Bill Goldberg has become a particularly negative topic for wrestling fans in recent years, especially after defeating ‘The Fiend’ for the Universal Championship before WrestleMania last year. Although the negativity surrounding him is a little unjust, Goldberg’s traditionally short matches, lack of technical know-how in the squared circle, and the fact he didn’t love wrestling like other legends have not helped matters either. However, in the new WWE Network documentary, Goldberg at 54, fans get to peel past storylines and the “booking,” and they get to experience an up-close look at a legend’s incredible work ethic and desire to ensure he can give his best for the fans, his peers, and his employer at Royal Rumble 2021. In addition to this, we get to witness the newfound passion Goldberg has for professional wrestling and why he does indeed merit more respect at this stage of his career.
Although Goldberg gave the fans some heart-warming moments, particularly with his son, during his initial WWE return in 2016-17, he’s not often associated with making them feel emotional. But Goldberg at 54 hits the heart on more than one occasion, and it does so from the offset. Filmed in a more observational/diary style, which creates a very intimate feeling to the subject and story, we immediately see a heartfelt interaction between Big E and Goldberg as Goldberg warms up backstage at the Royal Rumble. It’s such a wonderful hook as Big E pours out his admiration for the legend’s kindness to him when he was younger, while equally classy, Goldberg references Big E carrying “the torch” moving forward. It’s interactions like these that humanize professional wrestlers in the eyes of the fans, and if there was ever a way to turn Goldberg babyface from the offset, it was by showing this moment here.
The documentary primarily follows Goldberg through his training regiment at the age of 54 to prepare and give fans the closest resemblance to the ‘old Goldberg’ that he can in his match with Drew McIntyre. The visuals of his training are spectacular, as he is an anomaly, even at 54. But what’s even more fascinating is seeing the pain and sacrifice he puts himself through to ensure he can put his best foot forward. Fans often forget the work that goes into making the in-ring performances come to life, particularly for the older performers, and this is a powerful reminder. The close-ups of the physical monster wincing in pain while getting stretched or watching him deal with the psychological challenges of returning at his age are captivating. These are moments that allow the documentary to hit home the story in a gripping manner. It also paints a whole new image of the Hall of Famer and allows audiences to sympathise and truly appreciate what he’s eventually able to achieve at the PPV.
Goldberg at 54’s great footage is supported by fascinating insight from the former WCW Champion. He pours his heart out regarding his close bond with Vince McMahon and what professional wrestling means to him, and how much he’s grown to appreciate it. In addition to this, the documentary has a slick grainy film reel visual that slips in at certain moments, which creates a nice effect and even adds to the recap of the fun WWE title match with McIntyre at the Royal Rumble.
The new WWE Network offering is a little on the shorter side, and if you were expecting something more in-depth, you might walk away feeling disappointed. It also feels like an opportunity was missed to get McMahon’s two cents on their relationship, but considering the format is a little different for this documentary, it’s understandable why we do not hear from the CEO.
Ultimately, fans might be surprised after watching WWE’s latest documentary on Goldberg. Not only does it pack quite an emotional punch in just over twenty-two minutes, but those who cannot forgive the man for doing his job against The Fiend last year may find a newfound fondness for him. Goldberg at 54 is an impressive piece of business from the WWE film crew, and hopefully, it’s a story the fans remember the next time the legend returns, especially due to his closing line of: “I owe the fans everything. They made Goldberg who he was and who he still is.”
Goldberg at 54 is now available on the WWE Network – Images courtesy of WWE Network Twitter and video is courtesy of WWE’s YouTube