"Guess what? I'm not even calling you from the hospital," Goldberg told ESPN.com on Tuesday as he let out a hearty laugh, moments after his plane home from Toronto touched down. After two months promoting the violent reality of his scripted return to pro wrestling at 49, following a 12-year retirement, it was clear he still enjoyed the show business side of swerving the audience.
"I think at this time in my career, the best way to take [Lesnar] down was shock and awe, to do something that nobody would expect against a monster like that," Goldberg said. "At the end of the day, you have smart marks all over the world thinking that they know the outcome of a match. I don't believe any of them thought that was going to be it."
But as WWE fans continue to digest the shock value from Survivor Series, two things are certain: Goldberg will, in fact, compete in the Royal Rumble on Jan. 29 in San Antonio, which he announced on Monday's episode of Raw, and something changed between the moment his "one-off" return was announced in October and the moment the booking for Sunday's match was finalized.
There's only so much Goldberg can say publicly about his contract status with WWE without giving away where his character's storyline is headed over the next few months or whether his stay will extend to WrestleMania 33 in April.
"I'm only as good as my next appearance and my next match," he said. "I'm concentrating on the Royal Rumble and that's it. I don't have any plans of doing anything afterwards. My focus is on the 29 other men that I'm going to have to crucify to win that damn match."
At some point, the build-up to the return of Goldberg, in his first match since a 2004 victory over Lesnar at WrestleMania XX that was serenaded in boos, exceeded expectations for both WWE and the wrestler himself in terms of the fans' nostalgic response. And somewhere within that process -- Goldberg won't say when -- the decision was made to extend his comeback beyond Sunday.
"It's completely dependent if you are a smart businessman upon the return on your product," Goldberg said. "I believe that you have to wait and see if that investment is going to pay off and I think each and every time I was given the opportunity, I hoped that I was able to carry the ball and give [WWE] the confidence to have me back and further include me in their plans."
It's impossible to ignore the level of buzz that his return has created for WWE and the attention has been just as overwhelming for Goldberg himself. In fact, his cell phone vibrated routinely throughout Tuesday's phone interview with a flood of text messages from well-wishers, which he says began before he even exited the ring on Sunday.
From celebrity friends such as ex-NFL cohorts Jim Kelly and Gilbert Brown, Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke and actor Daniel Baldwin, to the faithful support of his extended family, who packed the first few rows at Air Canada Centre, Goldberg is nothing if not humbled by the love he has received.
But the experience of having his 10-year-old son Gage, who provided the inspiration for Goldberg's return, jump the ringside barrier after the match and join him inside the ring for a shirtless embrace was a "once-in-a-lifetime" moment that Goldberg said he couldn't be more thankful for.
"Firstly, I really don't know why he pulled his shirt off in the stands anyway," Goldberg said. "At the end of the day, it was hilarious. I couldn't have asked for a better way to write the story. I mean, I really couldn't have. You hope and you wish and you dream for the right things to happen and everything to fall into place. But I never could have imagined for it to work out like this."
For as shocking as the finish was for many, it was an ending that was more realistic to a real fight than many WWE matches. That element wasn't lost on Goldberg, who like the UFC veteran Lesnar, is known for his stiff fighting style, which includes elements of mixed martial arts that both performers have regularly trained or competed in.
"To be able to be booked [to win] against a guy like Brock Lesnar is a dream come true," Goldberg said. "You're looking in a lot of ways at a mirror image of yourself. I think we bring something to the table that is completely different than any other two people in the sport of professional wrestling. And I am proud of that, and I think that we've got that market pretty much cornered. I don't know if that was the case prior to me coming in and being his opponent, but I do believe that that's a special space and I think we can pretty much call our own right now."
A self-proclaimed perfectionist regarding his own in-ring work, Goldberg says he was "fairly happy" with his performance Sunday, which included two spears and a Jackhammer on Lesnar. When asked, however, whether he connected on his spears to the level of his impossible-to-please standards, Goldberg said he came up short as far as truly laying it in.
"No, I never will. If I would have laid it in to my standards, I would have put him completely through the second ropes," he said.
"When I had bigger traps it was a lot easier to unload with that spear, I can tell you that. Now until my next appearance, I'm going to be doing shrugs and upright rows every 15 minutes. The reality is, I'm not 24 or 34 anymore. Things are going to be different when I prepare for and when I compete in an athletic endeavor."
Goldberg says he can deal with the limitations of his body while trying to resurrect a character so dependent upon physicality and intimidation. Despite the brief nature of Sunday's match, for example, he admits the plane ride home still involved multiple ice bags in strategic locations.
But for now until he appears again ahead of the Royal Rumble, Goldberg considers himself "on the clock," with every decision he makes in his daily life predicated toward looking and performing better the next time he steps foot in a WWE ring.
"My fans can expect the same thing that they hopefully fell in love with years ago," Goldberg said. "I'm still the same guy mentally and emotionally. But things have changed and I don't present myself physically maybe the same way. But it doesn't mean that inside of this mind there's still not that monster that's ready to come out."