Friday, May 16, 2014

Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection

My memories of Bill Goldberg range from all over the realm of good and bad. I remember the awesome early years of his WCW career when he was destroying the entire roster and plowing through everyone with his awesome undefeated streak gimmick that lead to him being insanely popular. Hell, I even bought his autobiography in the midst of his WCW heyday, and devoured it in quick order. I have fond recollections of him being my go to man in WCW/nWo Revenge on N64 and spearing the crap out of everyone I waged war against. I remember him being booked in godawful storylines as WCW went into a downward spiral in its final years which lead to Goldberg looking like a buffoon on many occasions. I remember his abysmal one year run in WWE, where despite winning the World title, he was made to look like a pushover and played second banana to Triple H. The last several years I have better memories of Goldberg, like him hosting one of the few reality TV shows I can endure, the cross country race show Bull Run, and now WWE has finally put out a DVD and BluRay of his wrestling career with Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection (trailer).

WWE has primarily two ways of cranking out home videos focused on a single superstar. One is either a nicely produced documentary feature with interviews of the themed wrestler of the feature and many of his friends, family and foes in and out of the ring and then throw in a good chunk of their best remembered matches as extra features. The second is well, just a collection of a bunch of matches with some little quick narration packages every several matches, and unfortunately that is all we get here. I have no idea why WWE could not track down Goldberg to interview for this. He has not been under contract with WWE for a decade now, but WWE did track him down for a series of new interviews for the 2009 Rise and Fall of WCW DVD. I imagine WWE could have at least ripped a few random little quotes out of that and with other former WCW and WWE colleagues to have a little bit of a documentary feel, but I guess WWE just wanted to rush this release out with no real effort and it shows. All we get is like I mentioned above, every three or four matches is a quick little narration clip that sets up one of the next matches.

I picked up the BluRay release because the wrestling nerd in me demanded the hour of extra content on it. Disc one focuses entirely on his WCW career, and is nearly four and a half hours long. Disc two is the last two and a half hours of the feature that is all about his WWE run, with a little over an hour of bonus matches, four from WCW and one from WWE. Disc one has a whopping 21 matches on it, this is not as shocking as it sounds as a good chunk of these matches are under five minutes, especially from the early parts of his career where he was just running over everybody. We get his first two WCW matches from September of 1997 against Hugh Morrus and Barbarian, and it is interesting to see how far Goldberg came from those days as he was trying all kinds of different moves back then before he settled down with his trademark power moves.

A lot of older WWE home video releases tried to cut corners to get as many matches in as they could on the disc so sometimes they would cut out the entrances and we would get just the bell to bell action. Not the case here since about half the matches are under five minutes; because of that we are treated to Goldberg's elaborate walk out of the locker room and vintage enhale-the-pyro entrance, and plenty of post match highlight recaps from the announcers. I still love and adore Goldberg's entrance as it was all part of his mystique and got me jacked for his matches, but by the second disc I was just fast forwarding through it. It also is a bummer that WWE dubs over his WCW theme with their inferior remix they used for his WWE run.

Including the BluRay extras on disc two, there are 25 WCW matches all together, and I cannot think of an important one they skipped off the top of my head. It has his first big title win on here where he won the US title from Raven that established him as a big time player in WCW, and his unforgettable World Title win against Hulk Hogan on the Georgia Dome episode of Nitro in front of a sold out crowd. I wish they did not include his loss to Kevin Nash on here that ended his streak, but at least they got his redemption win on here from a few months later. When Goldberg faced bigger names, he still usually won but I am guessing a lot of big names probably did not want a clean loss to this quick upstart so they usually involved a lot of nasty interference or crap DQ finishes that were not necessarily crowd pleasers.

Probably my two favorite matches on disc one are his main event match against DDP at Halloween Havoc '98 which told a great story from start to end, and has no crazy BS going on like a lot of his other matches following did, and a No DQ match against Scott Steiner of all people at Fall Brawl 2000. It was far better than it had any right to be, as it was just the two miraculously not screwing up and exchanging nonstop power moves against each other in a memorable slugfest. If this was the match that Goldberg and Brock would have delivered at Wrestlemania XX, than they would have tore the roof off the place, but more on that later. There is also a pretty solid match in here against Ric Flair from an early '99 episode of Nitro, where the two had a interesting clash of styles that turned into a good encounter, but unfortunately it suffered from a ton of run ins at the end and the match and was thrown out.

It is worth mentioning there are some duds worth skipping over. He has two matches on here against Sid Vicious which are downright torturous to watch, especially the first one where they stop the match due to blood loss. Those two just did not mesh well together at all. Also do not watch the disc two bonus Goldberg vs. Bret Hart match from Starrcade '99. It features tons of crap ref bumps, run ins, and an unbelievably awful finish to the main event of WCW's most vital PPV of the year. Oh yeah, it was also the match where Goldberg got a little careless with one of his kicks and wound up giving Hart a career ending concussion.

Disc two is all about his WWE run, which has nine matches and one bonus WWE match. Goldberg's WWE debut against the Rock has some interesting highs, but unfortunately there is a lot of lulls and stalling that marred the beginning of Goldberg's WWE run. He did have a couple of good outings after this against Christian and Chris Jericho, but for the rest of the matches I could not help but wonder if a lot of WWE talent did not want to put over Goldberg clean here because there are a ton of interference and shenanigans going on with most of the other matches. Goldberg got the shaft in the Summerslam Elimination Chamber match and lost, and is only really featured in the last five minutes of it, but the entire half hour bout is here. A ton of interference is going on in his encounters against Triple H, Mark Henry and Batista which really diminishes those match ups. There is a pretty good match against Shawn Michaels, but more interference rears its ugly head at the end to take away from it.

This collection is rounded off with his final career match to date so far against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX in 2004. This match is notorious because it was well known by wrestling fans at the time that this was both superstars final match going in. It was common knowledge among insiders that Goldberg's year contract was up and he was unhappy and not renewing, and Lesnar a week prior gave his notice that he was leaving to pursue the NFL. Naturally, fans could care less about how this turned out and they crapped all over the match, and just watching the opening minutes with just Goldberg and Lesnar staring at each other while the crowd went crazy hating on both of them was unfortunately the highlight of the match. The crowd obviously effected both combatants not getting a rhythm for the match and just stinking up the joint while the crowd entertained themselves with multiple "this match sucks" chants throughout the fight. For what it is worth, Goldberg got the win in a clean finish I might add, but this was a train wreck from start to finish, but worth watching for the sheer debacle it turned out to be. Again, it would have been great if they got Goldberg and Lesnar interviewed for some comments to reflect on this not-so-legendary encounter, but WWE just could not be bothered for the effort.

If you are a big time Goldberg fan then it is disheartening to say WWE only went halfway on Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection. Goldberg has a great story to tell about his meteoric rise and how he quickly walked away from wrestling, among his outside the ring endeavors, but WWE did not want to tell it. If all you want is to just relive his greatest matches, you will probably be better off just searching for them on YouTube instead of shelling out the cash for this hastily thrown together collection.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Legends of Mid South Wrestling
RoH Supercard of Honor V
Warrior Week on WWE Network
WWE Wrestlemania 28
WWE Wrestlemania 29

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