– by Tim Jousma

Last night, on WWE Monday Night Raw- the longest running weekly episodic program in history- WCW Legend Bill Goldberg made his hotly-anticipated return. As part of the next escalation of his feud with Brock Lesner, which seems to be ripped straight from the plot of Rocky Balboa, he came out and answeredPaul Heyman’s challenge from last week.

And he looked great doing it.

Goldberg delivered a promo that was easily- far and away- the best he’s ever sounded on a microphone. He was loose; He was natural; and he seemed to be speaking from the heart. The crowd, much to my surprise, absolutely loved him, and his entrance last night will probably go down as one of the most memorable moments WWE has had in quite a while. 

I’ve got to hand it him. That closing line, which I’ll paraphrase here: “You’re not just next. You’re last!” was right on the money. 

That line created a perfect bookend for Goldberg’s career. WCW’s Phenom was always known for declaring who will be his next prey, but now here he is announcing that his next target will be his last target. The hunter will finally put down his weapon after one last kill, and then ride off into the sunset. It’ll be a truly fitting end, since Goldberg never actually had a retirement match, and therefore left the door open for some much-needed closure at one point or another. 

With all that said, I’ve got some serious concerns.

For starters, the reason for this match is fuzzy at best. Goldberg has already defeated Lesner. He’s 1-0. What, exactly, does he have to prove here? Why would he come out of semi-retirement to fight a guy who’s still in his prime, and risk an embarrassing loss? I wish there had been more a of a build to this moment; A build where Lesner taunts Goldberg for weeks, letting it be known that he basically “threw” their WrestleMania XX match because he knew he was leaving the company and didn’t care anymore. Have Lesner make Goldberg’s win seem tainted, have him mock Goldberg for getting old and disappearing into obscurity instead of going out like a warrior. Make it so that Goldberg has no choice but to come out rip his head off.

As of now, there’s no logical storyline explanation for why Goldberg would bother with this match. Had he lost to Lesner back in the day, I’d get it. They could make it like Lesner is Goldberg’s Moby Dick. But that’s not it, so they could’ve at least made it so that it’s the other way around.

Also, where the hell do we go from here? I see very little upside. Here are our options:

  1. Goldberg wins, which makes Lesner look pretty lame. How do you take a “beast” seriously when he loses to a guy who hasn’t wrestled in 12 years?
  2. Lesner wins, which makes Goldberg’s return seem rather pointless, and leaves him tied 1-1 with Lesner.

Let’s say Option 2 happens. That means we’d have to build to a huge payoff match, right? Perhaps at Royal Rumble, or the next WrestleMania. The tiebreaker. The Big Kahuna where we see, once and for all, which one of these two monsters is “DA MAN!” right?

But even then, you’re faced with similar issues. Let’s say Goldberg goes over, all you’ve done is put Lesner in a very high-profile position where he loses to a semi-retired guy. Since he’s linked to UFC, and this Goldberg feud has already crossed over into the mainstream thanks to ESPN, Lesner’s loss would be a tough pill for the still-active fighter. If Lesner goes over, it ends Goldberg’s career- which was always based on his dominance- on a whimper. Do you think he, his fans, his family, or the hardcore marks out there want their final image of Goldberg to be him getting pinned for the 1-2-3?

So Goldberg is back. And he cut a pretty damn good promo last night. But I’m currently struggling to see the longterm upside, especially since the entire selling point is that this will be a one-time-only affair. If this were to set up a final run for Goldberg, I’d be more intrigued. But since he’s publicly declared that Lesner will be his “last” victim, it feels like they’ve written themselves into a corner.

What do you think?