KARL "The Maulman" Malone made his pro wrestling debut Sunday night in San Diego, but other than that I'm not sure what happened. Here's what I think happened:

Malone and his tag-team partner, Diamond Dallas Page, took on Dennis Rodzilla and Hollywood Hogan, the artist formerly known as Hulk. After much groping, slapping and spitting, some buttinski named Disciple, the artist formerly known as Brutus Beefcake, who had been hanging around the perimeter of the ring acting very suspicious, floored DDP when the ref wasn't looking, and Hogan pinned him.After much confusion, the result was this: Malone's team finished second, again. Rodman's team won because the referee blew it.

It all sounded vaguely familiar. Maybe it was a conspiracy. The whole thing looked planned to me. I stuck around afterward to ask some questions, but a half-dozen guys named Security told me to leave.

When last seen, Malone was spitting at his rivals as they left the ring, body slamming a referee and running into the crowd to be engulfed by his new fans. Gee, how come he never did that for the Jazz?

The rest of the night - dubbed the Bash at the Beach - was a blur of fireworks, heavy metal, smoke, spotlights, Spandex and pretended bodily mayhem. In other words, just another night at the WCW (Theme: A Thousand Ways to Hurt Someone).

Malone's debut was the featured event of the night. Fans and media - along with Kay Malone and two Jazz teammates, Bryon Russell and Antoine Carr - showed up to see what would happen when two of pro basketball's best players got into the ring for a little fake wrestling. The answer: not much.

Malone and DDP showed up in swell, matching purple Spandex pants and black vests, which they removed in the ring (the vests, I mean). For several minutes, Malone and Rodman did nothing but circle each other and gesture (which we can get on the basketball court), and the crowd booed and sang out, "Bor-ing!" and "Utah sucks!"

Rodman, looking at Malone, kissed his hand and slapped his butt, or kissed his butt and slapped his hand, I can't remember. Then things got childish. Hogan flexed; Malone flexed. Hogan flexed again; Malone flexed again. Finally, things got rolling; the spitting began. Let's see, Rodman spit on DDP. DDP spit on Rodman. DDP spit on Hogan. Hogan spit on Malone. Is Charles Barkley in the house?

They took turns getting the upper hand once the "wrestling" began. At one point, they choked Malone, but this wasn't exacty new territory for him. As the melodrama unfolded, Malone found himself in a corner pleading to be tagged by his partner, who was getting the snot beat out of him. Finally, after many agonizing minutes of sheer tedium, DDP tagged him and Malone pretty much beat the stink out of Rodman and Hogan.

OK, it's all fakery, but was Malone using mirrors when he hoisted a pair of 250-pounders over his head and tossed them on the mat like a bale of hay? He had the match in hand right up until the time the script called for Beefcake to show up.

Malone had called his pro wrestling debut his dream come true, and based on his enthusiasm and histrionics he had a wonderful time. He exhorted the crowd, he twisted his face in agony and anger, he danced around the ring like a kid at recess. His acting still needs a lot of work, but compared to Rodman he's Laurence Olivier. Rodman appeared reluctant and tentative. He was the only member of the wrestling cast who didn't remove his T-shirt (although my thought here is, the more clothes the better).

I consulted a few wrestling experts about the Bash - six new graduates of Jordan High who drove from Sandy to San Diego.

"Malone was a lot better than Rodman," said Jaron Moore. "He looked like he knew what he was doing. I can't believe they didn't have him take his shirt off."

"Rodman looked like he was just putting in an appearance; Malone looked like he was having fun," said Marty Pace.

"I didn't like the ending," said Brian Brunatti.

But Pace straightened us out on that account. "It always ends in controversy, because they want you to come back and watch again."


Wrestling is Malone's latest second-childhood adventure. After the big trucks and the Harleys and the car dealerships and Ty the Cop and the body building and the ranches, he has embraced wrestling, where anything goes except good acting. As near as I can tell, there are only six rules of the ring: 1. No guns, machetes or explosives.

2. Every match must include bodily harm delivered with a chair.

3. Every match must include a punch or kick to the crotch.

4. No wrestler can possess bodily hair.

5. At least part of the action must occur outside the ring.

6. There are no other rules.

Sunday's action included a post-match haircut, two bites on the derriere and enough spitting to start a baseball game. In the course of one evening, the ring was visited by guys sporting a Captain Midnight costume, a top hat and cane, a water toy and squirt gun and masks (compared to this crowd, Dennis Rodman looks like an accountant). Guys named Disco Inferno, Goldberg, Wolf Pack, Saturday and Raven.

On Sunday, they made way for The Mauler, the artist formerly known as Mailman.