Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The "Goldberg Formula"


by Brian Phelps

In 1997, the wrestling world was turned upside down by the rise of Bill Goldberg. Since then, Vince McMahon has tried repeatedly to recapture the success that WCW had with Goldberg. He's basically taken WCW's Bill Goldberg character and tried to turn it into more of a formula for future superstars like Batista, Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, and most recently Ryback. There have been varying degrees of success, but he has never been able to capture that lightning in a bottle that was Goldberg's WCW run. TNA has even tried to recreate the success of Goldberg. When Matt Morgan first went solo in TNA (Before his "Blueprint" gimmick) he was saddled with a Goldberg rip off gimmick. He copied Goldberg's mannerisms, taunts, snarls, and even the way Goldberg spit during his matches. Even his original finisher in TNA (The Helluvator) was a Jackhammer rip off. Morgan would hoist his opponents in the air in suplex form just like the Jackhammer. The difference was instead of slamming them horizontally like Goldberg, he slammed them vertically. Then there is Crimson, who is also very similar to Goldberg all the way down to the streak. However, even TNA has been unable to recreate the Goldberg magic.

I had a guy on youtube get mad at me for saying that Ryback was the latest in the pantheon of "Goldbergs" that Vince McMahon has tried to create. We've seen "Lackey gone solo" Goldberg (Batista after Evolution), "Goldberg w/a Manager" (Brock Lesnar), "Minority Goldberg"(Bobby Lashley), "British Goldberg" (Mason Ryan), and just plain "Poor Man's Goldberg" (Ryback). He was like "So anyone who is dominant is a Goldberg rip off?"

That is clearly not what I'm saying. Of course there have been other dominant wrestlers, but Goldberg is the first of his kind. Goldberg is the first "Super Soldier" gimmick. By "Super Soldier", I don't mean a literal soldier. What it means is Goldberg is the first wrestler with the "Better, Stronger, Faster" gimmick. In other words, Goldberg was a regular guy who was just Better, Stronger, and Faster than other wrestlers. Goldberg's gimmick was like an American Ivan Drago. He was bigger, badder, and stronger than the competition and he didn't talk much.

Now, let's look at other dominant wrestlers. Andre was a Giant. The Ultimate Warrior was a comic book character. Psycho Sid was mentally unstable. The Undertaker was an "Undead" Zombie-esque character. Hulk Hogan and John Cena are patriots who believe in traditional hard work, Kane and Abyss are disfigured "monsters", Yokozuna was a Sumo wrestler, The Legion of Doom were post apocalyptic road warriors, etc. Oddly enough, the closest guy to Goldberg before Goldberg was Ken Shamrock. But he was just a cage fighter with a temper. None of these other dominant wrestlers had a "Better, Stronger, Faster" Super Soldier-esque gimmick. Goldberg was the FIRST of his kind.

After Bill Goldberg, you started seeing more Goldberg-esque characters. New wrestlers with similar gimmicks/concepts of "Better, Stronger, Faster" began to emerge. Guys like Batista, Bobby Lashley, and Ryback. Brock Lesnar was another Goldberg-esque style character in terms of booking. He was another guy who dominated NOT because he was a patriot, a monster, or a road warrior but because much like Goldberg he was billed as just being "Better, Stronger, and Faster". That's why Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar was such a dream match. Do Batista, Lesnar, Lashley look slightly different? Yes. Do they talk different and act different? Sure. But Goldberg is the original "Super Soldier". He was Batista BEFORE Batista. He was Brock Lesnar BEFORE Brock Lesnar. He was the original "Better, Stronger, Faster" gimmick. 

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