• J.P. Prag

In Defense Of…8.28.05: Goldberg (Part 3 Of 3) [REPOST]

In Defense of…

By JP Prag


Issue #18


Goldberg (Part 3 of 3)


NOTICE: THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE OF “IN DEFENSE OF…” ON SUNDAY! STARTING NEXT WEEK, “IN DEFENSE OF…” MOVES TO WEDNESDAY. FOR MORE DETAILS, SEE BELOW!


Intro


Hello disciples of the defense, and welcome back to In Defense Of…! For the past two weeks we have undertaken the case of Goldberg, which can be read in the cataclysmic Part 1 and the unintentional Part 2. And it was you, the readers, who made this into a three part case. Damn you all!


Still, perhaps you didn’t notice that this series was spotlighted on 411 for a week and a half and it just now caught your eye. But you are such a lazy bum that you could not go back and check the prior articles. Well, if that’s the case, then let me tell you what you have just wandered into:


Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum wrap. Certain writers have presented overtly critical comments and outright lies as fact, and others have followed suit. Well no more! “In Defense of…” has one reason: to bring the truth to the wrestling fan!


And that’s what I intend to do.


Me? I’m the One and Only JP, and I lost all my weekend plans, my backup weekend plans, and am not traveling for the next week at all. Wow, can I handle being home this much?


Stenography


Speaking of problems, Stenographer, what has happened in our last two issues?


Haven’t done this in a while, but in Part 2, we said this about Part 1:


Well, aside from some formatting issues that made the tables a little hard to read, we began the case of the IWC vs. Goldberg. Going straight for the gusto, we disproved that Goldberg was a Stone Cold rip off. Not only did they only kind-of look alike, but their characters were polar opposites. Besides, Goldberg was designed to mock Ken Shamrock, not Austin. On top of all that, their assents were almost parallel in terms of time. No one knew that Steve Austin was going to be the WWF’s savior in 1997, he was still feuding with Owen Hart and had just won the Intercontinental Championship. More so, no one knew that Goldberg would catch on so fast and that the fans would demand he rise to the top and take the title away from Hogan.


That being said, it was the streak that got him over. But despite what some jealous, uniformed people will tell you, Goldberg only fought 59 individual people. Of those, 8 didn’t even work for WCW, 9 were developmental talent, and 7 were over the hill veterans who sat around to be jobbed out anyway. And of the ten people Goldberg beat the most (which constituted nearly 50% of his wins), 41% were main eventers, 33% were mid or upper-mid carders, and only 26% were jobbers. That just goes to show that the streak was not about an unlimited supply of jobber fodder, but the long and credible build up of the man.


Still, despite being so new to the industry, Goldberg himself aimed to improve. He worked with Fit Finlay on the road to be better with in ring presence and psychology. He trained his body for performance and stamina. He watched and learned different styles so that when he went to Japan he would have an arsenal of popular arm and leg locks. And then he fought DDP with no less then a move every 53 seconds, not including the moves DDP did or the excellent display of in ring psychology. Oh, Goldberg could go when needed, but that was not very often. Why waste it if you don’t have to? Arn Anderson felt the same way and spent a quarter of interview praising Goldberg and saying how he was the total package and future of the business, long before he even won the US Title. And who are we to argue with Arn Anderson?


That’s all fine and dandy, but what happened in Part 2?


Ummm, well, I really wasn’t prepared to do a Part 2 recap since it was supposed to be a two part case, but I’ll give it my best shot!


There was so much reader response and misconception that we had to respond to some people publicly while also bringing up new points. First, we talked about how the vast majority of Goldberg’s matches were short and filled with 3-5 moves, but how that made sense in terms of his character, the audience wants, and how when he did break out moves for big name opponents it made those moves even more special. If you were Goku from Dragon Ball Z, would you go Super Saiyan 3 against Yamcha? Sure, Yamcha is a good fighter, but why use your full strength against him? Why should Goldberg use his full strength against the Disco Inferno when he can beat him with much less?


