Although his appearances had already begun to become more infrequent, Dwayne Johnson’s defeat to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2002 effectively signalled the end of his full-time wrestling career.
After losing out to Lesnar that August, Johnson – The Rock, didn’t return to WWE until January 2003. Here he set up a rematch with Hulk Hogan at No Way Out before going on to beat Steve Austin at WrestleMania 19. The bout was thought to be Austin’s last, he wouldn’t return to the ring until 19 years later. Following his win over Austin, Rock took to the ring on the following episode of Raw and said that there was nothing left for him to accomplish. Enter Goldberg.
Jim Ross Reflects On Dwayne Johnson Vs. Goldberg
Fans had been calling for Goldberg ever since WWE purchased WCW in March 2001. The confrontation on Raw set up a match between the pair at Backlash which Goldberg won following two Spears and a Jackhammer. After the match, Rock took another break from the ring to focus on his movie career.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross took a look back at Goldberg’s initial WWE run from March 2002 until WrestleMania XX the following year. Looking back at Goldberg’s first match with The Rock, Ross said that anytime someone gets to share the ring with The Great One it can only be a good thing.
“I think anytime that you can do a significant and recognisable rub with The Rock it is a win. And we can think about it and or rehash it, or what if we did this? What if we had done that? You could have done a lot of sh*t in hindsight. A lot of stuff could be done in hindsight. But anytime you can, you can rub up against Dwayne, because we’re close. You know, I call him Dwayne, we’re closer than 19 is to 20.
So I think it can be re-evaluated, any creative can be relooked at and said, Oh, what if we did this? What have we done that? Well, I just think that the winning combination is Goldberg getting to rub against The Rock. And to me, that’s a win.”
After his win over The Rock, Goldberg moved into a rivalry with Chris Jericho before battling with World Champion Triple H. The WCW legend eventually won the World Heavyweight Championship at Unforgiven in September, holding the gold until Armageddon in December.
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