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Drew McIntyre announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 during Monday’s Raw but still accepted Goldberg’s challenge for a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble.
The situation started during Legends Night on January 4. After successfully defending the WWE title against Keith Lee with a group of legends watching from the stage, the Scot was confronted by Goldberg.
The former WCW mainstay said McIntyre is disrespectful, which came out of nowhere. If anything, WWE has gone to great lengths to show the champion being kind to legends so they appear to be friends. It’s one of the strategies the company has used to get him over as a babyface.
Regardless of whether Goldberg’s statements made any sense, this appears to be our Royal Rumble bout unless anything changes over the next few weeks.
Let’s look at some of the possible ways this could end and which options would be the best.
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When Goldberg first returned to WWE in 2016, he beat Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series before facing Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at Fastlane 2017. He defeated KO in 22 seconds.
This was a controversial decision at the time, but many fans who didn’t want him to win accepted that it made for a cool moment and took solace in the fact that he would lose the title to Lesnar at WrestleMania 33.
This time, however, the WWE Universe will not be as forgiving. The novelty has worn off and Goldberg winning the title in the same dominant way would derail the push WWE has given McIntyre for the last year.
Even with interference or some other kind of shenanigans, Goldberg beating McIntyre in under a minute would be the worst option for everybody involved.
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Goldberg winning quickly would be bad, but it might be just as painful to watch him trying to work a long match, especially after what we saw with The Undertaker at Super ShowDown in 2019.
The veteran’s style was never tailored to working longer matches, and the older he gets, the less endurance and stamina he will have at his disposal.
McIntyre could carry the load for most of the match, but there is only so much one person can do to make somebody else look good for a long time.
Goldberg is at his best with short bursts of offense. It’s fun to watch him hit a Spear and a Jackhammer to defeat somebody right away, but it shouldn’t be the current WWE champion he beats this time.
Even though short matches are rarely the best option, keeping this encounter under five minutes would be ideal.
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There is one possibility that hasn’t been discussed. What if The Miz cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the WWE title match?
While this wouldn’t be the best conclusion, it would be better than Goldberg winning the belt. At least The A-Lister is around to appear on television every week.
There is also the possibility that The Miz tries to cash in and fails just as he did during AJ Styles’ match against McIntyre at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December.
Either way, The Miz holding the briefcase and being on Raw makes him a wild card in this situation. He only has a handful of months before the next Money in the Bank PPV in May, so he has to pull the trigger at some point.
WWE will probably have him cash in at WrestleMania to get the most out of the moment, but Goldberg should still keep his eye on The A-Lister.
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The best outcome to this match is McIntyre retaining the WWE title. What the company has to figure out is how to book the loss for Goldberg.
Would he lose clean? Would he lose by way of The Miz failing to cash in? Would somebody else like Randy Orton interfere to cause a disqualification?
Regardless of how it happens, The Scottish Warrior having his hand raised is the only acceptable conclusion. Anything else will be met with heavy criticism.
The most likely scenario is the two powerhouses will have a competitive match that lasts between five and 10 minutes before a Claymore Kick counters a Spear and finishes Goldberg off.
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Remember when McIntyre defeated Lesnar in less than five minutes at WrestleMania 36? Remember how badass that made him look?
The Scot hasn’t been booked poorly, but he hasn’t looked as strong as he did the night he won the title. Goldberg could help with that.
If McIntyre quickly dispatches the Hall of Famer, it will solidify him as the top star on Raw again. It would also be the most satisfying outcome for those members of the WWE Universe who are especially against Goldberg winning the title.
WWE isn’t attracting new fans by using older Superstars, and bringing in legends clearly isn’t working to bring back those who have stopped watching.
The only way to build the company back up is to use the stars it has in meaningful and entertaining ways. Having Goldberg win the WWE title at the Royal Rumble would be a step backward.