By Mike Mooneyham
Aug. 25, 2002
One by one, they have become the exclusive property of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment. The stable of stars that once helped make World Championship Wrestling the hottest mat company in the country is now, for the most part, under the auspices of the rival WWE.
There is, however, one notable exception.
Bill Goldberg, whose meteoric rise to stardom was one of the main reasons WCW’s popularity soared during the late 90s, has been a free agent since he cashed in on his multimillion-dollar AOL Time Warner contract earlier this year. Ever since WCW closed its doors in March 2001, one of the most-asked questions among mat fans has centered around Goldberg’s future in wrestling, more specifically the WWE.
The 35-year-old Goldberg, who hasn’t worked in the ring in nearly 18 months, revealed part of the answer last week when he announced that he would make his official return to wrestling – not in the United States, but in the Far East – for the All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Goldberg, who will face Satoshi Kojima Friday night and Taiyo Kea the next evening at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, also announced that he would make an appearance for Pride, the Japanese-based shoot-fighting federation, serving in a color commentator’s role most likely designed to set up an actual match at a future pay-per-view. Goldberg is a longtime martial arts proponent and has expressed interest in participating in a shoot-fighting event, and last week hinted that he is closer than ever to making that happen.
There are very few insiders, however, who believe that Goldberg’s real future lies in Japan. The big money – along with the big exposure – is in McMahon’s WWE. The fact that the company recently opened its own film division in Los Angeles should make the WWE all the more appealing, since Goldberg is also actively pursing film projects and no doubt has visions of using the WWE as a vehicle to achieve that goal.
Until now, both sides have been cautious about making any predictions concerning Goldberg’s future employment. Goldberg has not been shy about expressing his opinion of the WWE product, making it abundantly clear that he is not an advocate of the WWE or its envelope-pushing style of entertainment.
Goldberg has taken the public stance of being in no hurry to make any decisions concerning the WWE, instead preferring to play the waiting game, perhaps hoping that his value increases as WWE business dips.
But Goldberg will sit down and talk to Vince McMahon, according to a recent interview, “when the time is right.” And, in spite of Goldberg’s public posturing, the time may be drawing near for some serious negotiations.
Ethical considerations aside, what will bring Goldberg to the table is money – and lots of it. Vince McMahon has been extremely careful in not upsetting the applecart when it comes to contracts. Although no figures have been disclosed, it’s almost certain that Goldberg will demand an exorbitant salary and some nice perks to go along with it.
Both sides realize that pay-per-view dates with the likes of Brock Lesnar, Triple H, The Rock and (if and when he returns) Steve Austin have blockbuster written all over them. And while there is no official timetable, having Goldberg debut at the Royal Rumble in January and building toward a world title match with Lesnar at next year’s Wrestlemania doesn’t seem like too shabby a plan at this point.
– Former WWE performer Tiger Ali Singh last week filed a $7 million harassment lawsuit against the company.
The 31-year-old Singh, whose real name is Gurjit Singh Hans, claims he was harassed by fellow wrestlers because the company was trying to get out of his contract. according to a report in The New York Post. In the lawsuit he claims that his turban, which is sacred in the Sikh religion, was stolen from a dressing room and desecrated by other wrestlers who allegedly stuffed it with cigarette butts and other garbage. He also claims his co-workers referred to him as “taxi driver.”
The 6-5, 290-pound wrestler, who made his pro debut in 1992 after being trained in Toronto by Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchinson, along with spending six months in a New Japan dojo, is the son of veteran Tiger Jeet Singh (Jagit Singh Hans). Tiger Ali signed in 1997 with the WWF where he received additional training from Dory Funk Jr. and Dr. Tom Prichard.
Singh, whose ethnic gimmick was patterned after the 80s version of Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Man,” portrayed a rich, arrogant descendant of Asian royalty with a servant sidekick named Babu. Singh was assigned to Puerto Rico for most of 2001 and suffered a serious concussion while being “forced to perform” at an outdoor show in the rain. The WWE sent him back home to Toronto to rest and later released him.
WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt said the company was not aware of any harassment Gurjit Hans (Singh) may have suffered, and that it legally stopped paying him because he no longer can wrestle. McDevitt also said the WWE was not responsible for his injury injury, which was incurred during another company’s match.
“People make all kind of claims against the WWE, and when you get to the facts, you find that they’re seldom found to be true,” McDevitt told the newspaper.
Singh’s father also is suing the WWE for another million dollars in an arbitration case, claiming that the WWE stopped paying his contract in 1999.
– On paper, tonight’s version of Summer Slam looks to be one of the more attractive offerings in recent years. Unless Vince McMahon pulls a swerve, the Brock Lesnar-Rock main event appears fairly predictable, since the current WWE champ will be leaving soon to begin his next film project. A lot of eyes will be Lesnar, however, as his performance in this match could determine how far he has come – or how far he has to go – in the role of the company’s world champion.
While the Triple H-Shawn Michaels match-up holds the most intrigue, the Kurt Angle-Rey Misterio Jr. bout could be the real show-stealer. The two were scheduled to do a warm-up match at a house show Saturday night in Albany, N.Y.
– Another not-to-miss match: A.J. Styles vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Low Ki in a triple ladder match for the X division title Wednesday night on the weekly NWA-TNA pay-per-view. – Sean Waltman (X-Pac), who was taken off television a number of weeks ago, is no longer employed by the WWE.
Jim Ross announced last week that the two sides had “mutually agreed” to go their separate ways.
The writing clearly was on the wall for Waltman when the NWO angle was scrapped after Kevin Nash’s most recent injury. Members of the WWE creative team, with whom Waltman had clashed in the past, told the Clique and NWO mainstay that they had no new ideas regarding storylines for him, effectively putting Waltman’s ever-changing status in limbo once again. Waltman found himself in more hot water with the company after recently passing out at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
– Auditions for wrestling-related positions will be held on Sept. 15 beginning at 2 p.m. at the West Central Community Center in Pfafftown, N.C., just outside Winston-Salem. Auditions will be held for male and female wrestlers, valets, managers, referees, ring announcers and commentators.
Anyone who is interested should call Ken Spence at (336) 778-2616 or e-mail him at [email protected].
– Heartland Wrestling Association will hold the first in a series of five-day training camps from Nov. 11-15 with Les Thatcher, Ricky Steamboat and Sherri Martel as instructors. Cost of the camp is $995 which includes hotel, breakfast and lunch, and transportation. For more information, call (513) 771-1650 or check the Web site at www.hwaonline.com.
– The ratings continue to inch upward for the WWE. Last week’s Raw drew a 4.0, up from the previous week’s 3.9, while Smackdown improved from a 3.5 to a 3.6.
– WWE road agent Dave Hebner underwent knee replacement surgery last week.
– Kevin Nash continues to rehab in Birmingham following surgery to repair his torn quadriceps. Nash recently said that he plans to return to the ring despite the fact that it was his 14th knee operation.
– Trish Stratus and Charles Robinson had to have their eyes flushed by the medical staff after working in Monday’s mud match on Raw.
– NWA-TNA announcer Ed Ferrara announced last week that he was leaving the company.
Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at [email protected]. He is the co-author of “Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation,” currently No. 24 on The New York Times Extended Bestseller List.