In the mid-to-late 1990s, it was essentially impossible to get away from Dennis Rodman. If he wasn’t winning NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, he was showing up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography. He was a constant in the tabloids with his high-profile relationships with the likes of Madonna and Carmen Electra. He was everywhere and he was making a boatload of money.
He was a hot commodity and World Championship Wrestling knew it, which is why they decided to bring Rodman into the crazy world of professional wrestling in 1997. In the years before they were bought out by Vince McMahon, WCW was throwing crazy amounts of money around and actually beat WWE for 83 straight weeks in the ratings during the “Monday Night War.” Hulk Hogan and the New World Order faction were the hottest thing in professional wrestling and adding Dennis Rodman to the mix made it that much hotter.
Dennis Rodman made his WCW debut in 1997
In 1997, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash were the core of the nWo and had taken WCW to new heights. WCW President Eric Bischoff had made the company the top promotion in pro wrestling and had WWE scared for a while. The nWo had formed the year before when Hogan turned heel at “Bash at the Beach” and it was the coolest thing in wrestling at the time. Every segment they were involved in was must-see television as they ran roughshod over the rest of the WCW roster. Yes, it got stale after a while after way too many people joined the storyline but for a while, it was phenomenal.
Meanwhile, Dennis Rodman was one of the hottest commodities in the NBA. Once seemingly normal while with the Detroit Pistons, Rodman became quite the character with the San Antonio Spurs, coloring his hair and acting out more than usual. He joined Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls in 1995 and the trio led the Chicago Bulls to a 72-10 record in 1995-1996 en route to an NBA championship, the first of three the group would win together. Bischoff saw dollar signs in Rodman and wanted to bring him into the WCW mix and finally did so in March 1997, putting him alongside Hogan as part of the nWo. Rodman would make sporadic appearances but his NBA schedule limited him a bit. But once the Bulls’ season was over, Rodman made WCW a real priority and he had his first match that summer.
Hollywood and Rodzilla teamed up numerous times to face a variety of opponents, including Karl Malone
Dennis Rodman, who Hulk Hogan named “Rodzilla”, had his first match at the 1997 edition of “Bash at the Beach”, teaming with Hogan to take on Lex Luger and The Giant, who would later be known as The Big Show in WWE. I’m not going to pretend that it was the prettiest match in professional wrestling history but it certainly was entertaining to see Rodman mix it up in the ring. Hogan and Rodman took the loss and Rodman disappeared to begin his training for his next, and last, season with the Bulls, “The Last Dance” season in which Chicago once again beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.
The NBA Finals came to WCW in the summer of 1998 when Karl Malone also came to WCW to aid Diamond Dallas Page in his fight with Hogan and Rodman, who had returned to the company following the Bulls’ title run. This feud became national news as everyone wanted to discuss the rivalry of Rodman and Malone, who were able to put their real-life differences aside to entertain the masses. A tag team match featuring Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman vs. DDP & Karl Malone was set for “Bash at the Beach” and just like in the NBA Finals, Dennis Rodman emerged victorious over “The Mailman”, although Malone was a much better wrestler.
The following year, Dennis Rodman once again returned to WCW and had a short program with “Macho Man” Randy Savage, which set up Rodzilla’s lone singles match with the company, which he lost. Rodman also once faced Curt Hennig in 2000 in Australia’s short-lived i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling series. Rodman’s time in WCW was recently discussed on the WWE Network and he actually said that he wouldn’t mind stepping back in the ring for one more match against a certain NFL tight end that just came out of retirement.
Dennis Rodman made more money than many of WCW’s actual wrestlers
As previously mentioned, WCW used to throw money around like crazy. Hulk Hogan was clearly the highest-paid wrestler in the company, making more than $13 million from 1996-2000.
While Dennis Rodman certainly didn’t make that much, he still made a nice chunk of change for wrestling three matches in three years, racking up $1.6 million for his time in WCW. Not bad for just a few days of work, right? To put that in perspective, Rey Mysterio made $774,741 in the three-year period in which Dennis Rodman was involved in WCW. The late, great Eddie Guerrero made $1.05 million during that stretch. And those guys, along with so many others, were working at house shows almost every single night. But that was the star power of Dennis Rodman. Yes, he made his money but brought in so much more than that for the company. Everybody wanted a piece of Dennis Rodman and he cashed in on it. You certainly can’t blame him for that.