In 10 short months, Bill Goldberg went from a complete unknown to the biggest superstar created by World Championship Wrestling. Goldberg arrived on the scene totally unheralded, defeating Hugh Morrus in a routine squash in September of 1997. By the early months of 1998, jam-packed arenas were chanting his name to the cadence of his music, and it seemed the undefeated streak that catapulted him to fame would never end. Ultimately, Goldberg racked up an alleged 173 victories en route to the most successful win-loss record mainstream wrestling has ever seen, until his dominance came to a sudden end in December of 1998. Goldberg remained a staple of the main event scene in WCW until that company went out of business, at which point, he took a few years off before enjoying a brief but fruitful run in WWE from 2003 to 2004.
Rumors swirled that Goldberg would make his return to WWE for years, and these rumors turned out to be completely true at long last in October of 2016 when Da Man once again appeared in a WWE ring. Goldberg did so to resume his feud with Brock Lesnar, thus making his past battles with The Beast Incarnate of high interest to new fans intrigued to learn the Goldberg story. Goldberg’s history with Lesnar is only one small piece to the puzzle, though, and there are in fact dozens of things newcomers and young fans alike need to know about Goldberg now that he is back in WWE ready to dominate once more. Keep reading to learn 15 amazing facts about Goldberg that WWE fans need to remember.
15. He’s Proud Of His Jewish Heritage
While many wrestlers shy from revealing too much of their personal lives to the public for obvious reasons, it would be somewhat hard for a man named Goldberg to hide the fact that he’s ancestrally Jewish. Rather than shy from the obvious, Goldberg has embraced his Jewish heritage in a manner that makes it clear that he’s proud of his family history. Goldberg was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and celebrated his bar mitzvah at Temple Israel. Though Goldberg alleges to be “so far from religious it’s not even funny,” his faith in Judaism was nonetheless strong enough for him to be married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, in addition to respectfully observing Jewish traditional holidays his entire life. Goldberg was noted to have regularly requested Yom Kippur off during his stay in WCW, and he also confirmed a rumor that he considered wearing the Star of David as part of his ring gear, (although he ultimately decided against it). Luckily, although he wore his heritage on his sleeve, Goldberg claims that he never once encountered any form of anti-Semitism in wrestling or in football.
14. His NFL Career Was A Bust
Prior to dominating the world of wrestling, Goldberg attempted to do the same in the world of football to mixed results. At first, his football prospects looked rather strong, as he received a scholarship to the University of Georgia, where he played on the Georgia Bulldogs team. Once college was over, Goldberg was an 11th round draft pick for the Los Angeles Rams. Goldberg only spent one season with the Rams, followed by stints with the CFL’s Sacramento Gold Miners, and then the Atlanta Falcons. He was cut from the Falcons after two years of play, at which point he joined the Carolina Panthers, but he would again get cut from that team before he even made it to the field. A major pelvic injury ended Goldberg’s football career for good in 1996, leaving him feeling dejected over his lack of success. At the same time, however, Goldberg was able to take some solace in the simple fact that he played for the NFL, which he considered a huge achievement in and of itself.
13. Sting And Lex Luger Convinced Him To Wrestle
Like most athletes, Goldberg wasn’t content to let his lack of success in the NFL stop him from maintaining his level of conditioning, and as such he spent long hours in gyms during his rehabilitation in the hopes of one day resuming his career. Despite most NFL insiders feeling Goldberg wasn’t a big enough talent to deserve attention, he still fostered the belief that some team would hire him once his injury had completely healed. In a surprise twist of fate, Goldberg never found out whether or not his optimism had any foundation, instead deciding to switch career paths after a happenstance meeting with WCW mainstays Sting and Lex Luger. The two wrestlers spotted Goldberg at a shared gym, and somehow convinced the hulking ex-football player to tryout at the WCW Power Plant despite never having any particular interest in wrestling. Goldberg mostly agreed to participate as something to do while recovering from his football injury, but to his and everyone’s surprise, he turned out to be such a natural that he would feud with both Sting and Luger (amongst dozens of other top talents) within the next three years.
12. He Lost Before The Streak Began
The one thing absolutely everyone knows about Goldberg is his incredible undefeated streak, and yet closer observation would imply that the whole thing was founded on somewhat of a lie. Granted, the entire wrestling industry is founded on a lie, but enough of them were involved in Goldberg’s streak that fans started questioning whether or not it was impressive in the first place. The first hint that things weren’t as they seemed was the surprising fact that Goldberg actually lost prior to his official debut, in an untaped match against Chad Fortune during a WCW house show. Fortune is hardly a noteworthy name in the industry, having previously been most notable as one half of the highly maligned “futuristic” tag team Tekno Team 2000. Considering that the loss came prior to Goldberg’s debut, most fans were able to brush this one under the rug and focus on the canon accomplishments he would go on to make. Unfortunately, WCW started lying in other ways that turned gradually more damning as time went on, ultimately hurting Goldberg’s legacy in irreparable ways.
