The groundbreaking WWE Network series returns, this time shining its spotlight on Attitude Era megastar, Goldberg. In this documentary, he recounts the story of how he left the professional wrestling business on bad terms in 2004, as he faces personal demons and physical challenges in his preparations for his 2016 return to professional wrestling…
When I was growing up, I was never a WCW fan. WWE, or WWF at the time, was much easier to find on British television, and I was invested in Vince McMahon’s programming. I dabbled in WCW from time to time, but it simply couldn’t grab my teenage attention in the way that the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were for WWE. That said, I still knew who Bill Goldberg was.
Jump forward a few years, and WWE have purchased WCW. Eventually, Bill Goldberg comes over, but at this point my interest in wrestling had begun to fizzle out, and was replaced with an ever-growing love for soccer, and actually going outside more. By the time I came back into things in 2008, Goldberg was long gone, and my knowledge of him was purely built up through documentaries, and old shows. Judging by what I’ve seen of his full-time run, there’s no question that I would have been right behind the man were I watching WCW back then.
When Goldberg was announced as returning to WWE television in October 2016, I had mixed feelings on the matter. Without question, a large part of me felt that he was just another in a long line of retired or part-time superstars returning to take main event spots from guys who bust their asses all year round. Despite that, one couldn’t help but be excited at the thought of seeing this legend return to the ring, and he and Brock looked like absolute heavyweights in the way that very few in WWE do anymore (they just aren’t build that way anymore).
Just over the first half of WWE 24: Goldberg is spent on the period leading up to Goldberg’s in-ring return, as we hear from Goldberg and others about how he left the company after Wrestlemania 20, and what it was like for him in the run up to his return match with Lesnar. All of these interviews are new, which gives them all new relevancy as we become invested in Goldberg’s story. Goldberg is wonderfully honest here, and makes himself an open book, but it’s the thoughts from his wife that perhaps give us an even more in-depth look into what this whole process meant to him.
For me, the most interesting thing about this documentary was perhaps its sheer existence in the first place. For a man who spent the largest part of his career trying to maintain the sense of mystery that surrounded him, to see him so freely allow viewers access to his thoughts, fears, doubts, family, and more, is a pleasant surprise, and makes the show even more compelling as a result.
Goldberg’s Royal Rumble appearance is overlooked here, as the filmmakers race to his WWE Universal Championship win, and then his final battle with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33 (click here to see our match ratings). Whilst the real meat of the story was in the pre-Survivor Series build up, it would have been nice to get Goldberg’s thoughts on how some of the fanbase turned on him as he headed into Wrestlemania. There’s no question that the apathy that developed towards him was actually more a case of WWE fans becoming frustrated at the company for how they were prioritising part-time talent at Wrestlemania year on year, but it still would have been interesting to find out how that made him feel at the time, and whether he realised it wasn’t actually an issue with him, but with his employers behaviour over the few years prior.
That said, such a detour probably wouldn’t have fit with the narrative here, and that’s absolutely fine. What we did get was incredibly moving, and I can honestly say that I applauded my television set when they showed Goldberg finish his final promo the night after Wrestlemania. I did so begrudgingly, as I find that kind of thing cheesy, but I found myself overwhelmed by the emotions that Goldberg himself and the filmmakers had brought out in me, and giving the man a small clap felt right in that moment.
For any Goldberg fan, WWE 24: Goldberg is unquestionably must-see television. WWE fans with little to minor investment in the man should most certainly watch it too, as they will find themselves heavily invested in the man by the time the credits roll, and I’m sure they’d soon be searching for old clips of him. Truthfully, you could put this documentary in front of someone who does not watch WWE at all, and they’d still find themselves hooked to their television screens. It’s a well-produced hour of footage and talking head interviews, and something you should go out of your way to watch.