Historically Significant Disasters of Wrestling #86 DDP and Karl Malone vs Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman

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This'll worm its way into your heart *guffaw*

I gotta be honest folks. With the way the world was heading I just didn't feel like doing another one of these that was going to make me angry like the previous one did. Luckily the WCW library is still there to watch...

So let's talk about this guy.


In a locker room whose factions would make the houses of Game of Thrones blush, Diamond Dallas Page (or DDP as he will be known for now on) is one of the few WCW workers of the late 90s that defied easy categorisation. He was friends with Bischoff and Nash and yet did not seem to have their predilection for creative control and the main event. Instead he was an upper midcarder who wrestled with, but wasn't lumped into the 'Vanilla Midgets' of Benoit, Jericho, Guerrero and the like.

But DDP almost made it to the main event by stealth. He wasn't a worker who had caught fire like Sting, Bret Hart or Goldberg in a way that made...ahem...certain parties in the company cut them off at the knees. Nor was he a guy like Hogan or Nash who seemed at times to have the main event in a vice-like grip. Instead he steadily accumulated a host of goodwill through his matches and his promos until essentially, he got to the top. Essentially, he's like the Davos Seaworth of WCW.

In January 1998, DDP first met his future tag team partner Karl Malone. A pro wrestling fanatic, Malone and Page soon hit it off and a kernel of an idea began to form in DDP's mind.

But to talk about it, let's talk about these guys

*cue porno music*


"You can go straight to Hell, Hogan! Straight to Hell!!!!"

As I've said before, after essentially ensuring that Sting had been reduced to just another babyface with the horrific way that they booked Starrcade 1997 and beyond, the nWo had grown so far above everyone else that the only way to break it up was to dismantle it from within. But since Bischoff (and Hogan and Nash, probably) still saw some cache in the name, they couldn't even do that properly. So instead of one nWo running roughshod over the roster, now there was two.

What was worse however, was the fact that because Hogan and the nWo had destroyed or assimilated every babyface's push like some scuzzy Majin Buu, the concept of them being beaten was beginning to wear thin. What was needed, therefore was a bit of glitz- where the cache of the Hogan name could be used to draw a bigger crowd.

Enter DDP's idea.

Page knew that WCW had once again signed Dennis Rodman for an obscene amount of money (more on that later) and he also knew that him and Malone had beef, as Rodman's Chicago Bulls had beaten his Utah Jazz in the past two years in the NBA FInals. Why not use that to parlay into a match- Rodman and Hogan vs Page and Malone?

It should be stressed how naturally well the two basketballers meshed as characters into the feud: both with their partners and their opponents. Malone was known as 'the Mailman'- because of his professionalism and consistency. Like DDP he was a guy that could be relied upon by the Jazz to be a team player. This also came across in Malone's approach to training for the match- flying to the WCW Power Plant for a month in order to lock up with workers of various sizes under the watchful eye of DDP. Indeed, DDP probably saw something of himself in Malone as a guy who thought he'd never get the chance to fufil his chance to wrestle, only for fortune to smile upon him a little later in life. They screamed 'scrappy, but cool babyfaces'.

Rodman, on the other hand, was already something of an outlier. Part of a trio of star players in the Chicago Bulls (along with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen), 'the Worm' was never one who could be handled in orthodox fashion. Indeed, Jordan himself talks about how he had to literally drag Rodman out of Las Vegas after he had 'extended' a 48-hour sabbatical by three days with Carmen Electra. He dated Madonna, Electra and other high profile celebs and screamed the high flying, high spending, 'I-don't-give-any-fucks' lifestyle that the nWo also leant heavily upon.

Another benefit of the feud was that it helped get the title off the stale guy and put it onto a fresh one. With a huge main event at Bash at the Beach with Rodman coming up (as well as probably the idea to follow this up with the one with Leno), Hogan knew that his immediate future as 'guy-who-all-the-cool-kids-wanna-hang-with' was assured. He probably astutely realised as well that he put over Goldberg in a way that would allow him to conquer him back down the line- thus furthering his time on top and allowing him another subsequent reign. Indeed, whatever you think of the title change on Nitro and the fact that they pissed money down the toilet, they got the title onto Goldberg and managed to fuel the marquis feud. So that's good going. may be looking at all this and wondering why it is actually here. I mean, the match did draw and it did help solve the problem of getting the title belt off Hogan. And it has to be said that Page and Malone did a great job meshing as a team, with Malone especially surprising at how much time and effort he clearly put into this whole wrestling caper.

The reason it is here is because of the two guys on the other side of the ring. And Eric Bischoff. But to go through that, we first have to go through the match.

Hoo boy.

