This day in wrestling history, July 6, 1998, was one we’d been waiting for since Hulk Hogan turned heel and held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship hostage. Whenever he lost it, it was a huge event and we jumped and cheered along with the rest of the professional wrestling world.
While he fought to retain the championship and control of the nWo from Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Sting, and others, there was an unstoppable force tearing through the WCW ranks. Bill Goldberg had taken the wrestling world by storm, and their match had been billed for a couple of weeks previously.
This was something that was bound to happen at some point as Goldberg’s popularity grew with each of his victories and we were excited every time he came out. His intensity was infectious and he grabbed us by the throat and took us along for the ride.
He was the current United States Champion, and had to go through Scott Hall to get his chance, but he succeeded, and what happened was something many of us will never forget.
His biggest match
Some of the best perspectives are from those that were there, and this is no exception. As wrestlers have taken to penning books about their lives and careers, we’ve gotten to peak behind the curtain.
(Special thanks to @awretlinghistorian for the excerpt)
“My biggest match ever was against Hollywood Hogan for the world title. It was supposed to be a dark match on Nitro to get people to go to the Georgia Dome. I was still undefeated and I was real nervous because I was wrestling Hogan, the guy who made wrestling a household name. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had.
“There were 41,000 in the arena and I was more than excited. I remember Hogan saying ‘Just follow me out there, kid.’ As I heard Michael Buffer, the most recognizable voice in ring sports today, I got chills up and down my spine. I was nervous as shit. The next thing I knew, I was walking to the ring in awe of my surroundings. It was surreal.
“We locked up and people went crazy. It was like the Superbowl and everyone was cheering for me because I had home field advantage. Halfway through the match, he put me in a front face-lock. That’s not usually a lethal move unless your opponent is covered in Icy Hot. It got all over my face and I could barely see for the rest of the match. It burnt the Hell out of my eyes. If you watch the tape, you can tell something was wrong.
“With Hogan, it felt like I had my whole career was in his hands. I was a little more careful with him than with anybody else. In the end, I Jackhammered him and got the pin. I became WCW heavyweight champion of the world!
“I was handed the title and I raised both of those belts up. It was the best moment in my wrestling career for sure, if not my life. It was pretty damn cool and I can’t compare it to anything else. That feeling is one of the things that keeps me going.” – Bill Goldberg I’m Next book.
There’s always a downside
Unfortunately for WCW, this was their peak during the Monday Night Wars and things could only go downhill from there.
It was perhaps due to their competition with the WWE and Vince McMahon that really cost them. I could be wrong, but by all accounts, it seems like Eric Bischoff and company were more interested in beating them in ratings than building their brand.
This match was a perfect example as something of this magnitude should’ve happened at a pay-per-view instead.
None of this takes away from the awesome moment we all had. It’s something that many of us will never forget, and that makes this day in wrestling history truly special.
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