The question of "Who's next?" in regard to entry into the WWE Hall of Fame was answered on Jan. 15 when WWE announced Goldberg would be inducted as part of the 2018 class during WrestleMania weekend in April.
As with any sports or entertainment Hall of Fame, there's always debate over who should or shouldn't be in. So does Goldberg pass muster as a sports entertainment hall of famer?
It's complicated. Goldberg undeniably was one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling during the industry's boom period in the late 1990s when he was with WCW, but his run was relatively short.
Before I weigh in with my opinion, here's what WWE executive vice president Paul "Triple H" Levesque had to say about the matter. After the news broke that Goldberg would head the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame class, he tweeted:
"@Goldberg brings passion and intensity to everything he does … on the field, in the ring, and especially with his family. His intensity and character made him one of the biggest stars in our industry … so #WhosNext? The #WWEHOF. Congrats, Bill."
Well, that certainly was very nice. And very corporate. Let's see what Triple H said in 2010 when he and Shawn Michaels were asked about whether Goldberg was Hall of Fame worthy during an interview.
"Bill's trying to get into the Hall of Fame," Triple H told
SB Nation Atlanta
. "If there's a rumor about him coming back, he probably started it. I've not seen any mention of his name.
" … We try to do a legitimate Hall of Fame. We try to honor the guys that deserve it. … So when you say, 'What about Goldberg?' no offense to Bill, but you've got guys like Bruno Sammartino that were legends with longevity that should be in there, but they're holding out because they think they've got one more run. Just using Bill as an example, how many years did he wrestle? Not many."
Michaels, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, was more blunt.
"To me, he's not even in the ballpark," Michaels said. "Not because he's not talented, but greatness doesn't happen in a few years. Greatness is established over a long period of time."
So why did WWE change its opinion on Goldberg's Hall of Fame worthiness? That one's not complicated.
After WCW was purchased by rival WWE in 2001, Goldberg eventually signed with WWE in 2003. His stint with WWE lasted just a year, and he and the company did not part on good terms. In the ensuing years after Goldberg left WWE (and pro wrestling altogether), he was outspoken in his criticism of WWE.
Fast forward to 2016. Goldberg and WWE agreed to bury the hatchet and make money together, and he got the proverbial "one more run," including a one-month reign as Universal Champion that ended in a match with Brock Lesnar on the grand stage of WrestleMania 33 last April.
And therein lies the problem with the WWE Hall of Fame. It's not about who "deserves" to get in; it's about who has a cordial relationship with the company and whether a candidate's induction makes business sense for WWE.
I'll just come right out and say it: The WWE Hall of Fame is a joke.
Unlike most Hall of Fame institutions, there's no voting process for the WWE Hall of Fame. Inductees are chosen arbitrarily, with WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon having final say.
Case in point: Wrestling legends such as Bruno Sammartino and the late Randy "Macho Man" Savage -- who both had been on the outs with McMahon for years -- were not inducted until 2013 and 2014, respectively, while performers much lower on the card such as Johnny Rodz, Baron Mikel Scicluna and Koko B.Ware went in before them.
So any debate about whether certain wrestlers should be in the WWE Hall of Fame is actually futile because the bar has been set so low. A more pertinent question is whether Goldberg is deserving of consideration for The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, which is widely regarded as the most credible pro wrestling Hall of Fame.
Voters for The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame are composed of major wrestling stars, past and present, major management figures in the industry, and writers and historians. Candidates must receive 60 percent of the vote in their specific category for inclusion.
In the email that The Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer sends out to voters (I am one of them), he states: "The criteria for the Hall of Fame is a combination of drawing power, being a great in-ring performer or excelling in ones field in pro wrestling, as well as having historical significance in a positive manner. A candidate should either have something to offer in all three categories, or be someone so outstanding in one or two of those categories that they deserve inclusion.
" … Longevity should be a prime consideration rather than a hot two- or three-year run, unless someone is so significant as a trend-setter or a historical figure in the business, or valuable to the industry, that they need to be included."
Not only is Goldberg not in The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, but he didn't even make it on the ballot until 2017. He received 30 percent of the vote.
I did not vote for him for several reasons. Goldberg obviously falls short when it comes to longevity, and he was limited as far as in-ring ability. He was a big draw in 1998, but his drawing power already started to wane in 1999.
Because he was on top during a boom period, Goldberg is certainly a big name among wrestling fans, but I don't think simply being famous is enough to get someone into a Hall of Fame. Not a legitimate one, at least.
Goldberg was referred to as "Da Man" during his heyday, but he was actually more myth than man. In other words, he's perfect for the WWE Hall of Fame.
Photo Credit: Marvin Atwell