There is a rumour that Hogan wanted this match to be 40mins. While a part of me thinks that's laughable, I do wonder if Hogan was worried about the success that was Goldberg and was trying to essentially advocate himself as the better wrestler by wrestling an epic encounter that went for 25+mins. If I was watching American Alpha vs the Revival such a prospect would be mouthwatering. But if I'm watching two celebrity wrestlers (one who wasn't in top shape) and a over-the-hill Hulk Hogan I might be thinking twice...

It also didn't help that the ring announcer claimed that the match was "bigger than any title, trophy or championship belt".. This being the match after GOLDBERG DEFENDED HIS WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE FIRST FREAKIN' TIME. Sure, it was big and amazing, but the fact that Bischoff (almost certainly at the behest of Hogan) had to add that line really showed how odd the company was when it came to coddling Hogan at the expense of everyone else on the card.

Even the announcement of the entrances are ludicrous. Hogan and Rodman's announcements seem to go on longer than an audiobook of War and Peace, and the commentators going on about them as "the most famous tag team in the history of wrestling". Conversely, when DDP and Malone come out, because of the fact that they are not part of the wonderous nWo, they are bizarrely announced as having "no official organisation or affiliation", which I think is supposed to put them over as cool babyfaces, but actually makes them seem like the people who no one want to sit with at school. And as for the line to describe Malone: "he plans to deliver the mail like it has never been delivered before"...WTF?! How does that get this team over?! And the thing is, in most wrestling companies I would put this down to just incompetence, but because its WCW and can't help but feel that there's maybe an element of sabotage.

It truly is almost worth it to see how much Malone is enjoying it though. When him and Page get in the middle of the ring and salute the crowd, you can see a) how much he loved this and b) how much basketball's gain was pro wrestling's loss (this is not even mentioning the, er, incredible fluorescent grape pants that he and DDP are wearing in this match that look like there are out of a Saturday Night Fever nightmare).

Like many WCW matches involving Hogan, there is then approximately 5 mins of preamble while both sides seem to forget that it is one guy in the ring at the time and they seemingly haven't decided who would go first beforehand (wrestlers amiright?). And I know they are kinda pumping the crowd, but there's only so much you can do of it.

Unless something else was amiss.

Throughout this opening sequence, Rodman appears...disinterested at best. Even when the match starts he doesn't even take off his glasses and shirt (he soon does and gives them to Hogan, where his eyes appear...ahem...glazed). While Malone is doing his best to look like he's scouting Malone, Rodman is essentially walking laps of the ring in the world's shortest constitutional (DDP in this opening sequence looks angrier and angrier as Rodman walks past him). The commentators are hilariously putting this over as Rodman being "cool", as if stalling by sticking your torso through the ropes (yes, he does this too to 'taunt' Malone) is the equivalent of a Rock promo. After approximately 2 and a half mins of this (it feels longer, believe me), they FINALLY lock up with Rodman giving the oddest looking headlock on Malone before being irish whipped and escaping out of the ring. It's at this point, where the camera gets a close up look at a...strangely grinning Rodman that Hogan smartly moves in and essentially gets involved to take the attention away from how (and I don't say this lightly) wasted his tag partner looks, getting himself tagged into face Malone.

Amusingly, Hogan actually challenges Malone to a...flex off and then pouts like a 4 year old when Malone's pythons are bigger (look, I know it's low hanging fruit, but the first few minutes were a trial) and also gets incensed when Malone puts his hand up for a lock up...only for it to be too tall for Hulk to reach (honestly I can't describe how good Malone is here). What makes this all the more stark is a few seconds later when Malone has Hogan in a headlock...Rodman looks like he's waiting for a sandwich, totally inanimate and not engaging in the match. Even when Malone picks up Hogan for a pretty good looking bodyslam, Rodman barely moves.

The trouble is that for all the hype, and all the praise I heap on Malone here, in the first 6 minutes apart from a couple of lock ups, the one real highlight is a bodyslam. And this is made worse by the commentary who cognitive dissonance of Rodman is particularly bizarre. When he is tagged in to face DDP and gets shoved to the ground NOT 15 secs later after doing more sauntering around the ring, the commentators claim that he has "changed the complection of this match". HOW?! Is he trying to win by starving Malone and DDP to death?!

