A Failed Heel Turn: Turning Da Man Into A Bad Guy
The world of professional wrestling always needs a little bit of shock. A surprising moment that fans had not expected but had always wanted to see. Unforuntely, WCW had a hard time understanding that concept.
For nearly three years WCW had a money making draw with Bill Goldberg. Goldberg made his debut in September 1997 and proceeded to win 176 matches in a row. Sure, the number may be inflated as one week he’d have 30 and the next he’d somehow be at 42. Regardless, the company had the next draw to lead them for the next several years, similar to what Sting and Hulk Hogan had been prior.
Despite some horribly booking of their top star, Goldberg continued to have a following. His record came to an end at Starrcade 1998 and couldn’t get a rematch until a year later at Starrcade 1999, which he was screwed out of against Bret Hart.
In late 1999, Goldberg suffered an injury after punching a limo window and was out for five months. By the spring of 2000 came around, fans were waiting with anticipation for Goldberg’s return.
On May 29th, Goldberg returned and was his usual baby face self. He helped his friends fight off the New Blood and everything seemed to be fine. Sure, at this point Goldberg came across like a star playing for the minor leagues as WCW had fallen far from grace, but he added a much needed spark to the show.
WCW couldn’t possibly ruin the one top baby face they have, right? They can’t be that stupid.
But, it’s WCW. At the Great American Bash 2000, the show had been centered around a surprise from the duo of Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff. Something fans would not expect and “change the landscape of the business.”
However, the surprise didn’t deliver. If you watch the show, there are a few signs, and one that is clearly seen on camera right before the turn, stating “Goldberg Is New Blood”, as if fans and critics expected the turn to happen.
It’s one of the dumbest things WCW could have done. Heel turns make sense when fans want to boo someone or have had enough of the character. You look at a guy like Hulk Hogan when he turned in 1996. The fans were tired of him. Sure, some people cheered him afterward, but far, far more people booed their former hero.
There was no interest in booing Goldberg. They wanted Goldberg to kick ass and take names. It was so evident that they didn’t want to boo him that the experiment lasted all of two months. By August of 2000 Goldberg was back to being a babyface.
WCW tried their hardest to make Goldberg into a hated superstar. On an episode of Nitro, Goldberg brutally beat up Jim Duggan, who had just beaten cancer. They had Goldberg brutally attack Sting several times, but nothing managed to generate real hate for the truly beloved Goldberg.
During this heel turn, Goldberg cleanly lost on Nitro to WCW World Champion Booker T in under two minutes. A guy went 176 matches straight without losing and lost in under two minutes. It’s rarely mentioned it seems.
I’m not saying a heel turn from Goldberg shouldn’t have happened at some point, but at a time when WCW didn’t have an established baby face outside of stale acts like Sting and Nash, he needed to remain in that role and have the championship. Instead, it was like Russo and company tried to sabotage his career for whatever reason.
Decisions like this is why WCW is remembered and made fun of.
What are your memories of Goldberg’s heel turn? Did you think it was a good idea? Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.
Bob Colling Jr. View All
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.
I didn’t see the actual heel turn, but imagining it is truly enough. however, with that said, I actually thought Goldberg’s heel character itself was pretty good. Just everything else from the timing of the turn, and how they handled the whole run as terrible. I hated how they wasted what I thought was a pretty good Meng interview “You must die”, only to have Meng loose to Goldberg in under minute. The way Duggan’s cancer was way overhyped and shoved down our throats right before and during the match made me wanna shoot Tony Shiavone, but that’s really a side not I guess. They overall product of WCW at this time didn’t help Goldberg, or anyone else for that matter