But he didn’t always use less. He had memorable feuds with Mongo, the nWo, Kurt Henning, the Giant (which showed his true natural power), Bret Hart, and Scott Steiner, as well as individual matches with DDP, the Rock, Sting, and Hogan that delivered. Goldberg was not known for selling to scrubs, but he sold for the aforementioned because they were good enough caliber to be sold to. Selling to Funaki does not bring Funaki to your level, it brings you down to his.


And Goldberg knew quite a bit about his own character, and stood up to Vince McMahon to protect it and the business, something that very few in the locker room would dare to do. The WWE tried to mess with Goldberg from the get go, but he used everything he had to make himself back into championship material and to win over the WWE audience. But when push came to shove, McMahon and the WWE continued to try to get Goldberg to do things he was uncomfortable with (something his contact would not allow, nonetheless his personal convictions), and when he had enough of feeling like an outsider and being treated like dirt, he left. He could have stayed and made tons more money, but the money was not the most important thing to him. He wanted to entertain the fans, but he had to think of his own happiness and sanity first.


Thanks Stenographer, but there are some who would claim that Goldberg used that influence a little too much and did not want to do what was best for business…


Turn this!


Many have said that Goldberg refused to turn heel, that he only wanted to be a babyface in the limelight. Well people, it’s time to take a trip back in time. First stop: 1997!


This is going to come as a shock, but Goldberg was not a face upon his debut. Well, at first he was nothing, but things began to change when Debra McMichael was putting together a stable to take out her ex-husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. At Halloween Havoc, Goldberg ran in and speared Mongo in Mongo’s match with Alex Wright, allowing Wright to get the win. Afterwards, Debra rewarded Goldberg with Mongo’s Superbowl ring. The funny part was that the crowd loved how Goldberg beat up both Mongo and Wright.


But the feud would continue with WCW keeping Goldberg with Debra, thus keeping him “heel”. Goldberg continued to pick up wins, and ducked out on fighting Mongo. Finally the two were set to meet at Starrcade 1997. On WCW Saturday Night two weeks prior, Mean Gene interviewed (I kid you not!) Goldberg about his thoughts on the match. Keeping his heel image, Goldberg first verbally assaulted Mean Gene (“No more first names! Do I look like a Billy to you?!”), and then ran down how Mongo “used” to be a legend and some other degrading comments. Then at Starrcade the two met, where Goldberg defeated Mongo in quick fashion. Even after that, he would not quit his “heel streak”.


Still, WCW noticed that the fans were popping for him and starting to chant his name. It was unexpected, but they went with it. On the January 26, 1998 edition of Nitro, Goldberg dumped Debra and began his official run as a face, culminating with his 25th win over Brad Armstrong (not Glacier as WCW would have you believe).


See, Goldberg had nothing against being a heel from the start. He was supposed to be one, but the fans turned him, much the same way they turned the Rock or Austin. WCW saw the fans reactions and ran with it, and we all know where that ended up.


Goldberg continued unabated as a face until 2000 during the Russo/Bischoff era of WCW. The two were looking for a way to really shock the fans. Whether it was a good idea or not is debatable, but Goldberg agreed with their plans and turned heel at the Great American Bash 2000 by spearing Kevin Nash and allowing Jeff Jarrett to pin Nash and retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.


This heel turn would not go well, as the fans reacted badly. The angle did not catch and Goldberg was turned face again. Many have said that it was Goldberg himself sabotaging the turn that did not make it happen. In an interview with Wrestling Digest in December 2000, Goldberg had this to say:


WD: How did your heel turn develop, and what are your thoughts on it?


BG: At first, I kinda liked the idea. I like the ability to go out there and beat the crap out of people without remorse, because that's how I am. It gives me an opportunity to develop my character more. The only thing that has been difficult is playing a heel in front of a Make-A-Wish kid who has cancer that I met before the match, and hearing her family say I made such a difference for her. After making a positive difference in a kid's life, it's difficult to go out there and do the heel stuff.


