VICE Sports Q&A: Bill Goldberg. Will He or Won't He Return to the WWE?
Among many other things, former wrestler Bill Goldberg talks about whether he will return to the ring, what he thinks of Donald Trump and what it was like to be on Celebrity Apprentice.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Goldberg hasn't wrestled in the WWE since 2004 when he "jack hammered" Brock Lesnar in Wrestlemania XX at Madison Square Garden and walked away from the profession. Goldberg was a superstar who won championship belts in the WCW and WWE, but he left Vince McMahon's organization with a bad taste in his mouth. He didn't like the promoter and he didn't like the business anymore, so he spent the last dozen years acting in movies and television, doing commentary on MMA events, restoring muscle cars, working with charities, and raising a family in southern California.
The former NFL player with the Rams and Falcons is 49 years old now and rumors of a return to the WWE have been swirling mightily for months because Goldberg's face is on the back cover of the WWE 2K-17 wrestling video game that debuts in October and Goldberg has been traveling the globe to promote the game. Brock Lesnar's face is on the front cover and, in the promotional video, Lesnar calls out Goldberg with Bill's signature line. "You're next!"
Let the feud rekindle.
Let the rumors roll.
Let's find out from the source what is really going on with Bill Goldberg.
(BTW- It helps to get to the source when you are Goldberg's brother-in-law and I am.)
VICE Sports: Bill, what's the deal? Ever since your face showed up on the box for the WWE 2K-17 videogame, the rumors have been rampant that you are returning to the WWE. What's the story?
GOLDBERG: Hey man. All it means is that the promotion for WWE 2K-17 has worked quite well. I am the "special downloadable character" for the videogame which I haven't been part of for a number of years. Brock Lesnar is the cover star and "Beast of the Day" of the WWE. He was the last person that I wrestled back, God knows how long ago?
It was 2004
Yeah and, you know, people make the association. At the end of the day, it is great promotion for 2K and WWE-17 because that's my involvement. As to anything further than that, there isn't any, right now. I have said many times, in the past, that my son (Gage, age 10) wants to see me wrestle live and I'd be open to talking about something in the future if that was the case. Life is too short. I'm 49 years old. Maybe it's time to push everything under the bridge and try to provide my son with a cool experience, but as of right now, that is not in my plan by any stretch of the imagination.
We haven't been in contact. We haven't negotiated. It's the world of social media and rumors flying rampant. At the end of the day, I'm greatly appreciative that anybody would still want to see me go out there and do my thing. There are a lot of things to be taken into consideration if I was even to contemplate something like that, but as I always say, "Never say never."
So the WWE door is open?
Yeah. The door has been open for a while, for sure.
Okay. You're going to be 50 years old in December, If you decided that you wanted to return to wrestling could you still do it physically?
As the famous quote from your father-in-law goes, "Does Howdy Doody have wooden balls?" (Laugh) That would be my answer. The reality is that I still train Muay Thai three to five days a week. I try to stay in top physical condition. Am I 285 pounds with my "traps" coming right out of my ears? Absolutely not, but I'm a healthy 270.
Here are some recent headlines.
"Wheels Are In Motion for Goldberg WWE Return"
"Goldberg Return to WWE. Looking Good."
They are everywhere. (Laugh)
"Will Goldberg Return To WWE"
Are you telling me, unequivocally now Bill, that you, or your agents, have had no conversations with Vince McMahon or the WWE about you returning to wrestle?
Yeah. I haven't had any conversations with them, but like I said, this relationship that I have with WWE now is much better than the relationship that I've had with them in the past twelve years. That may lead people to assume things since the natural progression for the "special downloadable character," traditionally for WWE 2K, has been a legend that comes back, takes part in the videogame, and then gets back in the ring, does his final foray and then rides off into the sunset.
People are just assuming that the past is going to repeat itself and, like I said; I'm greatly appreciative and honored that anybody would:
1. Still remember me
2. Still care
3. Think that I can still compete at a level where it could still entertain people
So, you can see where people might connect the dots and assume that there might be a comeback in the offing. Obviously, McMahon had to sign off on you being on the WWE 2K-17 videogame. That's very interesting because you did not leave the WWE on good terms. Here is one of your quotes.
"I can't really say anything positive about the man (McMahon). It's kinda like working for a carney who is driven only by his ego."
Here's another Goldberg quote.
"I don't need to look over my shoulder for my boss. I don't need to crawl back to anybody for anything. I'll dig a ditch before I do that."
Right. So being in the video game, in itself, is a monumental accomplishment. (Laugh) Like I said, I am greatly appreciative and any positive news is a feather in your cap, especially twelve years removed from the business. It's definitely a positive. It's not something I'm trying to flourish here, by any means but it is what it is. It is its own animal. Every morning I wake up and I see a new headline that I had talks with someone, so let the people believe what they want to believe.
