“Goollllddddbergggg”, “Goollllddddbergggg” goes the arena chants even up to this very day as the 6’4”, 285 pound wrecking machine enters the ring. Things weren’t always this way for William Scott Goldberg, however.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966, the now 50-year-old excelled in football during his high school years and even worked as a bouncer at the age 16! He was raised in an affluent family (his father was an obstetrician and gynecologist) with a strong commitment to his Jewish heritage.
After high school, Goldberg was awarded a football scholarship from the University of Georgia where he played as defense tackle. Fortune came when Goldberg was picked up by the Los Angeles Rams in 1990 and continued in pro football until 1994, also playing for the Atlanta Falcons and Sacramento Gold Miners.
His pro football career effectively ended in 1995 owing to an abdominal injury. He knew he could never perform up to professional standards and quietly left the sport.
During rehab for his injury, Goldberg took to powerlifting and Mixed Martial Arts. He was spotted at the gym by WCW players Lex Luger and Sting who encouraged him to train as a pro wrestler. Goldberg heeded their advice and started training at the WCW Power Plant.
He officially debuted in WCW in 1996 but did not have impact as he mostly wrestled jobbers in dark matches, meaning matches that were never aired on television.
In 1997, Goldberg was unleashed to the WCW audience. Much like the Road Warriors and the Ultimate Warrior, Goldberg would attack his opponents and win in squash matches, rarely lasting longer than 2 minutes. He would typically end his bouts with a move called “The Jackhammer”; a vertical suplex/power slam combination or the “Spear” just like superstar Edge performed.
The WCW upper brass pushed Goldberg to the hilt having him chock up victory after victory. He was at an undefeated streak of 74-0 when he challenged the US Heavyweight Champion Scott “Raven” Levy for the belt. Goldberg demolished Levy and acquired his first WCW title.
As US Champion, Goldberg continued his undefeated squash streak and would often yell “Who’s next”? after leaving an opponent lying on the mat. WCW knew that Goldberg was main event material and marketed him as being the face to challenge the evil nWo.
Goldberg challenged the WCW Heavyweight Champion “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to a title bout. Hogan agreed but with the stipulation that Goldberg had to defeat Hogan’s crony Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall first. After making quick work of Hall, Goldberg eventually faced Hogan on a televised episode of Nitro and defeated him, now holding the WCW Heavyweight championship as well. WCW would not allow Goldberg to defend both belts, so the US Championship became vacated.
Goldberg then feuded with Diamond Dallas Page over the championship with Goldberg winning each encounter and maintaining a 173- 0 match winning streak. All good things must come to an end however, and Goldberg lost the belt to Kevin Nash as Scott Hall had attacked Goldberg with a stun gun.
Goldberg’s win record has been challenged by some critics as being grossly exaggerated by WCW to push Goldberg, but nobody could deny the big man’s in-ring success. Some of the old timers in the locker room held animosity to Goldberg claiming that he was pushed without paying his dues as they had and that Goldberg had no respect for the wrestling business.
In 1999, Goldberg took some time off to shoot a couple of bad movies and then returned, feuding with Page again and Sid Vicious who also had had an impressive winning streak. Vicious’ streak ended when Goldberg stripped him of the US Heavyweight Championship at the “Halloween Havoc” Pay Per View event, making Goldberg a two time holder of this belt.
Later on that same night, Goldberg fought WCW Heavyweight Champion Sting, and won that belt for the second time as well! Commissioner JJ Dilion argued that as the match was not sanctioned, Goldberg was not the champion and the new champion would be determined by a tournament.
During the tournament, Goldberg lost to Bert Hart owing to interference from old rival Vicious. Goldberg not only did not win the heavyweight belt, but he had to relinquish the US Championship belt to Hart as well.
Once his rivalry with Vicious came to an end, Goldberg teamed with Hart and the two won the WCW Tag Team Championship by defeating Creative Control (Don and Ron Harris). Their reign was short lived as one week later they dropped the titles to Hall and Nash.
A controversial moment came when Goldberg faced Hart for the WCW Heavyweight Championship later on. Goldberg accidently kicked Hart in the head during the bout and later in the match Hart struck his head again on the concrete arena floor. Out of concern of Hart’s well being, guest referee “Rowdy” Roddy Piper awarded Hart the victory by claiming Goldberg had submitted to Hart’s Sharpshooter move which he had not. This set the wheels in motion for the concussion that would lead to Hart’s stroke.
The next night on Nitro, Hart vacated his title saying he did not want a tainted victory. He faced Goldberg again and with some interference from the Outsiders (Hall and Nash), Hart scored the victory and became the champion once again.
Goldberg then severely injured himself during a filmed work whereby he started smashing the windshields of the limousine owned by the nWo. He legitimately opened a large cut on his forearm requiring him to be sent to hospital for stitching with a prominent scar to this very day.