WD: Let's hypothetically say that you see that kid in the front row, and you're in the ring swearing and playing a heel. What do you say to that kid after the show?


BG: I'm an actor. Like Mel Gibson, I assume a character. It's hard for me to do something in the ring or in front of the camera if I am not totally behind what I'm doing. I have to do whatever I have to do in order to turn this company around.


You see, Goldberg was for the idea of being a heel so long as it made sense! He had been a face so long, though, that he did have doubts about it. The from Dallas News:


It was hard for me because here I was making speeches to these kids and doing the things I do with charities during the day and then at night I was running those same kind of people down in the ring," he said. "Yeah, it was just a character, but for some of the kids, it's hard to understand.


Goldberg had doubts about being a heel. But so what? Having doubts does not make you a saboteur. He went out there, did what he was told, and tried to make the angle happen. He was not as into it as possible, that is for sure, but he did not fight it. It was Russo and Bischoff who saw that they had failed in the angle and hot shot their decision backwards. It was hard for Goldberg, but he was trying to make it happen. Just because the heel turn failed, it does not make it his fault.


There is one place it may have succeeded, though, and that was in the WWE. Goldberg was booed in his feud with the Rock and Chris Jericho. He yelled at an audience member during his match with Chris Jericho, to boot. But the WWE chose to ignore their own fan base and continued to push Goldberg as a face. Yes, he did win over the fans with the time, but had the WWE asked him to turn heel, he may just have gone along with it.


In an interview with WWE.com, Goldberg had this to say:


WWE.com: Are you anticipating that some WWE fans might boo you because they perceive The Rock as “their guy”?


Goldberg: If I worried about what the fans thought, then I wouldn’t be here. I’m out here to do a job. If they like it, great. If they don’t, get in line.


WWE.com: Some of your critics have said you lack passion for this business. What do you have to say about that?


Goldberg: The main reason why I’m here is to entertain little kids. Period. The main reason I came back to wrestling in the U.S. is to entertain little kids.


Goldberg just wanted to entertain. If people booed him, he would have been fine with it, so long as it was good for business. As he has stated on many occasions throughout this piece, Goldberg never had a problem losing or doing something controversial so long as he felt it was right for the character and the business. He came into the WWE with high hopes and an open mind, willing to go along with the plan, whatever that may be. It was only when it became obvious that there was no plan and that they were hurting Goldberg the character did he take a stand and try to change the tempo.


Of course, there have been other times in the past where people have questioned Goldberg’s creative decisions…


Why won’t you fight me, Greenberg?


Back in WCW, Chris Jericho began a feud with Goldberg as a joke. At Fall Brawl 1998, Jericho defeated a fake Goldberg via submission. Then, on Nitro on September 28, 1998, Goldberg (who was World Heavyweight Champion) and Jericho (who World Television Champion) were set to do battle. Actually, Jericho had arranged for a midget Goldberg to be his opponent, but the real Goldberg came out with the midget on his shoulder. Jericho ran away while Goldberg beat up the Jericho-holic Ninja. But Goldberg was trying to prepare for his match with DDP at Halloween Havoc and didn’t have time to deal with Jericho then. So Jericho said Goldberg ran away, and that was win number two!


The next win for Jericho came on the October 8, 1998 edition of Thunder. Knowing Goldberg was not there, Jericho challenged Goldberg to a match. Since Goldberg did not come out, Jericho won by countout. Two weeks later on the October 19, 1998 edition of Nitro, Jericho premiered his “Jericho 3, Goldberg 0” T-shirt. He would have to update this shortly as on Thunder on November 5, 1998, he told Schiavone he was now 4-0 against Goldberg (even I’m not sure where the 4th win came from!). Goldberg had heard enough, and speared Jericho on the rampway on Nitro on November 9, 1998.


And then… well, that was it. The feud was over.


It was not exactly the most paramount ending to a feud, but both went on with their lives. Jericho began a feud with Bobby Duncam Jr. while Goldberg beat up the Giant a few times before losing at Starrcade to Kevin Nash.


