Wrestling Legend Bill Goldberg on What It Takes to Be a Real Man These Days
Bill Goldberg is scheduled to appear at Clickjab Wrestling Fan Fest on Saturday, July 19, in Phoenix.
Courtesy of Clickjab Entertainment
Bill Goldberg is what you'd call a "man's man." He spent the early part of the 1990s smashing bodies in the NFL before transforming into a professional wrestler and doing much the same, mowing down opponents and becoming a legend in both the WWE and its now-defunct competitor, World Championship Wrestling.
And since leaving the ring a decade ago, the grappler formerly known as "The Man" has parlayed his fame into following many of his multifaceted passions in life (most of which are of a masculine nature) such as starring in action-packed films like The Longest Yard and Half Past Dead 2, serving as an MMA color commentator, opening his own gym, and hosting such cable TV shows as Garage Mahal and Biker Build-Off, owing to his love of muscle cars, automotive culture, and racing.
Since May, he's hosted his weekly podcast, Who's Next with Goldberg, hob-knobbing with friends from the sporting world like Deion Sanders, Jeremy Roenick, and Tony Stewart, as well as extolling the virtues of being a real man.
And although his wrestling persona and in-ring exploits are quite ferocious (including racking up 174 straight victories and becoming the first, and only, undefeated world champion), Goldberg's quite the nice guy and a softie at heart. He's a big advocate of animal welfare and a former ASPCA spokesperson who also has a sense of humor. (In 2000, he made a wickedly funny appearance on the old Comedy Central program The Man Show where he both celebrated and poked fun at Hanukkah and his Jewish heritage.)
Goldberg also enjoys interacting with his fans, which he'll do while signing autographs and posing for pictures at the Clickjab Wrestling Fan Fest on Saturday, July 19, at the Phoenix Airport Marriott, as well as participating in a Q&A session during the afternoon-long event.
Like many who will attend the Fan Fest, we had more than a few questions to ask Goldberg about his exploits both in and out of the ring, but couldn't wait until this weekend to ask 'em. So we took an opportunity to speak with the 47-year-old recently via telephone about his podcast and latest pursuits.
Goldberg is more than a little outspoken and didn't disappoint, offering up brutally honest answers about why he's never wanted to be pigeonholed as just another former pro wrestler, how his show is markedly different from other grapplers' podcasts, his detest for organic foods, and what it takes to be a real man. (Hint: it involves practicing good manners and being a breadwinner.) He even gave us an update on whether or not he'll ever step back into a WWE ring.
So how's your podcast going? It's going great. It's building momentum and [I'm] learning how to do it better and better each week. Guests are getting bigger and better, and I'm providing people with something totally different. So it's a lot of fun.
I heard that Jim Ross helped you out with some advice beforehand. Well, yeah. Absolutely. I've been taking Jim's advice for the past 30 years. He and I go way back to my Oklahoma days. So why reinvent the wheel and why not talk to people who have tread before you? And he obviously knows what he's doing. And I'm not a radio personality by any stretch, but if you stop learning, you die, and I'm firmly a believer in that. So I'll take advice from everybody, doesn't mean that I'm actually going to act on it. But you gotta admit, when you're not an expert at something and are able to hear advice from different people and discern between the good advice and bad advice, you do that and go from there.
A lot of retired wrestlers have podcasts these days, but yours is different because you're focusing on a lot of non-wrestling topics. It's more like a sport podcast than anything, since you've had guests like Deion Sanders, Tony Stewart, and Terry Crews. Yeah. At the end of the day, man, the reason I did the podcast is because I went through my Rolodex and thought, "There has to be a way to take advantage of all the cool people that I know." So, in the beginning, by not [featuring] wrestlers, I wouldn't be able to gain that much traction as the other guys, but I'm not at all like the other guys. I'm different.
I'm not a wrestler. I am a football player who looked at wrestling as a business. I do not live it, I do not breathe it, I do not eat it and shit it like everybody else does. And I truly believe that there's a lot more interesting content out there that I'm going to try turning these wrestling fans on to that's cool. I've been leading a pretty cool life and have some really cool friends.
And they're all happy to come on your podcast? Like, I've got Darius Rucker and Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming up in a couple weekends. I personally believe that that's a little more entertaining than listening to a wrestler who's been interviewed 15 million times before. I don't want to do anything that anyone has done before. It's not a wrestling podcast, so [but] I'm not going to turn my back on my wrestling fans, by any stretch, because they are a large part of the reason why I have a podcast. The reason why I'm able to go to fan events like this weekend.
