February 23, 2020, 0:07

Goldberg v Undertaker: Should WWE bring back legends for big events?

Goldberg v Undertaker: Should WWE bring back legends for big events?

Goldberg’s return to a WWE ring at Super ShowDown represents one of the final chapters of one of the company’s most long-standing principles – that of the returning legend.

In fact, it’s a principle as old as the ‘sport’ itself.

As long as there’s been wrestling, there’s been the concept of the old favourite being brought back to excite a crowd familiar with their work and longing to see them again.

It was a staple of inter-promotional cooperation in the ‘territory’ eras of the 1970s and 1980s, when an absence of nationally-syndicated television meant the stars of the time could travel from region to region and earn plenty of cash through a ‘less is more’ strategy.

A lack of alternative options combined with the blanket-coverage nature of social media mean no such tactics can be implemented by today’s generation – but a version of it exists when it comes to bringing people back who have cut themselves off completely from the public eye of wrestling.

The lure of the dollars the Saudi government is giving to WWE to stage – as it stands, two shows a year – proved too powerful for Shawn Michaels to resist last November. He ended an eight-year period of retirement for a match he insisted would be a one-and-done affair. His reported fee for doing so was $2m (£1.6m).

Goldberg has done it all before, of course. In 2016, he returned for a hugely impactful but very brief run of four matches which included a Universal title win and a rapid-fire modern WrestleMania classic (of sorts) against Brock Lesnar.

Those 10-odd minutes of in-ring action, and the promos which surrounded them, were tinged with a desire on Goldberg’s part to let his son witness his in-ring prowess, an experience he had not been around for during his World Championship Wrestling glory days at the turn of the century.

His match with The Undertaker on Friday night is unlikely to be on the level of those intense appearances back in Atlanta and elsewhere in the United States during the height of the Monday Night Wars. He was the last star WCW created and shone as brightly as any had before him, with a ferocious look and that undefeated streak.

Goldberg’s matches were always brief. Especially during the early stages of his famous long winning run, they would often consist of his devastating Spear and unique Jackhammer delay vertical suplex. The former will almost certainly get an outing in Jeddah; the latter, with the combined age of the combatants surpassing 100, perhaps not.

But it will be intriguing to see two bona fide legends of the business in the ring for the first – and almost certainly – only time of their careers. That interest is a testament to the value in bringing people back as special attractions for big events, that old wrestling principle retooled for 2019.

After him, the options for the next returning star are few and far between. The Rock is the obvious candidate but WWE has been unable to secure him for anything beyond a moment on the microphone; a match would be an enormously long shot for a man who needs neither the publicity or the money.

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin is medically retired, as is Sting. Bret Hart too. Booker T quite possibly isn’t at that truly elite level and the same goes for Diamond Dallas Page. Hulk Hogan will be 66 this summer; his self-proclaimed immortality is not to be taken literally.

So Goldberg may be the final legend to trade the wrestling retirement home for one last run of the ropes.

Some fans will be delighted with that prospect. There is certainly a growing voice among the WWE Universe that the moment has come to move on to the new generation of stars and that it is time to consign one of wrestling’s oldest principles to the history books.

Source: skysports.com

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