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The recent return of the WCW Legend Bill Goldberg has been one of the biggest wrestling stories of the year. WWE is building up to a dream match with Brock Lesnar. I was in attendance for their first battle, and it was one of the biggest train wrecks in wrestling history. Goldberg is a fascinating superstar because he is one of the most charismatic stars in history, but he is also a very limited performer in the ring and on promos. In many ways, he reminds us of another icon, The Ultimate Warrior. Today’s Election Day article will compare Goldberg and Warrior in key characteristics. Which superstar would you vote for to have on your roster?
1. The Entrance
Goldberg and Ultimate Warrior had two of the most unforgettable entrances in wrestling history. From the second their music blasted through the speakers, crowds worldwide would go wild in anticipation. Goldberg’s arrival through the curtains signified the presence of a gladiator while Warrior’s entry felt like a mythical 80’s rock star. It is difficult to choose which had the better entrance, but I always loved the security knocking on the dressing room door and escorting Goldberg through what it seemed like a never-ending backstage hallway. By the time he appeared in front of his throng of fans, they had already reached a fever pitch.
2. The Music
One of the main reasons today’s stars lack the mythical status of previous eras is the music production has been awful. Can you think of any memorable entrance themes of the current generation of WWE wrestlers? Both Goldberg and Warrior had dramatic music that instantly captured the audience and also fit their characters perfectly. This one is even.
3. The Look
A huge part of the success of each act was their muscular bodybuilder physiques and overall appearance. Goldberg’s bald headed black trunks and goatee look came at the same time the biggest star in the industry, Steve Austin, sported a very similar look, although he was larger in stature than Stone Cold.
Warrior, with his long hair, colorful garb and Adonis body, looked like he was part cartoon superhero and part glam rock star. It has been said that he was Vince McMahon’s dream superstar because he appeared to have stepped out of a comic book. Despite this, his overly veiny body caused even my fellow elementary school kids at the time to think steroids before superhero.
Despite his bravura performance on his grand return, Goldberg’s main weakness has always been behind the microphone. Every time he had to deliver beyond the two words, “You’re next!” he sounded uncomfortable. On the other hand, Ultimate Warrior seemed all too comfortable screaming into the camera with his other-worldly rhetoric. He appeared to be in another dimension in his promos, but somehow it fit his outlandish character, and a generation of kids look back fondly at the campiness.
VOTE: Ultimate Warrior
This is where things get interesting. Goldberg came from the NFL, and many felt that he developed a huge ego after his sudden success in wrestling. He had some backstage clashes and a reputation of being too stiff in careless in the ring. A dangerous kick to the head ended the career of Bret Hart. Despite some black marks, most consider him to be a nice guy.
Warrior, despite his popularity with fans, may have been one of the most despised personalities in wrestling history within the industry. He had a reputation for hurting people in the ring and being extremely difficult to work with management. I will focus on his prime wrestling years, but he also spouted some of the most vile, hateful remarks any celebrity has recorded in public after his retirement.
Goldberg and Warrior are prime examples of wrestlers who were extremely limited in the ring achieving great success and fan following. In their defense, they did not need to do much to sustain their popularity. WCW fans thirsted for Goldberg to continue his streak in a swift, destructive manner. His formulaic squashes of jobbers and veterans superstars alike were exactly what made him such an intimidating icon. We cannot look back at any classic Goldberg back and forth battles, but he did provide moments of monumental displays of strength.
Warrior also rose to the top demolishing his opponents. His surprise appearance at Summerslam 88 destroying Honky Tonk Man’s record Intercontinental Championship reign is the most famous squash match in history. In spite of having a reputation for being clumsy and careless in the ring, Ultimate Warrior participated in two of the classic matches of his generation, the Ultimate Challenge against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI and his epic Career vs. Career match against Randy Savage the following Mania. On the strength of those two unforgettable showcases alone, he gets the edge.
VOTE: Ultimate Warrior
Goldberg and Warrior each had undeniable charisma, the “It Factor” star quality that is sadly lacking in today’s wrestling. Both characters burst off the screen with a certain magic that was inexplicable and each are among the most charismatic superstars in wrestling history.
8. Mainstream Popularity and Icon Status
Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg had the advantage of rising up the ranks at time where wrestling was going through a boom period. They both crossed over into being mainstream household names. Warrior’s charisma and cartoon character mystique made him recognizable across pop culture, although not as famous as his contemporaries Hogan and Savage.
Goldberg was a pro football player as well as WCW’s main homegrown creation during the NWO era, and his menacing presence and dominant matches gave him a superhero aura. He graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly and made some movie appearances. Even after a decade of being out of the spotlight, each received a hero’s welcome when they returned.
9. Drawing Ability
This is where things get tricky. Again, each was in his respective prime during wrestling’s peak popularity. Warrior, however, was not a successful champion as his lack of professionalism and limitations in the ring combined to make him an unworthy successor to Hogan.
Goldberg was not a failure by any stretch, but his main success came at a time when WCW ratings were falling and attendance figures were dropping. It can be convincingly argued that he slowed their demise, but he did not save the company. In his defense, there were so many political machinations and bad decision making at the time, nobody could. We will give the advantage to Goldberg because Warrior had the perfect opportunity to be the next big thing and did not live up to the billing.
10. Overall Character Presentation
We will end with the ultimate strength of both of these celebrated legends, and that is their overall character presentation. Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg each felt fully immersed in being larger than life superheroes. Both were magnetic badasses that electrified arenas and television screens with their presence. All it took was one glimpse of them, and you knew they were stars. It is a quality that is sorely lacking in today’s wrestling world where management dwarfs talent. Today’s young superstars should study the work these two iconic figures put into their presentation and how they could make stadiums explode by their mere appearance.
Although it is a close call, ultimately it was Warrior’s negatives that give Goldberg the victory. That being said, both provided numerous memorable moments and characters that wrestling fans will treasure. Although the Ultimate Warrior legend met a tragic ending, it was preceded by a heroic return befitting his myth. Hopefully, Goldberg’s next and possibly last match provides the fans one more magic moment before he rides off int the sunset.
Feel free to tweet me with your thoughts on who you would choose, Goldberg or Warrior @shawnvalentino.
On another note, a Hollywood production company has created a music video parody of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and cast me as the star. Check out “Hillie C” here!
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