“By The Book”: Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and The Road To Wrestlemania 29
Welcome to the inaugural edition of “By The Book,” the premier fantasy booking column with reverence
for wrestling history. I’m your host, Matthew Jalazo, a thirty-year fan of the industry and a diehard
afficionado for compelling and dramatic storylines (which, yes, are indeed possible, even in the PG era).
Today, we’re going to revisit (with the exception of the WCW invasion) the biggest “dropped ball” in the
last twenty years… of course, I’m talking about the Lesnar-Goldberg angle.
Built up over a mere couple of months, the story told was simple and straightforward (with no nod given
to the legacy of either man): Lesnar cost Goldberg a 2004 Royal Rumble victory, which was followed by
Goldberg (having been granted a ringside ticket by Steve Austin) spearing Lesnar out of his boots the
next month at No Way Out, enabling his opponent Eddie Guerrero to capture the World Title in the feel-
good moment of the decade. Lesnar vowed revenge and the match at Wrestlemania XX was born, with
Austin as the special guest referee.
I’ve always had a soft spot for that particular pay-per-view, as on paper, it presented as arguably the
greatest Mania of all time. HHH-HBK-Benoit, Guerrero-Angle, Rock and Sock Connection-Evolution
and Taker-Kane were all marquee matchups. But, for me personally, Goldberg-Lesnar was a wrestling
fan’s dream match, years in the making. But rather than being heralded in the annals of Wrestlemania
history as the ultimate battle of the behemoths, it unfolded as a rather awkward sparring session
between two competitors whose hearts never seemed fully into the match, as both were rumored to be
leaving the WWE soon afterwards. While Goldberg was treated rather kindly by those in attendance,
the raucous Madison Square Garden crowd unleashed a stunning level of animosity toward Lesnar,
relentlessly chanting “you sold out.” The look on Lesnar’s face told the story… shock, anguish, and I
believe on some level, true sadness that he was being shown the door in such hostile fashion. I also
believe that it unnerved him, and was a large reason that the match ended up being so poorly executed.
After Goldberg ultimately scored the pin (which still amazes me, as it is the only time I can remember in
company history that a certain level of acknowledgement and respect was given to a gimmick that was
an “outside creation” in Goldberg, over a homegrown talent in Lesnar), the feud was over as quickly as it
began. Austin sent both men packing with Stunners, and the Garden crowd erupted.
So here we are now, eight years later. After an unsuccessful stint in NFL training camp and a ballyhooed
reign as UFC championship essentially thwarted by medical complications, The Next Big Thing has
returned to the company that made him famous. Where do we go from here? If the response from the
Miami RAW crowd is any indication, there is a deep connection to him still, even after all of this time.
With a ready-made storyline set on “pause” and twelve months to fill in the missing pieces (and with a
little luck, cooperation and goodwill), I believe that the WWE has an opportunity to create one of the
biggest angles in wrestling history. With that said, here’s how I would book it:
This Monday night, RAW opens with Lesnar sauntering the ring. Grabbing a mic, he unleashes a
scintillating promo, essentially tearing apart the WWE crowd for turning on him eight years ago in
Madison Square Garden and setting the stage for what is to come… a blistering and brutal swath of
destruction, by a monster hell-bent on redemption:
“Well, The Man-Beast is back. For the record, I’m not here to win titles, although that’s bound to
happen sooner or later. No, I’m here to set the record straight, and to make the wrong things right. For
those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve prepared the following video package. Roll it.”
(A montage of Lesnar’s career highlights are shown, to include his feuds with “The Doctor Of
Thuganomics” John Cena and The Big Show on Smackdown (including the infamous top turnbuckle spot
and subsequent ring collapse), his WM XIX match with Kurt Angle (including the botched and near-fatal
Shooting Star Press), Summerslam title victory over The Rock, and bloody destruction of Hulk Hogan.
The clip ends with the Goldberg-Lesnar match from WM XX, with the crowd screaming “you sold out,”
Goldberg picking up the win, and both receiving the Stone Cold Stunner by Austin, who celebrates with a
Back to the ring, the once-raucous crowd is hushed as Lesnar quakes with anger. “So I sold out, huh?
I’ve been watching for the past year and I didn’t hear any of you, not once, any of you tell The Rock
he sold out. He goes on to be the biggest star in Hollywood and you can’t get enough of him, but I
pursue my dreams and I get booed out of the Garden. Well, I haven’t forgotten the level of DISRESPECT
you’ve shown me. For eight years, it’s all I’ve thought about. I thought my rage could be quenched in
the octagon, but even winning their heavyweight title didn’t do it. No… I had to come back, to put this
unresolved chapter of my life to rest.
