This Sunday at Fastlane Goldberg will challenge Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. Remember the first time Goldberg challenged for a world championship? It was one of the biggest nights in pro wrestling history. After Raw drew a monster rating with a Steve Austin vs. Kane WWF Championship match, Eric Bischoff made the decision to pull the ultimate hotshot: put Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan for the WCW Championship on Monday Nitro.
The match was announced on Thunder less than a week prior to show. The show would emanate from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in front of a record crowd.
We kick things off with a recap of J.J. Dillon’s announcement from Thunder that Goldberg will face Hollywood Hogan for the WCW Championship on this edition of Nitro.
Tony Schiavone, Larry Zybyszko, and Mike Tenay are our hosts tonight.
The crowd is massive. They set the ring up on the far end of the stadium so about half the seats were available for purchase. Looks like the seats are full. And most of these tickets were sold before they announced Goldberg vs. Hogan.
The Nitro Girls dance. I never felt like they added much of anything to the show.
Hogan promo to open the show. He’s got Bischoff, Brutus Beefcake (as “The Disciple”), and Miss Elizabeth in tow. He talks about his upcoming match at Bash at the Beach, where he’ll team with Dennis Rodman against Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone. That match is this coming Sunday, this is the go home show to Bash at the Beach. This was one of those times where Nitro took precedence over the pay-per-view, although Bash at the Beach did good business.
Hogan says the Goldberg match isn’t going to happen because a member of the NWO is going to take out Goldberg in a match tonight. Basically the same Hogan promo we heard every week in this era.
Mean Gene interviews some NASCAR driver.
WCW World Television Championship: Booker T vs. Dean Malenko
An opening match worth the wait. Booker has recently triumphed over Chris Benoit in an epic Best of Seven Series and won back the Television Championship from Fit Finlay. Booker is mad over, the entire crowd is raising the roof for him.
Booker controls the early portion of the match with his superior power, but misses a Missile Dropkick. That allows Malenko to take control. Malenko comes off the top rope and gets caught with a huge Spinebuster. Booker runs through his stuff: Harlem Side Kick, Flapjack, Spin-a-Roonie.
At this point Chris Jericho shows up and runs down Malenko. He challenges Malenko to a match tonight. As Malenko gets into the ring he gets caught with an Ax Kick from Booker. Booker gets the pin to retain.
Wish they’d gotten more time, that could have been an awesome match.
We go to Goldberg warming up backstage.
We come back to a Karl Malone pre-taped promo.
Kanyon vs. Raven
Raven has his WWE theme edited in on this version. Not sure if that’s because his theme was a Nirvana rip-off or because it was produced by Jimmy Hart. Might be a little of both.
They go at it in aisle. This match is No DQ, No Count Out, as all Raven’s matches were in WCW. Kanyon hits Raven with a Flapjack onto a chair. Raven selling by spasming with his whole body always entertained me. Kanyon gets crotched by Lodi when he goes to the top rope. Raven Superplexes Kanyon onto a chair he’d set up, at which point Saturn jumps Raven. And that’s…a DQ? They were using a chair and that way okay, but a run-in is too much.
Saturn cleans house. He sets Raven up on a table on the floor and hits a Splash from the top rope to the floor! Table didn’t break, it looks like a real table with steel frame.
Fun match for the couple minutes it lasted. Expect I’ll be saying that a lot tonight.
A limo rolls up and they get a wheelchair out of the trunk. It’s Buff Bagwell, who suffered a neck injury a few months prior in a match with the Steiner Brothers.
Mean Gene interviews DDP and Karl Malone. Crowd is HOT for DDP. Nothing too notable in the promo.
Scotty Riggs vs. Scott Putski
Bring on the jobbers. Match isn’t terrible but the crowd doesn’t care about either guy. Putski gets the win with a Spinebuster.
We cut back to Goldberg’s locker room, where he headbutts a locker. Sadly doesn’t bust himself open like he did on Raw a little while back.
The NWO arrives. Scott Hall is with them and it’s announced he’ll be facing Goldberg tonight. First time we’d seen him in a couple months.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Ultimo Dragon
Jericho also had a Nirvana rip-off theme, so he comes out to his WWE theme. They do a great job synching the audio tracks, it doesn’t stand out that much.
Jericho gets on the mic and says Dragon doesn’t deserve a title shot. “Jo Jo” Dillon comes out and sets him straight. Malenko wants a piece of Jericho but Dillon says if either of them lay hands on each other they’ll be suspended. Jericho baits Malenko by implying Momma Malenko probably fucked around on Boris. At this point Malenko snaps and pummels Jericho. Dean is dragged away by security and their match at Bash at the Beach is called off. Rey Mysterio Jr. would return from injury, substitute for Malenko, and win the title.
After the break the match gets going. Good Cruiserweight action here. Jericho was a great Cruiserweight Champion because he was way bigger than most of the guys he fought. After a couple minutes Malenko runs in (I guess he got away from security) and beats down Jericho. So we’ve got another disqualification.
Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Johnny Swinger
Chavo comes out in a hardhat with scissors. He wins a short match with the Tornado DDT and then cuts some of Swinger’s hair. He challenges his uncle Eddie Guerrero to a Hair vs. Hair match on Sunday.
Goldberg is still warming up.
Public Enemy vs. The Dancing Fools
The Dancing Fools are Disco Inferno and Alex Wright. And Tokyo Magnum follows Wright out because he likes to dance too.
Like any Public Enemy match, this is all about the table spot. Tokyo Magnum saves Wright, so the Dancing Fools walk away and Magnum gets put through the table.
Mean Gene interviews Buff Bagwell, who gets a great reaction. He’s wheeled out by his mother Judy. He suffered a neck injury on Thunder in May after a botched Steiner Bulldog. Gene really plays it up, saying he nearly died in the hospital. Bagwell cuts a good babyface promo, talking about Atlanta being his home and loving his mother. Great segment. Heartwarming.
Goldberg vs. Scott Hall
Crowd is absolutely rabid for Goldberg. He shoves Hall down and they erupt. There’s some awkwardness where Hall gets thrown into the ropes so hard he bounces off into Goldberg. Goldberg is so damn green here, it’s clear he has no idea what to do between spots. Press Slam on Hall. Hall connects with a Back Suplex and the announcers to go crazy like Hall is going to win with that.
Hall hits some punches, Goldberg shakes them off, and the crowd explodes. I can’t emphasize just how hot Goldberg was here. Second only to Steve Austin at this point, and a very close second.
Hall calls for backup, but the NWO B-Team gets cut off by DDP and Malone. Hall sets up for the Outsiders Edge but gets Back Dropped. Spear. Jackhammer. 1-2-3. Goldberg goes on to face Hogan.
Fun match there. Hall was a pro and that was one of Goldberg’s best matches to date.
Juventud Guerrera vs. Psicosis
Would expect a cool down match after Goldberg, but instead we get the luchadors. Juvi wins a quick match with the Juvi Driver and the 450 Splash. The Flock attacks Juvi after the match. Don’t remember this particular feud. They cut away from the beatdown for more Goldberg highlights.
The Giant vs. Jim Duggan
Just a squash match to showcase The Giant. He’s supposed to team with Curt Hennig against Goldberg and Kevin Greene on Sunday, but that ended up being changed to a singles match against Greene.
Giant calls out Kevin Greene after the match. Greene comes out in golf clothes and boat shoes and dumps Giant over the top rope.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Jim Neidhart
Neidhart gets heat for most of the match, Page hits the Diamond Cutter, crowd goes wild.
Wolfpac is out next. Nash, Sting, Konnan, and Luger. Easy to forget just how over these guys were. Crowd loved having an NWO crew that they could cheer. Kidman and Sick Boy come out and I guess we have a tag match?
Sting and Lex Luger vs. Kidman and Sick Boy
Luger is wrestling in black jeans, which tickles me for some reason. This is over in about 30 seconds. Sting with the Scorpion Death Drop, Luger with the Torture Rack. Not much to that, but they were running short on time and it popped the crowd.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Hollywood Hogan (c) vs. Goldberg
Main event time. We get the long Goldberg entrance as the camera tracks his walk from the locker room. Takes a long time but only adds to the atmosphere. Heenan’s commentary is great as he pleads for Goldberg to beat Hogan.
Hogan is out with no backup. At this point I realize they don’t have Michael Buffer doing the introductions, which is strange. I feel like he was doing Nitro most weeks at this point and certainly for a big one. “The fans erupt at the bell” says Schiavone. And so they do. Always used that as my measure for the atmosphere of a big match.
Slow start as they lock up, exchange some basic holds. They do a Test of Strength, which Goldberg wins. Hogan gets his belt off and whips Goldberg with it. Goldberg gets the belt and throws it away. Goldberg sends Hogan to the floor.
They go to the floor and Hogan hits Goldberg with a chair. Fine with there not being a disqualification here, makes sense that the referee would give some leeway for such a big match. Hogan slams Goldberg and hits the Leg Drop! Another Leg Drop. Curt Hennig comes down the ramp, followed by DDP and Malone. Malone hits the Diamond Cutter on Malone. This distracts Hogan and Goldberg hits the Spear! Crowd is going insane. Jackhammer for the win and one of the loudest pops I’ve ever heard.
“Good night America, Goldberg’s the champ” says Schiavone as we play out.
That was no one’s idea of a classic wrestling match, but who cares when the crowd is that crazy for it? Goldberg gets his monster win, WCW wins the ratings battle for the night. We all know it was one of the biggest mistakes in wrestling history to give this match away on TV, but it was magic watching it in 1998.
Overall: Typical Nitro except for the huge main event. Short matches showcasing their amazingly talented roster. And then one of the biggest main events in wrestling history. Hard to rate, it was an entertaining show and they did a better job than usual of telling a story throughout the night by building the show all around Goldberg.