WWE Hall of Famer “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase Sr. recently took some time to participate in an exclusive in-depth interview withPWMania.com. DiBiase, now retired from active wrestling, serves the public as a minister for Heart of David Ministry and had a lot to say about his new profession, wrestling, his family and more including Vince McMahon, Steve Austin, The Undertaker, WCW and the attitude era. Here are some highlights from the interview:
WWE Hall of Famer, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase recently sat down with Steve and the Scum on WGD Weekly for a fantastic, in depth, 90 plus minute interview, which can be heard in its entirety here:
DiBiase walks through all points of his legendary career and beyond with WGD Weekly from his college days at West Texas State all the way up through his induction to the WWE Hall of Fame and even his son, Ted, Jr and his thoughts on him leaving the WWE this past September.
Some highlights from the interview include Ted speaking on:
The differences in working for WWF and WCW: “…The major difference between WCW and the WWF is the WWF is a well-oiled machine that was run very well by Vince McMahon, who had his finger on the button all the time and knew what he was doing. I couldn’t say that for WCW, I’m sorry but they were the worst organization, in the time that I was there, it was kind of like too many chiefs and not enough Indians. There were times that we would go on the live show and they didn’t even know what they were going to do in the last segment yet…”
His thoughts on his son, Ted, Jr. parting ways with WWE last September: “…At a place and a time in my life, I was putting my life back together and I really came to understand that there was no amount of money that I could make that was worth being away from my family for any length of time, which is a decision that my son had recently made. I didn’t want my sons to wrestle. Not because I didn’t love wrestling and the lifestyle, but because of the demand that it takes from you in terms of being away from family…”
What is missing in today’s wrestling product: “…In my opinion, that’s the one thing today that’s really missing, and again, I’m not taking anything away from John Cena, Cena is a great guy, he is a consummate pro, he is one of the hardest working guys I have ever seen. But, it’s like every good run has it’s run and I think it’s run its course in terms of he has been there so long but what are they gonna replace him with? Where is that next bigger than life superstar? You had Hogan, then you had Austin, then you got the Rock, you had Shawn Michaels, but it’s like, where is that next star? That is the question that I’m asking…who is it gonna be?”
Turning down an opportunity to work for the WWF in 1984: “…I went back to Atlanta in 1984. This was when Vince was starting to make his move. We did a television in Atlanta and in walks Pat Patterson and they get all the guys together and Pat makes this big announcement of what is about to happen that the WWF was now going to have its show on TBS…I remember pat saying to the guys there, ‘Now, I don’t want any of you to worry, nobody is losing their job, everybody has got a job. So, I got Pat off to the side, and I said, ‘look, with all due respect, you and I have known each other a long time…you and I both know there is a difference in having a job and having a position. I said, right now, I know you guys have your key guys in position, so I think I’m gonna go back to Mid-South and I am going to wait for a better time. So, I went back to Mid-South in 1984…”
The original plan for WrestleMania 4, him almost becoming WWE Champion, and how plans changed: “…The show with the twin referee’s at Market Square Arena; the set up for WrestleMania 4 was exactly what it was supposed to be. Andre puts the belt around my waist, basically signifying that he had sold it to me, and I actually wore the belt for about a week or two weeks, then they come out with the Jack Tunney announcement…so they vacate the title and that was the whole idea to set up WrestleMania 4. Now, originally, the thought was that I would in some underhanded way, win at WrestleMania 4. I think there were a couple of things. One thing, the Honky Tonk Man was the Intercontinental Champion and for whatever reason, he didn’t want to drop the belt to Randy Savage, which is I think what they originally thought about doing there. I remember Pat Patterson came to me and he said, ‘Ted, what would put more heat on you, if we do what we normally do, your built as a heel and in some underhanded way you get the title and you have the run with Hogan and of course you drop the title then he goes on with somebody else, or you don’t win the title at WrestleMania, and eventually, you create your own belt.’ In other words, I don’t need your title, I am gonna create my own title and I am going to defend it every night. So, I said, ‘That’s the ticket.’”
