Like the rest of you, I was shocked to see Goldberg destroy Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. Why such a short main event? Why have a part-timer come in and annihilate the company’s top draw? Nothing about the situation seemed to make any sense according to Booking 101.
But I think I’ve finally figured out why what happened, happened. Goldberg must have broken from the script!
And, if you were watching WCW during Raw’s commercial breaks in 2000, you might recall that Bill Goldberg refused to follow the script once before.
Leading up to
July’s August’s New Blood Rising pay-per-view, the whole WCW announce crew was eagerly anticipating the upcoming three-way match between (among?) Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Bill Goldberg. See, they didn’t know who was going to win the match, and they wanted head writer Vince Russo to tell them!
And, if you can believe this, Vince Russo wouldn’t tell them! Nor would anyone else in their “shoot interviews”! All Russo could say was that the outcome – the finish, if you will – would be what was best for WCW.
This really had the hotlines and internet sites buzzing!
(This jaded, aloof smart-fan concluded that Scott Steiner would be selected as the winner)
Well, not “all”. It made the rest of the matches sound fake, as if it were unusual for the broadcasters not to know the outcome of the matches beforehand.
A wrench was thrown into Russo’s plans, however, when the announcers informed the audience that Goldberg had suffered a “serious motorcycle accident” the day before.
Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner made their usual entrances, but when Goldberg’s music hit, no one came through the curtain. This was very suspicious, since everyone knew, according to WCW, that Goldberg had real-life problems with Russo.
The match therefore started without Goldberg, throwing off Steiner and Nash’s plans. This meant that they might have to turn the match into a “shoot fight”.
Meanwhile, the commentators speculated that Goldberg, the fan-favorite world-beater, was faking his injury.
A few minutes into the match, however, Goldberg jumped in to take on Nash and Steiner.
Scott Hudson brought up Starrcade ’88 (he meant ’98), when Kevin Nash booked himself to end Goldberg’s undefeated streak. And no, that’s not me editorializing about Nash; that’s what Hudson actually said.
Eventually, Nash and Goldberg wound up in the ring alone for one final showdown that couldn’t possibly have been more dramatic.
Well, except for that one thing.
Then came “the finish”: Kevin Nash powerbombing Goldberg for the victory.
But Goldberg did something totally unexpected by (try to follow me here) not letting himself be powerbombed.
The announcers were in shock as a wrestler appeared to try to avoid losing a match, immediately blasting Goldberg for being so unprofessional.
Goldberg walking out of the match meant that the three-way match was once again a one-on-one bout, and rather than being happy that one of their opponents had just eliminated himself, Steiner and Nash were outraged that the planned finish had been nixed. Now they had to “improvise,” said the announce team.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but Steiner and Nash acted completely unprepared for Goldberg walking out, as the rest of the match really did look as if they were calling it on the fly (because it was so sloppy).
Steiner’s valet Midajah ended up getting involved by kicking off a string of nut-shot spots.
Were the announcers upset at Midajah interfering? No! She was just doing her best to keep the match going, and she was a really good sport for having gone up for Nash’s powerbomb in the past.
Midajah even broke up one of Kevin Nash’s pin attempts…
…but not the next one, which put Steiner away.
I guess she knew that the powerbomb was the finish.
Unlike everything else at the New Blood Rising pay-per-view (the Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match, the Rip-off-the-Camo match, the two Kronik matches, the thirty-second Sting/Demon match… boy, this event sucked), this three-way dance was real and unscripted.
The rest was fake – except for Stacy Keibler’s pregnancy-related stomach cramps in the ROTC match. Goldberg didn’t even have the first worked-shoot of the night.
The next night, Vince Russo opened Nitro to call out Goldberg, telling the fans how big a jerk their favorite wrestler is in real life, and how he thought he could beat anyone in WCW in a real fight, including Tank Abbott.
Given that Goldberg had already beaten Tank Abbott the previous month, one could only assume that that fight wasn’t real, nor were those 173 consecutive matches where Goldberg did, in fact, beat everybody in WCW.
To spell it out even more clearly, Russo dared Goldberg to enter the ring with Tank without knowing “the script”.
Eventually, during a commercial break, Goldberg showed up to beat up Tank Abbott and to take turns with Russo shouting the F-word at each other. He then vowed to take out Russo and Scott Steiner.
And Midajah, too, apparently. Later that night, Goldberg grabbed Midajah backstage and put her through a table to close the show.
Remember, this wasn’t Goldberg the character telling kids it’s alright to beat up a woman if she’s a bitch who slept with the wrong person; this was Bill Goldberg the person (who hated being a “heel”) saying and doing these things, since he wasn’t following any of Russo’s scripts anymore.
And while I’m 99% sure that Midajah simply lay down on an already-broken table when the camera cut away, I wouldn’t put it past WCW to have her actually take the bump but fail to capture it on film.
How on earth did Vince Russo expect the fans to actually believe this Goldberg business was a shoot?
Yeah, I don’t know either, dude.
