A lot can change over the years, but one thing is always true about pro wrestling: it’s all about the money.
Or, said another way, it’s all about the game, and how you play it.
WWE used ESPN to break the news today that Bill Goldberg would be headlining the 2018 class of its Hall of Fame. After the announcement, Triple H took to Twitter to offer the following words:
.@Goldberg brings passion and intensity to everything he does...on the field, in the ring, and especially with his family.— Triple H (@TripleH) January 15, 2018
His intensity and character made him one of the biggest stars in our industry...so #WhosNext?
The #WWEHOF. Congrats, Bill. pic.twitter.com/pu3OpYAwre
Rewind back to 2010, when WrestleMania was in Atlanta and there was some talk of Goldberg possibly coming back to WWE for a Hall of Fame induction, and the duo of Triple H and Shawn Michaels gave an interview to SB Nation Atlanta where they said the following:
HHH: Bill’s trying to get into the Hall of Fame. If there’s a rumor about him coming back, he probably started it. I’ve not seen any mention of his name.
HBK: You want to move on into the future. It’s tough to not go back and get some big-name guys here and there, but I don’t know about any of the older WCW guys. It might be good for a one-shot deal but where do you go from there? As a company, you’re trying to move into the future. It’d be like bringing Michael Jordan back.
HHH: As far as the Hall of Fame goes, it’s tough. We have a unique business, and we try to do a legitimate Hall of Fame. We try to honor the guys that deserve it. To the guys that go in, it’s something special. I heard Hogan shit on it, but I don’t think anything’s special to him except for money. Like, if you called Michael Jordan to put him into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and he said, “All right, but I’m only gonna show up if I get to play for the Bulls next year.” We get that all the time. We call a guy to honor him in the Hall of Fame, and he goes, “I want to do an angle. I want a one-off. I need a hundred grand.” So when you say, “What about Goldberg?”, no offense to Bill, but you’ve got guys like Bruno Sammartino that were legends with longevity that should be in there, but they’re holding out because they think they’ve got one more run. Just using Bill as an example, how many years did he wrestle? Not many.
HBK: To me, he’s not even in the ball park. Not because he’s not talented, but greatness doesn’t happen in a few years. Greatness is established over a long period of time. We try to promote people and get them over, but you can’t do it that quickly. In our line of work, there are other qualities that make somebody viable besides just whether they’re tough or not. In every other line of work -- like if you’re a lineman who can’t play, everybody knows you can’t play.
The only thing that changed in that time were the two sides making peace so that they could make money together. Triple H has grown into his role as an Executive with the company and Michaels now also works behind-the-scenes. The days of getting a candid response from the two like SBN Atlanta did are likely gone, replaced by corporate interests.
Sure, it’s possible they’ve since changed their mind, considering Goldberg’s successful return to WWE in 2016 and his run through WrestleMania 33, which included a brief Universal title reign. Whether or not that’s actually the case is something we’ll likely never know because they now have every reason to push the corporate line.
WWE has a headliner for its next Hall of Fame class, one that will sell well enough, and honest opinions are less important than the bottom line in business.