Let it be known that I’m going to take back the self-respect you ingrates ripped away from me (the boos
are thunderous). So to every member of the locker room, you’re all on notice. I will not be disrespected
again. Face me at your own risk…
(Suddenly, John Cena’s music blares as he slowly emerges at the top of the ramp, walks slowly to the
ring, and grabs a mic).
“Brock, I was happy to see you come back last week, and I’m still happy, even after you blindsided me
with that F-5…”
“Shut up, Cena… don’t think I forgot all of those raps you had for me at the beginning of your career.
The F-5 was a payback. But if you’re here to beg for my forgiveness, don’t bother. I’ve already moved
on, unless you want to pick a fight…”
“Brock, I’m going to be straight-up with you. I’m tired. The last year with The Rock was the most
exhausting period of my career… I’m here to tell you, and the fans, that I meant no disrespect ten years
ago. You are a champion and I admire you tremendously. No… I’m not here to pick a fight. I’m here to
tell the WWE Universe that it’s time for me to take a break from the business. I’ve been going nonstop
for ten years and I need to get my head on straight. We’ll continue this conversation another day, when
I come back, whenever that is…”
(The crowd is stunned as Cena unceremoniously exits and leaves the arena).
Over the next six months, Cena is nowhere to be found. In the meantime, Lesnar unleashes a reign
of terror, going undefeated and putting numerous mid-card superstars on the shelf due to various
mixed martial arts submission moves, most notably the triangle armbar, which he used to defeat Shane
Carwin. By October, he is named the number one contender to C.M. Punk’s World Title at Survivor
During the contract signing the week before the pay-per-view, Lesnar should make his ultimate goals
clear, sitting back in his leather chair and with a big smile across his face:
“So, C.M. Punk, Mr. “Best In The World”… Mr. “I’m a Mixed Martial Artist, with my strikes and kicks”…
are you FOR REAL? Do you REALLY think you’re some kind of shoot-fighter? Let me tell you something…
PUNK… I’m not only going to beat you for that title, but I’m going to take you out of the picture. And
then, that so-called dream match of yours that you want with Stone Cold Steve Austin will have to
wait. Because, that’s why I’m here. I’m here to call out that beer-swilling SOB and make him pay for
disgracing me in the Garden eight years ago. And if I’ve got to cripple you, his good buddy, to get his
attention, then so be it.”
At Survivor Series (held in San Antonio, Texas), Lesnar bounces to the ring with his arms raised over his
head in defiance, as Punk is waiting for him. Suddenly, he is frozen in his tracks as his eyes lock, with
those of… Goldberg, who is sitting in the front row, smiling back at him. He marches up to Goldberg and
locks eyes with him.
Cole remarks, “looks like Lesnar’s seen a ghost, King… last time we saw this scene, Goldberg cost Lesnar
the title… will history repeat itself?”
Lesnar shakes his head “no,” gritting his teeth while backing away, while Goldberg nods slowly. Josh
Matthews makes his way over to Goldberg to get his thoughts.
“Just happened to be in the area, Josh. Steve Austin was nice enough to get me a front-row seat. Brock
looks great, doesn’t he? Wouldn’t miss this for anything…”
After 20 minutes of back and forth action, Punk makes a misstep and Lesnar locks in the triangle armbar.
Punk franctically slides part of his body under the bottom rope but Lesnar won’t release the hold. Like a
demon possessed, he cinches in the hold deeper. The referee calls for the bell.
“King, Lesnar’s been disqualified so Punk keeps the title… but if we don’t get some help for him, his arm
is going to be broken…”
Several officials pry Lesnar off of Punk, who slowly makes his way to his feet. Lesnar proceeds to throw
all of them out of the ring, also giving agent Arn Anderson an F-5. As Punk slowly gets to his feet, Lesnar
takes a step forward towards him.
Suddenly, Goldberg hops the rail and slides into the ring, squatting down behind Lesnar and preparing
for the spear. As the crowd roars in anticipation, Lesnar turns around and Goldberg hurtles himself
forward, sidestepping him and spearing Punk out of his boots.
