Reliving A Title Run #2: Goldberg As WCW World Heavyweight Champion In ’98
For roughly eleven months, Goldberg had been on a tear in WCW. Any man who dare stepped in his way was plowed over with a devastating spear and driven down to the canvas with a Jackhammer. He won the WCW United States Championship on April 20th by defeating Raven who had won it the night before. Ever since debuting in September ’97, Goldberg had been undefeated. There wasn’t an end in sight, either.
Fans were chanting his name (maybe piped in, as well) and WCW officials realized they had stumbled upon something that could help them combat against the World Wrestling Federation in the ratings war. The WWF had overcome WCW in the ratings with their raunchy television and the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin was at full speed. WCW was looking older and they couldn’t quite find new ways to shock or entertain the fans. So, they went for it all on July 6th, 1998.
Goldberg met WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan live on Nitro from Atlanta, GA. Sure, the match should have been on pay per view, but Nitro gave away a lot of ridiculous match for free. Besides, more people would be able to see a star be made. After some brief distraction from DDP and Karl Malone, Goldberg put Hogan away with the Jackhammer to win the championship. WCW won the ratings war that night, but the victory didn’t last long in that sense.
With a title chance occurring so close to the next pay per view, Bash at the Beach, Goldberg was tossed into a squash match with Curt Hennig. Goldberg would actually work several house shows with Hennig. After Hennig, Goldberg would find himself feuding with the enormous wrestler named The Giant. All three men would compete in a nine man battle royal at the August pay per view Road Wild. Goldberg would win the battle royal when he last eliminated Giant from the match.
Goldberg would continue to wrestle Giant on the house show market while defending the championship on Nitro and Thunder against guys like Al Greene, Rick Fuller and Scott Putski. Yes, those two men were somehow qualified to challenge for the top prize in WCW. It’s safe to say that the first few months of the title reign have been less than stellar.
That is until we come to WCW Fall Brawl 1998. Goldberg isn’t scheduled to appear on the show. Despite that, he is the talk of the pay per view. That’s right, a man who isn’t on the show ends up being part of a big story because of one man. That man? WCW Television Champion Chris Jericho. Jericho was providing great entertainment as a heel at this point. At Fall Brawl he began to poke fun at Goldberg by doing his entrance and competed in a match against a fake Goldberg. It was the start of what should have eventually been the greatest squash match to ever happen in the history of pro wrestling.
Jericho continued to mock and taunt Goldberg for several weeks. Goldberg had a brief interaction with Jericho when he hit him with a spear on Nitro. It was rumored that they were suppose to eventually wrestle, but that ended up never taking place. Anyway, at Fall Brawl Diamond Dallas Page won War Games which would give him the chance to compete against Goldberg at Halloween Havoc for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Goldberg’s first real difficult opponent since winning the championship would be Sting. They would meet on Nitro after Fall Brawl with Goldberg retaining the title in the main event. Goldberg would also have a match against Raven on Thunder to give him two quality opponents in a row! Goldberg continued to wrestle Giant and Scott Hall on the house show market as he got ready for his big match with Diamond Dallas Page.
At Halloween Havoc Goldberg and DDP put together a good match, which most believed to be Goldberg’s best match during not only his title reign but career. DDP put on a great fight but Goldberg once again escaped with the championship. However, a lot of people who ordered the pay per view missed the ending of the match because the pay per view was over the time given to it and left a lot of people in the dark. The match was shown on Nitro and that didn’t sit well with people who forked over the money to watch the event.
In November Goldberg was put into a feud with newcomer Bam-Bam Bigelow. They would have several backstage brawls and brawled at the World War III pay per view. The next night on Nitro Goldberg pinned the Giant in under two minutes. Goldberg would compete in matches against Giant and Bigelow on the house show market. Goldberg would enter the biggest show of the year, Starrcade, to defend his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Kevin Nash who won the sixty man battle royal at World War III.
On December 27th, 1998 WCW decided to make one of their worst decisions in their history. They had Goldberg lose right in the middle of the ring. It wouldn’t have been so bad had they not had Kevin Nash win the match and title. The victory was far from being clean as Scott Hall zapped Goldberg and allowed Nash to hit a power bomb to win the title. That would be Goldberg’s first loss in his wrestling career and the end of his first and last reign as WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
This title reign started off with a bang, but proceeded to become a dud. I feel like the reign was a victim of poor booking/writing and wasn’t the fault of the performer. Even with the bad writing, Goldberg was able to maintain his popularity. They were just limited with what they could do with him. He is an unbeatable babyface and having him beat all contenders really hurts him when it comes to programs to work with. He never worked with Hogan again. He headlined only two pay per views during his run. There were two pay per views where he didn’t compete at, Fall Brawl and World War II.
I feel like a feud with the Giant could have been something better than it was. Of course, Giant was on his way out for the WWF. The angle with Jericho would’ve been a memorable angle had it been able to play out but for whatever reason Goldberg didn’t want to beat the snot out of Jericho for three minutes on a pay per view.
It was a sub-par overall title reign because he didn’t compete against top level competitors. The idea of job matches was WCW US Champion was fine, but when you have scrubs challenging for the top title it really looks bad. They hyped Goldberg up for nearly a year and took the belt off of him after only five months. People were going crazy for him and they cut him off. This poor title reign is totally on the writers and not the performer.
Thanks for reading.