But I'm not going to pigeonhole myself to where I'm just going to talk about wrestling, because I'm a huge car fanatic, I love music. I'm going to [see] Chris Daughtry this coming weekend after Arizona. I had him on the podcast. I'm going to Slightly Stoopid, which is a local band here in San Diego, the night after and I'm going to have those guys on. I've got Alice Cooper coming on, Jimmy Johnson's coming one, Charles Barkley's gonna come on, and I'm trying to get LeBron [James].
He might be a little busy these days. I just think the reality is, I'm asking every one of 'em about wrestling, you know? So as to educate them as to most of the people who are listening to me. But again, I'm not trying to be a dick and I'm not trying to turn my back on the fans, I'm just trying to give them something different. Because there are already four or five or 60 wrestlers doing podcasts.
And as much as I dislike [Chris] Jericho at times, he's expanded his horizons on his podcast. He's pretty eclectic at who he has on as a guest. And I believe that's an integral part of having a successful business venture is being able to pull from all demographics, not just one. So the wrestling community is absolutely gigantic, and I just want to do something different, man.
Since you brought him up, would you ever have Chris Jericho on as a guest, especially with your history? Absolutely. Why not? We'll do a co-promoted podcast where it should be aired on both simultaneously. Yeah. No big deal. I'm 47 years old, man, I don't hold grudges with people. If he's got a problem with me, say it to my face. Other than that, shut up, you know?
He himself said over Twitter last month that you're his "bro" and that anyone "trying to stir the shit can piss off." Yeah, that's how I feel too, man. And I very much appreciate him saying that. Until I talk to him face-to-face, which I haven't done since the B.S. went down years ago, which...it was ridiculous. It was the furthest thing from a fight that I think I've ever seen. But he knows the truth and I know the truth, and the reality is we're grown men, dude, we've got bigger and better things to do than [dwell] on a ridiculous little subject that people seem to bring up every couple minutes.
Is that just what the Internet does? Absolutely. No question. And then I think it's probably going to kill the wrestling business. Okay, I don't think it's going to kill it, but it certainly hasn't helped it.
Onetime NFL teammates Terry Crews (left) and Bill Goldberg.
Several times on your podcast, you've discussed what it takes being a real man, like when Terry Crews was a guest. In your opinion, what's the most important thing one has to do to be a real man? The most important thing to be a real man is be a provider, be a guardian. Make sure that you raise your family properly, that they have manners, and that they care about other people before they care about themselves. In this day and age, it's a sad fucking day, pardon my French, but when you see kids that don't even open the door for an old lady because they're too concerned with playing on their stupid phones.
The reality is, and Terry Crews and I talk about it a little bit, but the reality is that the definition between a man and a woman is totally skewed these days. The women's lib movement, the women's feminist movement, which [Terry] is a big part of and I'm not a big fan of that, except for the fact that they, at the end of the day, fought for equal rights, which I believe is the case. But women wanting to be self-sufficient is one thing, but women turning their back on a man who's just trying to be a man and not insulting them as if they can't open the door for themselves, but a guy that has manners. You know, a guy that takes responsibility, a guy that teaches his kids the difference between right and wrong.
It's back to a very simplistic view of the American family, back in the day, and I'm a big proponent of that. And I'll do whatever I can to teach men that, "You know what? It's not cool to be a weenie," you know? Hey, back to caveman times, men are a provider. Men are guardians. And it's not that we think women don't deserve it. It's that that's our role and that's what we do. So I want my son to be a real man. At 8 years old, he says please and thank you and yes ma'am and no sir, and, to me, those are things that you grow up with in the south, things that aren't staples in American society today and it should be.
So would you ever consider hosting a parenting show? Eh...I would never host anything like that. I mean a podcast in a microcosm is a cornucopia of different stuff...it's where I'm just trying to set a good example, whether people follow it, whether men will believe that I'm a guy to look up to, that's their decision and that's for them to decide. But me, it's taken me 47 years to be Goldberg, I ain't changing for nothing or nobody, just because the day and age is of an opinion that the definition of a man is different now. Well, guess what? It's not different for me. [Laughs]
Right. That's like people who eat organic. I'm a spokesperson for the "Chew on This" Drive -- the drive to feed America. We're trying to put seven million backpacks in kids' hands that can't afford 'em. I work for two companies, NutraBlend and Elanco, and they're drug companies, and they fight against people who scream "organic." And the people who scream "organic" are a very loud...uh, segment of people, except for the fact that once you realize that that's only four percent of the American population. So, they may be loud and boisterous, but they don't speak for the whole.
So, you know, in this situation where the definition of a man is skewed these days, I truly believe that that is not the opinion of the whole. I think that they want to harken back to the day where a man could be a man and a woman could be a woman. I mean, I truly feel as though, if you're a real man these days, you gotta be in the closet. It's funny how it's switched. You have to be in the closet because if you voice your opinion, you're a bigot, you hate people. You know, it's a horrible situation, but, you know. That's one of the things I'm standing for.
