SKVault: When Goldberg returned to wrestling for All Japan Pro Wrestling (August 19, 2002)
A look at Goldberg's time in All Japan Pro Wrestling.
A recap from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Goldberg’s announced Japan dates:
Bill Goldberg was booked to wrestle for All Japan Pro Wrestling on August 30th and 31st of 2002. It had been the first time he was to wrestle since the death of WCW in 2001. Goldberg was set to wrestle Satoshi Kojima and Taiyo Kea.
Goldberg went in third from top, which was quite a surprise given the star-caliber name he was. While his popularity was not at its peak like it was just the previous year; he was still a draw. The co-main event was Kronic defending their Tag Team Championships against Mike Barton & Jim Steele. The main event of the night was Keiji Muto vs. Taiyo Kea.
Meltzer noted that politics was going to play a huge factor in Goldberg’s matches. Taiyo Kea and Satoshi Kojima were both rising stars of the company at the time. The issue was that he was unsure if AJPW would put a newcomer over two rising stars who were technically “better” workers.
On the other hand, he believed it was unlikely Goldberg would come if he were to have two losses in a row.
However, Meltzer noted that ultimately it was all about business. While the hardcore fan base would be outraged by two more talented workers losing to Goldberg, it would still mean larger business for the company. He noted that AJPW knew how to build new stars.
This was why they pushed Kronik to the top to win the tag titles because they were fresh faces, despite the fact that they weren’t very great workers and surpassed teams there were far more deserving of the spot.
Meltzer then noted that it would be a disaster for AJPW if Goldberg defeated both rising stars and ended up signing with WWE, which he eventually did seven months later. He noted Goldberg’s rapid rise to the top in WCW and mentioned that as soon as his “undefeated streak” ended at Starrcade 1998, it all went downhill.
One of the major reasons was the constant injuries that he faced. However, Meltzer said that Goldberg’s future in Japan rested on how well he is protected, and how well he handled the physically demanding style of Japanese wrestling.
Meltzer noted the status of his negotiations with WWE at the time. WWE had been pursuing him relentlessly since the death of WCW, but they hadn’t come to terms. One of the primary reasons was his disinterest or lack of desire to increase his value.
Here is Goldberg’s match with Kojima on August 30th
Here is Goldberg’s match with Taiyo Kea on August 31st
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