But critics will say that it was Goldberg’s decision, that he asked not to be involved in a program with Jericho. Well, straight from Y2J’s mouth:


I wanted to wrestle him. We started this angle (in WCW) on a whim, as kind of like a joke, and it became something that people wanted to see. I was calling him “Greenberg” at the time, because he was just starting out. And I always claimed victories over him whenever I escaped. It got to the point where I would always have a shirt that said, “Jericho 1, Greenberg 0.” And then when I “beat” him again, it would be “Jericho 2, Greenberg 0” and then “Jericho 3, Greenberg 0.” People had signs in the crowd counting along with me. People wanted to see him kick my ass, and that’s what I wanted him to do. This was when he was in the middle of his winning streak, and the office wanted to end this in a two-minute squash match, as we call them, with him just spearing me and jackhammering me. I refused to do it because people wanted to see this match, and they were going to pay for it. I wanted to have a match on a pay-per-view, and he could kick the [bleep] out of me in a minute if that’s what they wanted, but at least people would be paying to see it – not seeing it on free TV as just another guy that was part of his streak.


Let me focus on one small part of that: [T]he office wanted to end this in a two-minute squash match, as we call them, with him just spearing me and jackhammering me. I refused to do it because people wanted to see this match, and they were going to pay for it.


To set the record straight: CHRIS JERICHO REFUSED TO LOSE TO GOLDBERG ON FREE TV.


The office wanted the match to happen, as did Goldberg, but it was Chris Jericho’s refusal that made the match not happen. Look at the timing of this: Right during and after DDP and right before Kevin Nash. Jericho, as Television Champion, just did not fit in that spectrum in the eyes of the office. I am not saying they were correct in that belief, as I was excited to see the match, but that was the decision of the office.


So you see, it was not Goldberg who refused to work with Jericho, but it was Jericho’s refusal to have the match on free TV and the office’s decision not to make the match happen. Goldberg would have done this (and Jericho would have had no problem jobbing, don’t think I am attacking him), but it was an office decision. The office was upset with Jericho’s refusal to lose on Nitro, and thus pulled the feud entirely. I’m not trying to justify that decision, but it the words of Gene Snitsky, “It wasn’t [Goldberg’s] fault!”


Danger Will Robinson


What is Goldberg’s fault is the injury to Bret Hart. Let’s forget about the epic feud, the metal sheet, the three wins that Hart has over Goldberg. Let’s forget about their professional relationship and just concentrate on what so many do: a kick to the side of the head.


Actually, no, let’s not. According to Hart’s RF Video “shoot” interview the whole storyline was Hart’s idea. He pitched it all to Goldberg, who loved it and went along with everything Hart wanted. After getting approval from Bischoff (who wanted to make sure Goldberg was Ok with it), the storyline began under Hart’s direction. Hart actually listed this angle as one of his favorite two memories from WCW (the other being his tribute to Owen Hart match with Chris Benoit). So you see, Bret thought the situation was great, despite the outcome.


But Bret became bitter in the interview when asked about the career ending kick. He said, "I'd love to kick Bill in the head the way he kicked me." Wow, that was bitter. He then went on to say how Goldberg never took responsibility for hurting him.


Ok, pause right there.


First off, on the Wrestling Observer hotline Hart said, "I don't blame Bill. I don't have hard feelings toward Bill…." And yet he wants to kick him in the head? And Goldberg never took responsibility?


Goldberg has apologized on numerous occasions both publicly and privately. As a matter of fact, Bret and Goldberg met at a Calgary Flames hockey game where both parties came out very amiable to each other. You can guarantee that Goldberg apologize then, as well.


Hart must have been having selective memory (or one of the other many brain traumas he seems to have suffered) the day of that shoot interview because on May 9, 2003 Hart wrote in his own article:


Making his way back into wrestling circles is Bill Goldberg, who is most famous for his incredible undefeated string of victories in WCW. Not to mention that he’s the guy that accidentally kicked me in the head in December '99 causing my career ending concussion.


