Dennis Rodman’s WCW career was brief, but lucrative for the Hall of Fame basketball player. He wrestled one match in each of 1997, 1998 and 1999 and Eric Bischoff revealed just how much money The Worm received for his appearances.
“The total fee was just a little over $1 million, like a million and change,” Bischoff said on After 83 Weeks. “But that was for a number of different appearances. It wasn’t just for one appearance. I know that sounds like a ton of money, and it is a ton of money?But in the big scheme of things you know, Mike Tyson probably got three times that much. Other performers in WWF get much, much bigger numbers.
“I had a number in my head, because in my mind getting Dennis Rodman would create a certain amount of buzz that if I had to pay for would probably cost me three times that much money…The press that I knew I would get from that I really wouldn’t even be able to buy.”
In 1998 Rodman and Hulk Hogan teamed up to take on fellow NBA great Karl Malone and Diamond Dallas Page. That match just happened to come right after Rodman’s Bulls played Malone’s Jazz in the NBA Finals and Bischoff says he encouraged the two to “start” the feud while they were still doing their day jobs.
“I got ahold of Dennis through his manager at the time, Dwight Manley,” stated Bischoff. “I said ‘Look, nothing during the game. I don’t want to be accused of screwing up a game, be it playoffs. But if there’s any chance when you guys are kind of in between, or if you’re off court you know near the court there’s cameras running, if you guys could like push and shove each other a little bit, you know kind of raise the heat, raise the temperature just a bit. I wouldn’t be disappointed if something like that were to happen. I’m not telling you to do it!’
“I’m just telling you if something were to happen like that, I’d be pretty happy about it.”
Apart from athletes like Rodman and Malone, Bischoff also recruited Jay Leno to wrestle in WCW. Leno and DDP teamed up to take on Bischoff and Hogan at 1998’s Road Wild.
To build up to that match, Hogan and Bischoff invaded The Tonight Show and tried to take it over. Bischoff recounts pitching that segment to Leno and the surprise reaction that Leno gave him.
“I’m literally booking this whole thing on the fly,” stated Bischoff. “I said, well I don’t know maybe Hogan and I come down and we throw you off your set, take over your show. You tell a couple jokes about him which will piss him off and that’s why we’re going to come down and throw you off your own set.
“Jay went, yeah, I can see that, yeah. I went, holy s*** he’ll do it! I didn’t think he would do that. I thought it was going to be like, yeah I’ll work Hulk Hogan’s corner, or you know some peripheral celebrity kind of typical formula. Nope, he wanted to get in the ring. He wanted to have a match and he didn’t care if we threw him off of his own set to do it! So that was pretty cool.”