Bill Goldberg has opened up about the night he first won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan on WCW Monday Nitro.
Reigning as WCW United States Champion at the time after beating Raven for the strap on April 20, 1998, the time had come for the company to make their biggest gamble yet. Putting their top prize on the still green Goldberg less that one year after his debut.
Since running through Buddy Landel on WCW Saturday Night in June 1997 – where he made his official television debut for the company – and beginning his undefeated streak against Hugh Morrus on the September 22 WCW Monday Nitro, the powerhouse had captured the imaginations of everyone but between the ropes he still had a lot to prove.
Many thought that Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan should have been saved for Starrcade or another major pay-per-view outing, but Eric Bischoff was adamant that the dream match as well as the subsequent championship change would boost television ratings twofold, thus hammering another nail in WWF’s coffin.
On July 6, inside the historic Georgia Dome, Bill Goldberg stepped into the biggest bout of his entire career against ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan. The baying crowd were ready for a change and rampant to see the NWO toppled. They got their wish.
In a little over eight minutes, Goldberg pinned Hogan with a thunderous Jackhammer to lift the WCW World Heavyweight Champion to one of the loudest reactions the promotion ever had.
Now, the master of the Jackhammer has sat down in his latest WWE Network documentary to talk about the moment he lifted the strap:
“I’ve said it 15,000 times, but the coolest part of that night for me as a human being, as a football player, as Goldberg was not beating Hulk Hogan. It was after we went off the air. The NWO beat my ass, and who comes to my rescue? My teammates, my Atlanta Falcons teammates, and that almost brings a tear to my eye because that was life coming full circle.
I may not have done everything right in my life by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve done something good enough. I was a good enough person to be rewarded at that time by a dream come true. That dream was unbeknownst to me, it was something I never thought was going to happen. The dream was not me making it to the NFL. My dream, it turns out, was being the World Heavyweight Champion and having my idols, the guys that I have bled with, cried with, gone to war with in a setting that I aspired to be in my entire life — At that moment, those guys wanted to be me, not Goldberg, the football player, Goldberg, the wrestler. The guy that they put up here, you know, That could beat everybody’s ass. They just wanted to be me for five seconds. I just sat in the corner and I just soaked in it. I can never replicate that feeling.”
Despite all the labels people may throw at Hulk Hogan, Goldberg has a different view of the star and recalled a rib the legend played on him during the bout:
“Hogan was great, man. Hogan is Hogan. I’ve always looked up to him, I’ve always aspired to be as successful as he was in the business. I was honored and privileged to be in the same ring as he was. I had 100 percent trust in him as a businessman. Mr. Icy Hot.
We lock up and the first thing he does is pull me into a headlock and he puts my head in his armpit and he’s got Icy Hot [now in Goldberg’s eyes.] I can’t see the rest of the frickin’ match. But it’s a good cover, you know, with your age and I get it. But I still think he did it on purpose. But it’s funnier than the hell makes for a great story. Now, here I’m saying it 500 years later, I still love you, Terry.”
Goldberg would go on to extend his winning streak over the months that came, defeating the likes of Scott Hall, The Giant and Sting before the undefeated streak came to a shattering conclusion at WCW Starrcade 1998 at the hands of Kevin Nash.
The last time we saw Goldberg in a WWE ring was WrestleMania 36 when the legend fell to Braun Strowman in a WWE Universal Championship Match. He still has two years left on his WWE contract which afford him two bout a year.
Credit for the interview: WWE Network
h/t for the interview: Fightful