On September 22, 1997, Goldberg made his WCW Monday Nitro debut by defeating Hugh Morrus in definitive fashion. He went on to win 173 matches in a row in the most impressive winning streak modern professional wrestling has ever seen…or did he? The truth about Goldberg’s incredible streak is that for as long as it lasted, and for as many victories as he was earning, closer inspection made it clear that these wins weren’t all that they were cracked up to be. In fact, a good portion of them may have been entirely fabricated, as insiders have only thus far been able to document 160 of these wins, many of which didn’t take place on television. Those that did were often against relative jobbers like Morrus, or other frequent Goldberg victims like Jerry Flynn and Glacier. This isn’t to say that Goldberg’s many victories weren’t still impressive, but the reality is that WCW and now WWE have always attempted to inflate the level of accomplishment he achieved. In the very least, big names eventually did start getting involved in the action, and the streak includes impressive victories against the likes of Sting, The Giant, Scott Hall, and other notable names we’ll discuss as the list continues.
10. He Feuded Steve McMichael Over Football
For all his success in wrestling, Goldberg was far from unique, specifically in the fact that his career in sports entertainment started after one in football ended. As a matter of fact, plenty of wrestlers at the time had actually experienced significantly more success in the NFL than Goldberg had, choice amongst them was Steve “Mongo” McMichael. McMichael wrestled for WCW as member of The Four Horsemen, prior to which he was a member of the Chicago Bears. As a member of the Bears, Mongo even earned himself a Super Bowl ring when his team won the game in 1986. This information is all relevant to Goldberg’s career in that Mongo became Goldberg’s first major feud, due in part to jealousies over Mongo succeeding where Goldberg failed. In retrospect, the battle is particularly confusing as Goldberg was clearly a bitter heel, and not the virtuous superhero babyface he would become. The feud fizzled out when McMichael was injured in February of 1998, and Goldberg never looked back once freed from his albatross.
9. He Won The WCW United States Championship Twice
Dominance like Goldberg’s shoots people straight to the top, as evidenced by the WCW World Championship reign he earned only 10 months into his career. The Big Gold Belt wasn’t Goldberg’s only title victory in WCW, though, as he also managed to win the United States Championship twice on his path towards greatness. Goldberg’s first reign with the US belt came in April of 1998, when a burgeoning feud against Perry Saturn spilled into including the entire Flock. The collective band of misfits proved no match against Goldberg, and he managed to defeat Raven for the title the night after Raven himself had won it from “Diamond” Dallas Page. The US Championship then became an integral part of Goldberg’s streak, as he wouldn’t lose it until he also won the World Championship and thus decided to vacate his initial title. Goldberg won the US Championship for a second time at Halloween Havoc 1999, defeating Sid Vicious for the title. This reign would prove significantly shorter than the first, as he was defeated for the gold the very next night by Bret Hart.
8. He Defeated Hollywood Hogan To Become WCW World Champion
The peak of Goldberg’s fame arrived on July 6, 1998, when he was set to challenge Hollywood Hogan for the WCW World Championship. In contrast to their usual foibles, the moment was perfectly booked and promoted by WCW executives, who chose a sell-out crowd in front of Goldberg’s hometown audience to be the lucky fans allowed to witness history. Earlier in the same night Goldberg challenged Hogan, he definitively defeated Scott Hall, making his two back-to-back wins arguably the most high profile in WCW history. Goldberg continued feuding with Hogan and the entire nWo in the ensuing months after his victory, and it seemed like he could be the one to put an end to the faction once and for all as he continued barreling through their offensive, sometimes as many as eight men at a time. Goldberg also feuded with “Diamond” Dallas Page, resulting in some of the greatest matches of either superstar’s careers. Goldberg’s 174-day reign as champion would ultimately turn into the fifth longest in company history, behind only to Ric Flair, Big Van Vader, and two of Hogan’s six reigns.
7. Kevin Nash Ended The Streak
Concurrent to (and as a result of) Goldberg’s rise to fame, the nWo was at long last splintering, and starting to lose their stranglehold on the main event scene in WCW. From the ashes of the internal war rose two factions: Hollywood Hogan’s loyal nWo Black & White and Kevin Nash’s Wolfpac. Considering that it was Goldberg defeating Hogan that caused the groups to split, it wasn’t long before the WCW fans were begging Goldberg to do battle with Nash, as well. Fans got their wish when Nash won World War 3, earning the right to challenge Goldberg for the WCW World Championship at Starrcade 1998. After 10 minutes of grueling action, Scott Hall interfered in the match and attacked Goldberg with a cattle prod, leading to Nash ending the streak and defeating Goldberg for the title. Nash had been involved with the WCW booking committee at the time, making the ordeal highly controversial. Goldberg was poised to feud with the nWo over the next several months, gradually destroying the group en route to regaining his title, but a variety of backstage factors meant he and the nWo soon were separated far too long for any reasonable payoff to materialize.
