He was an immediate success, capturing the World Championship within a year of his debut in the sport. He became the biggest name in all of professional wrestling until an injury threatened to cut short his career.
Real Name: William Scott Goldberg
Stats: 6′ 4″ 295 lbs.
Born: December 27, 1966
Bill Goldberg followed in the long path of wrestlers who have made the transition from the gridiron to the squared circle and become a wrestling star – he just did so faster and to a greater magnitude than anyone else in history. In only his second year in the business, Goldberg became the biggest name and biggest star in the business.
Goldberg was never a wrestling fan growing up, but instead focused most of his attention on football. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he attended Tulsa Edison High School, where he played football as a linebacker and was a talented amateur wrestler. After high school, Goldberg attended the University of Georgia on a football scholarship, where he continued to display his athletic abilities on the field, being named as an All-SEC Nose Guard.
When his career as a Bulldog was over, he eyed stardom in the National Football League. Drafted in the 11th round (301st overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, he spent time with the team as well as with the Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football. Eventually he caught on with the Atlanta Falcons in 1992 and played for the team for two years before suffering a torn abdominal muscle which put him out for the 1994 season. He was signed by the Carolina Panthers in 1995, but could not rebound from the injury sufficiently enough to play. He was thus forced to retire from football.
While in a bar a year later, Goldberg met Diamond Dallas Page. Page was impressed with his size and look and recommended that he take a look at a career in professional wrestling. Later, Goldberg was working out in a gym owned by Lex Luger and Sting and was further convinced by Sting to take a chance in the squared circle. After months of training in the WCW Power Plant, Goldberg appeared in a nationally televised fight against Roddy Piper. Months later, he made his official professional debut in World Championship Wrestling against Hugh Morrus, pinning the 300 pound wrestler. The next year and a half would be one of the most remarkable in professional wrestling history.
Goldberg began quickly mowing down his opponents with his patented spear and jackhammer combination. Eventually he got his chance at the gold when he wrestled Raven for the WCW United States title. Showing little nervousness in his first title match, he quickly overpowered Raven and pinned him for the title belt. With his reputation and winning streak growing, everyone looked forward to a showdown between Goldberg and Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight championship. In front of a red hot crowd in Atlanta, Georgia on July 6, 1998, Goldberg speared Hogan and then hit the Jackhammer to obtain the pinfall. With the championship belt around his waist, he was now the biggest name in the sport and finished the year as the PWI Rookie of the Year. Goldberg’s meteoric rise in WCW was unprecedented, as he went on a legendary winning streak of 173 consecutive victories without a single loss
Over the next year, Goldberg found himself battling members of the NWO and other wrestlers striving for his title. Finally, Kevin Nash, after interference from Scott Hall (who used a tazer on Goldberg), was able to pin the champion. Goldberg subsequently placed himself in a hunt to reclaim his gold, often taking on various factions of the NWO. During one of these confrontations, Goldberg ran out into the parking lot of an arena and punched his fist through the windshield of a car. In doing so, he suffered a cut to his arm that took almost 190 stitches to close and which almost hit a nerve, seriously placing his career in jeopardy. For almost six months he was forced to the sidelines and relegated to making publicity appearances and participating in the many charities supports. Finally after a lot of speculation that he might not be able to make it back to the ring, he did so in June 2000 to a great ovation from his fans.
In 2001, WCW was purchased by WWE, and Goldberg eventually made his WWE debut in 2003. He had a memorable run with the company, capturing the World Heavyweight Championship and engaging in memorable feuds with some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Rock, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar.
Goldberg left WWE in 2004, taking a hiatus from professional wrestling to pursue other interests, including acting. He appeared in several films and television shows, such as “The Longest Yard,” “Universal Soldier: The Return,” and the reality TV show, “Bullrun.”
Goldberg married Wanda Ferraton, a stuntwoman, in 2005. The couple has one son, Gage, who was born in 2006. Goldberg’s devotion to his family has been a driving force in his life, and he often cites them as his primary motivation for returning to the ring.
During his time away from wrestling, Goldberg also became an advocate for animal welfare and environmental causes. He worked with organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society, using his fame to bring attention to the plight of animals in need.
In 2016, Goldberg made a triumphant return to WWE, embarking on a series of high-profile matches and capturing the WWE Universal Championship. This final run in the company further cemented his legacy as one of the most dominant and beloved figures in professional wrestling history.
Throughout his career, Goldberg has been widely respected for his work ethic, intensity, and dedication to his craft. He has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including multiple championships and a 2018 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. However, his career was not without controversy. Many wrestlers soured with his immaturity and failure to recognize that his success was due in large part to the large push he was given by WCW management and the willingness of his fellow wrestlers to put him over, despite his limitations in the ring. He got into numerous backstage scrapes (including famously with Chris Jericho) and was een as sloppy and careless in the ring. In a match at Starrcade 1990, Goldberg kicked Bret Hart so hard in the head that Hart suffered a concussion so severe that it effectively ended his career. He was also very outspoken politically what turned off numerous fans. However, most people who knew him described as a very nice, genuine person.
Bill Goldberg’s journey from professional football to wrestling superstardom was atypical for a professional wrestler. He became the biggest name in the sport and was able to parlay that into an entertainment career beyond wrestling. But he is often remembered as a wrestler who was able to expand beyond his technical and verbal limitations in the short-term, but was unable to extend his popularity over the long run of his career.