When it comes to the defining legends of the Monday Night War era—one of wrestling’s hottest periods, when WWE and WCW went head to head—there are few wrestlers who compare to Goldberg and The Undertaker. In WCW, Goldberg was one of the few brand new stars whom the company efficiently developed from anonymity to full-blown star and world champion. While Goldberg’s rise was meteoric, and his best days were largely contained to that period in wrestling history, The Undertaker was not only an Attitude Era star for WWE, but a star who transcended generations. He started main eventing for the company in the early 1990s and continued working at a high level into the 2010s.
In the year 2019, Goldberg and The Undertaker are both well past their physical primes and fans never would have expected for WWE to book a match between them. The Super ShowDown event staged in Saudi Arabia presented a special set of circumstances, though, for a dream match to finally materialize. However, this match was anything but a dream.
10 A Streak Ends
Both The Undertaker and Goldberg have famous streaks attached to them. Goldberg ran through much of the WCW roster, including the WCW Championship from Hulk Hogan, before suffering his first loss at Starrcade 1998 in what WCW cited as his 174th singles match. Meanwhile, The Undertaker went unbeaten for twenty-one straight years at WrestleMania before incurring his first defeat at the biggest show of the year in 2014.
For all of The Phenom’s success, it’s understandable that he would be headlining his third straight international stadium show, even at this late stage of his career. Notably, at Super ShowDown at Saudi Arabia, The Dead Man put an end to a newer streak. Leading into this event, he had lost two straight main events at these types of events. The Undertaker had previously lost to Triple H at the original Super ShowDown from Australia and then been part of the losing team with Kane opposite The Game and Shawn Michaels at Crown Jewel. With this victory over Goldberg, The Undertaker put himself back on a winning course for international main events.
9 The Undertaker Lacks Ring Awareness
An early stage of the match saw Goldberg lock in a kneebar submission hold to momentarily slow the pace, not to mention demonstrate a grappling style that he isn’t necessarily known for. The Undertaker eventually escaped the hold via rope break, but there was an inconvenient factor to accompany that break. The Dead Man didn’t crawl the ropes, or counter wrestle his way there. On the contrary, he simply reached out and grabbed them.
In reality, Goldberg probably got the hold on closer to the ropes than the performers had intended, but in the story of the match, The Undertaker wound up looking a little foolish for not recognizing his ring position and grabbing the rope to break the painful hold sooner.
8 Shades Of WrestleMania 33
Leading up to WrestleMania 33, the defining characteristic of the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar feud was that Goldberg dominated in quick, explosive fashion. That included Goldberg squashing Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016 and then eliminating The Beast Incarnate quickly from the Royal Rumble. WWE riffed off of this history in the WrestleMania 33 match between the two, with Goldberg scoring with high impact offense early, only for a missed spear attempt to ultimately be his misdoing.
Similarly, Goldberg controlled the early moments of his match with The Undertaker, nailing two spears early to get The Dead Man rocking. Also similar to WrestleMania 33, Goldberg missed a spear that largely changed the course of the match as he hit the ring post and even busted himself open.
7 Renee Young Tries To Cover For The Crowd
In what felt as though it should have been a major spot for the match, The Undertaker hit his signature Tombstone finisher and folded Goldberg’s hands over his chest to go for the pin. Goldberg kicked out after a count of two, adding his name to the short list of wrestlers who have survived one of the most over maneuvers in WWE history.
However, the live stadium crowd didn’t offer much of a reaction, continuing a trend of understated responses from over the course of the night. Renee Young did her best to spin the underwhelming atmosphere by describing that there was an “eerie quiet” as if the crowd was shocked as opposed to just strangely quiet.
6 A Clash Of Brock Lesnar’s Arch Rivals
Though Brock Lesnar only appeared at the beginning of Super ShowDown in his failed attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, his aura hovered over the main event as well. After all, The Beast Incarnate has worked two separate stints in WWE, most easily categorized as pre- and post-fighting for UFC as his primary vocation. The Undertaker and Goldberg were the only two rivals to transcend those two periods as formidable opponents during both those early 2000s and mid-2010s eras.
