On This Day: July 12, 1998 – The NBA Invaded WCW

On This Day, July 12, 1998, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman defeated Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone. 10,095 people were in attendance, with 580,000 homes purchasing the event on pay-per-view.

The lackluster stories and low television ratings during the current era of professional wrestling have caused people to forget just how popular it used to be. There were millions of viewers that would tune in every week. It was cool to be a wrestling fan, and everyone wanted to be a part of it – including two NBA legends.

Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman are two of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. They met each other on a couple of occasions in the NBA Finals, including during the 1998 season. The two would have extremely physical battles on the court, and it was only a matter of time before the tension spilled over to the ring. On the Monday after Chicago’s Game 3 win, Rodman appeared on Nitro, where he took part in several segments throughout the three-hour show. The feud started that night when Hogan said to Rodman:

“Rodzilla, I love the way you throw Malone around”

Rodman’s evening ended with him delivering several chair shots to DDP.

Malone was a good friend of DDP. He wasn’t going to stand by and watch this disrespectful gesture. Karl has mentioned on a few occasions that he never wanted to play basketball growing up. His true dream was to be a professional wrestler. Well, he would finally get his wish against his biggest on-court rival. Even though Rodman and Hogan got the victory, Karl was able to shine. He hit a slam on Rodman and Hogan and also connected with a Dimond Cutter.

The match might not have been the best, but it certainly brought publicity and controversy. The main event ended up drawing a 1.50 buy-rate, the highest of any WCW pay-per-view event that year. The actual match lasted 23 minutes. But Bob Costas couldn’t believe that players of their stature would get in the ring. “Rodman and Karl Malone, regrettably, are scheduled to wrestle in one of those bogus events next month. Why Malone wants to lower himself to that is anyone’s guess, and Rodman apparently wants to start wrestling now.” Costas said during a broadcast.

The match did exactly what it was meant for. It got people talking and brought the outside world into the wrestling universe. At its peak, there was nothing more exciting or polarizing than professional wrestling. The NBA got a small taste of that On This Day, July 12, 1998.

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