6. He Lost More Than Once
For the same reason that his historic loss became infamous, it remains perhaps a little confusing why the other handful of men to defeat Goldberg have remained slightly obscure in this particular accomplishment. After the aforementioned losses with Chad Fortune, Kevin Nash, and Bret Hart, Goldberg also suffered the agony of defeat when wrestling against Booker T, Scott Steiner and Triple H. Goldberg additionally suffered a series of losses in tag team and multi-person matches, adding names like Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell, Randy Orton, and “Diamond” Dallas Page to the list of people with technical victories against him. Hart, Nash, and Triple H all actually share a handful of repeat victories over Goldberg, although one can assume that political reasons were behind the constant successes of Nash and Hunter. Though Goldberg has far more losses on record than most people probably realize, these embarrassments were at least typically few and far between throughout his career, preventing the returns from diminishing too greatly.
5. He Was WCW World Tag Team Champion With Bret Hart
Part of Goldberg’s charm was his silence and status as a complete loner in the highly tumultuous WCW landscape, so it makes sense that he didn’t spent too much time dealing with partners in the tag team division. Goldberg’s only allies were typically the opponents he respected most, as he formed tenuous alliances with Sting and Hulk Hogan when they weren’t busy doing battle against one another. Goldberg’s most fruitful alliance was with the similarly iconic Bret Hart, with whom he defeated The Harris Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championships in late 1999. In contrast to the usual destruction Goldberg left behind him (not to mention Hart’s legacy of excellence), the two lost the titles to The Outsiders in a manner of days. In typical confusing WCW fashion, Hart and Goldberg won the belts while also engaged in a feud against each other, which spilled into Goldberg’s longstanding feud with the nWo when Hart turned on him a few weeks later to join Hall and Nash.
4. His Last Year In WCW Was A Huge Bomb
More than a year after he lost the WCW World Championship, even as he suffered through a feud of diminishing returns against the nWo, fans of WCW continued to respect Goldberg as the biggest hero and most beloved babyface star of the company well into the year 2000. Goldberg had been sidelined due to an injury for the first half of the year, returning to the company in late May seemingly to resume his feud with Kevin Nash. The only problem was that Nash had at this point become the company’s top face, causing Goldberg to turn heel in a highly maligned angle in order to keep the war going. Goldberg’s efforts as a heel were entirely lackluster, as fans refused to accept their superhero as a bad guy with such little explanation. Goldberg switched back to being a face in only a manner of weeks, and even though fans rejected the heel turn, switching back so soon left many people confused, causing them to lose interest. His downward spiral continued as he feuded against Kronik and Lex Luger, neither of which were anywhere near Goldberg’s level as their battles took place.
3. His First WWE Run Was Highly Flawed
WCW was purchased by WWE in 2001, and WWE executives decided not to purchase Goldberg’s contract along with the deal. At the time, Goldberg was the highest paid star in WCW, so it made sense that WWE wouldn’t want to match his high contract demands. However, it was only two years later that the situation changed, and WWE was ready to begin contract negotiations that culminated in Goldberg signing a contract in early 2003. Goldberg made his WWE debut the night after WrestleMania XIX, starting a feud against The Rock. Obviously, The Rock was more than high profile enough of an opponent to introduce Goldberg to the WWE Universe, and yet there was still a flaw in that Goldberg couldn’t quite dominate Rocky as succinctly as he did the jobbers that made him look so special in WCW. Goldberg still managed to defeat The Rock and start his climb up the card, but he was repeatedly cut off by Triple H and Evolution, who collectively defeated him more times in a few months than he had lost in his entire career.
2. He Defeated Brock Lesnar At WrestleMania XX
Politics and a lack of passion for wrestling led to Goldberg deciding to leave the business as his year in WWE came to a close, with his climactic final battle announced to take place against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX. Lesnar’s career had in many ways mimicked Goldberg’s at this point, with both enjoying impressive winning streaks en route to earning major championships in record time. In theory, fans may have been excited to see the behemoths in battle, but the fact that both were prepared to leave the wrestling industry as soon as the match ended meant that the live audience at Madison Square Garden strongly rejected the match from the second the bell rang. Although Goldberg won the match, the only person to receive any applause was special guest referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who flipped the competitors the bird prior to giving both Stone Cold Stunners. Twelve years later, Goldberg is back in WWE, and the company is trying to convince fans that they want to see the match they so heavily hated yet again.
1. He Has A Questionable Film Career
In many ways, the success of Bill Goldberg was something that only could have happened thanks to dozens of pieces perfectly falling into place. The most important factor may well have been the era in which he succeeded, with the unique atmosphere of the Monday Night Wars allowing a cliché looking mysterious newcomer to seem like the most exciting concept wrestling had ever contrived. Outside of the wrestling ring, Goldberg’s era also played a big role in the career he undertook once his time in the squared circle was over, as he followed in the footsteps of contemporaries like Hulk Hogan and The Rock in attempting his hand at Hollywood. Goldberg’s first film role was Universal Soldier: The Return, which was released in 1999 to mostly negative reviews. He had better luck in a supporting role in Adam Sandler’s remake of The Longest Yard, followed by a bizarre and maligned turn as Santa Clause in the horror film Santa’s Slay. Given the reception of these films, chances are that he won’t be returning to the silver screen once his time in WWE is over once again.