There it is right there! It was an accident! Sadly, accidents do happen in wrestling, and this was one of them. Bret actually went to Goldberg after the match and said, “Accidents happen, don’t worry about it.” But wait, this gets better. Back to the RF Shoot Interview:


After discussing the injury, Bret went on to describe how he DID NOT go to a doctor and just took some headache medicine and passed out in his hotel room. He then went back to work and took power moves from the likes of Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious. After a FEW WEEKS of seeing silver stars, he THEN decided to go to a real doctor and have his condition checked out.


Now, I’m not doctor myself, but might I hypothesize that Bret’s injuries were not as severe as they were just after the kick. That, if he had gotten proper treatment immediately and not been so stubborn, that the injury would have been much less severe. I am not suggesting that Goldberg did not ACCIDENTLY give Hart a concussion, but that Hart made the situation worse by his own actions. Goldberg did not end Bret Hart’s career, Bret Hart ended Bret Hart’s career.


Brockberg?


And when it comes to the end of careers, we should talk about Goldberg’s last day. As we have discussed in depth, Goldberg was not happy in the WWE. He decided that no amount of money was worth it, and let the WWE know months ahead of time that he would not be renewing his contract. Shortly before his match with Brock Lesner at Wrestlemania, Brock let the office know that, he too, was leaving the company. Since the wound was so fresh, the WWE decided to have Goldberg go over. It was not Goldberg pushing the decision on the WWE, for he would have lost on his way out, just like he lost to Luger and Bagwell to be retired in WCW. He did not care at that point. But the WWE and McMahon decided to have Goldberg go over in a last screw to Lesner.


The problem was that the fans were smart. They knew both were leaving, and the match was an abortion. The two did not know how to react to the crowd of smart fans attacking them both. But Goldberg explained in an interview with Filmmonthly.com:


My decision to become a member of the WWE was a very hard one to come by. And when I actually made the decision I knew what the road could be like and I knew what it was probably going to be like and unfortunately it was the latter of the two. Even though the only reason I went back was for the fans; still dealing with the B.S. at the WWE, it still wasn't worth it. It's hard for me to say that and I hope people understand what I'm talking about. The fans are first and foremost the reason why I stuck with wrestling as long as I did. Fans are the reason why I kept coming back after injuries. It was very unfortunate that my first Wrestlemania and my last match at the WWE had to be like that. As bad as the people felt, believe me Brock and I felt even worse. I would have loved nothing more for it to have been the hyped up match it should have been. It should have been the main event. It should have been different than it was. It was a shame they didn't let it crescendo to what it could have been. And the people that got screwed the worst were the fans and the WWE screwed themselves.


Do you get what Goldberg is alluding to? He and Brock wanted to go out there and give the fans the power match they were looking for. They wanted to have a special match and leave on good terms. But Vince and company got nervous and had them only do a few moves and end the match. They did not want to go out that way, but it was the call from the back. Given any other circumstance, they could have made that match happen. Just like when Taz left ECW, he could put on a good match even when everyone knew he was leaving. Goldberg thought that he and Brock could do the same. But the decision was made to not let it happen, and what we got at Wrestlemania was the result.


We’ve gone all this time, and we haven’t talked about the numbers?


We have gone on forever talking about Goldberg and we haven’t talked numbers much at all? Well, let’s do some quick ones:


One of the last times the WCW beat the WWF in ratings for a full night was when Goldberg defeated Hollywood Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship on July 6, 1998 in front of over 45,000 fans jam packed into the Georgia Dome!

In June 1998, Nitro’s average monthly head-to-head rating was a 3.98 (compared to the WWF’s 4.54). In July it was a 4.68 (above the WWF’s 4.65). In August it was a 4.73 (above the WWF’s 4.58). And again in September is was a 4.33 (above the WWF’s 4.00). Goldberg’s win meant a lot for the momentum of Nitro and WCW for months to come.


