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On this date in WCW history: Goldberg wins the heavyweight title from Hulk Hogan on Nitro

Bill Goldberg won the world heavyweight championship for the first time on this date in WCW history when he pinned Hulk Hogan on "Monday Nitro."

"Da man."

That's the name the always enthusiastic Bobby "The Brain" Heenan had taken to calling Bill Goldberg, World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) last great hope in the Monday Night War against the World Wrestling Federation back in the late 90s.

By the summer of 1998, the WWF had seized control led by Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon's crusade against him. They had a strong mid-card roster as well, with both The Rock and Triple H still yet to reach their full potential.

WCW, meanwhile, was languishing with a bloated roster full of egomaniacs who couldn't get along and a toxic working environment backstage that was only getting worse by the day. The New World Order (nWo), which had dominated the promotion for two years straight, had grown to include even the top WCW stars. It was stale as old bread, but if you wanted a piece of the main event pie, you had to join up.

Until Goldberg broke the mold.

His rise to the top was as quick as it was incredible. His first match with WCW came in Sept. 1997 and he had won the U.S. title a mere seven months later in April 1998. His gimmick was one used by promoters the world over to quickly establish a star with minimal effort. He would come out, look physically imposing, squash his opponents with an impressive set of power moves, and await the next opponent.

WCW fed him jobber after jobber until so many fans had jumped aboard his hype train there was no other choice but to move it forward.

So they gave him bigger names and the crowd responded in kind. When he beat Raven for the U.S. title, it felt like a precursor of what was to come. And that's exactly what it was.

With WCW gradually losing its grip on the pro wrestling audience and more and more fans migrating over to USA to watch what Austin and McMahon were up to, Eric Bischoff, a ratings whore if there ever was one, made one of the stupidest decisions of his career.

He convinced Hulk Hogan to drop the world heavyweight championship to Goldberg, putting him over clean (which is actually pretty impressive). The stupid part comes when he decided to do this not on pay-per-view (PPV) but an episode of Monday Nitro.

And it was on this date in WCW history (July 6, 1998) that it happened.

Goldberg was made to go through Scott Hall earlier in the night, which he did with ease. When he got to Hogan, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, was at a fever pitch. The promotion managed to pack some 40,000 strong in there to watch Goldberg's crowning achievement.

The match was short, as all Goldberg matches were. He sold a bit for Hogan but eventually overwhelmed him and after a spear and jackhammer, he was the world heavyweight champion, the U.S. champion and the undefeated streak remained alive.

Nitro would win in the ratings that night, posting a 4.8 to WWF's 4.0. The Goldberg vs. Hogan match actually drew a 6.91 for the quarter hour, which was a record at the time. Nitro would go back to losing the very next week, however, and after posting a few more winning nights, it would relinquish the lead for good on Nov. 2, 1998.

Goldberg would go on to lose the title later that year to Kevin Nash at Starrcade in a controversial decision that has been panned by critics for years. WCW, of course, would ultimately go out of business after a series of bad decisions that began with Starrcade 1997.

Let's let the good times roll, though, and watch Goldberg go over clean on Hogan to win the title on Nitro.

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