On July 6, 1998, in what was already in the cards yet also a knee-jerk reaction to WWF King of the Ring ‘98, WCW World champion Hollywood Hogan defended the WCW World title against Goldberg.
Neither the match nor its inevitability was easy. Along the road, Goldberg had defeated Raven on Nitro back on 4/20 for both his 75th victory and the US title. Also, Hogan put fellow nWo cohort Scott Hall in Goldberg’s path before Goldberg “earned” his title shot in the main event.
Why was this match on free TV and not PPV?
Like I said, this match, while inevitable, was rushed to Nitro in direct response to KOTR ’98 and the subsequent RAW. If you recall, Austin lost the WWF title to Kane at the PPV but regained it in the main event the next night. Also, Mankind sacrificed his body for his career and fans which highlighted the chatter at the water cooler during the following week. Since WCW was truly obsessed with beating the WWF at the TV ratings game, the Hogan-Goldberg match-up was first hyped on a live Thunder episode just four days earlier. Lest I forget it was also in Goldberg’s hometown!
Another reason the match wasn’t on PPV was because Bash at the Beach ’98 had already been promoted with NBA stars Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman involved. While wrestling cards are “subject to change,” removing these celebrities from the main event would have been career suicide for all involved.
How was the match, you ask?
Match 12 for the WCW World title: Hollywood Hogan (champion) versus US champion Goldberg
- According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the attendance for this show was 41,412. Wow!
- Sing it with me and the Georgia Dome crowd—GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLDBERRRRRRRRG!
- Goldberg made his customary walk to the ring with both Doug Dillinger and Atlanta’s finest.
- After a commercial break, Hogan made his entrance promising to kick Goldberg’s…”butt.”
- Tony: “The fans erupt at the bell.”
- Hogan removed his weightlifting belt and whipped Goldberg until Goldberg gained control and disposed of it.
- Goldberg then applied a full nelson, but Hogan’s trick knee broke the hold.
- After giving Goldberg a clothesline, Hogan slammed him.
- However, he missed a couple of elbow drops.
- Goldberg came back with a clothesline that sent Hogan down to the floor.
- Upon re-entering the ring, the Atlanta faithful chanted “Hogan sucks.”
- Hogan then tossed Goldberg outside the ring, followed him, and made him taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the Big Tex at Fox Bros.
- Next, Hogan grabbed a chair and whacked Goldberg three times.
- Back in the ring, Hogan slammed Goldberg again and hit a pair of leg drops.
- Meanwhile, Curt Hennig came to the ring.
- As Hogan got 2, Malone and DDP also came to the ring.
- Malone then gave Hennig the Diamond Cutter on the floor.
- Goldberg then hit the spear.
- As he picked up Hogan for the Jackhammer, Tony exclaimed: “He’s got him up!”
- WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!
- The Georgia Dome came off its foundation as the crowd went ecstatic.
Summary: One of the most iconic matches in WCW history. It should have been a passing of the torch moment.
After the match, fireworks explode as Goldberg holds up both belts. “Gooooooooooooldberrrrrrrrrrrrg” rings out throughout the Dome. At the entrance, Goldberg poses with fireworks behind him as WCW World Champion. What an incredible moment!
So where did it lead: For the first time since April 20, WCW won the ratings battle 4.8 to 4.0. Despite becoming the WCW World champion, Goldberg was still very green so he couldn’t handle the long matches that most main events take. Instead, he faced Curt Hennig or the Giant in short TV contests and/or dark matches after TV tapings.
Lastly, while WCW mostly hired performers who had already gotten over with the wrestling audience, Goldberg was the only homegrown WCW project that actually got seriously OVER. His name would be chanted (and subsequently recorded and played back) at arenas around the horn in 1998. Truly he was a phenomenon for WCW and the Monday Night Wars. If only politics hadn’t handcuffed him so badly…
What do you think of this match from the Georgia Dome Nitro?
Please be sure to check out all of my reflections at rockstargary.com.