Brock Lesnar is back and he's coming for Bill Goldberg.
Every now and then, the #WWE successfully builds and books a nostalgia match featuring stars of yesteryear. When it works, it works really well.
Perhaps one of the last, big nostalgia matches between old-time stars is playing out perfectly on Monday Night Raw. Lesnar, who still has a few years left, will wrestle Goldberg at the Survivor Series. Goldberg has not wrestled since 2004, against Lesnar, but prior to his departure, he was one of the biggest stars in the game, famously racking up a 173-0 record before getting pinned by Kevin Nash of the then-nWo.
Goldberg has been itching to return. He wants his 10-year-old son to see him wrestle. He wants to wipe away the stain of his final WWE match, when he was booed out of the building by the Madison Square Garden crowd. The fans knew that Lesnar was leaving the WWE after the match, and the smart New York crowd turned on him.
Now, Goldberg is back and he picked one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling in Lesnar, who is the former WWE and former UFC heavyweight champion.
The two have been trading promos on #MondayNightRaw, with Lesnar's manager, Paul Heyman, masterfully building the match through his storytelling promos. The WWE has been careful to not have the two appear together in the same ring until Survivor Series, to build the mystique of the match.
The Lesnar vs. Goldberg pairing appears to be working for two reasons: both are former professional athletes known for working stiff styles, and they are also big names in the WWE with the ability to draw in casual fans to purchase subscriptions to their online platform. With Sting retired, Goldberg is one of the last WCW guys with any kind of aura that still comes across as a big star in the modern era.
Lesnar and Heyman appeared on last night's Monday Night Raw and had this to say:
"When fantasy warfare meets the reality of my client, Goldberg is going to be like Humpty Dumpty, because all the chants in the world won't be able to put Goldberg back together again when he is beaten, victimized and conquered by my client, Brock Lesnar."
In truth, few people were cheering for Goldberg on Monday Night Raw. Most of the crowd was chanting "Suplex City," Lesnar's catchphrase that he made famous after he suplexed Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 32, then yelled to the Santa Clara, California crowd at Levi's Stadium, "Suplex City, Bitch!"
Heyman is doing his best to turn Goldberg into the good guy and Lesnar into the bad guy for the match, but it's not likely. The fans love Lesnar, and are more familiar with him as a recent star. The Survivor Series will also take place in Canada, which historically has been anti-Goldberg territory.
Goldberg once kicked Canadian wrestling great Bret Hart too hard in a match, knocking him silly and giving him a concussion. Bret eventually retired from the injury and Canadian fans never forgave Goldberg for it. Lesnar also now lives in Canada, so he has a leg up with those fiercely loyal fans.
Even last night, the Minneapolis crowd was largely behind Lesnar, though Heyman tried to pretend as if the crowd was behind Goldberg, they were clearly chanting for "The Beast."
It could be a long night for Goldberg. Lesnar is 10 years younger than Goldberg and he just fought in the UFC this past July. Even in a worked match, the nearly 50-year-old Goldberg could be in a for a beating at the hands of Lesnar.