WrestleMania 33 is finally here. Over weeks and months of action on "Monday Night Raw," "SmackDown Live," "205 Live" and a variety of pay-per-views, we've reached the pinnacle of the year in the world of professional wrestling.
For those casual viewers who need to get caught up ahead of diving back into the WWE ahead of WrestleMania, or those just seeking a refresher because of the sheer volume of programming it took to get here, we have everything you need to know leading into some of the biggest matches on the card. We'll be dropping them throughout the week, and we continue our coverage with a look at the presumptive main event of WrestleMania 33 -- the clash of titans that is the Universal championship match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar
For a look at the full WrestleMania card, click here.
The impetus for this match is a video game. No, seriously. This all started during the promotion of WWE 2K17, for which Lesnar was the cover athlete and Goldberg was a pre-registration bonus character; after Goldberg appeared on ESPN SportsCenter's "Off the Top Rope" in October, plans for a match at Survivor Series came together quickly.
While the impetus wasn't the most organic start to a rivalry, the execution since that point has been surprisingly well done. That's thanks in large part to Paul Heyman, who has made a career of taking questionable premises and polishing them into gold. He helped light a fire underneath this rivalry in its earliest stages, and by the time Lesnar and Goldberg were separated by a wall of security guards prior to Survivor Series, the crowd became anxious to see what their match could actually be.
In 86 seconds, Goldberg shocked the world with a pair of spears, a jackhammer and a three-count victory in the main event of Survivor Series. He made Lesnar look like a fool again with a quick elimination in the Royal Rumble match in January. Lesnar finally got the upper hand just a few weeks ago on Raw with an F5, and through it all Heyman has been the glue holding what should be a ridiculous and unbelievable conflict solidly together. At Fastlane, thanks to a distraction from Chris Jericho, Goldberg beat Kevin Owens to win the Universal championship.
If, 17 years ago, someone had told you that after stinking out Madison Square Garden just before both of them were leaving the WWE that Lesnar and Goldberg would be fighting over a world title in the (presumptive) main event of WrestleMania, you'd have thought they'd gone off the deep end. But here we are.
This is likely the hardest match to predict on the entire card. Logic would seemingly dictate that Lesnar gets his revenge and dispatches Goldberg, sending him off into the sunset. Lesnar is in great shape and can go, but Goldberg is a completely unknown entity with two matches that have required little in the way of endurance and an appearance in the Royal Rumble match. He certainly hasn't been appearing on Live Events, and without that kind of conditioning, it would be one final shock to see Goldberg carry on a match for anything more than a few minutes.
To be honest, even at the peak of his powers Goldberg expended so much energy on the way to the ring and in doing his two big power moves, that he rarely had time for much else. If this match indeed goes on in the final spot, the traditional main event, it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.
For my money, let's keep it simple. Lesnar wins, it's at least fairly quick if not over in the blink of an eye, and that's that.
Regardless of what he's capable (or incapable) of in the ring at 50, Goldberg still has a believable look. Depending on the outcome and the reaction to this WrestleMania match, he could come back for a rematch with Lesnar or something else down the line. But the other side of the coin is that he'll have accomplished everything he set out to do in his return to wrestling, and then some. His wife and son got to see him beat Lesnar, he participated in a Royal Rumble match and he'll have main evented a WrestleMania as world champion. I think the odds are tilted toward this being his ride off into the sunset, with the potential of some kind of nostalgia trip down the line. But I've been wrong before.
On the opposite side of that coin, the Universal championship could do with a solid run around the waist of Lesnar. There's an Owens rematch clause that has to be dealt with, and the fallout from that -- which could theoretically pit Lesnar and the McMahons on opposite sides of a conflict -- would be a solid foundation for "Monday Night Raw" going forward.