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[1998-07-06-WCW-Nitro] Hulk Hogan vs Goldberg

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(Continued from the 6/29/98 Kane vs. Austin Title Switch)

 

The second is Goldberg defeating Hogan in front of a huge crowd at the Georgia Dome. People were losing it when Goldberg went up against Scott Hall earlier in the night but they took it up another notch when he hit the jackhammer on Hogan to win the heavyweight championship at the end of Nitro. In hindsight, it was still a stupid move to have the title switch on Nitro and not on PPV. BUT, I do wonder that if the booking had been different (and thus, better) with Goldberg after his title win, would this be remembered as such a big blunder. Goldberg wasn’t in the main event at Bash at the Beach, but with Malone and Rodman, it’s a little bit understandable. But he isn’t in the main event at Road Wild and doesn’t have a match at Fall Brawl. He main events Havoc against DDP, does a quick run in at World War III, and then loses to Nash at Starrcade. As quickly as they had someone who should have been able to carry them in 2000, it disappeared. Another of those what if’s – and Goldberg vs. Austin at Summerslam 1998 would have been out of this world.

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Goldberg with an even bigger entrance this time around. The story goes that Hogan knew Turner execs would be at this show and he wanted them to see the crowd and see him in the main event and there you go. Regardless of his motivations, he did the honors and was a total pro. Hennig comes out and DDP and Malone cut him off again. Hennig eats a Diamond Cutter from Malone on the floor, then Goldberg does the spear and jackhammer to take the title! One of the biggest pops in wrestling history.

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I'll never forget this match, because it happened two days after I got married, and I watched it from our honeymoon suite in New Orleans, which I'm sure thrilled my wife. Anyway, it's bizarre how this whole thing came out of nowhere in the booking and yet popped as one of the company's last genuinely huge spectacles. Hogan-Goldberg I probably should've main evented Starcade, but for a few moments at least, WCW felt like the center of the wrestling world again. The match was what it needed to be, with Hogan doing his part. The fact this came six days before the Malone-Rodman debacle is hard to believe.

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Hogan has been champion for 2.5 months but it doesn't feel like it.

 

When I think of moments of why Ill be a wrestling fan for life, this match comes to mind. Up until UnderTaker losing at Mania this year, I never experienced a moment close to this live. I remember so much of this match 16 years ago. I remember where I was sitting. I remember going hoarse from chanting Goldberg so loudly. I remember embracing my dad and us having a truly special bonding moment cheering Goldberg on. I remember wearing my black Who's Next shirt for the next four days. I remember going to Kroger and buying up all of the PWI magazines for that month. What a special night.

 

(**)

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On 9/22/97 Goldberg made his debut. On 7/6/98 'He's got him up! Oh hell yeah!' My favourite line from Schiavone. The match wasn't up to much, but like Starrcade 97 getting the ending right was all that mattered. He was the biggest star WCW ever created. This unforgettable night in the Georgia Dome was one of the great moments in the promotions history.

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WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan vs Goldberg - WCW Nitro 7/6/98

 

Did WCW giving this away on TV affect the monstrous crowd reactions throughout this match? Did it affect how Goldberg was perceived? Did it affect how momentous this all felt? One of those nights from my childhood I will never forget being stuck in some motel near Old Orchard Beach and constantly badgering my Dad to make sure it would have TNT. That's cool. On TV or PPV, it does not matter, what matters is that Hollywood Hogan and Goldberg clashed in front of red hot Georgia Dome. What fucked everything up came after, Goldberg having absolutely zero direction until about October and really not until Nash lifted the belt off him. I would argue DDP was treated like the number one babyface through summer into the fall. I would say that actually having Goldberg win was too much too soon for Goldberg. I would have gone with DDP personally and his similar, but yet very different than Steve Austin's connection to the blue collar man. Credit where credit is due, WCW was ballsy putting the title on Goldberg. With a reputation of relying on Hogan and his cronies, it was ballsy to put the title on Goldberg and while they never fully trusted him, it was still quite the risk. There was a match? Oh yes...

 

I was actually a little disappointed by this. Don't get me wrong, the crowd was electric, which is most of the entertainment of this match, but having seen Hogan be pretty entertaining against limited babyfaces, I thought a younger babyface may help things. It did, but Goldberg was so green that it did not yield a great match. Hogan stooging for Goldberg early especially losing the test of strength was pretty cool. Hogan trying to cheat with the belt and low blow, but Goldberg powering through was fun. The main problem was the ending. Yes, Hogan gave him three leg drops, but they were not the Hogan Leg Drops with all the pomp and circumstance. Imagine if he went into full Hulk-Up mode and hit those leg drops. I did not get the feeling the crowd was buying the Leg Drop as a finish, which is crazy because it is the ATOMIC LEG DROP! Then to compound a bad situation, Hennig, Malone and DDP stroll to the ring and Malone's lame Diamond Cutter upstages Goldberg kicking out of three leg drops, which should have been HUGE! Goldberg spear and jackhammer was great. Hogan was clearly carrying the action and did a fine job, but the Hogan finish was not well executed at all. Still the monster pop for the victory was super cool.

It definitely feels like WCW had kicked out of its slump, but it turns out this was just a hope spot.

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I agree with Sleeze about the legdrops falling flat--that's doubly stunning considering that even at this stage Hogan should still have his timing and general ring-smarts down. This is an incredibly basic, bare-bones layout but most of it works, since they don't try to do too much and Hogan at least on this night is way more professional than Hall. I love the anticipation during the climactic 3-count--until Charles Robinson's hand hit the mat for the 3rd time, no one *really* knew if Hogan was actually going to go down or if he'd Hulk Up out of the Jackhammer. When he does stay down, the Georgia Dome becomes unglued. For one night, for all the second-guessing over how they handled the Streak to this point, WCW seems to have gotten it right again.

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