My guess is that DDP, Malone and Hogan had a match mapped out but when Rodman came out wasted they had to chuck a lot of it in the can. Sooo the question becomes...why not do a 10 minute match where Rodman can pull off a couple of moves DDP can make a couple of Rodman's moves look good? There's one moment in the match where DDP has Rodman in the headlock only to be thrown into the ropes, but Rodman spends too much time adjusting his nWo bandana, ensuring he can't get into position for whatever the next spot is...and so runs into DDP into a weird human version of dodgem cars, causing him to fall into the ropes and causing DDP to be none too impressed. About half a minute after that, there's a spot where they lock up AGAIN (this is like the 10th lockup of the match so far) and Rodman gets DDP in a headlock...only to not realise to let go for some sort of move to the point where DDP just has to shove him over and Rodman pulls him down with him in something that seems more like a pub brawl between two old men than an athletic contest. What makes it worse is that DDP attempts to either buy some time and/or get the match back on track with a pin attempt, making this the only time I know of pushing someone down being enough for a 2 count. They then try for a leapfrog sequence where Rodman jumps DDP once! Then twice! Then collides again with Page and makes them both fall over.

In case you haven't realised by now, I feel so sorry for Page and Malone in this match (when DDP tags Malone in after this can't help but feel how pissed he is). Malone then again aquits himself really well against Hogan only to be the victim of a really clumsy axehandle from behind by Rodman. Hogan then takes over for a while and Malone sells beautifully (honestly he could have been so good). The thing is good as Malone is...Hogan at this stage of his career wasn't the most proficient of workers and so you a loooong part of the match of very basic moves, occasionally broken up by the odd Rodman pratfall (such as when he tries to hold Malone up for Hogan to hit him, only to fall over himself, thus making the commentators claim that the Hogan punch was so hard even Rodman fell down). At this stage even Hogan is so annoyed (and probably worried) that he literally tags his own hand and tells the ref what's going on, essentially shutting Rodman out of a lot of the match. Finally (and I mean finally) DDP gets the hot tag and hops to the top rope for a flying clothesline in a pretty awesome move before Rodman manages to get another cheap shot, leading to Hogan whipping DDP with his own weight belt (why is that not a DQ again?).

And so there's another sequence where Hogan dominates and it just begins to feel...dull. Like, I realise Rodman is not in much condition, but it seems as a result Hogan has decided to take the Lion's share of the heat for himself, to the point where both faces kinda sell for an over-the-hill wrestler and his stoned buddy (this is made all the more hilarious by the announcers claiming that it looks like DDP and Malone weren't as prepared as said wrestler and buddy). Seriously, this whole sequence goes on for about 10mins to the point where FINALLY Malone looks like he's got the hot tag, the crowd is dead in the water. It is a credit to Malone that he manages to get them up again (it also helps that he can barely keep the smile off his face, like he, I don't know, wants to be there). He then tags in Page who hits Hogan with a Diamond Cutter (which Hogan sells terribly). Page takes an age to cover Hogan (probably so Rodman can get himself in position to run in), and Malone gives a great Diamond Cutter to Rodman and then...seems to distract the ref (honestly I don't know why), allowing the Disciple to stun Page and give the nWo the pin and the win.

Y'see I reckon what happened was that Bischoff could book the match, he could use it to get Hogan to drop the title, but to get Hogan to lose? That was a bridge too far, even if it was THE ONLY LOGICAL BOOKING DECISION. But not only that, Hogan couldn't allow the two faces to walk out with any momentum, so not only did the nWo win, they just sauntered to the back and mugged for the camera while the babyface team (remember them?) walked into the crowd and seemingly were never heard from again. All it did was fed the idea that Hogan and Bischoff thought the nWo was their cash cow, despite the fact they were a) supposedly heels and b) now 2 years old. And as much as Hogan may have said it was the right call because of 'heel heat', a good heel team would have won, and got out of there because they almost lost. They would not have walked out slowly and mugged for a camera to essentially shat on the babyface team unless they wanted to be the cool team.

And this is why it is on the list. Not because of the build, which was great, or the revenue which was spectacular. Nor Malone or Page who did the very best they could with the shitty hand they were dealt. What this did was show when WCW had the chance, the real chance to jump to the mainstream with some interesting content they choked because they enabled and fed people's egos (just to rub salt into the wound, Rodman made $1.5 million from the match compared to Malone's $900 000) rather than think about how they could have used the match to, God forbid, actually move past the fucking nWo. And the irony was that the more Bischoff was depending on the nWo, the more stale they were becoming. And because nobody had the balls to sit Hogan down and tell him that his best use on the WCW roster was as a guy who could elevate talent rather than put them through a 20 minute quagmire, this kept happening- partly to ensure that Hogan got the lion's share of the credit, but also partly to show that even when Hogan wasn't the World Champion, he did everything in his power to imply to the audience that he should be.

And that's a very long 86th episode! Do you agree! Leave your comments below. Next time we look at one of the great disappointments of 21st century wrestling because a company didn't do its research. Confused? You'll see!

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#24 Hulk Hogan's Mancow Interview of 1999
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