Who’s Next? A Look at Goldberg, Part 1 (September 1997)

Who's first?
Who’s first?

This series of articles will take a look at “The Streak” (Goldberg’s, not the Johnny-come-lately Undertaker’s) in all of its glory. Not only will there be a short review for every televised match, but there will be discussion on the evolution of Goldberg’s career. If that wasn’t enough there will also be a comparison of numbers. What is Goldberg’s true win numbers in terms of televised and altogether? How do these realistic numbers compare to WCW’s numbers?

Bill Goldberg is an interesting character. After playing college football at the University of Georgia, he played a few years of pro football for the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Sacramento Gold Miners (CFL) and the Atlanta Falcons (NFL) before an injury (he tore his lower abdomen off his pelvis) ended his career. While training in a gym, Lex Luger and Sting convinced him to try pro-wrestling which lead him to the WCW Power Plant. After four house show matches he debuted on Nitro.

Let’s look at Goldberg’s career before his debut on Television. Just a note, he was promoted as Bill Gold here.

Defeats Buddy Lee Parker (6/23/97 Nitro dark match)
Defeats Buddy Landell (6/24/97 Saturday Night dark match)
Defeats Hugh Morrus (7/14/97 Nitro dark match)
Defeats John Betcha (7/22/97 Nitro dark match)

Yes, during the height of the Monday Night Wars, a wrestler debuted on Nitro after only having four career matches. Not a celebrity like Zeus or Lawrence Taylor, but just a former football player being thrown on television to be a pushed star. I don’t think people talk about this enough, but that is absolutely ridiculous. The WWE doesn’t even throw people on TV now even if they have wrestled for 12 years.

Let’s move on to the footage that exists.

The debut of Bill Goldberg and what an interesting debut.
For Goldberg’s big televised debut he faces Hugh Morrus

Bill Goldberg vs Hugh Morrus (9/22/97 Nitro)
Record: 4-0
Televised Record: 0-0

Here we are at the debut of Bill Goldberg. We come back from commercial and he is waiting in the ring as Hugh Morrus makes his entrance.

Tony Schviane and Mike Tenay both know nothing about Goldberg. This is a real neat way to debut a guy as someone to look out for. Even if you know nothing you can see he is powerful and is intense That immediately is on display as he powers Morrus into the corner and then hits some big forearm shots. Goldberg puts on a simple arm bar, which they both counter and that is when Goldberg does this really cool takedown into a leglock. We get the first glimpse of what they thought of Goldberg, their MMA star. MMA mixed into pro-wrestling is something that has been done in Japan, but not much in America at this point. Ken Shamrock did a little, but WCW wanted their own MMA-inspired star.

From here Morrus gains the advantage with his experience and goes for his “No Laughing Matter” moonsault, which Goldberg kicks out of to the shock of everybody. A back elbow by Morrus and Goldberg gets right up and then does a backflip(!), which pops the crowd. Huge powerslam and then Goldberg unleashes the Jackhammer (unnamed here) for the win.

A completely shocking result here. Goldberg doesn’t even celebrate, he just leaves. Mean Gene Okerlund tries to interview Goldberg, but he just walks away.

If you are going to debut a non-experienced wrestler as someone special this was perfect. He has a mystique about him and was dominant and kicked out of a finisher. He unveiled some moves that nobody else was doing at the time as well.The little touches of not talking and the announcers having no clue was excellent as well.

A true test for his second match-up!
A true test for his second match-up!

Bill Goldberg vs The Barbarian (9/29/97 Nitro)
Record: 5-0
Televised Record: 1-0

How do you follow up such a great debut? You put him in the ring with a bad ass veteran in The Barbarian. I love me some Barbarian and he was on a hot streak in 96/97 with the Faces of Fear, doing planchas and super suplexes from the top.

Back from commercial and both guys are in the ring with no entrances. Tenay has learned that Goldberg played at Georgia, was All-SEC and he played in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons. With Atlanta being WCW’s home city it makes sense to play up those parts of his career.

They exchange shoulder blocks to start and no one budges. Goldberg counters a hiptoss with a strange takedown into a pin, which shows some more MMA type moves. He then hits a lariat off the second rope. He hits a big dropkick knocking The Barbarian over the top to the floor. To the top rope again, but Barbarian knocks him down and Goldberg crotches onto the top. Barbarian does a super belly to belly for a two count. Here’s Goldberg’s second big television match and the second huge kick out he has done.

From there Goldberg no sells chops in the corner and screams. The Barbarian is no slouch so he unloads on him and then hits a huge powerslam. He tries to put Goldberg away with a power bomb, but Goldberg counters with a backdrop. He drops a knee and then finishes him off with the Jackhammer (still unnamed).

After the match they make the first mention of a streak as he is now 2-0.

Okerlund tries to interview Goldberg again and even has a picture of him from his football days. Okerlund asks him why he is trying to be a mystery man, but Goldberg just shoves the camera out of his face and walks away.

Final Thoughts: 

We are only two matches in to his televised career (only 6 matches overall), but there is something special here already. The presentation has been top notch. He’s a legit bad ass with a mystery behind him. He’s using MMA moves in a pro-wrestling setting. He looks great and has some natural charisma.

These first two matches are short and are not anywhere near the level his future squash matches are at, but it’s a great first two steps. He is destroying people and looks unstable even after being hit by finishers.

This is only the beginning.

Join us again next month while we look at Goldberg in October of 1997.