After he was able to recuperate, Goldberg interfered in match pitting Kevin Nash, the WCW Champion against challenger Jeff Jarrett. In a swerve nobody saw coming, Goldberg turned on Nash (they were friends at this point) and became a heel for the first time in his career. Goldberg then joined the “New Blood” faction which was essentially a reprisal of the nWo.
Goldberg started feuding with Nash again and partook in a triangle match against Nash and Scott Steiner. Goldberg walked away from the match midway through and swore at the WCW head writer Vince Russo who was a heel on television, a move which turned Goldberg face again.
After losing a match to Steiner, Russo confronted Goldberg and told him that if he could not reprise his winning streak of old, he would be forced to retire from wrestling. Rising to the challenge, Goldberg powered through KroniK (the late Brian Adams and Bryan Clark), Luger and Buff Bagwell.
Goldberg would eventually lose a tag team match against Bagwell and Luger as he was maced (kayfabe) by a ringside fan. He then left WCW to undergo shoulder surgery and rehabilitation.
This proved to be Goldberg’s last stint in WCW as the company was bought by the WWE during his absence.
He returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2002 for a short period and started contract negations with the WWE thereafter.
Goldberg debuted on WWE television in 2003 on an episode of Raw. He started immediately feuding with the ever popular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. At the “Backlash” Pay-Per-View event, Goldberg defeated the Rock and then history started repeating itself with victory after victory.
A couple of months after his debut, a storyline was concocted where an unknown assailant tried to run over Goldberg with a limousine. It was later revealed that the driver was Canadian Lance Storm who was later destroyed by Goldberg in a televised match.
Storm then changed his story, revealing that it was actually fellow Canadian, Chris Jericho that was culprit. Goldberg confront Jericho on an episode of Jericho’s talk show “The Highlight Reel” and Jericho challenged the big man to a bout. Goldberg defeated Jericho at the “Bad Blood” Pay-Per-View event.
In 2004, Goldberg partook in the Elimination Chamber match against Triple H, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Shawn “HBK” Michaels, Randy Orton and Jericho. Goldberg lost the encounter, igniting a feud with Triple H as he assaulted Goldberg with a sledgehammer to gain a pinfall victory.
Goldberg got his revenge however when he challenged Triple H to a championship match at the “Unforgiven” Pay-Per-View event where he put his career on the line against Triple H’s belt. Goldberg held the WWE Heavhweight Championship for the frist time in his career.
Triple H placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of Goldberg to whomever could remove him from wrestling. Many tried and failed, but Batista was successful when he injured Goldberg’s ankle by placing it in a folding chair and jumping off the middle rope onto it. Goldberg nonetheless retained the title.
He then continued to successfully defend the title against many future encounters against Triple H and Batista. Kane interfered in one bout and choke slammed Goldberg, causing a feud to erupt between the two.
Goldberg got the best of the Big Red Machine and was still able to retain the strap. Fate changed however at the “Armageddon” Pay Per View event in late 2004 when Goldberg succumbed to Triple H ending an 84 day reign.
Fans started wishing to see their dream match of Goldberg against Brock Lesnar and the WWE marketing machine started rolling. When Goldberg was one of the last remaining competitors in the Royal Rumble, interference from Lesnar cost him the victory and started the feud between the two.
Goldberg exacted his revenge by interfering in Lesnar’s WWE Heavyweight Championship defense against Eddie Guerrero at the “No Way Out” Pay-Per-View event, costing Lesnar the title. Enraged, Lesnar demanded a match with Goldberg at WrestleMania XX with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as guest referee.
Despite the high fan expectation of such a bout, reality was something very different. Goldberg knew he was retiring from the WWE and Lesnar knew he was leaving the WWE for UFC. Both men did not really care about their WWE future at that point, so they put forth a shoddy, slow paced bout that caused fans to chant “Booorrrringgg”. Many later on claimed that this was one of the worst bouts in WrestleMania history given its hype and it was all because of the combatant’s egos and attitudes.
Goldberg then made a guest appearance at the “Legends of Wrestling” independent show two years in a row but did not actually compete in any matches.
In a twist of fate, both Goldberg and Lesnar would return to WWE rings several years later. On a 2016 episode of Raw, Lesnar’s manager Paul Heyman had openly challenged Goldberg as Lesnar still had sour grapes from the loss to Goldberg at WrestleMania XX.
Shortly thereafter at the “Survivor Series” Pay-Per-View event, they faced off again for the first time in over 12 years. Despite the hype, the two superstars again did not exactly provide a mat classic as Goldberg squashed Lesnar in 1 minute and 26 seconds.
Not only is Goldberg a hero in the ring, but a hero outside as well. He regularly visits terminally ill children as their wish and is an activist against cruelty to animals.
Goldberg is currently still active as a WWE competitor. Despite his advancing age, he is showing no signs of weakness in the ring and is still the dominant force that buzz sawed through competitors in ages past.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.