by Jeremy Cundiff
4. Lord Steven Regal vs. Bill Goldberg from WCW Monday Nitro, February 9, 1998
Thank you for your bandwidth. I’m Madman Szalinski, and I had no bandwidth for almost two weeks. I ain’t going to lie, we couldn’t pay the cable bill on time. Obviously, we got it reconnected. So it’s back to business as usual this week, with a stiff encounter that just flat out wasn’t supposed to happen.
WCW in 1998 was the beginning of the end. At the least it was the end of WCW, and at worst it was the end of wrestling’s last boom period. To date, wrestling never recovered from the deaths of WCW and ECW. The “inVasion” storyline was Vince’s way of letting everybody know “if you compete against the WWF, this is what I will do to your corpse after I kill you.” Can’t say I blame the rest of the world for not wanting to compete. But before WCW died, it fought with everything it had. One of its most powerful weapons was Bill Goldberg, and to be honest he should have been the guy that pulled WCW out of the rut.
Bill Goldberg was homegrown, straight out of the Atlanta Falcons into the WCW Power Plant, and then straight into our television sets. Growing up, I was a diehard WWF fan through and through, and only watched a couple of Nitros through the entire Monday Night War. But I still knew what the NWO was, and I knew who Goldberg was. I knew what the jackhammer was, and I knew what the spear was. I never saw a single Goldberg match until 2003, during his WWE run, when I looked up old matches of his and I found this.
So yeah, Goldberg was all man. But so was Lord Steven Regal. We all know him as a snobby Englishman, or at least a stereotypical one. And he was still one then, too. (Modern fans may know him as William Regal, changed upon his WWF debut as to not confuse him with Steve Austin. Can’t make this up.) But while Goldberg was a powerhouse of an athlete, Regal was a hooker straight out the British carnival scene. Goldberg can hold a man over his head for three seconds, but let’s face it…the Giant kind of let him do it. Regal was used to guys who weren’t going to let him do it; Goldberg was not. How was Goldberg going to fare against a guy who wasn’t so willing to compromise?
Well, take a look at this match and find out. I don’t need to tell you who wins, because you should already know. Goldberg won every single match he was in up until the infamous cattle prod incident. He also won those matches very, very easily. So easily that many fans believed Goldberg only knew two moves: the spear and jackhammer, since these were the only two moves he needed to put away many of his opponents. Steven Regal was expected to be another one of these easy wins for Goldberg. He was not.
For reasons unknown to this day, Steven Regal just didn’t want to play nice. Some stuff he didn’t sell, and some stuff he just looked back at Bill and said “ninja please” before going right back at him. Now, this is the part where I tell you why this match went on my list. Goldberg went along for a while, just doing what he was trained to do, but when it became clear that Regal wasn’t worried about pesky little details like “workrate,” Goldberg began to do what nobody thought he could do—he wrestled.
Goldberg used more moves in this match than I think he used in pretty much any other match he had during his entire undefeated streak. Goldberg was being shot on, and he shot back—all without injuring anybody. And while Regal did sandbag the piss out of him during the finish—after a few stiff corner shots, which he followed up by simply allowing Goldberg to reverse a whip into the corner, then spear, jackhammer, pin. Even though he tried to sandbag during the jackhammer, it did him no good—it looked to me like Regal was trying to counter the move by wriggling free and intentionally landing on his back anyway.
The point is, Goldberg won and went on to storm WCW, becoming one of its final homegrown stars. Regal got fired for actually doing some good in making himself and Goldberg look like real wrestlers who just wrestled for real, and went to the WWF soon after. There he was asked to do such things as kiss Vince McMahon’s ass on live TV and sample Tugboat’s whistle in his theme music.
Most people might not think of this as a great match. It’s full of miscommunication, has more sandbags than a levee, and it’s honestly one of those albino dalmations—lots of missing spots. But I rate a great match on how entertained it makes me over what period of time. And honestly, seeing Steven Regal try to stretch a rookie and then seeing that rookie fight back before winning the match, going on to become one of the biggest names of his generation, gives me a lot of entertainment for the short six minutes or so the match lasted. And that’s why I gave it this spot on my list. I know nobody’s really seen the match, but that wasn’t the part I was worried about convincing you of. Maybe watching it and seeing some real wrestling for a change will help persuade your opinion.
Next week, I think I’m going to actually find a great match that even I haven’t seen. To do that, we might have to take a trip to Japan. I’m Madman Szalinski, and in the words of The Iron Sheik, “fakk the tomorrow.”
See the match for yourself by clicking right here!
Photo Credits: youtube.com
Categories: Wrestling Lists