Immediately after Goldberg’s title victory, Bash at the Beach 1998 scored 1.50 PPV buyrate, the highest one of 1998 for WCW, and highest since Starrcade 1997 seven months earlier.


But here is the funny thing: Goldberg did not headline that PPV. He actually did not headline a PPV until Halloween Havoc, where he faced DDP for a 0.78 PPV buyrate, which was higher then the preceding month’s Fall Brawl (0.70) and the following month’s World War III (0.75). So Goldberg did not main event after Halloween Havoc until Starrcade against Kevin Nash, which drew a straight 1.15 buyrate. See the pattern: Goldberg in the spotlight, buyrates go up. Goldberg pushed to the side, buyrates go down. It is not Goldberg’s fault (this is becoming a recurring theme) if management refused to keep in the main event spotlight. But when he was there, he proved his worth.


But what about in the WWE? Well, Goldberg premiered against the Rock in the main event of Backlash 2003. That scored a high 1.10 buyrate. I say high because Backlash 2002 had a 0.80 and Backlash 2004 had a 0.54. Ok, maybe that was just a fluke. So the following month’s Judgment Day scored a 0.58 with no Goldberg on the card. But the next month’s Bad Blood where Goldberg finally beat Jericho scored a 0.75 (oh, and Triple H/Kevin Nash Hell in the Cell was also on the card, in case anyone was questioning Nash’s drawing power). Vengeance, the SmackDown! only PPV the following month, scored a 0.49. Summerslam’s Elimination Chamber featuring Goldberg scored a 0.94. Unforgiven 2003 buyrates (where Goldberg won the title) seem hard to come by, but the story I hear is that they were higher then the following month’s SmackDown! presents No Mercy, which had a 0.50. The point is, Goldberg drew buys for the WWE, despite everything they did to him!


Goldberg is money, but he also cares about how he is compensated:


When WCW was bought out by AOL Time Warner and they decided to not have wrestling on their programming anymore, Vince ended up buying WCW. Most of the contracts carried over, but if they wanted to work for him, they would get $0.50 on the dollar. I wasn't going to stand for that.


Q: Did you suffer for that?


I don't think so. I sat out and made my money. What kind of moron would go to work for half the amount of money, when they could sit at home and collect what's written in a contract?


So what if Goldberg decided to sit around and get paid. Why should he accept half his money that he is guaranteed when from the evidence above, he is the draw he thinks he is. Might as well stay home, make a lot of money healing up, and then come back and make a whole bunch more. He did just that, and who can blame him for it?


Humanitarian and Heritage


Of course, as I have said over and over, Goldberg is not just about the money. As you have seen in snippets, he spends a lot of time working with children and visiting kids in the hospital. He has used his fame to try to make people in terrible situations feel better about themselves. In his interview with WWE.com upon returning to the company, Goldberg stated that it was boy whose brother had died in battle that made him want to come back. That boy looked to Goldberg for his hope, and Goldberg did not want to disappoint.


And it’s not just people Goldberg is interested in helping. He spends a great deal of time working with animal shelters and humane societies, and owns quite a few pets himself. Surprisingly, Goldberg is a known vegetarian. I’m not saying he’s a better person for it, but that his conviction to animals stems so deep that he refuses to eat them is a noble cause (I, on the other hand, eat almost every animal, as long-time readers know).


Goldberg also has a long storied history, from being a bouncer at a bar, getting a degree in psychology from the University of Georgia, playing college and pro-football, appearing in several movies, currently hosting AutoManiac on Discovery, and writing a biography with his brother. Through all of that, Goldberg has kept one thing about himself prominent:


Goldberg is Jewish.


Now, this is going to be hard to explain to a lot of you who come from areas were there are few or no Jews, but being Jewish in America is a hard thing. I know, because I am one. To explain to people how you are constantly outside regular society, how Christmas does not excite you, how you want to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, how Chanukah is the least important holiday in Judaism… it’s difficult.


