Goldberg the professional wrestler came to Citi Field Tuesday night and took in some batting practice with the New York Mets. Later the first pitch was almost on target prior to the Mets-Cardinals game that saw the home team go down to defeat 10-2.
“I love this game,” Goldberg said on the field hours before that first pitch. A veteran on the pro wrestling circuit with the once Turner owned WCW, and now part-time on the independent circuit, Goldberg is one of the star attractions for the “Legends of Wrestling” event to be held at Citi Field Sunday June 7th from 3-7pm.
He will be in the ring in a match, and as they say on this circuit against an opponent to be determined. The wrestling fan could see Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Rob Van Dam, Scott Steiner. Tommy Dreamer, or one of the many other greats that will take over Citi Field.
But Goldberg, known more than his name Bill Goldberg, does not care who he opposes in the ring that day. A wrestling arena type of set up will see the ring situated by second base, ringside seating, and 14,000 tickets are available for various matches plus a fan meet and greet with the wrestling superstars.
So why is Goldberg a perfect match for Citi Field?
“I am looking forward to shaking hands with the people who put me in the position I am and thank everybody who put me on this pedestal,” Goldberg said. The opportunity to be participating on the same wrestling event with Flair, Hart, and other legends are what Goldberg anticipates as well as greeting the fans that have made pro wrestling a multi-million dollar industry.
Goldberg never saw the last outdoor wrestling event at a baseball venue in New York. A parking lot is now adjacent to Citi Field that once was the Mets home, Shea Stadium. The ballpark hosted the epic Bruno Sammartino-Larry Zbyszko cage match before 35,000 rabid fans in August of 1980. Because of a cost factor, there wasn’t another epic show of that magnitude outdoors in New York City and this was before the beginnings of the cable TV industry that propelled pro wrestling to a new level.
Though some of the independent promotions have held outdoor events at the Mets NY Penn Cyclones affiliate MCU Park, off the boardwalk in Coney Island, there can be no comparison to that August night at Shea Stadium. Goldberg is anxious to be participating in the first major outside pro wrestling event in this era.
“It’s awesome outdoors,” Goldberg said as he briefly took a glimpse at the Mets stretch pregame routine behind him. “In the proper setting like this… is unbelievable. I did not see Sammartino here. The history is unbelieveable. To be able to be here with the baseball history alone, the wrestling history.”
“ The fact is those people made me who I am,” referring to Sammartino the WWE Hall of Famer, and Zbyszko who was inducted at the annual WrestleMania event at the end of March that was held in the San Francisco Bay area.
And as Goldberg, or for that matter any pro wrestler would say, the success and popularity comes from the thousands of wrestling fans who flock to the arenas every year.
“The fans who put me in the position,” he says as to why the Goldberg character still exists. There were stints with other wrestling organizations when his run with WCW concluded. And prior to wrestling, Goldberg played some baseball and was a defensive tackle with the the NFL Rams in Los Angeles and the Atlanta Falcons. He is one of seven pro wrestlers that played professional football, another building block that gave him the discipline to get in the ring.
And he held the world championship titles with WCW, and the reputed WWE, where he had a brief run. Regardless, Goldberg is one of the few who holds that distinction of holding the major championships from the two major wrestling organizations that were once bitter rivals.
But there is some bitterness. Pro wrestling can be an ugly business and Goldberg will be the first to say that working for Vince McMahon and the WWE has many obstacles, one being the favoritism and “Kiss My ***” attitude.
And the constant fear of losing your job, performing when hurt don’t help. Pro wrestling can be a mean business and when the talent finishes their run, a medical or pension plan does not exist as it does with the baseball players that he watched prepare on the field
“The business stinks,” he says in the open. “It’s about favoritism. The mental anguish of 48- years of age that I refuse to put myself in.” And he says he will never go back to the WWE if asked, and he won’t beg for a job.
He was a part of the “Monday NIght Wars” when the WWE and WCW battled for ratings weekly on the USA and TBS Networks, as fans had their choice and switched back and forth in between commercial breaks. Goldberg was a part of that war for pro wrestling supremacy.
“Monday night wars were tumultuous times They had moles at our place we had moles over there. They went to commercial,, we went to commercial.”
“What Bret Hart, what Ric Flair have done for the industry you can’t describe it. They made the industry They made the characters you could love or hate. The reality is when you sign on in a wrestling company your success is predicated on how many people you put in the seats.”
As Goldberg says, “The reality is I gave everything I had every time I put the boots on.” And whether or not he returns to the big circuit, there is another big moment coming soon for him at Citi Field.
Tickets for the “Legends of Wrestling” event at Citi Field are on sale” mets.com/wrestling with a VIP package of meet and greet and watching the matches at a ticker price of $15.00
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