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on 4 October 2013
Nearly a decade after he last competed in a wrestling ring, WWE has finally got around to releasing a profile DVD / Blu-ray of one of the biggest stars from the legendary Monday Night Wars, and one of WCW's very few home-grown success stories: Bill Goldberg.
Whilst I was never a fan of the WCW product as much as I was of the (then) WWF, in truth no follower of wrestling in the late 1990s could ignore Goldberg. It is generally claimed amongst more knowledgeable critics that he couldn't wrestle for toffee, never paid his dues in the accepted sense, and had to be carried to anything more than the most elementary match by many opponents; but the fact remains that despite his limitations he was a red-hot fan favourite, and whilst there have been many monster heels, Goldberg, with his raw power and turbo-charged, MMA-influenced fighting style, was the one and only determinedly `indestructible' monster babyface of the period, who could energise a WCW crowd like no other. However, despite his success, Goldberg himself was never a mark for the business, and especially not for the WWE product (he freely admits that the reason he stopped wrestling after a year with the company was that he simply didn't enjoy it anymore), so it is not difficult to see why it has taken this long for them to get around to profiling him.
The matches featured on this very lengthy collection are, expectedly, both a comprehensive overview of Goldberg's career, and a distinct mixed bag in terms of quality. Squash bouts against the likes of Hugh Morrus and The Barbarian are pretty undistinguished examples of his famed 1997 / 1998 undefeated streak, though match quality, perhaps surprisingly, gets better as Goldberg moves up the card and faces the likes of Raven and Scott Hall in more competitive and even-handed contests (his opponents in both those matches are of a higher skill level, admittedly).
The most famous bout featured is undoubtedly Goldberg's WCW World Title victory over Hollywood Hulk Hogan from July 1998, which is less than brilliant as a match, but is carried by the incredible fan heat in the Georgia Dome (it is still baffling that WCW chose to throw this clash out on Monday Nitro with no build-up, rather than on a pay-per-view that would have earned them millions of dollars). Other featured matches with the likes of Curt Hennig and Diamond Dallas Page are generally entertaining, as are bouts against WCW franchise players Ric Flair and Sting, but these are topped by Goldberg's Fall Brawl 2000 blinder with Scott Steiner, which saw not only the best in-ring performance of his entire WCW run, but was also, in the opinion of many, the finest singles contest of Steiner's career too. Less rewarding are clashes with Sid Vicious (also known as `Psycho' Sid in the WWF), Kevin Nash, and The Giant (now The Big Show), though the latter bout doubt does feature the incredible sight of Goldberg nailing the 400lb Paul Wight with a Jackhammer. The WCW portion of the profile concludes with a couple of duds, as Goldberg takes on the woeful Kronik (Bryan Adams and Brian Clark) in a handicap bout, and then goes out with a whimper rather than a bang in his final WCW match, losing in tag team action (in conjunction with his Power Plant trainer DeWayne Bruce) to the duo of the fast-fading Lex Luger and the worthless Buff Bagwell.
Though Goldberg's 2003 arrival in WWE was hailed as a huge happening at the time (I was present in the Key Arena in Seattle when Goldberg debuted, the night after Wrestlemania XIX, and he received probably the loudest live ovation I've ever heard), his one-year stint with his former competition eventually proved to be nothing more than a frustrating epilogue to his WCW glory days. Unwilling to feature Goldberg in the kind of high-powered dominations that had made his name in WCW, WWE unwittingly raised the ire of the fans by putting him in lengthy, plodding marquee matches against the likes of The Rock (at Backlash) and Chris Jericho (at Bad Blood), which most definitely did not play to his strengths, and make for very dull watching. Originally scheduled to defeat Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship at Summerslam 2003, Goldberg saw his reign delayed when the champion suffered some kind of groin injury, and their singles contest was turned into a six-man Elimination Chamber bout instead, which, despite featuring Goldberg smashing through the likes of Jericho and Randy Orton, features an ending so wrong-headed and frustratingly badly booked, it had fans ripping up the seats in the arena, and still angers when viewed today. By the time Goldberg finally won the title one month later at Unforgiven, his momentum was shot; his token run with the belt lacked any kind of heat or any genuinely interesting contenders (defences featured here have him going up against the then-green Batista and the ever-awful Mark Henry), and was geared purely towards marking time until he inevitably dropped it back to the loathed Triple H in December (thankfully, the rubbish three-way bout in which this happened, from Armageddon 2003 and also featuring Glen `Kane' Jacobs, is omitted from this profile). Lastly, the collection, and Goldberg's wrestling career, concludes with his infamous showdown with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX, which saw him exit the business in the most silly and disrespectful circumstances, thus leaving potentially lucrative 'dream match' scenarios with the likes of The Undertaker and Kurt Angle to go unrealised.
The Blu-ray version features a couple of other bouts that will be of interest to fans; however, whilst an early WCW contest against the vastly underrated Bam Bam Bigelow is very welcome, I would in all fairness have happily swapped the mediocre contests in which Goldberg faces off against legends Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels for one of his hilarious batterings of the hapless WCW jobber Jerry Flynn, his February 1998 match against long-term WWE employee Dave Finlay, and his twenty-six second demolition of the useless Rodney Mack from a July 2003 edition of Monday Night Raw (quite possibly the high point of his entire WWE run).