Bill Goldberg is one of the most determined people I have ever known. For some reason unknown to me, Goldberg has always wanted to prove himself over and over. He has told me many times that his toughest challenger is indeed himself.
Through the years, I spent lots of time with Goldberg. Performing at the highest level, even while injured, has always been his top priority. Where others may have taken the advice of a medical professional to pass on a match due to a nagging physical trauma, Goldberg’s inner self would take over and make him refuse the option of not performing.
I like Goldberg as both a wrestler and person. I was hoping that Goldberg’s in-ring battles would come to an end after his win over Bobby Lashley at WWE’s Crown Jewel on October 21, 2021. His performance was really solid against this top rated, brutally tough opponent. I feel having his hand raised in Saudi Arabia would have been the right time to end his active in-ring career. It was a definite high spot when he speared Lashley into a very rare defeat.
It’s obvious that Goldberg wants to show everyone — including himself — that he can keep competing on a high enough level to have a good bout against a top-tier WWE wrestler. He has found that person in the persona of Roman Reigns, the WWE Universal Champion. Goldberg made the challenge and will face him at the WWE Elimination Chamber on February 19th in Saudi Arabia.
Reigns, at 36 years old, has matured into an excellent performer. He still has not peaked in my opinion. Goldberg, at 55 years old, hit his best level many years ago. However, the way he keeps in shape and his mental determination makes him a highly dangerous challenger. But can he handle the ring-wise Reigns, who actively competes several times a week? That question alone that puts Goldberg at a major disadvantage.
On the topic of Goldberg’s comeback, I asked a cross-section of pro wrestling notables what they thought. I started with someone you are all very familiar with, Eric Bischoff. Eric has been around Goldberg since Bill broke into the business. I knew he would have a very intelligent perspective. Here’s what he told me:
“I couldn’t be happier for Bill! I see the same intensity he had in WCW! Now though I see a man who is very comfortable, with confidence only years of experience can provide. As for the match against Roman, both share mutual respect. Bill has the opportunity to end his legacy in a spectacular way with a win. Reigns has the opportunity to continue to build his with a win over Goldberg. The stakes are there. I never underestimate an old man in a business that can end the careers of the young in a moment.”
You may not know the name Sal LaSardo Jr. An extremely outspoken, very opinionated video reporter for my YouTube channel — www.billapter.com — Sal holds nothing back in his feelings that Goldberg should not be making this comeback.
“In simple terms, he’s got to be crazy,” Lasardo said. “Roman Reigns will spear Goldberg into retirement! They both use the spear as a finishing move. Once Reigns spears Goldberg it’s all over. If Goldberg spears Roman it won’t rattle him. Roman is 20 years younger. He’s got a youthful, well conditioned body going for him.
“How is it possible that Goldberg can just appear out of nowhere and demand a title shot, especially after how poorly his recent matches have gone? I do not expect Goldberg to walk out as Universal Champion. His legacy is being left in question when he is unable to have a quality match against Reigns. There are plenty of opponents that would be more watchable and give Roman a run for the title, such as Kevin Owens for one. Needless to say, we are stuck with Goldberg warning Roman that he is next when in fact Goldberg is next to taste defeat. Let’s hope this loss is the one that puts Goldberg into retirement!”
In addition to having a storied career in the ring, Booker T is also a fine pro wrestling analyst. He compared Goldberg’s comeback to a series of iconic movies he’s very fond of.
“When I think of Goldberg coming back, I think of Apollo Creed and something he said to Rocky Balboa. He said ‘Too bad we got to get old, Stallion.’ Rocky looked at him and said ‘Just keep punching Apollo.’ That’s what life is all about.”
David Penzer was the ring announcer for WCW for several years. His excellent introductions were always part of Goldberg’s amazing entrance. David’s inimitable voice was also heard on TNA, and he is currently the ring announcer for IMPACT Wrestling. I thought he would be a good talent to ask because he spent so many years with Goldberg in WCW.
“I watched Bill announce his comeback on Smackdown challenging Roman Reigns. I couldn’t help but think about those who wrote him off two decades ago,” he told me. “His charisma is and always has been off the charts. He knows his character so well all he has to do is relax and keep it simple and then it works every time.
“If you look at many of the mega-stars from the eighties and nineties, they’ve had an incredible run as they stuck to their character personas. In a time when people try to recreate themselves, those like Goldberg who kept what brought them to the dance always had long term success.
“In that same vein, if Goldberg sticks to what Goldberg does best, he has a good chance to beat the powerful force of Roman Reigns. If he lets the Uso’s and Paul Heyman take him off his game plan it could be a very long night. He needs to totally block the outside mind games and just stick to being Goldberg!”
To end this column, of course, I had to seek out and find the infamous Goldberg wannabe, Duane “Gillberg” Gill.
“My only comment Apter is that if Goldberg is making a comeback it should be against me,” said Gill. “I will come out of retirement for this match. It will be my great comeback! I should be next! I can spear him into retirement and that’s what he’s been avoiding all these years. Come on Goldberg, Roman Reigns is not the right opponent for you. I am! So I say ‘You’re next!’ I want it, the fans want it. It’s only a matter of time until I catch up with you, spear you and you’re done! You can’t keep running from me! My spectacular comeback starts with you!”