Bill Goldberg is ready to reclaim his spot atop the world of professional wrestling.
“I’m going to rip 29 guys up this Sunday at the Alamodome on the WWE Network,” Goldberg said. “Whether it’s Roman Reigns or anyone else, I’d really like to show them what it’s like to be in the ring with me. They may look at me as an older guy, but I’ll rip their face off just like I used to.”
The Royal Rumble begins at 7 p.m. ET on the WWE Network, and Goldberg is the favorite to win the 30-man over the top battle royal.
“The only reason I’m still here is to chase that title again,” Goldberg said. “There have been guys that I’ve been in the ring with since I got back, and no question, it’s going to be fun to light them up and show them a little old school.”
Although Goldberg, 50, had a run as WWE world champion in 2003, he is best remembered for his work in World Championship Wrestling against the likes of “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. Goldberg revealed that he continues to use his matches in WCW, particularly with Hogan and Nash, to enhance his current work in the ring.
“There is no question about it, especially when you work with those guys when they were at an accelerated age and they had to change a little bit of their repertoire,” Goldberg said. “I’m very appreciative of that opportunity. I prospered and grew through experiences with legends like that in the ring.”
Goldberg specifically mentioned The Undertaker and Roman Reigns as two ideal future opponents.
“What about ‘Taker? I’ve never been in the ring with ‘Taker before,” Goldberg said. “And Roman Reigns is someone I’d like to tangle with.”
Goldberg and Reigns both were on the receiving end of supersized pushes—Goldberg nearly twenty years ago in WCW in 1998, and Reigns in WWE during 2015—to become the faces of their respective companies, but Goldberg’s popularity was far more organic than Reigns’s.
“I don’t know the meteoric rise of Roman and what they’ve done with him, and I’m not going to sit here and pass judgment by any means, but if they just try to push someone down people’s throats, people resent it,” Goldberg said. “I wasn’t privy to it in real time, I didn’t see everything, but I think Roman is a great kid. I feel really bad that anyone would go out there and boo him based not off of not liking him or his ability, but just based upon the situation. His look, his work, his enthusiasm, and what he puts into his craft—Roman is a professional. The only thing I don’t like about him is he went to Georgia Tech.”
The chance to return to WWE has allowed Goldberg an opportunity to re-examine the state of the business. Its future, Goldberg believes, is in the right hands.
“Look at AJ Styles and Sasha Banks,” Goldberg said. “The ability that they have at this point is a bright star for the future of wrestling. I’m very happy with where the business is and who it’s been left to. Sure, there are holes that need to be filled, but there always are. The business is in good hands and the future is bright.”
Goldberg last competed in the Rumble in 2004, when he was eliminated by Kurt Angle, who is rumored to also appear during the match.
“My mentality is the same,” Goldberg said. “I’m a different guy—I’m not as heavy or powerful as I was, but I’m a lot meaner than I was and I’m a hell of a lot more experienced. I’ve got different tools to bring to the game now. I’m excited for all the possibilities.”
Goldberg created shockwaves that reverberated throughout the business when he defeated Brock Lesnar in 86 seconds at last November’s Survivor Series. Lesnar and Goldberg struggled to win over the crowd in their match at WrestleMania XX, but the fan reaction to their encounter two months ago was far more positive.
“I’ll be honest—you guys are making it out to be a lot more than it means to me,” Goldberg said. “I’m greatly appreciative that I was put in a situation where I was able to go out and do my job. What we did was entertain a lot of people that night and turn the wrestling world upside down on its head.”
Goldberg has not actively wrestled since 2004, and explained that the business he once knew in WCW and the current version are not even remotely similar.
“It’s totally different,” Goldberg said. “I can’t for one second compare the two. My workload was much different back then. These guys and girls pound the pavement and work four-to-five days a week, and drive from town to town, those are the guys who put wrestling on the map. Guys like me, we come back and try to help bring in a different crowd, but the reality is those people lay the groundwork. If it wasn’t for them doing what they were doing, then I couldn’t do what I’m doing.
“The biggest difference is I’m happy on this one. I don’t think I’d ever been happy in the wrestling business before. I really wasn’t. I always felt like I had my guard up, and I always felt bad about being in the position I was in. I don’t feel any of that now. I’m here, I’m doing a job, and all that other stuff will handle itself. I prepare myself and my character, I go out and do what I have to do, and that’s my work load.”
When asked if Vince McMahon had mellowed since their last business encounter over a dozen years ago, Goldberg admitted that his current successful working relationship with McMahon is a two-way affair.
“It’s both of us,” Goldberg said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. Sometimes ego gets in the way, and sometimes people do things that aren’t conducive to a good business relationship, and I think that was done on both sides [in 2003-04 with WWE]. I’ll take full credit for being a jerk at times, but we grow up. Times have changed, I’ve changed, he’s changed, the business has changed, and, guess what, I’ve got a family now.”
Goldberg reached the highest point of popularity in pro wrestling, but this is the first time he has been able to share the experience with his wife and son.
“It’s the coolest thing in the world,” Goldberg said. “As a father, you want to be able to provide your family with positive experiences. To be able to go back home to the WWE and have Vince McMahon open his arms and give me the opportunity to come back and rewrite history and do it again and do it the right way has been incredible.
“My son wasn’t even born when I was in the business prior. It’s a completely different deal this time, and it’s not all about me, by any means. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to provide these experiences for my family. The only thing that my wife and son had was the ability to go online and look at a video—they couldn’t experience anything, and the experience is where it’s at. The experience of having them at Raw in Denver and the Survivor Series in Toronto, and bring my son into the ring, I’m just so thankful. I don’t know what the hell I did to be able to get to provide this experience for my family.”
Goldberg promised victory this Sunday at the Rumble, which would mean a title match—and potentially even the main event—at WrestleMania 33.
“There are a lot of monsters that are going to be in that ring, but I’m going to win,” Goldberg said. “My boy, if he were to see me with that belt, that’s the pinnacle of what I could give him. That’s the story behind my run.”