William Scott Goldberg (December 27, 1966) is an American professional wrestler, actor, former professional football player and former mixed martial arts color commentator best known for his time at WCW and WWE under the ring name Goldberg.
Regarded as one of the more popular professional wrestlers of the late 1990s, Goldberg was the top star and public face of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) at the peak of the Monday Night Wars. Goldberg is best known for his time in WCW, where he performed between 1997 and 2001. Goldberg rose to fame in WCW with a lengthy undefeated streak in singles competition from 1997 to 1998, which is considered the longest winning streak in professional wrestling. During this time, he became WCW United States Heavyweight Champion and WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He was also a one-time WCW World Tag Team Champion (with Bret Hart), making him along with Hart the fifth WCW Triple Crown winner. Following WCW's closure in 2001, Goldberg wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) between 2002 and 2003, and for WWE between 2003 and 2004, becoming a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in the latter. Goldberg headlined multiple pay-per-view events for WCW and WWE, including closing WCW's premier annual event, Starrcade, on two occasions (1998 and 1999). After twelve years away from the company, he returned to WWE in 2016 and headlined Survivor Series against Brock Lesnar, and Fastlane against Kevin Owens where he won the WWE Universal Championship, his third world title, thus making him the only person to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WWE's World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Universal Championship.
Before he was a professional wrestler, Goldberg was a professional football player. After first retiring from professional wrestling, he began working as a commentator for the mixed martial arts promotion EliteXC until its closure. He hosted 26 episodes of Garage Mahal on the DIY Network from 2009 to 2011.
Goldberg was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he had a bar mitzvah at Temple Israel and graduated from Tulsa Edison High School. He acquired a love for football early in life and was a bouncer at age 16. Goldberg's mother, Ethel, is a classical violinist, while his father, Jed, who attended Harvard University, was an obstetrician and gynecologist. They divorced, and Jed died in late 2006. Ethel also breeds flowers and created an award-winning hybrid orchid, which she named after Goldberg. His brother, Michael, is the owner of a music club in Aspen, Colorado.
Goldberg is proud of his Jewish heritage and refused to hide it in the wrestling world, including refusing to wrestle on Yom Kippur. His Romanian great-grandfather, Marcel, emigrated from Bucharest and came to the U.S. through Ellis Island. His other great-grandfather, Willie, was a Russian immigrant.
Goldberg earned a scholarship to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team where he served as a defensive tackle. He was taken by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round, with the 302nd overall selection, in the 1990 NFL draft.
He played for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1990 NFL season, followed by a stint with the CFL Sacramento Gold Miners and Atlanta Falcons from 1992 to 1994. After being cut from the Falcons, in 1995 he was selected by the new expansion team, the Carolina Panthers, in the 1995 NFL expansion draft, but never played a game with the team. He was the first player to have been cut by the Panthers.
Goldberg's NFL career ended when he "tore his lower abdomen off his pelvis". He had hopes of returning to the league after rehabilitation but, due to his lack of success, wasn't considered a major asset. Goldberg has described playing in the NFL as "a mixed emotional experience" because, despite reaching the goal of simply playing in the NFL, he didn't obtain the level of achievement that he desired.
Professional wrestling career
World Championship Wrestling (1997-2001)
Undefeated Streak (1997-1998)
Goldberg's succession of wins saw him quickly advance up the card, and pushed as a singles wrestler. Goldberg made his pay-per-view debut at Starrcade 1997, and defeated Steve McMichael. In early 1998, Goldberg defeated the likes of Brad Armstrong at SuperBrawl VIII and Perry Saturn at Spring Stampede 1998 in squash matches. On April 20, 1998 edition of Nitro, he won the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship, by defeating Raven. Two days later, on April 22 edition of Thunder, he made his first successful title defense against Mike Enos. Goldberg started a feud with Raven and his Flock. At Slamboree 1998, he ended his feud with Flock after a successful title defense against Saturn. He would continue to make successful title defenses of his title against Konnan at The Great American Bash 1998, and Curt Hennig.
Main Event Push (1998-1999)
Goldberg was getting over as a main eventer, after he easily defeated the legendary Hollywood Hogan on July 6 edition of Nitro to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and gain an unheard-of undefeated record of 108-0. As a result, he vacated the United States title. He retained his title in his first title defense against Scott Hall in a dark match. Goldberg began a feud with Curt Hennig, and retained the title against Hennig at Bash at the Beach 1998. He ended up retaining the title in a rematch against Hennig at the next night on Nitro. At Road Wild 1998, Goldberg won a battle royal, consisting of New World Order (nWo) members.
