When you think of dream matches from the Attitude Era that never happened, Goldberg vs. The Undertaker has got to be at the top of the list.
Both men were the biggest stars of their respective companies during the Attitude Era: bald, no-gimmicks badasses in plain black trunks… except for The Undertaker.
Granted, such a match likely would have occurred eventually, had Vince McMahon redirected his 60 million XFL and WWF New York dollars towards signing WCW stars during the Invasion angle back in 2001.
But thanks to WWE’s half-billion-dollar deal with the Saudi royal family, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s demand for the stars of old (many of whom are still alive), a de facto WWE Senior Circuit has emerged, giving semi-retired legends the occasional ungodly payday in exchange for nearly killing each other.
Such was the case at Crown Jewel, and such was the case at Super ShowDown…
…where the owners of wrestling’s two most celebrated streaks (sorry Mideon) clashed.
The site of this travesty? Jeddah, the city whose supposed progressiveness WWE used to trumpet relentlessly. (Frankly, I’ve heard more accurate information about Saudi Arabia on Are You Being Served?)
So Undertaker brought his jockstrap…
…Goldberg brought his Grecian formula, and they were off on a plane to the Arabian peninsula.
Before a match of this magnitude, both men had to make grand entrances. As usual, Goldberg headbutted the locker room door before he even appeared on camera…
…and when he did appear on camera, he was sporting a nice little nick on his forehead.
Sure, he got lots of pyro, but it was nothing compared to Undertaker’s entrance.
The Dead Man got druids…
…and a fireworks display so spectacular that for an instant, night turned to day (and revealed that the stadium was nowhere near full).
With the anticipation building, Corey Graves compared the surreal match to a Muhammad Ali vs. Mike Tyson bout. As Tyson and Goldberg are the same age, this implied that The Undertaker was 77 years old.
Once the bell rang, Goldberg hit two spears on The Undertaker, who kicked out. So far, so good. This match clearly wasn’t going to last long, unlike the 30-minute debacle that was WWE’s last Saudi main event.
Things started to go awry when Goldberg countered an attempted chokeslam with an attempted submission hold.
After hugging Taker’s leg for a good while, Goldberg finally did remember how to perform a knee bar.
Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing, though still nowhere near as bad as Crown Jewel’s main event.
But unlike the infamous DX vs. Brothers of Destruction match, which proved to be a comedy of errors, this match nearly proved to be a tragedy of errors.
“Goldberg looks like a million bucks tonight,” said Renee Young, five seconds before Goldberg rammed his own head into the ring post.
When he eventually crumpled to canvas, he sported a huge gash, blood covering half his face.
Soon, Taker stalked Goldberg for a chokeslam, but the former WCW champion wouldn’t turn around.
“And Goldberg, wisely, back to the ropes”, said Michael Cole. Actually, the wise thing would have been to stop the match because the guy with blood pouring out of his head couldn’t stand up on his own, but there were millions of dollars tied up in this match, so concussion and blood protocol went out the window.
Undertaker hit a pretty weak chokeslam, then gave Goldberg the Tombstone, a move that had won him hundreds of matches.
What he didn’t count on was Goldberg cleverly breaking the fall with his head. I guess Taker had assumed Bill had shrunk an inch or two from that spear to the ring post.
This should have been the end of it, but somehow, and for some reason, Goldberg kicked out. Despite Goldberg already suffering at least one concussion and massive blood loss, he still had to get his sh*t in.
And get his shot in, he did.
After hitting Taker with yet another spear, Goldberg lifted the Phenom up for his famous jackhammer, a move that’s hard enough to execute when one’s brains aren’t scrambled.
“Goldberg wanted the jackhammer,” explained Graves, but “didn’t get all of it”, rather than having wanted a brainbuster and getting way more of it than a wrestler is ever supposed to.
Remembering there was still one more perfectly good opportunity to break someone’s neck, Undertaker kicked out. Goldberg attempted to use Taker’s own finishing move against him, but the Dead Man was having none of it.
Unfortunately, Taker couldn’t reverse it into a Tombstone of his own, so both men just fell over.
Or should I say, fortunately, as I really don’t want to imagine what could have happened if he’d tried another piledriver.
In a rare demonstration of good judgment, Undertaker brought the match to a merciful end with a chokeslam even shorter than the first one.
With the match finally in the bag, Taker rolled his eyes, and not in that spooky way.
The good doctor rushed to the ring, about two finishers too late, to offer medical assistance to Goldberg.
You can’t say Goldberg didn’t try to give the Saudi royal family their money’s worth (a tall order considering he was paid $2 million for the gig) – the match lasted nearly 10 minutes, by far the longest Goldberg had been in the ring since his return, and he narrowly avoided paralyzing himself twice.
In contrast, he narrowly avoided paralyzing The Undertaker only once.
Far be it from me to criticize two professional athletes when I literally couldn’t work a match in my dreams (Fly, yes. Take a bump, no), but you’d think WWE would have caught on that putting two (or four) men over 50 in the ring to do all their old, dangerous spots was less than prudent.
Goldberg himself thought the match was so bad, he deigned to wrestle on American soil, squashing Dolph Ziggler in a thrown-together match at that year’s Summerslam just to wash the taste of Super ShowDown out of his mouth.
Will Ziggler get his revenge at Super ShowDown 2027? Only time will tell.