WCW Nearly Ran Rodman/Carmen Electra Divorce Angle on NBC Special Head to Head with WWE St. Valentine's Day Massacre 1999

Posted By James Walsh on 01/14/20


On the latest edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed how close WCW was to airing a two hour primetime special on NBC head-to-head against WWE’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre PPV on February 14th, 1999 (and a rumored second one airing head-to-head against WrestleMania 15 on March 28th). NBC needed to fill a primetime programming hole on February 14th due to the NBA lockout and reportedly reached out to WCW. According to Bischoff, the first special would have featured Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra getting divorced on-air, but Turner executives refused to let WCW do the special on NBC. Highlights are below.

On how WCW needed something big to change in 1999 as WWE had surpassed Nitro: “This one still pisses me off. We had, at the time, and again, context is king, WWE was breathing down our back, they went from being the kiddie show and the goofy cartoon, animated, Doink the Clown kind of nonsense to the Attitude Era, Mike Tyson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mr. McMahon, they upped their game, they adapted to the new formula that Nitro and the nWo in specific had created. They not only adapted to it, they started to perfect it, and they were doing it better than we were doing it, and they were willing to take bigger, more frequent, and bigger risks in terms of what they presented. Mae Young giving birth to a hand. Sexual Chocolate. All that kind of crazy stuff they were doing to get back on their feet again and recapture that audience that Nitro had dominated from them for so long.”

“We needed something strategically that would completely change the landscape, and the NBC opportunity was one of them, I mean it was the biggest one of them.”

On NBC reaching out to WCW and WCW’s big idea to do a Dennis Rodman & Carmen Electra divorce on the first NBC special: “So when the NBA strike occurred, Gary reached out to me from NBC and said, ‘Hey, do you think you could put something together for February 14th?’ And jumped on it immediately, put together a couple of, ya know, one really big idea that we knew would get numbers for NBC and for WCW, is we were going to have, instead of a wrestling wedding, we were going to have the first ever wrestling divorce between Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman, because they were getting divorced at the time, and we still had a good working relationship with everybody and they still got along as friends, and everybody was game. Dennis was game, Carmen was game, everybody was game, so we were going to have a WCW live divorce on national television.”

On how Turner Executives ended up shooting down the idea of WCW doing specials for NBC: “Had everything lined up. Everybody was on board. The creative was laid out. Pitched it to NBC, they loved it. I had to get permission from Turner. Now keep in mind, I get sick of myself when I talk about the AOL Time Warner thing, because I understand how listeners can go, ‘Oh, he’s just pissing and moaning and blaming it on somebody else.’ I get it. If I hadn’t lived it, I would probably be doing and thinking the same thing. However, at this point, had this opportunity come my way to do an NBC special in ’97, I would not have even had to pick up the phone and ask permission.”

“But at this point, in ’99, it was all about Time Warner, with AOL coming down the pipe, and you had to get everything approved by a committee who was created to put together a committee that was designed to analyze the findings of a committee and then reform another committee to finally make a decision. That was kind of like the process of doing business at Turner Broadcasting for me about this time. So, of course, being the good corporate citizen that I tried to be, some of the time, I took the opportunity, ran it up the flag pole, and got shot down. Got shot down.”

“The only reason that opportunity went away is because Turner didn’t want to take advantage of it. They refused to let me do it. Had nothing to do with the NBA schedule, had nothing to do with the strike being settled, because we would have had that locked, it would have been a commitment, we would have been there, that two hour block.”