Goldberg executes a delayed vertical suplex lift before hitting the Jackhammer on The Giant. On October 11, 1998, episode of WCW Monday Nitro, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Goldberg defeated The Giant in a no-disqualification match, in an unbelievable feat of strength; Goldberg executed a delayed vertical suplex before hitting the Jackhammer on The Giant.
After Diamond Dallas Page became the #1 contender to the WCW title, Goldberg and Page began a feud with each other. At Halloween Havoc 1998, the feud was settled after Goldberg defeated Page to retain the title. After settling out his feud with Page, he got involved in a short feud with Bam Bam Bigelow, who had left ECW to wrestle Goldberg. On November 16 edition of Nitro, Goldberg defended the WCW title against Bigelow in Bigelow's WCW debut but the match went to a no contest.
Both his reign and his streak of 173 wins and 0 loses ended at Starrcade 1998 when he lost his title to Kevin Nash after Scott Hall made a run-in and shocked Goldberg with a cattle prod. However, Goldberg avenged this act by facing Hall at Souled Out 1999, in a Ladder Taser Match. Goldberg won when he used the taser. The match could only be won by using the taser, which was hung high above the ring, requiring the ladder to obtain it. After the match, Goldberg's rival Bam Bam Bigelow came out and attacked him, thus the duo began their rivalry once again. Goldberg defeated Bigelow at SuperBrawl IX to settle the feud. At the same time, the WWF began mocking Goldberg with the character Gillberg, a perennial jobber who dressed similarly to Goldberg and mocked his signature entrance and mannerisms.
Goldberg took his revenge from Kevin Nash by defeating Nash at Spring Stampede 1999. Goldberg wrestled a match against Sting at Slamboree 1999 which was fought to a no contest. He was "injured" and took some time off, for his movie Universal Soldier: The Return. He returned two months later, and defeated Rick Steiner at Road Wild 1999 in a squash match. He started a feud with Diamond Dallas Page and his Jersey Triad, which culminated in a match at Fall Brawl 1999 which Goldberg won. Around that same time, United States Champion Sid Vicious began a winning streak by defeating two jobbers at the same time. After Goldberg settled his rivalry with DDP, he began focusing on Vicious and challenged him to a match to end his winning streak. The two feuded with each other, which culminated in a match at Halloween Havoc 1999 for Sid's US title and Goldberg defeated Sid, via referee stoppage, thus winning his second WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Later that night, he answered an open challenge from WCW World Champion Sting and defeated him to win the championship.
However, on the next night's edition of Nitro, commissioner J.J. Dillon ruled that the match had not been sanctioned by WCW and that, therefore, Goldberg's victory was void. However, instead of the title being returned to Sting, it was vacated and a 32-man tournament was held to determine a new champion, which started that night. Goldberg was entered into the tournament and wrestled his first round match against Bret Hart later that night, choosing also to defend his newly won United States championship in the match. Interference from Sid Vicious cost Goldberg the match and gave him his second official WCW loss. Goldberg continued his rivalry with Vicious, and defeated him in an "I Quit" match at Mayhem 1999.
Shortly thereafter, Goldberg joined forces with Hart, teaming with him to defeat Creative Control for the WCW World Tag Team Championship on December 7. One week later, they lost the titles to The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash). At Starrcade 1999, Goldberg challenged Hart for the WCW World Championship. In the course of the match, which was won by Hart, Goldberg delivered a stiff kick to Hart's head, legitimately concussing him and tearing a muscle in his neck. This injury, combined with the various injuries Hart had suffered in the course of his lengthy career and the additional blows to the head he absorbed before being diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, forced Hart into retirement several weeks later. Despite that, Goldberg lost the match to Hart, but with the match shrouded in controversy Hart vacated the title the next night on Nitro, saying he didn't want to win that way and granting Goldberg a rematch. Goldberg was defeated again due to outside interference from Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who began to beat on Goldberg with baseball bats. In a swerve, Hart took one of the bats from The Outsiders and began beating on Goldberg himself, doing enough damage to score the pin and regain his championship. After the match, Hall, Nash, Hart, and Jeff Jarrett announced the reformation of the nWo, and gave Goldberg a new target for a feud. However, it would not last long.
