On Donald Trump, Goldberg, and Premature Pushes

It’s impossible to separate pro wrestling from the culture that spawned it — whatever’s going on in one arena, you can find its reflection in the other. (Never consciously, though, because any time Vince McMahon attempts to get all #topical by incorporating anything zeitgeisty into his storylines, it universally ends in corny-ass tragedy.)

Goldberg made his sweaty, meaty return on this week’s Raw. This annoyed me for lots of reasons, but it also got me thinking about how shit-the-bed crazy 2016 has been: In the same year, a year in which smartphones exist and we’ve stuck a little robot on Mars, we have a Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar feud and a Donald Trump presidential candidacy. The past is ugly and it wants to live on our couch forever.

And then it hit me: Goldberg is Trump. Trump is Goldberg. Of course Goldberg came back. We invited him in.

Goldberg initially got pushed to the moon because he had A Look, and children were deeply impressed by his ability to yell and make faces. He couldn’t wrestle for beans when he started, though, and WCW used the Paul Heyman method of hiding his weaknesses and emphasizing his strengths by booking him in an endless stream of squash matches. Which is also exactly what the Republican primaries were — of course Trump won, going up against the local talent like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and laying them out with junior high nicknames and sloppy one-liners.

Then we come to Goldberg’s first full televised match, and not even the ring generalship of William Regal was enough to make him look good. It fell apart like a balsa step-stool, and they spent a lot of the match looking like two men who don’t understand how hugs work:

During the Republican primaries, all Trump had to do was come in, hit his spear-jackhammer-1 2 3 combo, and leave. It was flashy, empty garbage, but it looked cool because his opponents were palookas.

In the first debate, Hillary Clinton played the part of William Regal: a crafty veteran who’d done this a million times and now found herself locking up with a guy who, up until now, hadn’t had to know how to keep a match going for longer than thirty seconds. Both the Presidential debates and Regal vs. Goldberg were like watching a kid do a book report on a book he’d never read.

Goldberg came from football instead of a wrestling background when he got started in WCW. Nothing wrong with that — plenty of wrestlers start from square one and figure it out as they go. But Goldberg had a huge chip on his shoulder about it, and once snarked “They said I didn’t have any experience, but I played professional football for five years. Oh, but that doesn’t count” in an interview. He seemed to believe that being a good football player translated to being a good wrestler, much like the assumption that one’s background in medieval literature would logically make them a great rapper.

Trump has no experience in any part of the political process, and I would pay many, many dollars to watch him take a geography quiz or name all three branches of government. He believes that he’d make a great President because his name is on buildings and he once had a TV show. He got the push from the Republican party because he was good at mugging for the camera and blurting out soundbites.

In their own ways, Hillary and Trump are both pure carny. Hillary is adept at doublespeak and sleight-of-hand, and Trump is loud and shameless and wants to sell you gewgaws that’ll fall apart on the ride home.

The difference is that Hillary knows what she’s doing.

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