Bill Goldberg was one of the most fascinating stories in the history of WCW. A former NFL player, Goldberg debuted in 1997 and became the hottest entity in the promotion. While the company was full of stars from the 80s and early 90s in the upper card, Goldberg was the first new star to break the glass ceiling. The formula was simple. Goldberg would have an intense entrance of slowly walking to the ring through pyros, dominate short matches with powerful moves and, of course, always win with ease. Goldberg would remain undefeated for a year and a half with a win-loss record of 173-0, known simply as “The Streak.
The Streak became a monster in pro wrestling. Through the years, many promotions have tried introducing many wrestlers with long unbeaten records but very few get over and none got over to the extent of Goldberg. Fans believed he was truly unbeatable and a larger than life character, like a superhero or action movie star. Unfortunately, the ending of his streak was ultimately the ending of his magic as a top act in WCW. Kevin Nash defeated Goldberg at Starrcade 1998 to vanquish the undefeated record and become the new WCW Champion.
Nash was very popular at the time and a worthy main event act in his own right, but he was absolutely the wrong person to end the streak. Whoever first defeated Goldberg needed to become a bigger star because of it or set up a huge money making program in the aftermath. Neither happened and it was among the first series of events that started to cause the WCW ship to completely sink. The WCW roster was one of the greatest in professional wrestling history with many better options than Kevin Nash. These are the 10 best alternatives that should have ended Goldberg’s undefeated streak.
When you think about the face of WCW, it’s either Sting or Ric Flair. Considering Flair defected to WWE in the early 90s, Sting is the more popular choice for WCW’s flag bearer. Even though both Sting and Goldberg were the most popular faces in WCW, they never had a true build to a great PPV match. The two had a very good Nitro bout once but it was a match with little advertisement that was a one-off. When the company was starting to become irrelevant, they faced off in a few more matches without conclusion. A true great program between the two stars never happening left money on the table.
WCW struggled with building new characters. The top of the card was all older and established legacy stars with the young talent excelling in the ring but never getting the opportunity to progress as characters. One new act that was standing out at the time was Raven. A cult leader with his army of misfit wrestlers known as The Flock, the win over Goldberg could have made him a main event heel act and turned the faction into a credible one. The story would have been easy, with someone turning to join The Flock and Goldberg enacting revenge on them all.
8 Chris Benoit
With all the new and young WCW talent failing to get rewarded for their hard work with opportunities of moving up the card, many defected to WWE and became stars. The most ready-made star at the time was Chris Benoit. While he never had the charisma or promo skills, Benoit was always over with the audience and became a big enough star for WWE to have him main event and win the world title at WrestleMania 20. Benoit was respected enough by fans where a win would have been believable to many while winning over the rest. Goldberg’s limitations in the ring would have been hidden in a program against a technician like Benoit as well.
7 Bret Hart
Another Canadian technician, Bret Hart came to WCW fresh off the “Montreal Screwjob” and was the hottest thing in wrestling. Of course, WCW chose to do nothing with him and his tenure there was absolutely pointless. Hart’s only great program was against Goldberg in the dying days of the company as the two showed a natural chemistry. To get the best out of their very heavy investment of Hart, ending Goldberg’s streak would have erased the wrongdoings of his WCW introduction and given us that great program at an earlier time when the company still had hope.
6 Hulk Hogan
A common trend on this list are wrestlers who were underutilized or never given an opportunity but Hulk Hogan was one that didn’t have to deal with either of those things. Hogan was the leader of the nWo and the most untouchable person in the company with a “creative control” clause in his contract, meaning he rarely would lose. One rare time he took the loss was when he dropped the WCW Championship to Goldberg in a historical moment on Nitro. Nothing else noteworthy ever happened between the two again. WCW could have built an epic bout with Hogan getting his win back and ending the streak.
5 Scott Steiner
The toughest part of choosing who would defeat Goldberg is that not many options would look believable. The only person that can truly say they could have easily kicked Goldberg’s ass in a real fight back then was Scott Steiner. Known for being dangerous and unpredictable, Steiner became one of the top heels in WCW’s later years. Of Goldberg’s very few losses in his overall wrestling career, the only person to look dominant beating him was Scott Steiner at Fall Brawl 2000. Imagine how surreal that would have been if he did so, ending the unbeaten record in 1998.
4 Chris Jericho
Of all the young talent that was never given an opportunity to advance in the company, Chris Jericho was the first to make the decision to jump ship from WCW to WWE. Jericho would become one of the biggest stars in the industry and most decorated performers. In WCW, Jericho started an angle where he would use his obnoxious heel character to make bad jokes about Goldberg while calling him out. His brainchild got over and fans wanted to see a match between the two. Sadly, Goldberg didn’t like it and used his influence to squash Jericho. Perhaps WCW would have gotten the star Jericho would become in WWE if he delivered the biggest surprise win over Goldberg.
3 Diamond Dallas Page
On the surface, the idea of Goldberg losing his first match to a veteran in his mid-40s sounds absurd but Diamond Dallas Page may have been the right choice. During Goldberg’s streak, there was only one moment where it “felt right” if he would lose. This was during the main event of Halloween Havoc 1998 when Page finally got his title shot as the crowd believed in Page as one of them and loved him even more than Goldberg at the time. Before the Goldberg win, they managed to have a classic match going back and forth and, when Page hit the Diamond Cutter, the fans wanted that to be the moment where the streak ended and looking back at how things played out, it probably should have been.
2 Booker T
The last star WCW made was Booker T as the company finally decided to give one of their hardest workers and beloved characters the ball. Sadly, the company was too deep in the water to be rescued but Booker became a credible champion. Fans started to buy him as a singles star during the time period of Goldberg’s streak and it would have been the perfect timing to instantly build a new main eventer. Years later on an episode of Nitro in 2000, Booker would get one of the rare wins over Goldberg. Despite a convoluted story and being years too late, it was still a great moment.
1 Rey Mysterio
Sometimes in wrestling, you have to throw logic out of the window. Some of the greatest moments featured undersized underdogs beating the giant forces of nature. The most terrible thing about WCW is that they were never progressive, they never looked to the future and they never took the risks with upside. Rey Mysterio was arguably the best in ring performer in WCW and was a wrestler for the future. WWE went on to make huge money from his talent and he inspired many stars making it today. Imagine if WCW decided to put their stereotypes and egos aside and went with what would have been the greatest underdog story in wrestling history. The risk you’re afraid of can be greater than the terrible familiarity you’re used to.