As expected, Karl Malone's loss turned out to be cable
pay-per-view managers' gain.
It wasn't necessarily expected that Utah Jazz power
forward Malone would lose a tag-team wrestling match to Chicago Bulls counterpart Dennis
"Rodzilla" Rodman during the World Championship Wrestling Bash at the Beach
But Malone's reputation as a dignified athlete was
bound to suffer, regardless of the outcome.
As it happened, Rodman and partner "Hollywood"
Hulk Hogan defeated Malone and "Diamond" Dallas Page; the hotly contested ending
inspired an enraged Malone to take out his frustration by body-slamming the referee. (In
the National Basketball Association, where Malone's and Rodman's teams competed
in last year's championships, Rodman is the one who once head-butted a ref.) Of
course, Malone still got paid -- a reported $900,000.
For PPV managers, though, the widely publicized event was
another welcome payday during the "Year Without Boxing."
Jay Hassman, PPV director at Time Warner Inc.-owned WCW,
said last Wednesday, "We've only heard positive reports" from cable
operators about the $29.95 event. He predicted that the final tally would indicate a total
of around 600,000 buys. Hassman added that WCW was hoping only to match last year's Bash
mark of 500,000 buys.
Ted Hodgins, PPV director at Media General Cable in
Fairfax, Va., said the July 12 event "did very well for us -- it did about 1,200
orders." That was about 10 percent to 15 percent higher than last year's Bash,
which featured Rodman, but not Malone.
Hodgins said the results didn't approach what a Mike
Tyson heavyweight fight would do, or even a WCW Starcade event, but "we were
happy with it." The bout also required very little marketing because it was so
Hassman said he thought that the Rodman-Malone headlines
made the buys for this Bash at least 25 percent higher than those for last
Wrestling has become an important stopgap for operators,
which have been stung by Tyson's continued disqualification and the cancellation of
scheduled events, such as last month's "D-Day" fight between heavyweights
Evander Holyfield and Henry Akinwande. Promoters are trying hard to extend
wrestling's audience by including nonwrestlers such as Tyson, Rodman and Malone, and
by tacking on a Travis Tritt concert to the Aug. 8 WCW event. Since October, wrestling on
PPV has consistently drawn 1 percent buy-rates, Hassman said.
The Bash's end came when a Hogan crony known as
"The Disciple" entered the ring and tricked the referee, who was momentarily
distracted by Rodman, into believing that Hogan had pinned Page. Pandemonium ensued, with
Malone applying Page's patented "Diamond Cutter" takedown move to The
Disciple, Hogan, Rodman and then the referee, according to people who watched the event.
Setting up a rematch? Hassman said WCW doesn't comment
on such matters.