Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Tank Abbott vs. Goldberg


Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Tank Abbott vs. Goldberg – WCW, 2000


Tank Abbott had begun his career in the early days of UFC. Despite the fact that he never seemed to win any titles, his vicious style and legitimately tough look won him many fans.

By 1999, Abbott’s UFC record stood at 8 wins, 7 losses. Despite that, WCW snatched him up and began working to make him a legitimately tough competitor (perhaps in response to the WWF’s Ken Shamrock, who was also from UFC).

After Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff made their return to Nitro on April 10, 2000, Tank had a new direction.

It was during that show that we saw the announcers – Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson, and Mark Madden – discussing Hulk Hogan’s backstage search for Eric Bischoff. Suddenly Abbott came out and grabbed a microphone. Abbott talked about being a shoot fighter instead of a wrestler and demanded a match against Goldberg. Abbott then said that he would attack random innocents until Goldberg answered his challenge.

Abbott then committed one of the greatest crimes in the history of mankind.

Abbott attacked Mark Madden (this is not the crime) and pulled the corpulent announcer’s shirt off (this is) before dragging him into the ring. Abbott straddled him and kept slapping Madden’s stomach to close the segment.

A week later, we saw backstage footage of Tank Abbott heading to the ring, which caused Madden to panic. Abbott hit the ring and told Madden to not even look at him. He repeated his challenge and began scanning the crowd. He grabbed Bruce MacArthur, who was at the time one of the owners of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, and pulled him over the rail. Bob Probert, a Blackhawk right wing (who was known as one of the toughest NHL fighters around), hopped the rail to help, and security wound up dragging Tank away.

Tank Abbott came out again on the next Nitro (to Madden’s consternation) and again repeated his challenge to Goldberg. He looked around for his next victim before hopping the rail and heading to the WCW Live internet setup. He attacked Bob Ryder. He dragged Ryder into the ring and continued attacking. Fellow WCW Live host (and current TNA announcer) Jeremy Borash hit the ring to try to help. Tank laid off Ryder and attacked Borash. That brought Bill Banks into the ring and he got knocked out for his trouble. Security finally arrived and again pulled Tank away.

On Thunder, Marc Mero and his boxing trainer Ray Rinaldi had ringside seats as Abbott made his way out. Abbott talked about how Goldberg wasn’t there again and began searching for a victim. He spotted Mero in the front row and headed over. Ray Rinaldi shoved Abbott and Mero jumped the rail. Rinaldi shoved him again and the fight was on. Rinaldi hit the ring and Abbott started toward him. Mero fought Abbott off and the segment closed with Mero’s old Johnny B. Badd theme playing.

Nitro saw Tank get a title shot against current WCW champion David Arquette. In the end, Abbott challenged Arquette’s friend Diamond Dallas Page to a match, and if Abbott won he got Arquette.

As Abbott got the better of Page during the match, Arquette and Kanyon decided to head out and help him. One problem – their dressing room door was locked. The match ended with Jarrett blasting Page with a bottle from the crowd, and then Abbott laid Page out with one punch.

Abbott got his match later in the night. The match started with Kanyon in Arquette’s corner. When the referee saw Kanyon slipping on some brass knuckles, he was ejected. In the end, Page hit the ring and gave Abbott a Diamond Cutter, Arquette got the pin, and Page and Arquette got out of there before Abbott woke up.

A week later Scott Steiner was in the ring. He badmouthed Booker T for a while, then Tank hit the ring, gave Steiner a low blow, beat on him for a while, and left.

It didn’t take long for Steiner to head back out to the ring. He set up a chair in the middle of the ring and demanded that Tank come out to face him.

After a quick commercial, Goldberg’s music started up. Tank came out of his dressing room accompanied by security, just like Goldberg always had. Steiner was dominating when Rick Steiner hopped the rail and helped Tank. Rick and Tank left Scott laying and returned to the back.

Early on Thunder, we saw Tank and Rick Steiner walking into the arena. The Goldberg monster truck then rolled into view behind them.

Later in the night Rick and Tank faced off against Kronik. As they brawled, Shane Douglas and Buff Bagwell hit the ring to help Rick and Tank (and steal the tag team belts while they were at it). That brought Scott Steiner out, who was held back by security. As Scott hit the ring, Rick and Tank cleared out, leaving Kronik and Scott to level WCW security. Then we went out back to see the Goldberg monster truck destroy Rick and Tank’s car.

On Nitro, Scott Steiner stopped by to talk to Mean Gene Okerlund. More specifically, he issued a challenge to Tank and Rick for a Back Alley Fight because there were too many rules in wrestling.

Sure enough, Tank and Rick accepted. As Tank brawled with Scott, Midajah and Shakira (Steiner’s managers) attacked Rick with boards and then ran away. Rick shook it off and joined Tank in beating down Scott. They stopped and cleared out when the Goldberg monster truck showed up and crushed some cars.

