PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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Bill Goldberg had a rough first run in WWE, and Steve Austin was there to see it, especially up close at WrestleMania 20 when he was special referee. Austin said he is glad that Goldberg got to return under better circumstances this.
“Yeah, I was glad to see it happen,” he told me on a recent PWTorch Livecast interview. “I don’t think Bill had a good run in his first go-around in WWE.”
When Goldberg arrived in WWE, there was a lot working against him, including a sense within WWE that he hadn’t paid the dues that the headliners in WWE had, nor was he a highly respected in-ring worker or strong interviewer. When he arrived in WWE, it was almost as if WWE wanted to prove their preconceptions about him were correct.
Austin said the timing wasn’t right for him to have a dream match-up against Goldberg. “He was coming off being paid by WCW, had a great deal over there, he was super super over in WCW,” he said. “The window already closed, I was getting ready to get out of there, so Stone Cold vs. Goldberg never happened. All of these years that go by, because he was so over in WCW, he gets in the big leagues, whether it was the writing or he didn’t really fit the system for whatever reasons, when he got back in the ring two weeks ago, and that crowd started going ‘Goldberg,’ he had tears in his eyes.”
Austin said no matter how big of a star you are at one time, it’s natural to be insecure about whether fans remember or still appreciate you if you’ve been out of the spotlight for a long stretch. “When you’ve been away from the business that long and you get that kind of response, you realize that even though you’ve been gone twelve years, these people still respect the hell out of you and they love you,” he said. “They have a chance to live vicariously through those spears and jackhammers and that intensity that he brought with that great entrance walking through the back with the pyro and breathing the smoke, it was quite the spectacle. He was a big time guy.”
Austin also noted that not every wrestler even wants to get back in the spotlight after some time away. “You get away from the business and it’s sometimes, ‘Piss on the business, ah, I’m over it,’ then you go back in the ring for a moment like that, it brings all those feelings and emotions [back].
He knows Goldberg well, and even visited his house this summer. He said Goldberg didn’t come back just for the money. “Yeah, there’s some dollars and some cents on the table that’s going to go to Bill Goldberg and the WWE, but this wasn’t about the money.”
Austin said Goldberg rose to the occasion on his first promo back last month on Raw. “It was about the crowd responding in such great fashion,” he said. “I’m not sure Goldberg is the greatest promo guy that ever walked the planet that did business in the squared circle, but an A+ promo by Bill Goldberg handling the task at hand, all those emotions, it was completely real and authentic. I felt it was a great piece of television. If the ratings went up, it means he did indeed mean something to a lot of people. I’m excited for his opportunity and I’m glad to see him back. Whoever knows how long it’s going to last, whether it’s one match or two matches or whatever, it was a good piece of TV and Bill handled it about as good as anybody could have handled it.”
Keller’s Analysis: Tonight is a big test for Goldberg’s popularity, as he’ll be opposite Brock Lesnar for the first time since his return. Will fans side with Goldberg strongly, will the crowd be split, or will the crowd side with Lesnar against him? Goldberg could end up overscripted and come across as inauthentic and just another cog in the machine, which could cost him the connection fans felt a month ago when he returned and presented something rare on Raw – a sense that someone was speaking from their heart and a not a script provided by a writer.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS RECENT RELATED STORY: EXCLUSIVE: Will Goldberg get hurt against Lesnar? Steve Austin addresses whether that concerns him at all (w/Keller’s Analysis)
OR CHECK OUT THE FULL AUDIO OF THE INTERVIEW HERE: PWTorch Livecast Interview Thursday (11-3-16): Steve Austin & Gabe Sapolsky join Wade Keller for double-header edition