The story of Goldberg returning for a SummerSlam match with Dolph Ziggler broke last week, and that only seemed to result in excitement building for when the moment actually played out in Pittsburgh on Raw last night (Aug. 5). Even online, where criticism of WWE’s reliance on nostalgia and snark about older acts taking up time that could be used on younger wrestlers are commonplace, the segment was largely deemed a success.
And the chants of “Goldberg” in the arena and virtually on social media must have been music to WWE’s ears. Not just because the card for Sunday’s pay-per-view (PPV) in Toronto could use some sizzle. But because, according to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, Raw Executive Director Paul Heyman plans to use the Hall of Famer as a special attraction going forward.
Here’s Meltzer’s conversation with co-host Bryan Alvarez on that subject from today’s show:
“Meltzer: Bill’s got his role right now. As long as Paul Heyman is in charge of Raw, however long this run lasts, Bill has his place as his Bruno [Sammartino]. That’s the role. And he can do it! Because they’ve protected him in the last couple years. The Undertaker loss was a huge mistake. I knew it the - forget about the injury and that match was a disaster, but that’s cause he was knocked out, and they didn’t end the match when a guy had a concussion, and there’s a million mistakes made on that day. But the point is that who has more in the tank, Undertaker or Bill? I mean Bill just - the place went crazy for him and, I don’t what he does but man, the guy...
Alvarez: He’s got something very special, and if they use him sparingly, he can continue to be Goldberg
Meltzer: For a couple more years! Because somehow, he’s able to look the part... because that’s the role, you know, Bruno would come to a city twice a year at the end of his career and it was really special because it wasn’t your monthly thing, and it was Bruno the legend. And Bill is not the legend that Bruno Sammartino was, he didn’t have that kind of connection, but you know - he’s the best thing we’ve got for that position. And as an older guy, because he looks the part, there’s something there. There’s something really cool there.”
It’s an interesting idea. There is clearly a unique appeal to Goldberg’s mystique and presence, and WWE would be silly to not try to capitalize on demand for him.
The trick will be in coming up with compelling stories to explain why he shows up twice a year to tell someone like Ziggler they’re next. As we saw in the Saudi Arabia match Meltzer’s referring to, planning anything beyond a five minute match that ends with a spear and a jackhammer is a mistake. How many of those can we see before the law of diminishing returns kicks in? And how many guys are there who’s name means something but who don’t mind getting squashed by a 52 year old?
Looks like we’re gonna find out, since Sunday probably isn’t the last Goldberg match WWE will sell us.