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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

The Undertaker and Goldberg: Curious case of WWE legends

WWE in a bid to improve rating or to increase interest in a PPV event has continuously pushed superstars of the past while ignoring their current crop of wrestlers.

other-sports Updated: Aug 30, 2019 12:29 IST
Yash Bhati
Yash Bhati
Hindustan Times, Delhi
How long will The Undertaker and Goldberg continue to wrestle in WWE?
How long will The Undertaker and Goldberg continue to wrestle in WWE?(WWE)
         

Ric Flair going out to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania or Hulk Hogan losing to The Rock is a perfect example of WWE going all out to create new stars. But in recent years it has been seen that WWE has reversed the practice. DX humiliated The Revival, Goldberg destroyed Dolph Ziggler, The Rock made a mockery of the Wyatt Family, Triple H defeated Jinder Mahal (in India) and the list goes on and on.

One of the major reasons why WWE has been criticized in the past is the prevalent push of yesteryear’s superstars. It has been argued that WWE has brought back superstars of the past in a bid to increase the ratings and have instead relegated full-time wrestlers to the background. A norm followed in professional wrestling is of an ageing superstar doing the ‘job ‘for a younger wrestler.

There has been some change in recent times with WWE relying less on ageing superstars while putting their faith in the present roster. The Fiend is on a legend hunting spree while Braun Strowman continues his ‘monstrous’ push. But still, there has been a heavy reliance on WWE legends to promote a fight card.

This year, WWE has relied on the services of 54-year-old The Undertaker and 52-year-old Goldberg in a bid to push their declining TV ratings. Undertaker has never really left professional wrestling but has continued to wrestle on a part-time basis. It seemed that he had finally decided to hang up his boots after his loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33. But again ‘The Phenom’ returned and continued to wrestle despite his obvious limitations in the ring. He has been one of the major highlights of WWE’s shows in Saudi Arabia, where he has earned a reported $ 1 million dollar to wrestle just a single match.

Now comes the case of Goldberg. There was a time when Goldberg had the perfect last storyline in the WWE. He came back after a big hiatus and shocked the audience with a win over Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. Then WWE continued to push him strongly despite the fact that Goldberg’s ability to last in the ring for more than a few minutes had greatly diminished. He even won the Universal Championship from Kevin Owens during his previous run. A fast-paced match with Brock at WrestleMania 33 was well received and Goldberg quietly hung up his boots (it looked like that).

But again the WWE decided to bring back the legend for another run. It was announced that Goldberg will face The Undertaker at WWE Super ShowDown. The heavily-promoted match was a train wreck as there were multiple botches by both superstars and was lambasted by the fans. There were calls for these ageing superstars to finally retire from the sport.

However, they were not finished (yet). WWE decided to admonish the ghost of the past. The Undertaker was involved in a match at Extreme Rule with Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon. The match was well-received while the performance of Undertaker was praised.

Then came another surprise as Goldberg was announced as the opponent of Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. Despite there being doubts, Goldberg acquitted himself well. He looked like a wrestler who belonged in the ring and absolutely destroyed Ziggler with devastating Spears and multiple Jackhammers. It has also been reported that Paul Heyman wants to use Goldberg as an attraction who only wrestles a few matches in a year.

The stock of Goldberg and Undertaker, which undertook a beating after the Saudi Arabia show, has considerably risen due to their recent performances.

Fans have wanted to see these ageing wrestlers to mix it up with younger and fresher superstars in the ring for a long time. WWE were giving them the opposite for a while. The overseas WWE special shows have seen Shawn Michaels brought into wrestle The Undertaker, Triple H wrestling The Undertaker, Goldberg wrestling The Undertaker. Legends vs Legends have resulted in disaster. There is a trend which WWE has maybe recognized.

When you pit ageing legends like The Undertaker and Goldberg against younger wrestlers like Ziggler and McIntyre, the chances of having a good match increase multiple folds. So if WWE wants to use legends in their shows then the pattern to focus is pitting them against full-time superstars, who can hide their limitations while showcasing their strengths.

We want to remember The Undertaker and Goldberg being one of the most dominant wrestlers in history, not superstars who overstayed their welcome in the squared circle.