Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. On paper, it sounds like a good enough idea, but it’s possible the WrestleMania 33 main event won’t live up to the hype.
Goldberg puts the Universal Championship on the line against Lesnar on Sunday night in Orlando as two guys with a combined age of 89 main event the biggest WWE show of the year.
The bout obviously doesn’t lack in star power. Goldberg was one of the biggest stars of pro wrestling’s most successful era as a huge draw for WCW during the Monday Night Wars of the late 1990s. Lesnar, meanwhile, is a transcendent wrestling/MMA star who still is a legitimate attraction. Even the casual fans — the fans who only come around for WrestleMania — know both stars, which is why they’re getting the top billing at Mania.
But there’s warranted skepticism about how good the match actually will be and whether it actually deserves to reside at the top of the marquee. The skepticism is warranted in large part because, well, we’ve already seen Lesnar and Goldberg at WrestleMania, and it didn’t go so well. Their showdown at WrestleMania 20 is largely considered one of the biggest letdowns in WrestleMania history.
Granted, circumstances were a little different then, which is a big reason the match was such a dud. Everyone knew their respective contracts were ending, effectively rendering the match useless. The fans, having no reason to invest themselves in either of the competitors, quickly turned on the match, booing throughout.
And it’s not like Lesnar and Goldberg gave them much to cheer about. The match itself was a clunker at best.
The build for this Sunday’s match admittedly has been OK, but there’s also nothing that leads you to believe they’re capable of putting forth a must-see matchup. The two met at Survivor Series in November, and that was a squash match with Goldberg going over in 86 seconds.
They then went face to face at the Royal Rumble with Goldberg again getting the big spot, eliminating Lesnar in a matter of seconds.
Notice a theme?
Even given Lesnar’s role as a part-timer, there’s no denying he can put together a compelling match. WWE anointed him as the man who finally would break The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak a few years ago in New Orleans, and his title match with Roman Reigns two years ago was fantastic.
The biggest question mark Sunday will be what Goldberg’s capable of doing inside the ring. He’s had two actual matches since returning to the WWE — one was the win over Lesnar at Survivor Series and the other was a title win over Kevin Owens at Fastlane last month. The two matches combined lasted roughly two and a half minutes. Of course, questions about whether Goldberg can put forth a match lasting longer than a couple of minutes date even back to his WCW days.
Those questions will linger as Sunday approaches. Are Goldberg and Lesnar going to give fans a 20-minute, five-star classic? Of course not. But the WWE has built this rivalry to the point where fans are expecting more than a squash match.
The safe assumption is an 8-to-10-minute match with a couple of near falls leading into a big finish. It won’t be the best match on the card, but it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be what it is: an entertaining heavyweight fight between two of the biggest stars the industry has ever seen. As long as they don’t try to do too much (or too little), it should be a perfectly fine main event.