The official WWE website has published an article Friday profiling former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s attention-grabbing tenure with World Championship Wrestling in the late-1990’s. Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger, Kevin Sullivan, Dean Malenko and Billy Kidman are quoted in the piece.
The then-member of the Chicago Bulls joined forces with WCW in early-1997 while serving a suspension from the NBA for kicking a cameraman in the groin during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He appeared alongside the New World Order at the March 1997 Uncensored pay-per-view event and made his wrestling debut four months later at Bash at the Beach, where he partnered with Hollywood Hogan in a loss to Luger and The Giant. According to accounts, Rodman tried in earnest to prepare for the match, with Sullivan stating that he spent time learning the ropes from Paul Orndorff and Jody Hamilton at the WCW’s training facility, the Power Plant.
“He was a natural,” Luger told WWE.com. “Man, he caught right on. I was almost envious. It took me a lot longer to even have a clue how to do this.”
Rodman laced up the wrestling boots again one year later as he squared off against Karl Malone at the 1998 Bash at the Beach, just one month after playing against him in the NBA Finals. Page brainstormed the idea of himself and Malone (who had become friends due to Malone’s wrestling fandom) facing Rodman and Hogan at the pay-per-view event, but admits that former WCW executive Eric Bischoff initially had another wrestler in mind as Malone’s tag team partner.
“I went over to Eric Bischoff’s house and I said, ‘I got this idea: Me and Malone against Rodman and Hogan,” Page said. “Bischoff thought about it and went, ‘Wow, Hogan and Rodman versus Savage and Malone.’ I said, ‘Maybe you didn’t hear me. Me and Malone, because this is my connection and I’m not giving it to anybody.’”
The 23-minute match, however, was poorly received, with WWE labeling the match as “not very good” and branding Rodman as “sluggish and, at times, barely conscious.”
“He’s probably one of the only people in the history of our business to fall asleep during a match, using the turnbuckle as a pillow,” said WWE producer Dean Malenko, who worked for WCW at the time.
WWE also acknowledges the end of Rodman’s wrestling career, which included matches against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Curt Hennig, and winning the Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling reality show.