While it has been voted as one of the worst matches in WWE history, The Undertaker’s match against Goldberg in Saudi Arabia may actually be the greatest match in WWE history. The bout at Super Showdown told the story of two old gunslingers, struggling with their own mortality, fighting not just against one another but also the passage of time itself.
The match can be compared to the legendary Mitusaru Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi matches, from AJPW and NOAH in the 1990s and 2000s. It is the most “King’s Road” style bout the WWE has ever put on, with huge moves ending in close kick outs, with an unexpected ending that none of the fans saw coming.
Was the match terrible? Yes. But could The Undertaker vs Goldberg also be one of the greatest WWE matches ever seen inside Vince McMahon’s ring? Maybe. And we’ll explain why now.
The Undertaker vs Goldberg
The dream match between The Undertaker and Bill Goldberg was something that nobody ever expected to see. After WCW went under, it took two more years for Goldberg to join the WWE, coming in the day after WrestleMania 19 to confront The Rock in all-time great WWE debut.
In his run in the WWE, Goldberg wrestled some big stars like Brock Lesnar, The Rock and Triple H. However, due to being unhappy with the travel schedule and WWE booking, the former WCW Champion spent only a year under Vince McMahon’s thumb, walking away from the business after losing to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX for almost a decade.
During this first run, Goldberg was on the opposite brand to The Undertaker, so they had no chance for this match to take place. It wouldn’t be until his 2015-return in the WWE this match finally became possible (after a number of matches against Brock Lesnar that blew his other bouts out of the water with how good it was).
Goldberg vs The Undertaker had a very simple set up. In the 2017 Royal Rumble match, the pair faced off for the first time. It was an iconic moment in history, with Goldberg hitting his spear (Goldberg invented the spear as a finisher in wrestling) on Undertaker, before being tossed out of the match by The Deadman.
It would be another two-years before this confrontation was actually built upon, with the match of course happening in Saudi Arabia. 2019’s Super Showdown was the next iteration of PPV’s in WWE’s billion dollar deal with the Princes of Arabia.
Goldberg vs The Undertaker main evented the show, which also saw Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler, as well as Mansoor winning a 51-man battle royal in his annual “win a match in Saudi Arabia” appearance.
The show ended with Undertaker vs Goldberg, with fans all over the world glued to their TV sets. This was the ultimate WCW vs WWE dream match (after Undertaker vs Sting, of course), and a dream match that would have been a match of the year candidate – had it taken place a decade and a half ago. Nevertheless, this match could be considered one of the best matches of all time – from a certain point of view.
The match was less than ten minutes long, but did not let up from the moment the bell rang. The bout started with Goldberg mocking The Undertaker, before retaliating from a punch from The Deadman by laying in his iconic spear. It was an awesome start to the match that had the fans on their feet from the word go.
The spearing continued, with Goldberg nailing The Deadman once again and going for the pin. This could have been the end and fans wouldn’t have been too upset, but The Undertaker kicked out of the pin fall, and sat up menacingly. Again, a great moment. Goldberg went for a third, but Undertaker moved out of the way and sent him crashing into the ring post. He immediately began bleeding (well, continued bleeded – he concussed himself headbutting a locker before coming out for the match).
Thus began The Undertaker’s finisher-spam beat down, evoking the feeling of a big Japanese-style brawl. The Deadman used his full arsenal on Goldberg, with an Old School, Chokeslam and Tombstone Piledriver not being enough to get the win over Goldberg. The former WCW Champion kicked out of the moves, and countered a Snake Eyes into a spear, which was a fun and creative spot.
Depending on your persepctive, the next spot of the match was either the best or worst part. Goldberg hiked The Undertaker up into a suplex position, before dropping him down for a Jackhammer. However, due to his concussed state (which I can’t repeat enough that it was for headbutting a locker for no reason, when no cameras were around), dropped The Undertaker right on his head, close to breaking his neck.
One reddit user called it the JACKHAMMER ’19, comparing Goldberg to Mitsuharu Misawa nailing Kenta Kobashi with a new super move in their never ending quest to destroy each other’s necks. The Undertaker nearly died, but managed to kick out at two in his battle with Bill Goldberg, keeping the action alive.
Goldberg tries to hit his own Tombstone Piledriver, but they both fall over trying to reverse it. You could see this as a clear botch (like the JACKHAMMER ’19), but I like to think this was intentional. It showed the passage of time does not yield for anyone, not even two superhuman athletes putting it all on the line. If they had managed to hit the spot, it would’ve been cool, but would it make you think about your own mortality?
I didn’t think so.
The matched ended rather anticlimactically. Despite doing everything he could top end The Deadman’s life, The Undertaker won the match with a simple chokeslam. After putting it all on the line and throwing the kitchen sink at one another, it was a simple grasp of the throat and slam to the ground that won the day for the WWE Hall of Famer.
This was no ordinary match. It was clearly a tribute to the iconic battles in All Japan Pro Wrestling between the Four Pillars of Heaven. Goldberg vs The Undertaker wasn’t about WWE vs WCW. It was two old gunslingers, clinging onto their youth in one last feeble attempt to show they were still the monsters they saw in the mirror. They walked the King’s Road, showing a struggle not only against one another, but against time itself. They looked God in the face, and he looked back, annoyed.
Then God made Goldberg drop Undertaker on his head.
Goldberg nearly killed The Undertaker in this match, as The Deadman later revealed. But doesn’t that just add to this match? Yes, it has been called one of the worst WWE matches of all time. Was that by me? Who knows – I certainly refuse to read who wrote that article, and deny its existence. All I know is that The Undertaker vs Goldberg could be one of the all-time greatest wrestling matches, and a fitting end to both men’s career.
Learn more about how Goldberg nearly killed The Undertaker.