Was Goldberg's WWE run successful?

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May 09, 2013

It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Goldberg showed up on Raw for the first time. Back then — in the years after WCW buckled under mounting debt and WWE was left as the only relevant company in sports-entertainment — the former WCW Champion was the most exciting WWE acquisition since Chris Jericho jumped ship in 1999. And, yet, Goldberg’s tenure is widely regarded as a disappointment.

Photos of Goldberg in WWE | Watch Goldberg's best WWE matches

Goldberg may not be a huge part of the sports-entertainment conversation today, but he’s surprisingly relevant for a guy who hasn’t been active since his infamous WrestleMania XX bout against Brock Lesnar in 2004. Almost ten years removed from that bizarre night, audiences are still fascinated by the competitor who once went on a 173 match winning streak in WCW. To this day, Goldberg’s name remains one of the most searched terms on WWE.com.

Figuring out why that’s the case isn’t difficult. At a time when the most vital cross-section of WCW’s roster was made up of previously established, 40-something stars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Lex Luger, Goldberg arrived as a wholly original main event talent. There were a few things about his persona that didn’t feel fresh — there happened to be another guy who was doing the bald head, goatee and black trunks thing already — but there was so much about this former NFL defensive tackle that was wildly unexpected.

Goldberg took cues from the mixed martial arts world long before the combat sport reached mainstream prominence. And the name Goldberg — a surname most closely associated with female comedian Whoopi Goldberg — wasn’t the moniker of a typical main eventer. In fact, he was nearly known as The Hybrid before deciding to stick with his birthname and inspiring one of sports-entertainment’s most ubiquitous chants.

Most of all, from June 23, 1997, through Dec. 27, 1998, Goldberg did not lose a single match. There’s a growing ideology in sports-entertainment that wins and losses don’t mean much. And, yet, would The Road Warriors have been The Road Warriors if they were getting stomped by The Midnight Express night in and night out? Would Goldberg have been Goldberg if he didn’t flatten Curt Hennig and Saturn with visible ease?

To this very day, Goldberg is romanticized in the quarantine of his thrilling winning streak — and why not? The powerhouse’s best matches were exercises in humiliation for his opponents. These weren’t traditional mat contests where the momentum shifts dramatically back and forth between competitors. These were flat-out muggings. Sure, his opponents were, by and large, puddings. Perennial losers like Jerry Flynn and Glacier who were speared and jackhammered by Goldberg ad infinitum. But watching these saps get annihilated by a physical, aggressive beast of a man was thrilling.

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