The following week, the worked-shoot insanity continued, with Russo offering Goldberg a release from his contract (with full pay).
Goldberg tore up the release (meaning that he was still under contract) and decided that he’d rather beat up his boss than go to the WWF and get paid two salaries.
But Russo had an ace in the hole that would potentially allow him to fire Goldberg, no matter what TV executive Brad Siegel said. “You lay one finger on me, and you’ll breach that contract.”
Goldberg then grabbed Russo by the throat, laying not one but five fingers on him, but rather than firing him on the spot without paying him a cent like he wanted to, Russo apparently had another idea.
Namely, let Scott Rechsteiner rape Goldberg’s girlfriend.
No wonder this was portrayed as a shoot; if I were Russo, I wouldn’t want credit for writing this stuff.
A cameraman was on hand to capture Goldberg riding his motorcycle and storm into the hotel…
…and fifteen minutes later, a (presumably) different cameraman was on hand to film Goldberg storm up the stairs.
This hotel must have had the world’s largest lobby, since by the time Bill managed to get to the second floor, Chuck Palumbo had had an entire reign as World Champion.
After the commercial, Goldberg finally reached his girlfriend’s hotel room, as captured by yet another cameraman. Talk about objectivity! That’s three WCW cameramen inexplicably on hand at a hotel, none of whom called 911 or hotel security about a large man breaking down a woman’s door threatening to force himself upon her.
Fortunately, Scott Steiner had merely kidnapped her.
At the end of the program, Steiner dragged Beth to the ring in retaliation for Goldberg jackhammering Midajah through a table. As Mark Madden argued that two wrongs made a right, the babyface announcers explained that it wasn’t wrong for Goldberg to have put a woman through a table, since that woman had jumped off the top rope before.
And Beth was terrified (despite bursting into laughter every time she was shown on camera).
Jeff Jarrett ambushed Goldberg for breaking from the script and costing him the title the week before, but Booker T came to make the save. Kevin Nash and Rick Steiner then joined in the beat-down of Bill Goldberg, bringing the total to six wrestlers who were now breaking from the script.
Finally, Big Poppa Pump put the Steiner Recliner on Beth. What kind of sick man puts his finishing move on a woman just to get revenge on her boyfriend?
The next week, in a segment the announcers still insisted was a 100% shoot…
…Russo repeated his threat to fire Goldberg if he laid a finger on him (ignoring the fact that Bill had already done so seven days earlier on live TV).
Vito proceeded to beat the ever-loving crap out of Vince Russo, but was not fired for it. I suppose it was only Goldberg who had the “no beating up the boss” clause in his contract.
What Goldberg didn’t have in his contract was a “no burying the boss in a shallow grave” clause, as that’s what he tried to do next. Remember, “this is real life, folks.”
Somehow, he was able to drag Vince Russo out of his car and onto the ground without laying a finger on him. Bret Hart, having managed to track Goldberg down to the exact spot in the New Mexico desert where he had dug the grave, offered to help out…
…only to double-cross Bill and hit him with a shovel.
What was a retired Bret Hart even doing in Las Cruces, anyway? Was WCW flying in every last person on the roster for every Nitro? (Yes)
If Russo thought that these shenanigans could pass for realism, he needed brain surgery.
With one week to go until Fall Brawl, Vince Russo took time off to have brain surgery.
By this point, the “Goldberg broke the script” aspect of this angle had been largely forgotten – presumably, sometime between the home invasion and the attempted vivisepulture, Goldberg and Russo had come to terms with their creative differences and turned their “shoot” into a work – but that didn’t stop WCW from putting out a commercial for the pay-per-view that reminded fans of how dumb their programming was.
For, you see, this match would have no script! Unlike, needless to say, the whole rest of the card.
The pre-match hype on the pay-per-view itself didn’t make any mention of any script; instead, we got to see the Goldberg-Steiner feud play out with action figures.
The message was clear: buy these figures so you can re-create classic WCW moments like Goldberg rushing to the hotel to stop Scott Steiner from violating his girlfriend.
Scott Steiner donned a Catwoman mask for his bout with Goldberg in an ill-advised attempt to lobby Tim Burton for an audition.
Goldberg, on the other hand, made his usual entrance, complete with the thunderous sound of pyrotechnic blasts. Unfortunately, recent budget cuts had put the kibosh on the pyro, but the sound effects were piped in over the PA nonetheless.
Goldberg and Steiner then proceeded to battle for bragging rights and the title of toughest man in WCW. That’s what they were feuding over, right? I forgot.
Vince Russo, who was supposedly recovering from brain surgery, ran in to smash Goldberg with a bat. His surgery, it turned out, was a swerve, and brilliant swerve, at that! If Goldberg had considered the possibility of a skinny TV writer interfering, he would have followed a whole different game plan.
But instead, thanks in part to the swerve, Steiner put Goldberg in the Steiner Recliner and won by TKO…
…allowing Vince Russo to stand tall in what, I assume, was a scripted moment.
But we’ll never know sure.