On this day, 15 years ago, Bill Goldberg made his professional wrestling debut, going on to rack up an astonishing streak of 173-0. In his career, the few times he lost were due to interferences (i.e. Kevin Nash, Bret Hart) and surprisingly, although Kane came close (until distracted), Goldberg did not lose a singles match in his career, having switched over the the WWF brand when Ted Turners/AOL Time Warners WCW was bought out. His last match in the WWF was against Lesnar at Wrestlemania (a match which also saw Lesnar depart), in a match where Stone Cold was the referee.
Although the length of Goldberg’s WWF career was short lived, Stone Cold’s dominance was so distinguished, it essentially defined an era of defiance which came to be known as WWF Attitude (with a game of that title being released in 1999.) In this section, we intend to explore this era, and attempt to settle that bugging question of the most impressive wrestler of the era. Ourselves, we ceased watching WWF after a series of farcical moves (i.e. The Rock being battered by Lesnar, Undertaker as a biker), and turned on to the EPL towards the end of 2002/2003 season (witnessing Arsenal squander the title), and yet, we still want the question settled: which Athletes defined the era?
At the top of this list, there would surely have to be three entertainers: Rock, Undertaker and of course, Stone Cold, and yet, it would be misleading to pretend that the era was only them as many other superstars were involved in the remodelling and the enhancing of the product (WWF), such as Shawn Michaels. In this era, we saw the rise of many other stars, including HHH, Kurt Angle, Mankind. Other rookies that rose through the ranks included Brock Lesnar, and the Big Show, whilst people such as Ken Shamrock, enjoyed short spells in the business. (Even towards the end of the era, 1996-2002 – when in May, the F was out – the likes of John Cena could be seen debutting, whilst in the same time, fans saw the Invasion theme climax)
The soft wrestlers faded (Sid Vicious, Sgt Slaughter) or moved over to the WCW, whilst others, upon eventually returning to the WF (Flair, Hogan) turned from face to heel, or were simply just not as popular as they were prior. Although the likes of Ultimate Warrior and Legion of Doom did make some later appearances, unlike Big Bossman, they failed to make their mark. Meanwhile, other superstars went through different phases and transitions, such as Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, The British Bulldog and Bret Hart, who in many ways, was arguably as much a part of the making of the new era as Austin was. In many ways, Austin eliminating him from the Rumble was the turning point.