Goldberg almost signed for New Japan Pro Wrestling twice in his career, but pulled out both times due to conflicting reasons. One was a happy occasion whilst one almost cost him more than he could imagine.
Goldberg Almost Joined NJPW Before WWE Comeback
It was reported in 2018 that Bill Goldberg was considering offers from both WWE and NJPW. This was prior to his Hall of Fame induction, where he headlines his WWE Hall of Fame class of 2018, alongside a number of other legendary wrestlers.
Other WWE Hall of Fame inductees that year were;
- Jeff Jarrett
- Hillbilly Jim
- Mark Henry
- The Dudley Boys
- Kid Rock
He decided to stick with WWE for his induction into the hall of fame, but that was not before he took serious interest for a short run with New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was reported to have been courted by NJPW and their booker Gedo to come in for a run with the company. He would have been available for appearances at the big shows like Wrestle Kingdom and the G1 Climax.
‘I don’t expect anything to happen right now, given Bill Goldberg is going into the WWE Hall of Fame and usually that requires signing a short-term deal, but he was in talks with New Japan about coming in for big shows.’
It would have been a crazy thing to see Goldberg in NJPW in 2018. He was over 50 years old and coming to the end of his career, having taken over a decade to return to the ring since his last stint with the WWE. He was also not the typical work rate-heavy wrestler that New Japan built their company around. Seeing him against top stars like Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahshi is something that is simply impossible to imagine.
However, New Japan Pro Wrestling had recently brought in another former WWE star for a big run at their largest shows. Chris Jericho was signed to NJPW to wrestle Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and stayed in the promotion for some years to wrestle against all of NJPW’s main eventers.
Bill Goldberg’s run in NJPW would likely have been similar to his run in WWE, albeit with less championship wins. He would have had short yet explosive matches, the kind of bouts that he had during his heyday in WCW. Just like fellow gaijans like Vader and Stan Hansen, he likely would have been a big hit in the company and got over with the Japanese fans in a big way.
Sadly he did not make an appearance with New Japan. However, Goldberg to NJPW almost happened some years earlier but was spoiled by one horrible injury…
He Was Meant To Wrestle In The Tokyo Dome Before His 1999 Injury
Goldberg suffered a horrific arm injury on WCW Thunder in 1999 which put him on the shelf for 5 months. He broke through a limousine window with his bare hands, forgetting to use the weapons provided. His smashed the window whilst slicing his arm and severing his own artery. It was touch and go for a time, with Goldberg’s injury almost costing him his arm due to the severe injury and loss of blood.
He would not wrestle against until May 2000. This is significant because Goldberg was booked to debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling at the Tokyo Dome Show on January 4th 2000. He was a huge star at the time and courted by promotions across the globe. The Japanese promotion secured a signature for a massive match-up against Manabu Nakanishi. However, Bill Goldberg vs Manabu Nakanishi never took place due to the formers injury.
Goldberg would wrestle in Japan later on, once WCW closed down and was bought by WWE. He wrestled and in All-Japan Pro Wrestling rather than New Japan though, putting on some memorable matches against the promotions top stars, including a “dream match” against Satoshi Kajima. He wrestled 4 matches for the promotion, with his final appearance being a tag team match where he teamed with the legendary Keiji Mutoh (The Great Muta) to take on former WCW stars Kronik.
He would also return to Japan in 2004 (whilst under WWE contract) to wrestle for start-up promotion HUSTLE. He defeated Naoya Ogawa in his only match for the promotion before returning to the WWE. Now 55 years old, the chance for Goldberg to return to wrestle in Japan is slim and he looks to be retired from the ring for good.
There were rumours of Goldberg signing with AEW as late as this years AEW Revolution, but those rumours were unfounded. He is not currently signed to a deal with WWE.
What did you think of Goldberg in Japan? Let us know in the comments what you think or click below to read more.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.