Sami Zayn has questioned whether WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg would enjoy the same level of success if he debuted today rather than during the Attitude Era.
Goldberg made his television debut on September 22nd 1997. The former Atlanta Falcon defeated Hugh Morrus on WCW Monday Nitro in a little under three minutes to begin the arguably the most famous undefeated streak in all of professional wrestling.
It was a run that made Goldberg one of the biggest stars not only in WCW but of the entire Attitude Era.
Appearing on a recent episode of WWE After The Bell, Sami Zayn discussed the differences between the much-loved Attitude Era and today’s wrestling product. The former Intercontinental Champion explained that due to how the wrestling landscape has changed, what was successful in the late 1990’s wouldn’t be successful now, and visa-versa.
To illustrate his point, Sami Zayn highlighted the career of Goldberg. Someone he says wouldn’t have had the same success in today’s wrestling world due to the increased focus on work rate.
“Goldberg debuts today in NXT, is he going to be [the same] Bill Goldberg?” Zayn said. “My guess is probably not. Bill Goldberg had to fill a very specific vacuum that only existed at that exact time for him to be in the spot that he’s in. I hope I’m not taking a shot at Bill here by saying I’m pretty sure he’d be the first to acknowledge that this guy isn’t exactly known for his 5 star matches or anything, he’d steam roll through guys.
If he came around at a slightly different time when work rate was far more important, he might have been left in the dust or people might not have taken a second look at him. It’s so circumstantial.”
Expanding further, Zayn said that a lot of success both individually and as an industry relies on luck. With that being said, he believes that SmackDown currently feels wide open and unpredictable as in years gone by.
“It’s a lot of luck, and recognition of that luck is important when you talk about everything,”
“Your own individual success and the success of something like the Attitude Era. It was a lot of luck, a lot of things lining up at just the right place at just the right time. Regardless if you take the rose-coloured glasses away, the one thing that they really had going for them at that time was this unpredictability.
You didn’t know what they were going to do next week and I think that was a big part of the intrigue. That’s something that I feel like now, with a wide-open playing field right now and all these new characters and not knowing where things are going to line up, I find that exciting.
“That’s what I like as a fan and I don’t want to be able to predict what’s going to happen. Even with Roman who’s firing on all cylinders, I don’t want to be able to look at Roman and go, ‘I know he’s going to be champion for another six months.’ I want to be kept on my toes. I think there’s a great opportunity right now on SmackDown, even with RAW, they have amazing talent, but with SmackDown, I feel like it’s wide open and reminds me of what SmackDown was years and years ago when they first did the brand split, where it almost became this opportunity for a lot of guys to become stars.”
Goldberg was most recently in action at WWE Crown Jewel where he defeated Bobby Lashley, bringing their long-running rivalry to an end. The former WCW star currently stands as a four-time World Champion, while he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018.
Sami Zayn had originally been due to appear as part of Team SmackDown at Survivor Series, but he ended up being replaced after defeat to Jeff Hardy. Instead, he took part in the 25-man Battle Royal to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Rock’s debut. The match was eventually won by Omos.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.