One of the biggest events in wrestling during the 1990s consisted of Rodman making sporadic appearances in WCW as a part of Hollywood Hulk Hogan’s nWo.
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com recently spoke with Eric Bischoff and the topic of Rodman came up. Bischoff had Rodman on an episode of Monday Night Nitro when he was supposed to be at practice for the Chicago Bulls. Bischoff explains that, while it probably should have been a bigger deal, he didn’t see a whole lot of commotion from TNT.
“Ironically I didn’t (get much feedback),” Bischoff said. “I say ironically because my boss at the time was a guy by the name of Harvey Schiller. Harvey Schiller was the President of Turner Sports. One of Harvey Schiller’s most important jobs as Head of Turner Sports was to manage and maintain the working relationship between Turner Broadcasting and the NBA because Turner Broadcasting held the NBA rights on TNT and I think they still do. So, the fact this was all occurring during the NBA playoffs with a company, WCW, that was a part of Turner Broadcasting that held those rights, which is unique enough in and of itself, becomes even more hard to believe when my boss was the guy whose job was on the line for maintaining that relationship. To answer your question, no. I never got any real pushback. I got a couple questions. Harvey was curious, but not in an over handed way.”
Bischoff adds that Rodman’s appeal was undeniable. He was making splashes around the world for being a successful and unique person.
“Let’s be honest about it, first and foremost, Dennis Rodman is a guy that comes along once every hundred years,” said Bischoff. “He was an incredibly talented, just top in his game as a rebounder, athlete, who was kinda peculiar. He did his own thing. Guy showed up in a wedding dress to sign books. He was a whacked dude, and I think in a great way. So, that’s part of it. You’re not gonna find a lot of athletes that would be willing to do some of the crazy stuff that Dennis did. Maybe close.”
Bischoff speculates that things like this don’t happen nowadays because contracts likely don’t allow it anymore. Once their athletes started doing things that could cause injury, they started prohibiting things on their off-season to ensure their deal.
“I think even more reason why you won’t see it again today and it becomes harder to imagine, is because I think—not because of what Dennis did—but, if you look back to the mid-90s, even before WWE, Lawrence Taylor and other people, NFL players, I think once the NFL and the NBA and other leagues started seeing talent from other leagues and other sports, as well as their own, getting into the ring and doing these physical things, knowing they’re doing them during their off season—which according to their contracts at the time was legal, nothing that prohibited them from doing it at that time—and they all went, “Nuh-uh. We got $80,000,000 wrapped up in this dude over the next five years and he’s out there getting bounced around like a ping-pong ball. No, we’re not gonna let that happen any more. I think a lot of contracts now make it so difficult—look at Ben Roethlisberger several years ago riding a motorcycle off season, almost killed him, but certainly had an impact on his season. I think those types of things have now gotten owners and leagues to go, “Alright, from now on, no hang gliding, no shooting yourself over the Snake River Canyon in a rocket ship, no wrestling,” said Bischoff.