2018 WWE Hall of Fame: Goldberg announced as centerpiece of new class
Fresh off a memorable return run in WWE, the ex-NFL lineman will be inducted before WrestleMania 34
The first name revealed in the 2018 class of the WWE Hall of Fame is a big one as Bill Goldberg will headline the festivities during April's WrestleMania 34 weekend in New Orleans. WWE confirmed Goldberg's entry into the HOF on Monday, which was first reported by ESPN. The ceremony is set for Friday, April 6 at the Smoothie King Center.
Goldberg, 51, was a former NFL defensive lineman who grew to professional wrestling fame following a meteoric rise with WCW in the late 1990s. Thanks to his marketable unbeaten streak and "Who's next?" catchphrase, Goldberg quickly rose to become WCW's biggest star at the peak of the so-called "Monday Night Wars" against WWE. Following the dissolution of WCW in 2001, Goldberg saw his subsequent run in WWE end on bad terms when he was booed out of Madison Square Garden in New York during his farewell match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX.
Estranged from the company for 12 years, Goldberg's return ahead of Survivor Series in 2016 provided the cherry on top for his career. At the same time, it brought positive closure in his suddenly repaired relationship with WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
"In a fairly condensed period of time, my relationship with the WWE did a complete 180 degrees," Goldberg told ESPN. "My comeback had everything to do with a change of heart on both sides. For that, I am greatly appreciative, because that was a dark side in my psyche. When I heard 'wrestling' or 'WWE,' I'd kind of want to put it off to the side and not think about it. It didn't evoke the most positive of memories, but it's funny how that's changed completely in the past couple of years."
Goldberg's final run saw a reboot of his feud with Lesnar, including a memorable squash match victory at Survivor Series in 86 seconds. He went on to defeat Kevin Owens for the universal championship at Fastlane before yielding the title to Lesnar in their WrestleMania 33 rematch last April.
As WCW's answer to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during the Attitude Era, Goldberg hid his overall inexperience well during his initial rise in 1997 thanks to an unbeaten streak (which reached a fictional 173-0) that allowed him short and dominant matches.
Goldberg defeated Hollywood Hogan for the WCW world heavyweight championship during an episode of Nitro on July 6, 1998, in front of 40,000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. His unbeaten streak was finally snapped later that year at Starrcarde against Kevin Nash.
During his gap in professional wrestling, Goldbeg stayed in the public eye as an actor, television host and mixed martial arts commentator. He also served as the pre-order bonus character for the WWE 2K17 video game, which served as the catalyst in his eventual reunion with WWE.
"Goldberg's unique athleticism, persona and intensity captured the imagination of sports entertainment fans around the world throughout his illustrious career," said Paul Levesque, WWE executive vice president, talent, live events & creative. "We are honored to have Goldberg take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame."
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Goldberg's smash-mouth style was best represented in his signature moves, which included a spear to set up his Jackhammer finisher. A college football standout at Georgia, the 6-foot-4 and 285-pound Goldberg was an 11th-round pick of Atlanta in the 1990 NFL Draft.
For as massive a celebrity as Goldberg became thanks to pro wrestling, his time inside the ring was limited compared to most Hall of Famers and essentially consisted of just seven combined years.
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