Da Baldies take on Da Bri(/y)ans!
This was Goldberg’s last match before signing with WWE in 2003, though he would go on to wrestle Nagoya Ogawa in the first HUSTLE main event.
Let’s start with the entrances. KroniK comes out first and take forever to get to the ring because the Tokyo Dome ramp is so long. Then Mutoh comes out. Then we get a Goldberg video package, and I wish I knew Japanese so I could understand the voiceover. All we see is Goldberg at his home, some magazine articles, and Goldberg walking up stairs, but the voiceover makes it all sound epic. Then, we get the wackiest entrance of Goldberg’s career, so much so that it comes across as a parody. Goldberg starts on the street in his motorcycle gear. He’s flanked by four U.S. Military servicemen in camp, and they all walk into the Tokyo Dome and over to Goldberg’s dressing room. Keep in mind that the other three wrestlers are still waiting in the ring. Goldberg goes into his room, takes off his gloves, and tells the cameraman to get out. Mutoh looks particularly bored in the ring. One of the servicemen knocks on the door, and out comes Goldberg, oiled up and in his gear. Then they all walk to the entrance, and Goldberg comes out with pyro and a hyped-up announcement.
If only WCW-era Chris Jericho could’ve been on commentary. With Ralphus.
Now, the match. Mutoh and Bryan Clark start with the usual feeling out stuff, and both guys seem capable of presenting a logical build in the story of the match. Then Goldberg and Adams tag in and do their own version of starting slowly (more punching and taunting) before fighting out of the ring and into the front row. It’s almost surreal seeing Goldberg hitting Brian Adams with a chair in the crowd. It’s also odd to see Adams get so much offense.
Now, once they get back in the ring, you would think that the smart way to book it would be for Mutoh to tag in and get cut off for a while before finally making the hot tag do Goldberg can clean house. And it seems to go that way…until Goldberg tags in surprisingly early. What comes next is what Jim Ross would call “bowling shoe ugly.” Goldberg applies a long armbar. The crowd is dead. Mutoh tags in and does some trademark leg attacks that wake them up very briefly. Goldberg tags in again. Guys just hit each other and fall down with no transitions or teases. It’s like a backyard wrestling match; it’s obvious that not much was planned beforehand, and none of these guys are good at calling it in the ring.
Clark and Adams hit High Time, the double chokeslam that was their WCW finisher, to zero reaction and an undramatic kickout by Goldberg. A table gets brought in. The crowd almost wakes up for a contrived spot of Mutoh saving Goldberg from another chokeslam. They also seem to almost like Goldberg’s double lariat. They pop for Mutoh’s Shining Wizard. Another contrived spot sees Clark get speared through the table. The crowd seems to approve of Goldberg setting up and hitting the Jackhammer for the win. Right as he hits the move, a sound effect goes off and the words “JACK HAMMER” appear on the big screen surrounded in fire. By far the best thing about the match right there.
Knowing the limitations of the three Americans involved, I guess I was hoping that Mutoh would’ve been able to call or plan a match that would’ve played to their strengths and masked their weaknesses. It seems I gave him too much credit. This whole thing seemed like it could’ve been done much more simply and effectively, but it came off like a bad match between a bunch of trainees and one guy the crowd kind of cared about.
The verdict: Watch it for the ridiculous entrance and the goofy Jackhammer sound effect. Just skip the middle.
Up next: Big Johnny!
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