While doing my research, I came across an anti-Goldberg piece that said Goldberg refusing to work on Rosh Hashanah (the two day New Year holiday usually falling in late September or early October [Judaism follows a lunar calendar with an extra month every 4 years]) was an example of the man just taking advantage of his born religion. After all, Goldberg said on numerous occasions that he is not a religious Jew.


Well, neither am I, but this is what is hard for many Christian Americans to understand. If you chose not to practice Christianity, the society is still built around Christian holidays and traditions. From having Christmas vacation from school to pee-wee soccer games being on Saturdays, there is very little difference in the life of a non-practicing Christian. Now I, and Goldberg, are ethnic Jews. We do not consider ourselves religious, but the traditions of the religion are important to us. Most non-practicing Christians like to celebrate Christmas and do. Goldberg and I like to celebrate Chanukah. They like to celebrate Easter, Goldberg and I like to have Passover dinner with our families (for at least the first two nights). But whereas non-practicing Christians already have their holidays and family time woven into society, Goldberg and I have to go out of our way to celebrate our traditions. Goldberg was not using his religion as a crux to get out work, but just trying to keep his tradition, the way he grew up, and his family time alive. I am taking three days off in October to see my brother in Arizona for Rosh Hashanah this year. I may not go to temple on any Saturday between now and then, but the symbolism of the holiday is not lost on me. I am not trying to skip out on work, I’m trying to keep my family and my traditions alive.


Kudos have to go to Goldberg for continuing to and insisting on using his real name. Face facts: the vast majority of wrestling fans, especially in America, are xenophobic. WCW’s core audience was from south of the Mason-Dixon line. I’m not bashing the south here (especially since I live 12 miles from it and have tons of clients I spend time at down there), but there are plenty of portions that are not accepting of others (not that the north and other countries don’t have that problem, too, it’s just not as pronounced). The fact that Goldberg was able to win over so many from a xenophobic base is astounding unto itself. And all the while he would never hide the fact that he was Jewish, and actually promoted it.

Goldberg has these things to say:


"I was considering calling myself the Beast, or the Annihilator, and I even went so far as considering the name 'the Mossad,' after the Israeli secret service."


But Goldberg kept his real name, and was appreciated for it. The Jewish National Fund presented him with the prestigious Tree of Life award (go read the Giving Tree some time) in Israel. On top of that, Goldberg notes:


"I've been asked to give out awards at the Maccabee [sport] games in Israel and to speak at the Young Jewish Men's conference. The Jewish National Fund wants me to dedicate a water project in Israel, and I was offered a ride on the Estee Lauder family plane...


Of course, Jewish organizations were not the only ones to note Goldberg’s accomplishments. He was the only wrestler in 1999 to be rated as one of Sporting News’ “Most Powerful People”. He also appeared on the cover of USA today as the representative for all professional wrestling.


More then all that, though, is this interesting fact:


"[T]here is a marketing company in New York that conducts surveys to determine the popularity and marketability of celebrities and athletes. The result is called the Q rating. Michael Jordan [the basketball star] had the highest Q rating in the country for ten years. At one point in 1998, he dropped to number two behind... yes, as strange as it may seem, it was Goldberg the wrestler."


Some people claim that Goldberg was never really over. Goldberg was the most popular man in America for a short while in 1998!! How can you argue with that?


Spear, jackhammer, pin, go home


Goldberg has been called a flash in the pan, a scam artist, a hater or wrestling, a rip off, and every other terrible name in the book. He was given a break in this business, no doubt, but his charisma and his abilities took him to the top of the game and kept him there. Yes, he wanted to protect himself, but for the good of the character and the business. When others backed away, he stood up to the bosses and tried to make a difference. Although money was important to him, it was not his only goal in business and in life. Goldberg has regrets in this business, but he was looking out for the business. He is by no means perfect, and by no means the best we will see in the ring. But he gave us everything and then some, and did a fine job of it. You may not have enjoyed him, but many people did. At the very least respect him, he has earned it.


Goldberg is a very private man, and that is why so much about him is misunderstood. It took a lot of research to learn this much about Goldberg, but he deserved it. He deserved a defense.


