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 The Art of Selling: Bill Goldberg

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Mr. Tambourine Man
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PostSubject: The Art of Selling: Bill Goldberg   Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:20 pm

My favorite aspect of pro-wrestling is in-ring psychology. It's what separated guys like Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio Jr, and Eddy Guerrero from all the other talented athletes who traveled the world. A wrestlers ability to tell a story in the ring is just about the most important thing. A gigantic aspect of storytelling is selling. Whether it be selling a limb or an emotion you've gotta make the people watching believe. I want to do a series of threads on my favorite examples of a proper sell-jobs here on OWW.

This week I want to look at guy who is vastly underrated in this category. One of the absolute best at selling a limb in my opinion was Bill Goldberg. You don't hear that very often from people - even his very own fans - which is quite a shock to me. I guess the reason is because 90% of the time he was in situations where he didn't really have to sell. Whatever the case may be this guy could sell more than just tickets.

Lots of guys will just sell for one match and then the very next week drop the injury like it never happened. Heck sometimes an injury will be sold for five minutes and forgotten during the very same match. Goldberg however proved in WWE with the entire Triple H/bounty angle that he could sell vulnerability just as good as he could sell dominance. This storyline was a good example of proper long-term selling.

At Unforgiven 2003, Triple H lost the belt to Goldberg. In an effort to weaken Goldberg up for the rematch at Survivor Series, Triple H put up a bounty of $100,000 for anyone who could take Goldberg out. Shawn Michaels got a match with Goldberg for the title on RAW two weeks prior to Survivor Series. Batista interfered and collected the bounty by putting Goldberg’s ankle in a chair and stomping on it.


Now Goldberg did a superb job selling this attack. The facial expressions and the way his body cringed were perfect. But to sell the attack when you’re down and out is doable even for a decent performer. A master-seller needs to continue selling the injured limb in the coming weeks. This is precisely what Goldberg did.


The next week he had a match with Batista where he sold the injury like a champion. Just during his entrance alone, he no longer had that look of confidence, ready to kill. He sold vulnerability in not only his ankle, but his face. At 3:04 he barely pulls off a military press attempt, hoping on one leg. This proved to be a mistake as right away Batista went to work on the ankle. Goldberg’s body movement on the mat was once again spot on. The yells he let out truly conveyed the pain he was in. At 4:40 he has to use the ropes to hold himself up and he avoids Batista's clothesline attempt by rolling back on the mat. perfect way to continue selling the ankle. I loved how at 4:50 Goldberg hit a spear and even during his warrior cry taunt, he sold the spaghetti legs in such a convincing fashion.

And this was only the pre-cursor to the real star performance – Triple H vs. Goldberg @ Survivor Series.



The match started out better for Goldberg. He showed subtle signs of a bad leg, but not something which could give him real problems. Even Lawler mentioned how he thought the bad leg would be an issue but Goldberg appeared to be fit. I was thinking WWE would go the class route of Triple H getting a shot at his leg at some point and working the injury from there, but Goldberg did something even better instead. At 7:52 Goldberg had Triple H up for a military press, only Goldberg couldn’t quite finish the move, as his leg gave out on him and he took such an awesome bump, wobbling in place and then falling in a sort of split right on the ankle. This was such a great little story to start the match as it complimented last week so well. The previous week Goldberg was unsure of himself. He didn’t know how bad the injury would affect him and that emotionally did not allow him to try and block the pain. After getting the upper hand on Evolution on RAW the previous week Goldberg now knew how to cope with it. This time he’d already grown in confidence. You could see it in his entrance. He had a certain swagger about him he didn't possess the week before and he was ANXIOUS to beat HHH down. You could see how he did a great job blocking the pain out in the early going of the match. Then it all came crashing down on him during that military press. And if you notice he tried to hold HHH up in the air for much longer than he had Batista. The previous week he just wanted to do the move with as little pain as possible. This time he got too confident and that was his undermining. HHH (and even Flair a bit) proceeded to work over the injured limb for the remainder of the match. At 3:30 of part 2, Goldberg finally gets Hunter back with a clothesline to allow him a second to breath. Even when he does this clothesline, you could tell he had so much trouble even lunging at Hunter who was a few feet away because he was only using one leg. At 3:50 of part 2 Goldberg goes for another press slam, but this time Hunter counters it immediately and gets behind him for a knee clip. The commentators made note of how sickly Goldberg’s body twisted when he went down. Goldberg eventually made his full-on comeback while the referee was down. No matter what offense Goldberg took he made sure to always have wobbly posture. After Goldberg won with a Jackhammer he continued to sell the bad leg. That’s how its done. Lots of rookies will make the mistake of selling something up until the bell rings. Goldberg understood realism and made you feel how hard fought his victory really was.
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Storme
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PostSubject: Re: The Art of Selling: Bill Goldberg   Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:03 pm

I saw you post this on OWW and totally agree. Goldberg isn't given the credit he deserves, he's actually quite underrated. This feud was made much better by Goldberg selling his leg constantly instead of just forgetting about it when it came time for him to fight back. At the risk of seeming like a hater, John Cena could learn a lot from this...

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PostSubject: Re: The Art of Selling: Bill Goldberg   Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:04 pm

John Cena's hit or miss at limb selling. I can remember him putting in great performances such as against JBL at Judgement Day 08' where he sold both the ribs and shoulder in the same match. I can also remember him totally forgetting to sell an injury (vs. HBK at Mania). His strong suit in selling is facial expressions. I don't know of any wrestler right now that can put over a match or segment like he can.
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PostSubject: Re: The Art of Selling: Bill Goldberg   Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:52 pm

I guess he's underrated on vulnerability and overrated on dominance. Because when you think of Bill Goldberg you naturally think about the guy who was one hundred something and O who went on to become WCW United States and World Heavyweight Champion. I was actually unaware of his ability to sell until I read this thread. I never have a lot of chances to watch RAW due to lack of cable.
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