It’s been seventeen years since the night that WCW was killed, the night when World Championship Wrestling lost all their fans simultaneously as they switched over to the WWF and the Bischoff-run promotion was sent into a downward spiral that they never could get out of… at least, that’s the way the night of January 4th had seemingly went down when it’s being presented by the WWE. The truth is that WCW has several other issues show up down the line in ’99 that spelled their doom, but if you want to look at this night as some sort of a beginning of the end for World Championship Wrestling, I really cannot blame you.
On January 4th, 1999, the newly-crowned WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash was set to take on Goldberg in an rematch from their bout at Starrcade ’98. Since Goldberg lost his title due to getting zapped with a “cattle prod” held by Scott Hall at that show, the chance of revenge so quickly after was actually thrilling to hear for me. However in typical WCW fashion, the match never occurred as Miss Elizabeth accused Goldberg on Nitro of stalking her, causing his immediate arrest and removal from the arena by the police for questioning. This led to WCW adding a new main event, created on Nash’s behalf and commissioned by WCW President Ric Flair – Hollywood Hogan vs Kevin Nash for the world title.
From this point, every one kind of knows what occurred but for a quick refresher, here’s the whole “match” in an edited bit from WWE themselves:
Hogan drops Nash with a poke to his chest. Hogan wins title. Nash gets up and celebrates with Hogan. The nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac factions reunite as Lex Luger and Kevin Nash turn heel. Goldberg comes in and gets KILLED AND BURIED due to the combined might of the group that would become known as the nWo Elite. A BRILLIANT swerve that pissed off so many fans and actually led to myself getting into a real-life fist fight the following day at high school due to my decision to proudly wear a nWo black and white shirt – a sign (to me) that this entire thing WORKED.
The sad thing is that WCW never capitalized on this angle they presented to fans. Kevin Nash has gone on record and stated the entire point of the nWo reunion was the give Goldberg a heel factory to tear through, and WCW had to scrap the entire thing due to Goldberg injuring himself – however, that’s a complete lie as there was an 11-month period before his arm injury.
The truth is that Goldberg was kept away from the title for months after the Fingerpoke of Doom main event. He took on Scott Hall at Souled Out in January and got his revenge for Starrcade, but from that point, it’s Goldberg vs Bam Bam Bigelow at SuperBrawl in February, no one at Uncensored in March (but still “feuding” with the nWo), and Kevin Nash (finally) in April at Spring Stampede. Goldberg would then take time afterward off to film Universal Soldier II: The Return and by the time he came back, the entire nWo angle had already fizzled out. It wouldn’t be until December before Goldberg would find himself in a proper singles main event for the WCW title. This lack of a follow up made Goldberg look like a total goof in the whole ordeal and having a twelve-month break between his big championship matches followed by the reveal of the nWo 2000 just reeked of the same-old, same-old staleness of a clueless creative team.
The entire angle seems like such a complete waste now but since WCW had already been losing the ratings war against the WWF at the time of the Fingerpoke of Doom incident, so it’s difficult to claim that Goldberg going after his lost championship immediately would have boosted the sagging viewership. In fact, in an effort to keep fans locked in WCW for the Nash/Hogan main event, Tony Schiavone condescendingly announced that Mick Foley would win the WWF championship that night as RAW had been pre-taped on the 29th and ended up doing something completely embarrassing in hindsight:
That bit of news ended up making close to half a million viewers switch over to World Wrestling Federation in order to see Mama Foley’s Baby Boy win the ultimate prize in professional wrestling. When it was all said and done, the Kevin Nash vs Hulk Hogan main event scored a 4.1 rating, while a previously taped main event where Mick Foley wins the WWF Championship against The Rock scored a 6.2, a ratings record for the WWF.
Major misstep by World Championship Wrestling all around BUT the worst was still yet to come…
Bonus – Pro Wrestlers Shoot on The Fingerpoke of Doom