Scott was facing Mike Awesome on Thunder when Goldberg’s music hit and we saw “Tankberg” making his way to the ring. Scott was taking care of Tank when Rick joined in the fun to make it two on one. Then the Goldberg truck showed up just in time for Scott to toss Rick and Tank onto it. The truck then drove away.

Scott was taking on Rick in an Asylum match on the next episode of Nitro when Goldberg’s music hit. The Asylum was similar to the WWF’s Lion’s Den match – a circular steel cage with a roof was lowered for the match. The music revealed Tank Abbott heading to the ring armed with bolt cutters. Tankberg tried to break in but was unable to cut through the cage, so he grabbed the control box from the referee and raised the cage. He headed into the cage and helped Rick beat down Scott. That brought out Kevin Nash, who blasted them both with the heavyweight title.

Thunder’s main event was Jeff Jarrett defending his world title against Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner. The fun began before the match did as Vince Russo named himself the special guest referee. As Steiner threatened Russo, it was revealed that Tank and Rick had Midajah and Shakira. As Scott went to save them, Nash and Jarrett kept fighting in the ring. In the end, Scott came back and clotheslined Jarrett, which let Nash hit the Jacknife Powerbomb for the win and the belt.

Nash took on Rick and Tank in a handicap match on Nitro. Suddenly Goldberg’s music hit and the genuine article came out. As Tank cleared out, Rick got speared and Jackhammered. Goldberg then grabbed a microphone and told Tank he was next.

Before that, however, Tank and Rick had Scott and Kevin Nash on Thunder. That match was the main event. As Scott took care of Tank, the Cat (Ernest Miller) announced that the man who got the pin would also get a shot at the title at the Great American Bash. As Scott locked Tank in a cobra clutch, Jarrett hit the ring and then blasted Scott with a guitar, which prompted the Cat to make the match no DQ. In the end, Nash pinned Rick after a Jacknife.

That brought us to the June 5th Nitro which marked WCW’s return to Atlanta’s Phillips Arena. As the bell rang to start his match against Goldberg, Tank cleared out. They brawled on the outside, which was Rick Steiner’s cue to run in with a chair. After that got a two count, Kevin Nash hit the ring to even things up. That gave Goldberg the opening he needed to hit the Spear and Jackhammer for the win. And that was that.


Like a lot of other things during the Russo/Bischoff era (especially in the beginning), this started off as a good idea. Tank Abbott had always been portrayed as a tough guy, and that image had only been solidified a few weeks earlier, when at Superbrawl, Tank had defeated “Big” Al (better known as ECW’s 911) in a “skins” match, where Tank’s leather jacket was hung from a pole. After the match, Abbott pulled a knife from the jacket and held it to Big Al’s throat. Tony Schiavone covered by saying that Abbott had scissors and was going to cut off Al’s beard. Al, of course, had no beard.

It was only natural that Tank, who now prided himself on being a tough guy, would call out WCW’s other tough guy – Goldberg, who was all but undefeated. Everything Abbott did kept playing mind games with Goldberg – attacking bystanders, and then hijacking Goldberg’s music and entrance.

The problems started when the angle got sidetracked with a feud with Scott Steiner, and then the introduction of Rick Steiner into things. By the time the blowoff match came around, things had been so watered down by the addition of the Steiners and Kevin Nash, the angle fizzled out.

Overall, it didn’t matter. It would only be another week or two before Goldberg turned heel and joined Russo and Bischoff in the New Blood.

Where are they now?

Tank Abbott disappeared after WCW closed, eventually making his return to the UFC world in 2003. He has competed in seven matches for them since, and lost all but one. Also in 2003, Tank made headlines for performing a 600 pound bench press. He was criticized for his technique after the video was distributed, but he has continued to vigorously defend his feat.

Rick Steiner remained with WCW until the company’s buyout. Afterward, he made a few appearances for TNA as well as making sporadic independent appearances. By 2005, he had begun selling real estate, as well as becoming a member of the Cherokee County Board of Education.

Goldberg vanished from WCW TV in January of 2001, after losing a tag match with Dewayne Bruce against Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell. Goldberg had been told that if he lost a single match he would be fired (actually, he needed shoulder surgery). Goldberg accepted a contract buyout in May of 2002. In August, he began wrestling again in Japan. In March of 2003, Goldberg was signed by the WWE and immediately entered a feud against the Rock. Goldberg’s final match with the WWE took place against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XX. Since it was already public knowledge that both Goldberg and Lesnar were leaving the WWE after this match, the Madison Square Garden jeered the match relentlessly. Today, Goldberg is focusing on an acting career and hosting the show Bullrun on Spike TV. However, Goldberg has hinted that he may be interested in working with TNA if they can come to terms.