“My God, King…”
Lesnar and Goldberg high-five each other as they simultaneously exit the ring and unleash a furious
assault on Punk, throwing him into the ringside steps and barricades. Goldberg lifts the unconscious
Punk to his feet and feeds him to Lesnar, who is standing next to the broadcast area. Tossing him up
onto his shoulders with a perverse grin, he climbs onto the table,
“King, oh my god, if he hits the F-5 on the table, Punk’s career may be over…”
Suddenly, the arena blares with the sounds of breaking glass and bass guitar riffs as Stone Cold marches
down to the ring. The crowd erupts as Lesnar and Goldberg drop Punk onto the floor, and escape
through the audience. Austin shouts for EMT assistance as he escorts Punk out, on a stretcher and into
a waiting ambulance.
The next night on RAW, Goldberg and Lesnar explain their actions, but only after introducing their
manager… Paul Heyman.
“You see, ladies and gentlemen, the two men standing before you were disgraced on the biggest stage
of them all, Wrestlemania XX. You showed these men no respect. And here I stand before you, a man
united in their cause, a victim of disrespect. For it was I, Paul Heyman, who brought the violence of ECW
to the wrestling mainstream, although Vince McMahon would never admit that to you. But was I given
any credit for the Attitude Era? No. And like Brock, I haven’t forgotten. Payback is a bitch.”
Goldberg then takes the mic. “Surprised? Don’t be. I was the biggest star this business has seen in the
last twenty years. I had a streak of 168 wins, far more impressive than your so-called Phenom’s… what
is it now? 20 wins, with the last few being some of the only matches he’s had in the past few years?
Wow, that’s really impressive. But is there any recognition of MY streak? No. So while I can’t say that
Brock and I are friends, we share a common pain, a common anger. We deserved far better for our
contributions to the industry. And Austin, we’re not going to rest until we get our hands on you, for
embarrassing us eight years ago.”
At some point in the next several weeks, Austin accepts the challenge. The Royal Rumble main event
is set… Austin and a mystery partner against Goldberg and Lesnar. After all three men are introduced,
Cena’s music hits. It’s the first time he’s been heard from since last year’s Mania. The crowd erupts.
Austin is a house of fire for fifteen minutes, taking turns with Goldberg and Lesnar. Heyman is furious
on the outside and ends up getting a Stunner for his troubles. Gradually, Goldberg and Lesnar regain
control and Austin is subjected to a brutal series of double team maneuvers, including a very impressive
F-5 on Austin, who is caught mid-air by Goldberg into a Jackhammer. Amazingly, he kicks out. Cena is
frantically reaching for a tag. Austin crawls over… and Cena flips him off with a two-bird salute, while
dropping to the arena floor. He watches Goldberg and Lesnar finish him off, and gain the victory, before
coming in and standing over his prone carcass.
With Goldberg, ,Lesnar and a revived Heyman shouting encouragement, Cena slaps on the F-5 on a
RESPECT!!!!… shouts Cena… RESPECT!!!! (as the camera fades to black).
The next night on RAW, Cena (flanked by Lesnar, Goldberg and Heyman) cuts the promo of his career.
“Ten years I carried this company on my back. And where did it get me? It gets me “Let’s go Cena,
Cena Sucks… hell, the company even put out t-shirts to make money off of it! I tried to be a role model
for your kids, and you all spat in my face. For a year, I faced off against The Rock, in defense of this
company, and you ended up booing me out of the building. So I take some time off… and no one calls.
No one. What have you done for me lately, I guess. But Brock called. And we talked. About respect.
RESPECT. Something none of you know anything about… so to you all, I now say, go to hell.”
Austin’s music then hits and he storms the ring, trying to get at Cena… but Lesnar and Goldberg cut him
off…. and they lay the boots to him.
IF YA SMELLLLLLL…..
Rock sprint to the ring and unleashes a series of open hand slaps to Cena, Goldberg and Lesnar, and
saves the last one for Heyman, sending him over the top rope. Goldberg executes a chop block on Rock
from behind, though, and Cena locks in the STF. The lights then go off.
The lights come back on, and Goldberg is in the grips of The Undertaker, who (with shaved head and
white eyes) unleashes a ferocious chokeslam. Austin, Rock and Taker stand united in the ring as Cena,
Goldberg and Lesnar backpedal, dragging Heyman up the ramp.
And there are your Wrestlemania 29 main events. Austin-Lesnar, Cena-Rock II and Goldberg-Taker,
all with a theme of redemption. A six-man tag at Elimination Chamber can precede it, which would
obviously be epic. I don’t have Punk in the mix because I don’t think he has the star power of these six
yet, but he can easily be elevated in the post-Mania follow up.
I won’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but I believe the history and characters are in place that
it could be done. It would take a lot of patience and teamwork, but if done right, could be breathtaking.
Thoughts? Comments? Hope you enjoyed.