During your wrestling career, you were a beast in the ring with plenty of ferocity. At events like the Clickjab Fan Fest, do people expect you to be the same in person? Or are you a softie at heart? Well, they know that I'm the antithesis outside of the ring of the character that I am inside, except for the fact that, you know, you piss me off or do something that's wrong then I'm going to show that other side of Goldberg. I mean, the reality is, I'm multi-dimensional in the person that I can become at the snap of a finger. But the most important aspect of my personality is the one that's caring and the one that tries to give back to people who have put me in a position that I'm already in.
The wrestling convention or the signings are not the place to show that I can punch somebody in the face. It's a place where the people can look at you as an idol, this big strong guy, but yet, at the same time, have a nice conversation with you, so you smile, put your arm around them and make them feel welcome. That's what you do at these autograph sessions. But, if Scott Hall mouths off to me, then they'll see the other side.
So we'd get to see a rematch of that cattle prod ladder match from Souled Out 1999, then? Yeah, man. This would be a rematch that he'd never book, believe it. He'd never sign it, because this one would be done in the street or at my gym, which I'd rather take it there, you know?You've been asked about this a lot lately, but I'm curious if there's been any new developments with you getting back into a WWE ring?
No. I've expressed my desire...well, not my desire, my willingness to maybe consider it again, but I've said it once, I've said it 50,000 times, once they learn how to do business, then I'd consider it.
I'm betting your fans would definitely love to see you work one more match. I'd love to do it too, man. I mean, like I said, I've said it before, I think the WWE and I will never see eye to eye, so I don't think [it] will be very logical, and I think the chances of seeing me elsewhere are between zero and zero, unless it's Japan or unless somebody comes out to be a competitor to [WWE's owner Vince McMahon], because I'm not just gonna do it to do it.
When you mentioned that the WWE has to learn to do business, did you mean with just you or in general? Uh...I think in general, although they've been extremely successful over the years. I don't know, man, I haven't talked to too many guys that see eye to eye with them, unless you're in that inner circle, but not unlike any other business, you're gonna have your opinions about it. [But] no, they don't know how to do business with me, I mean, the reality is, I don't think they want to do business with me. I think that's the reality of it.
So I could care less, to be honest with you, but to answer that question, I just don't think that there'll be a chance for us to do anything. And I've said it before and I said it at [WrestleCon], the last conversation I had with Triple H, and I left it in their corner, was, "Hey man, I'm willing to put everything aside, I have an eight-year-old boy who'd love to see me wrestle. So if you guys want to make a lot of money and do some business, then let's do it."
I guess that wasn't good enough for them, in that I didn't show the passion of being a professional wrestler, but, hey, business is business. You don't have to live and breathe it and admire it to be able to put asses in the seats and be able appreciate the people who make you the star. My feelings about the WWE aren't my feelings about the business, per se, as far as the fans are concerned, because there's no better fans than wrestling fans.
Other than allowing your son the chance to watch you in the ring, is there anything left that you'd like to accomplish in professional wrestling? No. I accomplished far more than what I thought I would accomplish. I remember walking up to the table prior to my first match down at Universal Studios [in Florida] and the guy says, "What do you want to be called?" and I said, "Call me 'The Hybrid.'" He goes, "We can't do that, we can't sell T-shirts or merchandise because that's trademarked." And I said, "Dude, I'm not gonna sell anything. Call me 'Goldberg'." So when I look back on that moment, I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish [and] 10 times more.
The reality was, what I wanted was money in my pocket and the ability to make a difference in a positive way. And through pro wrestling, I've been able to do that much more so than with football. And I'm certainly appreciative of that.
So what's next for Goldberg? I've got a movie [Minkow] coming up in September [and] just got off a conference call with a new TV show. I'm pretty damn busy man. I'm as busy as I want to be. And at this time in my life, at 47 years old, I just want to be able to make my own decisions and live by it. So as long I'm still able to do that, then I'm good, man.
I don't need to vindicate anything because of my last match against Brock Lesnar, by no stretch of the imagination. Because I haven't seen anybody press [slam] him over their head yet. When that's a normal occasion, then I won't feel as though I accomplished very much. But I haven't seen anyone jackhammer The Giant [a.k.a. WWE's The Big Show] yet. So, if I'm the "flash in the pan," as a couple people have said I was, so be it. But this "flash in the pan" put asses in seats, money in a lot of people's pockets, and I was able to jackhammer The Giant at will.
Bill Goldberg is scheduled to appear at the Clickjab Wrestling Fan Fest on Saturday, July 19, at the Phoenix Airport Marriott. General admission is $20 while individual autograph and photo prices vary.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.