Brock Lesnar and Goldberg are on a collision course in WWE once again, the first time the goliaths will do battle in the squared circle since their bout at WrestleMania 20 more than a dozen years ago.
The speculation is that these two former heavyweight champions will face off at WWE Survivor Series 2016 next month in Toronto. WWE is heavily promoting both Goldberg and Lesnar in their WWE 2K video game release, and Goldberg, Lesnar and Paul Heyman have made numerous television appearances (Raw and ESPN, namely) to push their escalating feud.
That is an utter mistake.
A matchup of this magnitude deserves the biggest stage the company can offer, and there is no bigger stage than WrestleMania 33 in Orlando.
There are a number of reasons why WWE must delay the inevitable match until WrestleMania 33.
Waiting for WrestleMania 33 allows time to build a more credible angle
A slower build to a Lesnar vs. Golberg match would give WWE more time to develop a narrative for the two Superstars. Up to this point, the entire feud has felt rushed. Starting with Goldberg’s appearance on ESPN, it’s been a back-and-forth that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
For many fans, the payoff is the confrontation. But there still must be an underlying reason behind the match. For Lesnar, the answer is simple: Hang a loss on the only guy he hasn’t beaten yet. For Goldberg? The narrative he outlined on the October 17 episode of Raw, of being a superhero to kids one last time, feels empty and rushed.
The match is the true payoff, but there’s nothing for fans to invest in for the next four weeks, which could result in the match losing its luster shortly. Waiting until WrestleMania 33 gives WWE time to build a believable story, while also figuring out how to protect the legacy of the loser, a point Forbes.com’s Blake Oestriecher wrote about recently:
If Goldberg returns only to lose clean to Lesnar, his career resume takes a monstrous hit. No longer will he be the unbeaten behemoth. He’ll be just another victim of the unforgiving push of Lesnar as WWE’s fearless force. On the flip side, if Lesnar loses to Goldberg, it would be a monumental waste of a rub that another full-time superstar should have gotten.
It helps Lesnar and Goldberg condition for a better match
Let’s face it, the first bout between Lesnar and Golberg was a clunker.
Both men were exiting the company, and the 13-minute match featured more jawing than wrestling and was overshadowed by Stone Cold Steve Austin, who served as the guest referee. It was a boring, plodding match that neither man particularly cared to be part of.
Now, more than a decade later, WWE plans to put the same two men in the ring with little to no preparation.
While putting two legends in the ring might sound like a good idea, it rarely lives up to expectations. At a show like Survivor Series, a clunker of a match—much like the one these two had at WrestleMania 20—could spoil the entire pay-per-view.
Even worse, it can lead to severe injuries. WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair understands this, making that point on his podcast (h/t Forbes.com):
Not that Bill’s fragile by any means, but when you’ve been away that long, your body hasn’t been in the ring, that’s why I say all the time, "time off is a wrestler’s worst enemy". And he [has] been off a long time […]
You’re off for a couple of months, much less 10 years, you’re going to get in the ring and you’re going to wrestle Brock Lesnar the first time around? Ha! Good luck with that! That’s just the way it is.
WWE could have used the time between now and WrestleMania 33 to slowly reintroduce both Superstars back into the fold. Goldberg could have worked out at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, acting as a guest coach while getting back into ring shape.
Meanwhile, Lesnar could continue to do what Lesnar does, showing up once every three months to rip someone and collect a check. The two could have their first face-to-face at the Royal Rumble with Goldberg being a surprise entrant, another way to re-acclimate him to ring action.
In the end, it helps both Superstars knock off the rust, which can help them put on a better match.
Lesnar vs. Goldberg overshadows the rest of the roster—except at WrestleMania
These are two of the biggest names in the industry. Pitting them against one another is bound to take over any event they are part of.
The Grandest Stage of Them All outshines any single match on the card each and every year. It is WWE’s showcase, both for its legacy and its future. Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg can share the card at WrestleMania because they wouldn’t be relied on to carry it.
At Survivor Series, Goldberg and Lesnar become the event. This year thanks to the brand split, Raw and SmackDown will hold three separate tradition Survivor Series elimination matches. WWE has hinted that it would use its champions in those matches, leaving a main event void to fill. Lesnar and Goldberg automatically step into that void, something WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross is leery of seeing, writing:
Personally, I would not place Goldberg vs Lesnar last on the card at Survivor Series. I’m very curious to see the match that I hope fans will be intelligent enough to reserve judgment on the match until they see the presentation.
Instead of the company’s champions doing battle against one another being the star attraction, two 40-plus part-time wrestlers will be featured. Should they put on a spectacular main event, Survivor Series will be a success. Should they not deliver, the show will be a disappointment. There’s no middle ground for WWE.
That wouldn’t be the case at WrestleMania 32.
The event carries itself. There would be no pressure on the two men, since they could easily occupy a spot in the middle of the card, a la Sting and Triple H. The build for a championship match that began at Royal Rumble culminates the evening. It is the one guarantee: Win the Rumble, headline WrestleMania.
Goldberg vs. Lesnar is a WrestleMania-level match, on par with Sting vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 31. This will be two heavyweights battling in a grudge match for the ages. There’s high drama, as Goldberg is the only man with a clean victory over Lesnar without suffering the requisite defeat.
A WrestleMania-worthy match deserves to be on the WrestleMania card, not rushed in order for WWE to capitalize on its newness. Instead of showcasing two of the biggest names in the industry at the company’s premiere show WWE is slotting the matchup in the middle of football season.
While it may be the biggest show in the industry, WrestleMania 33 in Orlando affords everyone—Lesnar, Goldberg, WWE and the fans—the perfect venue for this dream matchup.
WWE should stop the marketing machine this one time, putting the brakes on a Toronto showdown until the company heads south for WrestleMania 32.