Of course, one point that stands out is that, for all the criticism Lesnar sometimes faces, he is a younger athlete who in many ways made these opponents look good for his own strength and athleticism in his offense, and his ability to sell. His absence did expose both Goldberg and The Dead Man to an extent.
5 A Potentially Improvised Finish
The closing moments of The Undertaker’s Match with Goldberg got messy. After a fun transition in which Goldberg cut off The Dead Man’s signature spot of delivering a big boot coming out of snake eyes, Goldberg went for his Jackhammer finisher. The delivery was ugly. Whether Goldberg didn’t have the strength left, or The Undertaker didn’t help him sufficiently, the move came across poorly and looked as though it could have hurt The Undertaker in particular.
Things went from bad to worse when Goldberg then seemed to go for a Tombstone, and The Undertaker looked as though he were trying to reverse it only for them both to fall over. Perhaps recognizing that the match was getting away from them, The Dead Man finished things off with a relatively anticlimactic choke slam (which also didn’t get much height). It would appear that the intended finish was for The Phenom to reverse the Tombstone and pin his opponent, but that he went for a more conservative move he was more certain he could hit to end things instead.
4 The Entrance Theatrics Take Longer Than The Match
The Undertaker is well known for his long, theatrical entrances to the ring and WWE pulled out all of the stops for Super ShowDown, with torch-bearing druids and the full firework treatment for The Phenom. On top of that, Goldberg got his own extended entrance, with a throwback to WCW with backstage personnel knocking on his door and then escorting him through the backstage area on his way to his entrance.
The prematch spectacles totaled just under ten minutes, while the match itself went just under nine from bell to bell. A three-minute video package, extended introductions from the ring announcer, and a long outro after the match all contributed to a lengthy package, making this match feel a bit more epic than it actually was.
3 Goldberg Disappeared
The Undertaker pinned Goldberg to finish their match, and WWE promptly dimmed the lights for The Undertaker to enjoy this signature style for his post-match celebration. Notably, Goldberg vanished from the ring, absent from the camera’s frame by the time the view zoomed out to capture the full ring.
This may have been a simple matter of giving The Dead Man his proper respect, or it might have related to Goldberg legitimately getting opened up during this match, and WWE medical personnel wanting to tend to him. Regardless, it wouldn’t have been out of place for the two icons to have shared a handshake, and perhaps to have even celebrated their performance together after the match, particularly given they’re both face characters and didn’t have a very heated feud behind this match. So it is noteworthy that they did not choose this route.
2 The Undertaker Can’t Hide His Disappointment
After the match came to a close, The Undertaker knelt by the ropes and could visibly be seen mouthing the word, “damn.” While the commentary team tried to sell that he had been through a hard fought battle, given the clunky late stages of the match, it seems reasonable to think The Dead Man was actually quite frustrated with how the match finished.
The Undertaker doesn’t wrestle often these days, and given his legacy, we can only assume that he doesn’t want to look bad when he does make his rare appearances these days. The Phenom’s visible disappointment after this match was sad to see, but understandable under the circumstances.
1 They Became What They Once Represented A Difference From
The response from many WWE fans has been that Goldberg vs. The Undertaker disappointed, but viewers should bear in mind an important consideration for a match like this: the performers’ age. Goldberg is 52. The Undertaker is 54.
Ironically, during the Monday Night War era during which each man was arguably in his prime as a professional wrestler, WCW was notorious for its over-dependence on older stars who were established from before their time with the company. Goldberg seemed to represent a shift as a rare truly homegrown talent and a new face to the main event scene. While The Undertaker was already a veteran, he too represented a divergence from talents like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Randy Savage who were past their physical primes. Time has since caught up to Goldberg and The Phenom, making them the old timers who draw more based on their names than their current physical prowess.