Contender to the World Title (2000-2001)
Shortly after his title loss, Goldberg was accidentally injured in Salisbury, Maryland, during a sequence where he chased the nWo limousine into the parking lot. Goldberg, who was wearing protective covering over his hands so he wouldn't get injured when he would break the windshield glass (a spot in the scene), got a little too overaggressive in his pounding and severely injured his forearm when shards of the glass sliced it, causing him to miss the January 4, 2000 NJPW Tokyo Dome show, where he was scheduled to face Manabu Nakanishi.
After taking time off to recuperate, Goldberg returned to WCW on May 29, 2000 interfering in a Nitro match between Kevin Nash and the team of Tank Abbott and Rick Steiner. At The Great American Bash 2000, Goldberg betrayed Nash during Nash's World Title match against Jeff Jarrett and turned heel for the first time in his career by aligning himself with the New Blood faction. This didn't last long, as Goldberg would again suffer an injury and miss time. As a result of this betrayal, Goldberg feuded with Nash and defeated him at Bash at the Beach 2000, but with help from Scott Steiner. Goldberg thought that he deserved to be the #1 contender to the world title, and faced World Champion Booker T for the title and won the match, but didn't regain the title since Booker T didn't submit. He participated in a triple threat #1 contender's match against Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner at New Blood Rising, which Nash won. Goldberg turned face again after Bret Hart attacked him on an edition of Nitro and then he and Scott Steiner began a feud with each other, culminating in a no disqualification match at Fall Brawl 2000, which Goldberg lost.
He began a new undefeated streak in October 2000, with Vince Russo threatening to "fire" him if he lost. He defeated KroniK (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) at Halloween Havoc 2000 in a handicap elimination match to begin his undefeated streak. He started a feud with "The Total Package" Lex Luger, who claimed to be the first wrestler to end both Goldberg's streak and career. This culminated in a match at Mayhem 2000, which Goldberg won. They continued their rivalry and battled in a rematch at Starrcade 2000, which if Goldberg lost, he had to leave WCW. Goldberg won the match, but after the match, he was attacked by Luger's partner Buff Bagwell. Goldberg began feuding with both Luger and Bagwell, who called themselves Totally Buffed. His streak was broken at Sin when Goldberg, teaming with his Power Plant trainer, DeWayne Bruce, lost to Totally Buffed in a tag team no disqualification match after a planted fan maced him, enabling Totally Buffed to pin him. The angle was intended to enable Goldberg to have shoulder surgery, but WCW was sold to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in March 2001, with Goldberg still recuperating. The WWF did not buy out Goldberg's contract with Time Warner (the parent company of WCW) as they had done with several other WCW employees, and so he was not involved in the WWF "Invasion" angle. Goldberg instead remained under contract to Time Warner until May 2002, when he agreed on a contract buyout.
In the course of his WCW career, Goldberg had six official singles defeats: three to Bret Hart, one to Kevin Nash, one to Scott Steiner, and one to Booker T.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2002-2003)
Goldberg had suffered an arm injury during the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April 2002, but in August 2002, he returned to the ring in Japan. He initially joined All Japan Pro Wrestling, defeating Satoshi Kojima on August 30, 2002 and Taiyō Kea. He went on to defeat Rick Steiner in Yokohama in a match for the W-1 promotion, and teamed with Keiji Mutoh to defeat KroniK in Tokyo. His success in Japan led to the World Wrestling Federation - now renamed World Wrestling Entertainment - beginning contract negotiations with him.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2003-2004)
Winning Streak on Raw (2003)
Goldberg was signed to a one-year contract by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in March 2003. He debuted in WWE on March 31, 2003 edition of Raw, the night after WrestleMania XIX, and immediately began a feud with The Rock by spearing him. His feud with The Rock culminated in a match at Backlash 2003, which was Goldberg's first appearance in a WWE ring. The match was won by Goldberg following three spears and a Jackhammer. He began a short feud with Christian, with whom he had his first Raw match on May 5 edition of Raw resulting in a no contest. The two faced each other on the following edition of Raw in a steel cage match, which Goldberg won. He next feuded with Chris Jericho, who continued to insult Goldberg in following weeks and challenged him to a match. At Bad Blood 2003, the rivalry was settled after Goldberg defeated Jericho.
