Happy Halloween, everyone! Following last night’s Hell in a Cell event, WWE Raw will hold some kind of Halloween based show tonight and it will be kinda funny, I guess. Maybe there will be a candy fight or Goldberg will come out dressed as Ken Bone. Who knows?
But whatever Bill Goldberg does, let’s hope the crowd is on his side, unlike in Minneapolis last week. If you watched Raw last week, you might have noticed what was quite possibly the worst Paul Heyman promo in the history of wrestling’s great orator. Sure, we’re all allowed to make a mistake once in our careers, but rumor has it that this one wasn’t the mistake of the former ECW promoter. Yet, it appeared as if Paul Heyman was attempting to coax Lesnar’s hometown crowd to chant “Goldberg.”
Gooooooldberg...Gooooooldberg. A monotonous and not very fun chant to begin with. So why, having just brought Goldberg back would they think that he could overshadow a conqueror returning to Athens, like Brock Lesnar? Surely, a man with the promotional foresight of Paul Heyman wouldn’t make such an rookie mistake. But for Vince McMahon, essentially the father of modern wrestling promotion, to assume that an audience would not cheer for the local favorite is mind boggling. I don’t think there’s any more basic promotional principle than the undeniable fact of home field advantage.
Backstage, Vince McMahon reportedly became incensed at the fans for not chanting “Goooooldberg,” as it was meant to be the thesis for Heyman’s promo. It sets Goldberg up to fail, which comes natural to McMahon when dealing with former WCW talent; unintentionally or otherwise. Vince can bury WCW wrestlers in his sleep.
The correct way to deal with Lesnar as a heel in this dream match would have been to steer into the skid. If there is a hiccup on the road to Survivor Series where a Minneapolis audience is guaranteed to cheer for your heel, you must embrace it. And look, I’m in no position to preach to Vince McMahon and WWE Creative about the ins-and-outs of wrestling promotion. I’m not on that level of smarkiness to pretend I know more than VKM, but this was just downright stupid.
As much as I want to think that it was all in the cards from the get go and this was an example of Triple H working the work, and possibly even creating a story where Vince was upset about this poorly executed segment; unfortunately, it’s much more likely that Vince is out of touch. It was the cornerstone of CM Punk’s Vegas pipebomb and it still rings true. Not only does Vince McMahon not know what makes a superstar in 2016, last week’s Raw shows that he can’t close on an easy sell like Lesnar and Goldberg.
Tonight, Goldberg will appear on the Halloween edition of Monday Night Raw to what WWE can only hope is a cacophony of “Goooooldberg” zombie chants. Otherwise, they may have to rethink their strategy. Since Lesnar is only a part time performer, and Goldberg seems to be taking a paycheck and maybe a Hall of Fame nod next year, it doesn’t really matter where they go with this. It can be as platonic a dynamic as they want. There are no stakes at hand. Neither of these men need to be put over in this match. So why even try to force an audience to chant “Gooooldberg?”
This match is already delivered on a silver platter for WWE. Dinner is served. Put Goldberg and Lesnar on the card and count your money in new Network subscriptions. There is no reason that Survivor Series should fail and fans aren’t expecting a five or even four star match out of these two. The money is in the build up and we’re aware of that. Take the layup that is Brock in Minneapolis. Let them cheer for their hometown boy. To think that that could sour marks on a big match is an insult to our intelligence. And that’s some rudimentary intelligence. We aren’t telling you to do your job, but when we go to a deli and want a half pound of roast beef, just slice me the roast beef. Don’t try to do anything fancy with it. You don’t need to throw me a curveball and hand me a third of bologna. Just give me the roast beef. That’s what this match is. It’s a roast beef sandwich. Eat it. It’s good. That’s all I need to know.
The WWE literally drove into Suplex City and expected the citizens to vote for the mayor’s opposition. Minnesota is not a swing state. They’re gonna check off “Beast” on the ballot every time. Bill Goldberg should not even bother campaigning there. They should be more worried about convincing the Toronto crowd at Survivor Series to get on the Goldberg train. Considering Goldberg is partly responsible for ending Bret Hart’s career, the Canadian audience might need some buttering up. Toronto loves its wrestling nostalgia, but that doesn’t mean Goldberg can stop shaking hands and kissing babies. Let’s see if Heyman bailing on the Minneapolis promo will affect the “Goooooldberg” chants at tonight’s Raw. If the fans aren’t into Bill tonight, then WWE might have negotiated for too much on what should’ve been a done deal.