So, let's set the record straight here. On the videogame, you don't work for the WWE? They're not writing you a check, are they?
I do not work for the WWE on the video game.
So, 2K Sports is the organization that handles the videogame and your deal is with them, right?
Okay. Let's talk about your life after wrestling. You've appeared in movies like "The Longest Yard" and "Universal Soldier". You've hosted TV shows and worked as an MMA commentator. What's it been like making a life without wrestling?
(Big laugh) Oh man. The stress level is way down, even though you're dealing with Hollywood. That is an animal in, and of, itself, but you are not on national television in your underwear every day and you are not told what to do all the time. At 49 years old, I'm done with people telling me what to do. I was done with it years ago and I am completely done with it now. There is a huge bit of satisfaction in doing what you like to do.
Hey. The reality is that I am a father now and I'm a husband. That's my role. I've stepped to the back in terms of importance in the family. My biggest goal right now is to be the best father and the best husband that I can be for the rest of my life. That's the only reason that I would consider wrestling again, because of my son and my wife. Wanda's never seen me wrestle before. We got married after that career was over, so it's a tough decision, but I am pretty damn lucky. Let's just put it that way. I have been afforded a lot of opportunities and I am the happiest man in the world with my family right now and the situation that I am in.
We should say that you've stayed somewhat connected to wrestling fans through autograph signings and appearances at various conventions. To what, Bill, do you attribute the fact that you've still got this popularity among wrestling fans, after all these years of being away from the ring?
I think the "Goldberg" character had everything to do with it. I think the handling of the character had a lot to do with it. I think the passion for these wrestling fans has a lot to do with it and I think the fact that I've kept myself in pretty damn good shape throughout, still likens itself to the possibility of me coming back and doing something. The possibility is there.
You've got a new movie coming up that you start shooting soon and you're not just acting in this one. You are more involved, right?
(Laugh) Yeah and I don't know if I ever want to do this one again. It is easy signing on the dotted line and being an actor. You show up and they give you your lines. You do your thing and you are out. That seems a hell of alot easier than taking on this co-executive producer role, on "Max Yeager-Special Op", but it is something that I very much enjoy. It is something to be able to work with your friends and produce a product that you are proud of. We will be embarking on it, shortly, in Louisiana and it's going to be a lot of fun.
You are the Max Jaeger character?
I would be him. That would be me. Yes sir. It's a political thriller based on what's in the news today. It centers on homegrown terrorism and the United States' ability to keep its citizens safe. There are real dangers out there that are unbeknownst to most of the citizens today and it is happening everywhere, not just overseas but on our own soil. I play an "ex-special ops, hand-to- hand combat operative" who gets brought back into the fray. That's about all I can tell you right now. You'll have to see the movie.
It sounds interesting. What did you think when it came out recently that Dwayne Johnson, "The Rock", is now the highest-paid actor in movies?
I think it is well deserved. He is a special human being. His entertainment skills are unparalleled with anyone out there. He's always been that guy. Hollywood was a natural progression for him, and his hard work and determination have more than paid off. He was in the right place at the right time in the beginning. He watered the plant and, man, is it flourishing! I'm extremely happy for him. Hey Rock. If you need somebody to kick your ass in a movie, you know who to call.
It almost seemed as though you could have had that career, Bill. When you were so hot in the WCW and then the WWE, you were on that upward fast track. You were the one getting the movie roles and you were getting the opportunities. My feeling is that you could've been "The Rock" if you had stayed in wrestling. Do you ever look back and have misgivings about not sticking with the business?
Well yeah. There's no question. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.
My dad used to say, "If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.
Man, you've got a lot of "balls" references going on here.
It is what it is. (Laugh) Must be the male testosterone thing coming out. You know, man. I'm just blessed. I truly am. Would I change anything that I've done? No. I truly believe that I'm just not that guy. I like to say that I'm a competitor and I'm not an entertainer. I like to go out and compete. Seriously. I just want to chill. I just want to be behind the scenes a little bit. I don't clamor for that spotlight. I really don't.
I drive a 99 Dodge truck that is beat to hell. I don't drive around in a new Ferrari or a new Mercedes and say, "Hey! Look at me." I'd rather drive around in a car that people see and say, "There is NO WAY that Goldberg is driving that." (Laugh) I just want to go through life on the path of least resistance. That's another thing that my dad taught me.
I stepped back out of the spotlight, so to say, after my wrestling days because (sigh) it was too much work to be that next "superhero guy". It wasn't something that I was willing to put time into. I really didn't have the passion for that business. It wasn't what I wanted at the time. I needed to take a break. I deserved a break, so it was a decision that I will never go back on.
In 2010, you were a contestant on "The Celebrity Apprentice" with Bret Michaels, Sharon Osbourne, Sinbad, Cyndi Lauper, Summer Sanders and others. Donald Trump was the host and now he is the Republican nominee for president.