World Championship and retirement (2003-2004)
Goldberg started a feud with World Heavyweight Champion Triple H over the World Championship. He challenged Triple H for the title at SummerSlam 2003 in the second Elimination Chamber match in WWE; after squashing and eliminating Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and Jericho, he was pinned by the champion Triple H and as a result, Triple H retained the title. Goldberg continued his rivalry with Triple H and finally defeated him for the World Heavyweight Championship at Unforgiven 2003, after agreeing to put his career on the line. He successfully defended the title against Triple H in a rematch at Survivor Series 2003, before he lost the title back to Triple H at Armageddon 2003 when Triple H pinned him in a triple threat match which also included Kane.
At the Royal Rumble 2004, Goldberg participated in the Royal Rumble match, entering at #30, so he could get a chance to regain his world title at WrestleMania. During the match, he began a feud with WWE Champion Brock Lesnar who interfered in the match and hit Goldberg with the F-5, which caused him to be eliminated by Kurt Angle. Goldberg gained revenge by attending No Way Out 2004 the following month and costing Lesnar his WWE Championship by interfering in a match between Lesnar and the challenger to the title, Eddie Guerrero. This led to a match between the two being scheduled for WrestleMania XX. A match between the two had been highly anticipated due to their similar physique and their undefeated streaks. Goldberg was not seen on WWE television for several weeks before the event, as he had already worked the maximum number of dates (bar one, his WrestleMania appearance) stipulated by his contract and would have had to have been paid a supplementary salary in order to make extra appearances. This may have hurt the build to the WrestleMania match, with the last episode of SmackDown! before WrestleMania featuring a confrontation between Lesnar and Steve Austin, the guest referee of the match, instead of Goldberg.
The Goldberg versus Lesnar match is notable for a large majority of the crowd becoming aware that this was to be both men's last match in the WWE; it became known shortly before the match that Lesnar was pursuing an NFL career. As a result, the audience 'turned' on them by booing and shouting derogatory chants at both participants; although, Lesnar was more a target of the fans' disdain possibly because he was the intended heel in the match (Austin was the only one to receive any cheers during that match). Both men showed frustration in their performance, and amid the resounding boos, ringside commentator Jim Ross acknowledged their plans to leave the company. Goldberg won the match cleanly but was attacked by Austin post-match. Then a week later, his WWE contract expired and was not renewed, thus ending Goldberg's WWE career.
Legends of Wrestling (2015–2016)
Goldberg made his return to professional wrestling on June 7, 2015, at the Legends of Wrestling show at Citi Field in New York. While he was not scheduled to wrestle at the event, Goldberg came to the aid of Rob Van Dam after his match with Scott Steiner. He performed a spear on Steiner and a Jackhammer on Doc Gallows.
Return to WWE and Universal Champion (2016–2017)
On May 31, 2016, Goldberg was announced as the pre-order bonus for the upcoming WWE 2K17 video game. Throughout the summer, Goldberg and WWE 2K17 cover star and former rival Brock Lesnar traded insults with each other through social media and WWE 2K events such as Gamescom. Goldberg would also appear at the WWE 2K SummerSlam event the weekend before the SummerSlam 2016 took place, fueling speculation he would be appearing at the event to confront Lesnar. Goldberg then appeared on the October 10 episode of SportsCenter, where he contemplated a return to WWE. This led to Paul Heyman challenging Goldberg to face Lesnar on the October 10 episode of Raw, with Heyman stating that Goldberg was the one blemish on Lesnar's WWE career, as Goldberg had defeated Lesnar at WrestleMania XX in 2004. The following week on Raw, Goldberg returned to WWE for the first time in twelve years, accepting Heyman's challenge and signaling that Lesnar would be next and last. On the October 24 episode of Raw, Lesnar returned with Heyman, who insulted Goldberg. The following day, their match was scheduled at Survivor Series. On the October 31 episode of Raw, Goldberg returned to address Lesnar's comments from the previous week, only to be interrupted by Heyman, who teased that Lesnar was there, but Rusev came out instead. Goldberg executed a Jackhammer on Rusev and a spear on Heyman, who was rushed to hospital with bruised ribs. On the final Raw before Survivor Series, Goldberg and Lesnar came face to face for the first time in twelve years, resulting in a brawl with security after Heyman insulted Goldberg's family. At Survivor Series, Goldberg defeated Lesnar after two consecutive spears and a Jackhammer in 1 minute and 26 seconds.
