Ah Bill Goldberg, the one WCW wrestler that Eric Bischoff can hang his hat on for being incredibly successful. Watching his matches now as an adult, it’s easy to see his limitations as an in-ring performer, but as a kid, he was larger than life, and inherently badass. He would go into the ring and just smash guys out. Very exciting for someone who could suspend their disbelief for a few hours.
Many wrestlers have buried Goldberg by talking candidly about his lack of in-ring talent, and his bad attitude, but that hasn’t stopped WWE from featuring him as a special playable character in their upcoming WWE 2K17 game.
Goldberg’s inclusion has again sparked rumors of a return to the WWE, though some smart marks would hesitate to accept since his 2003-2004 run was less-than-stellar. Still, it’s difficult to discount anything that Goldberg has done for the sports entertainment business. He’s one of the pillars of the Monday Night War-era that helped give both WWE and WCW mainstream visibility. If he were to reenter the squared circle, here are some wrestlers we’d like to see him fight.
15 Roman Reigns
After his spectacular match against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules 2016, it’s clear that Roman Reigns can adapt to any wrestling style, though the dream matchup against Goldberg would be awesome just to see two giants hitting each other.
They are extremely similar – both have had forced pushes, same build, wrestling style, and even finishers. Their differences are in how they’re over with the crowd. Despite WWE’s best effort, Reigns is very much a heel, pushed as a baby face; Goldberg will always be a face. He took on the NWO for cryin’ out loud!
Don’t expect a five-star match between Reigns and Goldberg, but it definitely would be a fun slugfest to watch. The idea of them hitting spears on each other just sounds like it would make a great Vine clip.
14 Zack Ryder
There are two great reasons why Zack Ryder is on this list: One, as a fellow wrestling nerd, I think that he would geek out from being able to square off against Goldberg. Ryder is from the same generation of wrestlers who were young teens when Goldberg’s WCW undefeated streak was part of his draw, so I think it’s a pairing he’d appreciate.
Two, it would be easy heat for Goldberg. Unfortunately, we’re at a point where we love Zack Ryder for being the talented underdog, but we also expect him to lose. Goldberg squashing Ryder would be easy heat for Goldberg, provided he comes back as a heel.
13 Mark Henry
I will champion one last great run for Mark Henry until he officially retires. The World’s Strongest Man has been in the twilight of his career for some time and we’re certainly starting to see less and less of him, especially as NXT wrestlers are being called up to the main roster. Henry has made so many other sports entertainers look great in his 20+ years in the WWE, he’s owed one incredible run as his sendoff, and if it were a possibility, it should be Goldberg.
Strength versus strength in this matchup, not to mention that both men are around the same age and are bigger guys, so you know you’re getting a knockdown drag out. As The Revival put it: no flips, just fists (and probably some pretty cool suplex spots).
12 Triple H
This would be one of those dream matches that definitely would have been really cool at the height of the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era (let's just forget about the feud they had during Goldberg's first WWE stint, shall we?). The silent monster that is Goldberg versus Degeneration-X’s mouthpiece would have been an interesting feud.
That won’t happen these days, but Triple H is still very much a badass on the mic and his Authority character would be a good foil for Goldberg’s “just wanna beat people up” aesthetic. Despite being behind the scenes, Triple H is still in great shape. Again, between him and Goldberg, I wouldn’t expect a classic match, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t be fun.
If anything, building up to a match with Goldberg is where Triple H really shines and he would really bring out the best in his opponent with some great promos.
From a David and Goliath point of view, Kalisto would be a great opponent for Goldberg’s return. WWE is very hot on keeping Kalisto in the midcard, but if they ever wanted him to be the Rey Mysterio that Sin Cara isn’t, then putting him against a veteran like Goldberg would be the best way to test the waters.
In his day, Goldberg certainly drew the kind of money that John Cena has been getting for the last decade-plus, so recreating Cena-Mysterio’s World Title bouts with Kalisto as the contemporary avatar would help elevate the latter’s status in the company.
10 Shinsuke Nakamura
This may seem like a weird matchup, but it’s because it is. The King of Strong Style versus Goldberg? Good or bad, it would just be a hell of a train wreck to watch, particularly given the size difference between the two.
Nakamura’s firing on all cylinders and just oozes charisma. Goldberg is just a monster whose reputation is built on staying silent and taking dudes out. This would purely be the “carnie” aspect of pro wrestling coming into fruition – a fun freak show to bear witness to.
Two bald guys brawling? Yeah, let’s make it happen! There’s no question that Cesaro could get a great match out of just about anybody, including Goldberg. In a way, Cesaro is like a miniature Goldberg – he’s strong, agile, and effective on the mic in very, very small bursts. Cesaro’s greatest attributes are often on display in the wrestling ring and to see him hit his signature moves on Goldberg would make the match legendary.
Imagine Cesaro hitting the Swing on Goldberg – that’s a bananas picture, isn’t it? The spectacle of whether Cesaro could perform the Swing on a heavyweight like Goldberg (I think he can) or not would put butts in the seats for the matchup.
It’s very possible that Cesaro could be the one to make Goldberg look like a million bucks in this hypothetical bout.
