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.
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.
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.