Goldberg interviewed with the Miami Herald about WWE, MMA and more.
He was also on Between The Ropes last night on Sports Radio 740 The Team in Central Florida (and at BetweenTheRopes.com). Following is a report of his interview:
On Wednesday night, June 21, former WCW Champion and World Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg joined hosts Brian Fritz, Dickerman, and Vito DeNucci live on Between The Ropes on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team to chat about storied wrestling career, his possible future in wrestling or MMA, working for the WFA, and much more.
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The guys chatted with Goldberg about joining the ranks of fatherhood to start. He’s got several projects on the horizon, including color commentary on the WFA MMA pay-per-view on July 22 as well as a movie role that begins shooting on July 10. Despite the sleepless nights at home, he’s still training to stay shape in and joked, “Obviously, I don’t want these fighters to make me look small. I’ve got a reputation.” He’s got his irons in the fire with five or six projects and is constantly trying to reinvent himself for different ventures, i.e. his MMA color commentary role.
Goldberg said the card put together by the WFA was the reason he agreed to do color commentary after being approached by WFA CEO Jeremy Lappen. He said if he wasn’t involved in show, he’d buy it on pay-per-view in a second to see the array of fighters, particularly the return of Bas Rutten to the sport.
Goldberg talked about his interest in mixed martial arts. When he first started with pro wrestling, he owned the largest MMA facility in the country in Atlanta. For a variety of reasons, including being on the road too much with WCW, the facility shut down. He initially got interested in mixed martial arts during his football days at the University of Georgia. He’s watched the sport going back to the beginning of the UFC. He molded his wrestling character after stuff he saw in MMA, specially from Sambo fighter Oleg Taktarov. When he wrestled in Japan, he found it to be a bit stiff and took some muay thai classes just to be on the safe side. He loved it and now is a part owner of a muay thai facility. His work with Pride enabled him to befriend a lot of top MMA fighters, including Bas Rutten, Mark Coleman, Don Frye, etc.
Asked what he thought of the long-term prospects of the WFA in the MMA industry in the United States, Goldberg responded, “I think the vision that the WFA has is aimed straight at being a competitor of the UFC, if not surpassing them. I like the organization for that reason. Obviously they got together some of the best fighters in the world for this initial card. That’s kind of proof in itself that these guys are totally serious. Jeremy Lappen has been involved in the business a long, long time. He’s represented a lot of these fighters. He knows the good and bad of different promoters because he dealt with it on the other side. With a lot of the fighters’ input, he’s got the backing and he has the pay-per-view and he’s got Bill Goldberg and it’s going to be a wonderful thing. I kind of give it the analogy of the old underdog WCW against WWE. These guys definitely have that vision to overtake them and become the new kid on the block. Like I said, I think you guys and all my fans know me a little bit better now to know that I wouldn’t be associated with something that I didn’t think would be number one.”
Bill talked about his wrestling character, which he felt was his defensive lineman days at Georgia morphed into a submission guy. He felt his character was as real as it got in the wrestling world. He didn’t talk trash and didn’t cheat. He was no frills and compared it to the early days of Mike Tyson. The fans took to all of that.
Goldberg was asked to explain his time in WWE. “Excruciating. It left a really cruddy taste in my mouth. There’s no question about it. But all I have to do is harken on the old days of WCW and it wipes that WWE crap away. I think they knew how to make the character succeed. They just didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t the product of the WWE and I was a threat for a lot of people. Instead of being purely business, I think there were some ulterior motives going on. The reality is I didn’t need to go back to wrestling. I had that guaranteed deal with WCW and I got paid out full on that puppy. I could have just went about my way. But all the kids were stopping me on the street, ‘Goldberg, when are you getting in the ring?’ What I got out of wrestling is the ability to affect the kids. I thought that I owed them the opportunity to see me again and give WWE a shot. Man I love them to death, but I couldn’t last more than a year there.”
Goldberg said he felt like an outsider in WWE since he was a WCW guy and never had worked there before. He also felt like an outsider in his WCW days since he was a legitimate star athlete entering wrestling and some in the company believed he had an ego about it. Bill told a story that during his winning streak in WCW, he wanted to put over Bobby Eaton on his birthday at a house show out of respect, but was obviously told that couldn’t happen. Someone with an ego wouldn’t want to do that. He still feels grateful to all of the people that put him over along the way and made him into the star he became.
Asked specifically about his dealings with Triple H in WWE, “He was cool. He was cool to me. We were represented by the same agent at the time. Triple H is a smart man. He’s not going to ruffle my feathers. I mean I would have probably killed him. He was very respectful. He was a very good dude. Contrary to my belief prior to signing with WWE, one thing that I can say is he always, to my face, treated me with nothing but respect. He was a good dude. That was one of the pleasant surprises. There were a couple of guys up there that I thought were going to be totally different than they ended up being. Some of them were pleasant surprises.”
The rumors and negotiations with TNA Wrestling were brought up. Goldberg responded, “In all honesty, not to downplay it, but they’d be stupid not to be interested in someone like myself. Not just me, but interested in Brock [Lesnar] and some of the big name guys who are out there and are not working for the competitor. It’s just another way to boost their company. The one that opened my eyes to even considering the fact in getting back in the ring is when Sting signed there. I picked up the phone and called him and said, ‘What’s this all about dude? I didn’t think you were ever coming back.’ If it was good enough for Sting, it was good enough for me to consider. It hasn’t gone any further than me considering it. If they want to be a true viable competitor to Vince and they want to shoot for the moon and try to surpass him in every respect, then I may lend my services to them for a short period of time, a long period of time, who knows. I’m 38 years old. I don’t know what I’d look like in those damn underwear anymore…..You never say never, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. But who knows. A bunch of my buddies are there. It’s shaping up to be like a WCW roster. It’s kind of that comfort zone that I missed at WWE.”
Goldberg was asked and addressed the well documented backstage skirmish with Chris Jericho in WWE. “Absolutely it happened. There’s no question. He’s a good dude. I was kind of walking on thin ice from the beginning there and I think tempers kind of flared. As I had him by the throat, I really didn’t think that was the good way to make my entrance into WWE. We wrestled around for a minute. The truth is Jericho is a good dude. We had our differences at the time and that’s water under the bridge. Hey maybe a MMA match with me and Jericho would be kind of funny.”
Goldberg finished up talking a bit about his movie career, including his participation in his next film called ‘Half Past Dead.’ He again plugged his role as color commentary on July 22 on pay-per-view for the World Fighting Alliance’s King of the Streets MMA event.
To listen to the Bill Goldberg interview and the entire June 21 edition of Between The Ropes in streaming audio or to download the full show in MP3 format to listen to on your iPod or MP3 player, visit the show online at BetweenTheRopes.com. Don’t forget that Between The Ropes: Wrestling’s Greatest Triumphs and Failures is now available in book stores, online retailers, and also at BetweenTheRopes.com exclusively with a free ‘Best of BTR’ CD. Details on how to order are available on BetweenTheRopes.com. Join us for Between The Ropes for two hours every Wednesday night at 10:00pm ET on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team and worldwide on BetweenTheRopes.com.