TORONTO -- For two months, WWE set forth on a buildup for the ages ahead of Sunday's rematch between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, more than 12 years in the making.
Many wondered if the man himself, 49-year-old Bill Goldberg, could still prove to be a believable and strong enough opponent for Lesnar, the former UFC champion, in their main event at WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view.
The consensus was that Lesnar, 39, would inflict a tremendous amount of damage and ultimately do what he had done since returning to the WWE in 2012 -- record lopsided victories over the biggest names in the company, including The Undertaker (which ended his unbeaten Wrestlemania streak at 21) and John Cena.
In 1 minute, 26 seconds -- the exact amount of time it took Goldberg to pin Lesnar -- it became clear that wouldn't be the case.
A sold-out crowd at the Air Canada Centre, who were on their feet cheering during Goldberg's classic entrance, appeared hungry for an epic (and violent) throwdown following a buildup in which Lesnar and Goldberg didn't make contact once on Raw.
It certainly started off that way, as Lesnar carried Goldberg into the corner, but from the moment Goldberg shoved back and put Lesnar on his back, it was clear something else was at hand. After the momentary shock on Lesnar's face wore off, Goldberg hit a spear. He would soon hit a second, and then did what some thought would be impossible -- he got Lesnar up for his Jackhammer finishing move.
While this opening sequence shocked most in attendance, the collective crowd expected that with more than a half-hour left in the scheduled show, this was just a way to make Lesnar look vulnerable. Technically, it was -- as Lesnar proved so vulnerable, Goldberg recorded the same kind of "squash" victory that made him famous during his scripted 173-bout winning streak at his peak in WCW in the late 1990s.
With the crowd in shock -- many of them still chanting for Goldberg, expecting something else to happen in the meantime -- Goldberg celebrated and even carried his 10-year-old son, Gage, into the ring. When it became clear this was the end of the show, a smattering of boos filled the arena as the in-house announcer, JoJo, hyped this week's episode of Raw, which takes place in the same building on Monday night.
The match was expected to be a one-shot deal for the long-retired Goldberg, who hadn't appeared in a pro wrestling ring since his 2004 victory over Lesnar at WrestleMania XX, and returned to WWE after agreeing to be a downloadable character in the WWE 2K17 video game. Now, the feud appears to have legs as Sunday's rematch could prove to be the launching point toward a third meeting in the near future, whether that be the Royal Rumble in January or WrestleMania 33 in April.
It will be interesting to see whether the fallout of such a decisive loss to a man one month shy of 50 has a negative effect on Lesnar's character, considering how destructive and unbeatable he has been presented in recent years. One thing is for sure, WWE 2K17 got the match and hype it wanted with this return match, despite the fact that it ended very much the same way the first Goldberg-Lesnar showdown did -- with a sour taste in the mouths of many fans.
For full match recaps and ratings from Survivor Series, click here.