The next night on Raw, Goldberg thanked the fans and his family before saying he has one more title run left in him while also declaring himself as the first participant in the 2017 Royal Rumble match. The following week on Raw, Heyman addressed the Survivor Series match, stating that they underestimated Goldberg and that the match was a humiliation and embarrassment for him and Lesnar, who would also be in the Royal Rumble match as he has something to prove. Goldberg returned on the January 2, 2017 episode of Raw as the first guest on The Kevin Owens Show where he confronted Chris Jericho and WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, stating that he would win the Royal Rumble match and challenge for the world championship at WrestleMania 33. However, Heyman on behalf of Lesnar, Braun Strowman and United States Champion Roman Reigns then came out to announce their intentions at the Royal Rumble, and after a stare down, Goldberg and Reigns hit a double-spear on Strowman. Goldberg appeared once more on the January 23 episode of Raw, where he was confronted by Lesnar and another Royal Rumble participant The Undertaker. During the Royal Rumble match on January 29, Goldberg entered at number 28 and he confronted Lesnar, before delivering a spear and eliminating him. After taking out multiple opponents, Goldberg was confronted by the number 29 entrant, The Undertaker, and after Goldberg eliminated Rusev and Luke Harper, he was eliminated by The Undertaker himself.
Lesnar then appeared on the following night's episode of Raw and challenged Goldberg to one final match at WrestleMania 33. Goldberg would go on to accept Lesnar's challenge on the February 6 episode of Raw whilst interrupting WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and United States Champion Chris Jericho in the process. Goldberg would challenge Owens to a WWE Universal Championship match at Fastlane with Jericho accepting on Owens' behalf and the match was made official later that night. On the February 27 episode of Raw, Goldberg and Owens had one final confrontation with Goldberg claiming that if he would win the WWE Universal Championship, he would defend it against Lesnar at WrestleMania 33. At Fastlane on March 5, thanks to a distraction from Jericho (who Owens turned on for accepting Goldberg challenge on Owens' behalf since the February 13 episode of Raw), Goldberg defeated Owens with his promised Spear, Jackhammer, 1-2-3 to win the WWE Universal Championship in 22 seconds. At WrestleMania 33 on April 3, despite hitting three spears and a Jackhammer, Goldberg's 28 days reign as WWE Universal Champion ended when he lost to Lesnar for the first time in his career in what was also his first clean singles loss.
Since leaving WWE, Goldberg has primarily focused on his acting career. He has commented on his year with WWE in a highly critical fashion, arguing that his character was poorly utilized.
In February 2006, several media outlets reported that Goldberg was in negotiations with the professional wrestling promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling; possibly in response to these rumors, semi-retired wrestler Warrior commented on his website that he would be interested in wrestling Goldberg in TNA should TNA approach him with such an offer. In a series of interviews conducted in June 2006, Goldberg stated that he was mildly interested in working for TNA, particularly since his friend Sting had joined the promotion by then, but had several reservations; he was holding out for a contract similar to the magnitude of Sting's. Goldberg's name has been brought up frequently in TNA during angles and during backstage discussions and rumors. Goldberg's name was first mentioned at Lockdown 2006, as Goldberg became the target of a rumor of him joining Sting's warriors to wage war against Jarrett's army as a result of Steiner being brought in. His name was also brought up as a candidate for the consultant of Christian Cage, along with Brock Lesnar's, but it was later revealed to be Scott Steiner. Goldberg was upset about this, as was Brock Lesnar, as neither of them was informed of their names being on the list (since it was Brock Lesnar himself who informed Goldberg of the list). Another rumor had surfaced about Goldberg being the fifth member of Team Angle for the Lethal Lockdown match at Lockdown 2007, but it was revealed that Jeff Jarrett was that man.
- He was scheduled to appear at WrestleFanFest Malice in the Palace on October 19, 2007 but did not attend.
- In May 2008 Goldberg stated if offered enough money and given the creative control that he always has had in the past he would wrestle for TNA.
- On August 22, 2008 Goldberg announced on the Fight Network Radio that he had been training for three weeks to make his long-awaited professional wrestling return.
- Goldberg was a special guest star on Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Tag teams and stables
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Entertainment