Goldberg was trending on Twitter, and I knew the story before I even clicked his name.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a few articles about the WWE’s predicament for Summer Slam, the stadium event that will be held next month in Las Vegas. The 65,000-seat venue is where the Raiders will host NFL games this season, and such a building helps establish the promotional push that management wants Summer Slam to be another Wrestlemania level event on the calendar. I discussed the possibility that Brock Lesnar might be used as the drawing card for the stadium event, even if his name has yielded diminishing returns in the past several years. While names like The Rock and John Cena depend on movie schedules and outside projects, Brock is just a phone call away. Despite any negotiation tactics to try to maximize the payday, Lesnar isn’t going to politic about the direction of his character, he’s all about the cash, which is the entire point of the wrestling business. Granted, Vince McMahon knows that when he signs a hefty check to Brock, the angle should be worth the investment. If the Lesnar experiment with the monstrous push for several years paid off is a subject for debate. Still, if Vince wanted Brock on the show, he would meet his price.
However, as I mentioned in the article I wrote about Lesnar at Summer Slam, considering that he already returned to the organization several times, I’m not sure another return after another extended absence would boost numbers the same way it did previously. Don’t get me wrong, Lesnar is a star, but the nature of his WWE schedule lends itself to recycled storylines, and in many ways, the return of the monster former champion has a “been there, done that” atmosphere to it.
Also as I mentioned in the article about John Cena, there’s more of a boost associated with his return because he didn’t make numerous returns to the show the way that Lesnar did so there’s more intrigue, at least on the surface. More importantly, Cena is still the last legitimate money-drawing star the company made so it’s a given that he will move the needle. As I said, for a 65,000-seat venue, WWE will have to throw as much star power onto the show as the can, but the problem is that none of that star power includes the current roster with the exception of Roman Reigns. Cena vs. Reigns is a big time match that will be money for the organization, but it does nothing to address the much bigger problem of the company’s inability to generate major numbers without part-time stars.
Speaking of part-timers and the reason for this article, it was announced that Bill Goldberg will be back on Raw, with the assumption that he will set up a Summer Slam match with Bobby Lashley. Reportedly, the former WCW champion has at least one match left on his current contract, but that’s more of a technicality than anything. With the investment and major spots Goldberg was used for, it would be a safe bet that management will ink him to another contract if for no other reason than to prevent an AEW appearance. Similar to the Lesnar scenario, the Goldberg card, while even more limited with match options because of his style, has been completely overplayed.
The biggest criticism of the WWE product in recent years is that it’s repetitive and lacks any intrigue around the angles. Assuming that Goldberg is back to challenge Lashley for Summer Slam then it literally is a carbon copy of the same angle that he was booked for before. Goldberg beating The Fiend for the championship, which I will still say was the wrong decision, was a retread of his tremendous comeback in 2016 and didn’t have nearly the same impact. Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman and then Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre were more of less the exact same storyline. The old gunslinger makes a comeback to challenge the champion in his prime to see if he can recapture the old glory. Not only is a potential Goldberg/Lashley bout yet another retread of the Braun and Drew matches, but it also makes the entire concept of a number one contender pointless. If anyone can show up at anytime to challenge for the championship then why should fans care who wins the matches on television? The real-life Bill Goldberg takes his place as a role model seriously and that’s very commendable, but the bottom line is, should a 54-year-old part-timer be in one of the main events of Summer Slam? Bill Goldberg is absolutely a legend, but if someone can’t be in the ring for more than three minutes without the risk of a disaster, should they really be booked to wrestle again?
This wouldn’t be a problem is the current roster had the star power to draw on its own, but the way the company continues to rely on nostalgia to boost major shows is just lazy booking in an attempt to coast on past accomplishments. The current roster has the talent, but not the scripting to generate numbers. The way that Drew McIntyre was presented, as well as how Lashley was booked for the title picture speak volumes to the unorganized way the product is presented. Drew was more or less a mid-card heel before he got the surprise push with the Royal Rumble win in 2020. If Drew was going to be the guy then great, he has all the tools you’d associate with a main event performer. The same night he won the title, he said in a promo that he “didn’t want to fight” The Big Show, and repeated a similar statement during a segment with Heath Slater. As I said at the time, a baby face should never back down from a challenge. Would Steve Austin ever say he didn’t want to fight someone? Furthermore, Drew dropping the title to Randy Orton for three weeks was pointless since the angle made no progress on Raw, and losing the belt to The Miz halted any momentum he had as champion.
Bobby Lashley is a tremendous athlete and his current run is the best of his career. There’s no doubt he can be a main event talent, but his push toward the championship was sudden and it looked as though the direction of the title was rather scrambled because if management really thought McIntyre was the guy, why book him to lose at Wrestlemania? Drew put Raw on his back during the pandemic and was put in a tough spot as champion because there was zero feedback or fan interaction for the majority of his title reign. Lashley is a decade older than Drew so who should be the priority?
The fact is the WWE invested nearly a year into Drew McIntyre as a top guy. Despite the previously mentioned booking fumbles along the way, you could see the effort Drew puts toward the performance on a weekly basis. The Royal Rumble win, the Wrestlemania matches, the title defense etc. What’s the sum total of the past year of Drew’s career if he’s feuding with Jinder Mahal about a sword now? The trend of the part-timers used in the main event spots is ultimately why there continues to be a lack of star power on the current roster. But, hey, at least Goldberg is back for the same three-minute match you saw the last time he was on pay-per-view.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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