What was that "Apprentice" experience like?
I try to repress those negative experiences in my life.
That's why I'm here, to bring them back up.
(Groan) Yeah. Well. Thank you, Larry.
It was different, man. It was like working for Vince McMahon there for a while. (Laugh)
Okay. Who is more annoying Donald Trump or Vince McMahon?
I didn't deal with Vince enough to be able to compare those two, but I'd say Donald is fairly annoying, to put it mildly.
What happened on the show? I know it didn't go well for you on "The Celebrity Apprentice". You got fired in episode No. 6.
It didn't go well for me because I was tired of people sticking cameras in my face from 6:00 AM to 12:00 midnight every night. You know. Enough is enough, but that's the premise of that show. They goad you like a caged animal and you reach your boiling point (laugh) and then the red light goes on. That's the show. It is what it is. I knew the TV business going into the show and I didn't playing their game and I think I made a producer cry on set every three days. That was my average. Just don't lie to me. Don't think that I am stupid.
You had a quote after "The Celebrity Apprentice," Bill. You said,
"The fact that I did hold my cool throughout that show was a huge victory in, and of, itself. There were number of times where I was going to implode."
So, what was it like? Were they poking you with sticks so they could get good moments on TV?
Absolutely! Absolutely! Are you kidding me? It is simple TV. It is created animosity and then the camera goes on. The fact that I didn't leave anyone in a pool of blood is win-win for me. It was amazing.
What do you think about Trump running for president?
I think I'm checking on my wife's Canadian citizenship to see if I can jump on board. (Laugh) Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the position of choosing between two people and the winner is going to be the lesser of two evils. I don't believe that, in the fine country that we live in, that those should be our only options. How could they be? But we've gotten ourselves to this point and there is no one to blame but the citizens, so I just think it's a surreal time in today's world in a number of aspects and the presidential race is a scary one.
When you were on "The Celebrity Apprentice" you were working for a charity. I know you are involved with a lot of different causes. What is most dear to your heart, right now?
The military is the closest to my heart. There is no question. We live in a day and age when things are happening all across the world and people have different opinions of the military. I want to show them my support. I'm going to do that until the day I die. I owed my ability to go out and entertain people to the fine men and women who protect our country, day in and day out.
So when people walk around and say that I'm a hero, I pale in comparison when I am stacked up to anybody who has voluntarily submitted themselves to the military to protect our freedom. They fight for people that they don't even know and they put their lives on the line and go out there and do the right thing. That's quite honorable, if you ask me. Those who have served and those who are continuing to serve and those who will serve get my 100 percent support.
That leads me to Colin Kaepernick. What are your thoughts on the 49ers quarterback not standing for the national anthem to protest, what he calls, the unfair treatment of minorities in America?
I think he is going to be sitting down for a long time. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect, but I truly believe that you can't disrespect people in the pursuit of good. He is disrespecting the military by not standing for the anthem, but that's his choice. He can do whatever he wants. He's fortunate that we live in a country where your opinions matter. I just think it is the wrong way to go about it. Everybody knows that there's a problem. It's just the way you go about trying to solve it. That's the way he chose and it is his God-given right and it is my God-given right to share my opinion about it.
We, as Americans, should fight for the right things and it is obviously the right thing to have social and racial equality. Have we made strides throughout the years? You're damn right we have. Have we made enough strides? Hell no!
You played football for the old L.A. Rams back in the 1990's. What are your thoughts about the Rams being back in Los Angeles?
I think it is awesome. Now my son, Gage, won't look at me as though I am growing a horn from my head when I say that I played for the "L.A. Rams". I think it is wonderful.
One of your former Rams' teammates, Kevin Greene, just went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(Laugh) Yeah. He's a good dude. One of the coolest experiences I ever had was rooming with him with the Rams. He's a guy who deserved an induction into the Hall of Fame as much as anybody else. That dude gave 100,000 percent every play, every snap, every game and (laugh) when he went into the wrestling world, he did the same thing there.
He is an extremely passionate human being. I challenge anyone to find someone more passionate about life than Kevin Greene. To see him go into the Hall was a huge honor.
All right. So let's wrap this up here by going back to where we started. Just to recap for people. Your face is on the box for the W2K-17 videogame. The WWE and Vince McMahon had to sign off on that for you to be a part of it, so it seems that there is an easing of the tension between Goldberg and the WWE but, at this point, there have been no conversations between Goldberg McMahon, or the WWE about you returning to pro wrestling. Correct??
Amazing. Bill I really appreciate the time. You are a hot topic right now. (laugh) It's kind of fun to hear all the buzz again and we're all looking forward to see how this thing plays out. Thanks for spending time.
You got it. I love you, brother. You never know. One of these days, I might have some different news for you.