leaving WWE have been a poorly received stint as a color commentator for a defunct MMA promotion, and as the presenter of Garage Mahal: a garage renovation show on the DIY Network. While fans were aching to see what gifts from MMA Lesnar was bearing for WWE, it is doubtful that they want to see the squared circle renovated into a spectacular living space.
Goldberg’s last run in WWE also just wasn’t that memorable. He was a part of Triple H’s two-year long burial party, but do fans even remember that in late 2003 he was the WWE champion? He joins the queue of former WCW wrestlers (DDP, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall) who were brought into the WWE off the back of their immense popularity and star power in the Ted Turner-owned company, only to have been booked into irrelevance. In spite of his previous run with the WWE, it was so unremarkable that it may as well have never happened, and gives him little in the way of traction for a return.
G0ldberg now only exists in the late 1990s WCW consciousness. That’s where he should stay, because the late ’90s were a very, very long time ago. With nothing in the way of a groundswell of momentum, the 49-year-old Goldberg has nothing to offer the WWE in 2016.