Eric Bischoff: The Benefit Of Bringing In Dennis Rodman Was The Branding Opportunity

Perhaps the best wrestling and sports crossovers occurred in 1998 when WCW was able to secure Dennis Rodman for an appearance during the 1998 NBA Finals.

The Bulls were in the middle of going for their third straight NBA Championship and Rodman blew off practice to appear alongside Hollywood Hulk Hogan on Nitro. The appearance eventually led to a tag team match at WCW Bash at the Beach pitting Rodman & Hogan against Karl Malone & Diamond Dallas Page. Rodman and Malone were fresh off their battle in the 1998 NBA Finals when they stepped in the ring against each other.

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"In terms of the advertising market and the mainstream media, the kind of coverage we got, we were still struggling. I knew that by bringing Dennis in, especially during the height of the playoffs and getting him involved, we would have so much media coverage that we could have never afforded to buy," Eric Bischoff told Dan Bernstein on The Dan Bernstein Show. "Every morning, every drive time sports show, this is all they would talk about. That's where the real benefit came. Obviously, it generated a lot of revenue for pay-per-view. We generated record pay-per-view that year and [Bash at the Beach]. But that wasn't really the big benefit. The big benefit was the branding opportunity that this created was far more than the money the event generated."

As documented on ESPN's The Last Dance, Rodman was able to separate work from play better than just about anyone in life. Though Rodman skipped practice following Game 3 of the Finals to be on Nitro, he showed up in Game 4, finishing with 6 points and 14 rebounds while helping to hold Malone to 21 points.

Bischoff elaborated on Rodman's ability to separate while in wrestling, saying, "The real challenge was getting him to the ring to work with him. All of the training, the majority of it took place in Orange County, California. It was myself, Hulk Hogan, and a couple of other people. He'd show up an hour and a half late, kind of hungover...most of the time. But once he showed up and you actually got him in the ring, it was like an entirely different human being. He's not only a smart basketball player. He's a very intelligent man."

Rodman not only defeated Malone and the Utah Jazz in the Finals that year, but Rodman & Hogan were victorious at Bash at the Beach as well.

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