WWE just made its biggest move in years 0
by Daniel Van Boom November 21, 2016 12:00 PM PST @dvanboom
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On Sunday at Survivor Series, Bill Goldberg returned to the squared circle for the first time in 12 years.
He was escorted to the ramp by a security force, just like they used to. He stood at the stage entrance as pyro engulfed him, just like it used to. He blew smoke out of his nose like a dragon, just like he used to.
Goldberg stood face-to-face with his opponent, Brock Lesnar. Two minutes later, the match was over. He was victorious -- having defeated Lesnar with his two signature moves and a legit (no cheating) one, two, three pin -- leading the 17,000 in attendance at the Air Canada Centre and the million-plus watching on the WWE Network to completely freak out.
It seems the WWE just got turned on its head.
Why is this crazy?
Brock Lesnar has been the WWE's biggest star for the last two-and-a-half years.
A former UFC Heavyweight Champion, he only wrestles three to five times a year. Each match is treated like a huge deal, as a rare chance to see a special attraction in action.
In the era of "Sports entertainment," where guys and gals play characters in the WWE Universe, he's presented as the real deal. Lesnar is a fighter, not a "sports entertainer," and is positioned as a cut above everyone else on the roster.
In 2014 he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX, breaking The Phenom's 23-year winning streak at the annual event. Since then, he's taken on the company's top stars, like John Cena and Dean Ambrose, and demolished them all.
Most recently, he left 12-time world champion Randy Orton lying in a pool of his own blood.
Lesnar has an aura unlike anyone else. He's a legitimate tough guy and is treated like a big star. Which is why fans couldn't believe their eyes when he was beaten in less than 90 seconds.
Many were ecstatic to see Goldberg, one of pro wrestling's biggest stars of all time, in all of his explosive glory. Many were appalled that Lesnar lost to a 49-year-old, who said he was returning for just this one match, instead of to an up-and-coming wrestler.
But regardless of whether it was positive or negative, no one saw this coming.
So, what now?
While social media was blowing up over Goldberg's win, the match's result became slightly less astonishing with the breaking of some news.
Goldberg, originally contracted for just this return match, has signed a new deal. He'll be wrestling at the Royal Rumble in January, reports Pro Wrestling Sheet, and more than likely at WrestleMania 33 next April.
He may prove to be particularly helpful to the company at the Royal Rumble, an event taking place in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The WWE hopes to pack the venue with 60,000 fans, and will need something special to do it.
So what was originally planned to be a one-off match to help promote WWE 2K17, a video game in which both Lesnar and Goldberg are heavily featured, looks to have turned into a long-term storyline.
This is thanks in part to the incredible crowd reaction to Goldberg's return, as well as buzz heading into the show.
"He's definitely going to be back and he's definitely going to work with Brock Lesnar in a rematch, that was a deal that was put together this week," said revered wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer on Monday's Wrestling Observer Radio.
The story goes that both Lesnar and WWE CEO Vince McMahon saw that there was "money in Bill Goldberg," Meltzer said. As a result, the decision was made to continue the feud and to use Sunday's match as a tool to make the returning athlete look unstoppable.
The WWE took a huge gamble on Sunday. It proved it can still completely shock its fans, but risked ruining the aura of its top star in the hopes that Goldberg versus Brock Lesnar III will do huge business.
But social media is buzzing about pro wrestling, and that's a pretty good sign the plan is working.