In recent years, WWE has had a number of releases spotlighting World Championship Wrestling television programs and pay-per-view events, but Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection is the first in quite a while spotlighting a professional wrestler best known for his time with that company.
The great question heading into this review was whether or not the Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection would at least contain some interview clips with Bill Goldberg that would provide some insight on his career. Unfortunately, there are absolutely none and that is really a shame because Goldberg in the late 1990s was at times rivaling Steve Austin in terms of popularity.
Not only that, but Goldberg was one of the most visible Jewish wrestlers ever in the professional wrestling industry. While there have been other wrestlers over the years who were Jewish, or descended from Jewish ancestry, such as Randy Savage, Lanny Poffo, Raven, the Malenko family, Barry Horowitz, Diamond Dallas Page, Colt Cabana, Tensai, and Kelly Kelly, Goldberg was the first in such a high profile main event spot with a company who was so open about his Jewish heritage. The fact that Goldberg was so overtly proud of his Judaism was something very important to many in the Jewish community in the 1990s and it would have been fascinating to hear his thoughts about what that meant to him.
Another subject that should have been broached as part of this DVD collection was Goldberg’s winning streak. There have been rumours over the years that Goldberg actually suffered a loss to Steve McMichael in a dark match prior to his television debut against Hugh Morris, and that the numbers for the winning streak were in fact inflated. Having Goldberg address both of these points would have been extremely refreshing in order to give people a better idea of what was myth and what was reality.
Thus, due to the lack of any interview, the quality of Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection rests with the matches that have been included. Thankfully, pretty much every significant match of Goldberg’s career has been provided, from his debut match on WCW Nitro against Hugh Morris on September 22, 1997 to his last match for the WWE against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX on March 14, 2004.
While some of these matches have been included as part of other WWE DVD releases, there are many that haven’t been seen since their initial broadcast. One of the better matches is Goldberg’s first WCW World Heavyweight Title defense against Curt Hennig from July 12, 1998. While the match isn’t as long as it could have been, Hennig was very effective at bringing out the best in Goldberg in the ring and the match has a good flow to it.
Goldberg’s match against The Giant [Big Show] from November 23, 1998 is extremely short, but demonstrates his tremendous power, particularly when he Jackhammers him to win the match. A real treat, though, is Goldberg’s match against Ric Flair from March 8, 1999. Flair creates a contrast between his finesse and Goldberg’s power during the match and the commentary from Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash is actually quite funny at times.
The collection also includes Goldberg’s rematch against Kevin Nash from 1999’s Spring Stampede. While Goldberg’s earlier match from the 1998 Starrcade against Nash has been seen several times, this later match against Nash from April 11, 1999 has not been shown in a long time and is worth seeing.
Unfortunately, after Goldberg’s loss at the 1998 Starrcade, many of the later WCW matches are marred by interference which results in finishes that are inconclusive and demonstrate how much WCW mishandled him from that point onward. While later WCW matches against Diamond Dallas Page, Sid, Sting, Scott Steiner, and Kronik show hints of perhaps Goldberg getting back on track it becomes pretty clear that it wasn’t in the cards.
The latter portion of the collection covers Goldberg’s time with the WWE and there is a noticeable difference in the matches. First off, the majority of them are much longer compared to the ones during Goldberg’s WCW tenure. Second, while Goldberg’s strength and power are prominently featured, it becomes quite clear while watching them that the WWE had no intention of letting Goldberg become the dominant force that he was in WCW.
Yet, the quality of many of these matches is quite good and it is evident that Goldberg’s time in the WWE was a sort of finishing school for him and shows him growing as a performer in the ring.
Ironically enough, the first of the WWE matches included is against The Rock from 2003’s Backlash. The reason why this is somewhat ironic is that the RAW promo leading into this match has been shown numerous times, but the match itself has seldom been seen since it originally aired.
Also, included from Goldberg’s WWE tenure is a steel cage match against Christian, the 2003 Bad Blood match versus Chris Jericho, the 2003 Elimination Chamber match, the 2003 Unforgiven match where he at last defeated Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, and 2003 matches pitting him against Mark Henry and Batista. As well, there is the later rematch from the 2003 Survivor Series versus Triple H and his final match against Brock Lesnar from Wrestlemania XX. All of these matches are of varying quality, with some very effective storytelling in the ring, such as the ones involving The Rock, Christian, Chris Jericho, and Triple H, while others are best described as power contests such as the matches involving Mark Henry, Batista and Brock Lesnar.
What watching these matches brought to mind, though, is what might have been had Goldberg stayed with the WWE for a couple of years, instead of the brief time he was there. It is readily apparent that Goldberg was willing to learn to improve his craft and how much better a performer he might have become will always remain an unanswered question.
The Blu-ray version of Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection includes the World Title Battle Royal match from the 1998 Road Wild pay-per-view, the 1999 Superbrawl IX match versus Bam Bam Bigelow, a November 8, 1999 match against Sting, the 1999 Starrcade match versus Bret Hart and an October 20, 2003 match between Goldberg and Shawn Michaels.
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection is truly a full accounting of all the significant matches from Goldberg’s career, particularly the Blu-ray version, but the lack of any interview segments does detract from what should have been a full Spear and Jackhammer.