The WWE Universe is pumped for its biggest Dream Match arguably since The Rock vs. John Cena. WCW icon Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar will headline Survivor Series in a match that almost seems impossible to live up to the hype.
It is hard to imagine that the Goldberg vs. Lesnar rematch would have as much excitement as it does today. The perception is reality for some who saw Goldberg’s return on RAW and watched the former champion get a legend’s welcome. Goldberg’s initial RAW return was done so well, it has elevated this match well above the expectations fans had a few months back when rumors of the rematch first broke.
But has this hype created expectations that can’t be met? What exactly are fans expecting here? Are they expecting to see some kind of hard-hitting strong-style hybrid MMA/pro wrestling match? Are fans expecting to see these guys battle so hard that neither man can stand up after such a colossal war? It is hard for me to grasp exactly what fans are expecting to see at the WWE Survivor Series.
Quite frankly I don’t get it. With all due respect to Goldberg, his first and only run with the WWE 12 years ago was a disaster. He didn’t achieve anything close to the superstardom he earned in WCW. He was also exposed in the ring as a bit of a fraud as none of his matches past his debut with the Rock were memorable. Now to be fair, he was positioned to fail in and outside of the ring and that fault lies with the WWE. But this demand for his return is just simply mind boggling.
With all of that said, I have enjoyed his appearances thus far and I’d probably be more excited about his return if it were against anyone other than Brock Lesnar. The dynamics were much different but there one and only match at WrestleMania 20 is remembered as one of the worst matches in Mania history. Think about that for a second and all of the lousy matches it had to beat for that recognition. No matter how you slice it, the match was just downright awful.
So what is going to be different 12 years later? Well, the dynamics are different in that you don’t have two guys frustrated with management looking to get out of dodge as fast as they can. You probably won’t have Shane McMahon in the audience encouraging fans to boo, although you can’t discount that. You will also have one guy in there nearing 50 who hasn’t wrestled in 12 years against one of the most physical guys in the business. It doesn’t sound all that enticing does it?
Playing devil’s advocate, maybe there are a few reasons to get excited about this match. Both of their attitudes are much different, especially Goldberg’s. Goldberg isn’t looking for a run and is highly motivated to go out there and give it his all. Brock Lesnar has a much more professional attitude and appears to take a lot of pride in his matches, although Dean Ambrose may say differently. Neither guy will likely be buried by the company and given all of the tools they need to perform at their best. Most important of all, I can’t imagine that the infamy of their previous match isn’t the biggest motivator. I think it’s safe to assume that both guys would love to put that match to rest and leave fans with the legacy of something much more memorable.
WWE rematches have a mixed past with just as many delivering better matches as those that disappoint. If there is one match you can look at as a comparison it would be Brock vs. Undertaker at SummerSlam last year. They were coming off arguably Lesnar’s worst WrestleMania match since returning to the company and a highly disappointing match overall. The Undertaker was older and many expected him to be a shell of himself. Instead, what fans got was one of the most exciting matches in recent memory. It wasn’t pretty in that you didn’t have lots of flips and dives but the intensity and excitement that those guys created at SummerSlam 2015 and the subsequent blow-off in Hell in a Cell far exceeded any expectations fans had when news first broke that the two were rematched.
So will Goldberg vs. Lesnar disappoint? Can they live up to the hype? They probably aren’t going to go in there and have a classic “wrestling” match but they don’t have to. If they can somehow take all of this excitement into the Survivor Series and perform against that background, they have the potential to have a highly memorable match. Easier said than done yes, but is it possible? My answer may surprise you. I think so.