At press time, Rusev currently holds the United States Title and is laying out Titus O’Neil. WWE did a pretty awesome job elevating the US Title by putting it on John Cena and conventional wisdom suggests that it would be the same to put Goldberg in a program with Rusev for said title.
A Rusev versus Goldberg program would be a good way to bridge the Attitude Era and the New Era that the WWE is currently pushing. For his simplicity as a character, Rusev is actually quite entertaining and it would be fun to see Goldberg gunning for him and the US Title. I would even say that Goldberg holding the title would elevate it in the way that Cena did when he was the US Champ.
7 John Cena
Speaking of the leader of the Cenation, John Cena against Goldberg would be another fun punching match.
There hasn’t been a good face versus face since Hulk Hogan fought the Ultimate Warrior in their “Champion v. Champion” match at WrestleMania VI, so Goldberg taking on Cena in a similarly hyped match would be pretty awesome.
One could argue that Cena did this twice with The Rock in back-to-back WrestleManias, but Goldberg is unlike The Rock inasmuch as he was presented to be an incredibly dangerous competitor, particularly in his early days in WCW.
It’s rare to find someone who is as physically imposing to John Cena, but Goldberg could certainly be one of those wrestlers who would tower over Cena. Not to mention that Cena’s style compliments Goldberg’s relatively well just based on how they’re both strength-based and not so much into the high flying stuff.
6 Big E
While Big E is setting the WWE Universe on fire as one-third of The New Day, he hasn’t really gotten over outside of that. As entertaining as The New Day is, they aren’t going to be around forever and Big E will need a program as a singles competitor, enter Bill Goldberg.
Both men are humungous and have proven to be incredibly agile in the ring. It would definitely make for an interesting matchup AND Big E would have the benefit of going over, which only two veterans have allowed him to do via singles matches – John Cena and CM Punk. Having a Goldberg co-sign would be a big move for E.
5 Brock Lesnar
We’ve unfortunately seen what a match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar is like and it’s, by and large, hot garbage. But their last matchup was when both men were on their way out of the WWE.
We’re now a few years removed and Lesnar can still carry a match like it’s nobody’s business. It would be interesting to see how they would go at it in 2016. With such a horrible pairing in their previous ‘Mania match, I think that this would be a good step of redemption for both men. We’re aware that Lesnar and Goldberg are capable of having great matches, but here’s to holding out that they can easily kill it in the ring with each other.
It couldn’t be worse than the last one, right?
4 The Undertaker
Even though I can’t wait for the Undertaker to retire, it certainly would be interesting to see him go against Bill Goldberg one time.
They were both in the company at the same time, but their paths never crossed. They both are around the same age and in relatively similar shape and size, which would make this an even match. Goldberg’s brute brawler against the over-theatrical Deadman would complement each other well enough to tell a compelling story in their difference of styles. Their careers were also built on long undefeated streaks that eventually ended, which makes this pair up all the more exciting since they can challenge each other’s legacy.
Actually, I would even be fine if Biker Taker made a comeback to fight Goldberg. It would be a little NWO-y, but with Undertaker’s sneering and no-non-sense attitude it would be less cartoony than Goldberg’s feuds with the equally large Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan (which says a lot since the Undertaker is more-or-less a zombie).
The Big Guy, Ryback, isn’t totally out of WWE’s good graces just yet, but his disillusionment with the company is of public fodder. If he ever decided to go back to Vince and company then what better program to put him in than against the wrestler he’s so often compared to?
I’m not going to labor under the fantasy that Ryback versus Goldberg would be a good match. It would be akin to watching two giant uncooked Thanksgiving turkeys smacking each other around. Neither is particularly gifted in the ring and often need to rely on their partner. Nope, this would be purely just to hear fans chant “Goldberg” and have it directed at both wrestlers. It would be a hot mess, but still entertaining to watch in its terribleness, like The Room.
2 Kevin Owens
Nobody is hotter in the WWE right now than Kevin Owens. He’s criticized as not looking like much, but that could be the said of so many Hall of Famers and Kevin Owens is certainly worthy of HOF status.
Owens cutting Goldberg down on the mic would be pure gold. Not unlike verbally sparring with Triple H, Chris Jericho, or Seth Rollins, being on receiving end of Kevin Owens’ jabs will only serve to better your character just because you’re forced to step your game up. Goldberg getting annoyed at Owens would just be a pleasure to watch, not to mention that the latter could carry the match. Bell to bell, Kevin Owens can outwrestle a lot of men and Goldberg is the right stature to elevate this idea that Owens is pretty much the best wrestler on the current roster.
1 Chris Jericho
This would be the WCW match that we never got to see! Chris Jericho has been incredibly vocal about how over he was when he fake feuded with Goldberg, which ended in an anti-climactic way when Jericho was speared on an episode of Monday Nitro.
In a way, Jericho’s post-WCW success could be seen as a middle finger to the likes of Eric Bischoff and Bill Goldberg – men who believed that he couldn’t rise to the ranks and be a main eventer. This could be a match where Goldberg finally concedes to the fact that Jericho, as one of professional wrestling’s most decorated veterans, is his equal and not a mid-carder.
Jericho has never lost his touch in cutting a vicious promo and if he were to spar with Goldberg for real, this would be a great opportunity to dust off those homemade “Greenberg” shirts from the late nineties.