Now that Goldberg is off with his TV show and movies, will we get a chance to see him step into the ring on last time? Well, when it comes to future plans, I’ll let the man speak for himself:


“One thing's for sure, when I do decide to give up wrestling, I could have a long and profitable career on the Bar Mitzvah circuit.”


The defense rests.


Hung Jury


Well everyone, that wraps up our eighth case. So what do you think?

And please take into consideration the rules of a fair court system:


(1) All parties, events, circumstances, etc… are innocent until proven guilty. In this court, the defendants have already been found guilty without trial, and so therefore this is an appeals court. Finding a defendant guilty means you disagree with all evidence presented.


(2) The jury must find the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt. That means that if there is doubt in your mind that the defendant is guilty, then you cannot find the appellant guilty. Reasonable doubt means that the average person, looking at the facts presented, could not find the defendant guilty on all counts despite personal feelings.


(3) This is a court of fact, not fiction. Fantasies of what could have been or should have been do not fly here; especially fantasies of the impossible (such as a wrestler not getting injured at an untimely moment). All we have is what did actually occur and the intentions of those being accused.


(4) A defendant cannot be judged by events outside the case at hand. For example, if we were trying a particular contract signing by a wrestling promoter, you cannot use that ten years later that wrestler died from a heart attack relating to the drug use that the wrestler started when he signed with the promoter. One has nothing to do with the other in terms of the case at hand.


(5) You do not have to like the accused before or after the case at hand, and a vote of not guilty does not change your personal preferences. You can make it clear that you feel the accused is the worst thing you have ever seen, but if the facts compel you to see that the accused cannot be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, then voting guilty would be unconscionable.

Keeping these rules of this court in mind…


IN THE CASE OF THE IWC VERSUS GOLDBERG, GOLDBERG HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF JUST BEING A STONE COLD RIP OFF WHO WAS PUSHED DOWN OUR THROATS AND TREATS THE FANS, THE BUSINESS, THE WORLD, AND WRESTLING IN GENERAL WITH CONTEMPT.


YOU THE JURY FIND GOLDBERG:


GUILTY

NOT GUILTY


Thanks for taking the time to really think about this case. I’ve noticed as my readership has grown that people voting guilty have been doing so for reasons that take away from why I started writing this article in the first place. I hope the ground rules focus those people a little more.


Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten a number of great responses from the guilty column that make excellent points and are quite eloquent. On the other hand, I’ve gotten quite a few people who violated all five of the rules above in one short paragraph. Still, feel free to write in and disagree with any of them or make suggestions or addendums. I’m all about amendments to the In Defense Of… Constitution.


Meanwhile, we’ll have a few weeks to think about those as we start out an intentionally three-part case. This time I’m going for something very unpopular and quite topical (I know, odd for me). But I believe this will be a case to really test if people can keep an open mind.


So tune in next issue for In Defense of… The Brand Extension (Part 1 of 3)!!


And don’t forget, that is not next Sunday; that is next Wednesday! Larry, Randle, and Ashish have decided that because you actually read and respond to my work, that In Defense Of… deserves to move to a weekday spot that will get highlighted and have more hits. So thank you so much for making this series worthy enough to get promoted to the weekday lineup.


But don’t fret yet! I’m not leaving you alone on Sunday morning with nothing to do. Starting next Sunday James “JT” Thomlison and myself launch the brand spanking new article Hidden Highlights. What are Hidden Highlights? Will I continue a string of extremely positive articles? How will JT and I share space in an article? Will you remember the difference between JP and JT? Why are we using alliteration in a column title? Only one way to find out, and that’s to tune in next Sunday for the premier issue of HIDDEN HIGHLIGHTS!!!!


Until then, the next time you read some throwaway line out there presented as fact, challenge it. The truth matters, and you have a right to know.


Know a particular person, event, organization, storyline, etc… in wrestling history that needs a defense? E-mail the One and Only JP at lookforme@mikefine.com, and I’ll be glad to hear your case.

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