Former professional wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg captivated the hearts and minds of wrestling fans everywhere with his cocky attitude and wide assortment of powerful slams that left his opponents nearly lifeless on the canvas.
But the seven-time champion revealed in an interview with The Ringer that his infatuation with martial arts and training with some of the biggest names in the sport at the sport at the time influenced some of his most effective moves inside the ring:
"I was a huge fan of the UFC, and of mixed martial arts, back in its embryonic state, when the Gary Goodridges, and the Don Fryes, and the Tank Abbotts were getting paid 100 bucks to smash people's face for entertainment. I owned the largest MMA gym in the country back in the late '90s. They used to train -- whether it was [Randy] Couture, or Frye, or Kevin Randleman -- they used to train at my place. I had a love affair with the martial arts and it very much interests me, and I thought the combination of a guy that weighed 290 that could do a backflip and do these submission moves would succeed. I knew that the UFC and that mixed martial arts in general was going to prosper because I was extremely selfish and cocky, and I thought: 'Hey, if I like it, everyone's gonna like it.' Well, it came to fruition, and I chose a character that was not a far departure from myself at all."
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It's not hard to find mixed martial arts in the blueprint of Goldberg's moveset. From his technically sound "superkick" to the armbars and kneebars he used to lock in on his opponents, the influence of former champions like Couture, Frye and Randleman is evident. Even Goldberg's patented "spear" started out as a hybrid double-leg takedown before it evolved into him just putting his shoulder in the chest of his opponent.
Though Goldberg acknowledges the influence MMA has had on wrestling, the former champ says it's a two-way street and that there is a mutual respect between the two sports.
"I was at Jared Allen's Night-Ops golf tournament, benefiting the military, and Ryan Bader was there two days ago," Goldberg said. "And Bader came up and asked to pick me up, asked me to pick him up; it's a completely different relationship. All those guys wanna be us. All the fighters wanna be in professional wrestling, I don't care what they say. There's a huge parallel in it and they [the MMA fighters] very much appreciate those guys [the pro wrestlers] and conversely we very much appreciate what they do. Those are the real tough guys, all we do is act like we're doing it sometimes."
Some of the most successful professional wrestlers now use MMA holds and strikes in their matches while the most profitable UFC fighters develop WWE-style larger-than-life personas to promote their fights. It's a give and take that's worked well for both sports.