A classic story from his time on the road with Andre the Giant: “…The funniest story is, we were going to Japan. It is a fourteen hour flight from Atlanta, or New York, or Dallas, just about anywhere, to Japan. Andre is sitting in first class, and Andre sitting in first class is like me sitting in coach now, you know, you’re jammed in the seat, you’re not comfortable. So, we get off the plane and now it’s another hour into the city, we check into the hotel and we drop our bags and we are going to go get something to eat. So, I push the button on the elevator and there is Andre, ‘Hey boss, let’s go eat’ and so as it starts down, it seems that this elevator stops on every floor and people just keep getting on. Japan is a very small country, with a lot of people, so what you and I would consider a full elevator, not over there. One thing about the Giant is he doesn’t like to be crowded, and he has just been on a fourteen hour flight, crammed in a little seat in a plane, and now he is in a Japanese hotel in a room that is by our standard normal, but in his standard not, and now, he is in an elevator and people keep getting on. He reaches over and taps me on the shoulder or the leg and I glanced up at him and he winked and he smiled. I said, ‘okay, something is going to happen.’ I’m looking straight ahead and all of a sudden, the Giant cuts the loudest, longest fart I believe I have ever heard in my life. I remember standing there thinking when is it going to end, it was like ‘oh my gosh,’ and it just kept going. The poor guy who is standing directly behind him, which obviously…this guy is right at butt level, so he is getting it full force. All I can tell you is this, when the elevator stopped and the doors opened, those people couldn’t get off the elevator fast enough, it was like the exodus. All you could hear was the Giant going, ‘Ho,ho,ho,ho, ho.” I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe…it was a classic Andre moment…”
A chance meeting many years after with the little kid that he kicked the basketball away from in one of his early “Million Dollar Man” spots on WWE TV: “…of all the stunts we did, the one people ask me the most about is that one…I just started saying and of course, this is twenty years later, that kid is five then, so he would be 25 or 26 years old now. I said what is probably gonna happen is I am gonna be walking through an airport and some guy is gonna tap me on the shoulder and he will be six foot six and look down at me and say, ‘hey, remember that kid and the basketball?’ Now, I said it jokingly, then a couple of years ago I flew into Omaha, Nebraska…and I rented a car and I walked out to get the car…So, I’m trying to find a car and this guy walks up, taps me on the shoulder, I turn around and I look up at him, and he is about six foot six, this guy is a monster. He says, ‘Mr. DiBiase, I’m the general manager here. I will help you find a car if you like and, oh, by the way, do you remember that thing you did with the kid and the basketball?’ I looked at him and I just went, ‘No.’ He just got the biggest grin on his face and he says, ‘Yep, it was me.’ I almost had a cow…”
In addition to these points, the “Million Dollar Man” also spoke in detail on every stop in his career and many of the legendary performers he worked with as he told Steve and the Scum about his time on the football field at West Texas State, breaking into the business as a referee for Terry Funk, the Kansas City territory and the Missouri State Title, working with Dick Slater and Dick Murdoch, him nearly being named as NWA Champion and why he feels he wasn’t, the creative mind of Bill Watts, his time with Mid-South wrestling, battling Hulk Hogan in Hogan’s MSG debut for WWWF, feuds with Jim Duggan and Junkyard Dog, the “Rat Pack” in Mid-South, Georgia Championship Wrestling and feuding with Tommy Rich, teaming in Japan with Stan Hansen, being pitched the Million Dollar Man gimmick by Vince McMahon, being the Million Dollar Man outside the ring, the “twin referee match on NBC’s Main event that set up WrestleMania 4, his favorite WrestleMania moments, the Million Dollar Belt, the introduction of the Undertaker on his team at the Survivor Series 1990 on his team, managing Steve Austin, his tag team partners including “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Mike Rotundo (I.R.S.) and Hansen, his jump in the late 1990’s from WWE to WCW, being inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame and much, much more.
WGD Weekly with Steve and the Scum interviews a different legend from “Wrestling’s Glory Days” every week as a part of their show. You can find all of their previous shows and get updates and information on upcoming programming on their Facebook site at www.facebook.com/WGDWeekly, or on Twitter @WGDWeekly. All shows are also available on their YouTube channel and iTunes.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on www.newsday.com and was written by Josh Stewart.
Ted DiBiase was in WWE talent development, and didn’t even know it.
Back in the ’80s, when his “Million Dollar Man” character lived to demean crowds on a nightly basis, a young fan gave a post-match smooch to DiBiase’s “stinky, sweaty” feet for cash in Grand Rapids, Mich., to confirm that “everyone has a price.”
“And this little kid, probably 12 years old at the time, climbed in the ring, kissed my feet, took the 300 dollars and grew up to be Rob Van Dam,” WWE Hall of Famer DiBiase said with a laugh.
WWE Hall of Famer Ted Dibiase Sr. recently spoke to Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com.
Here are some highlights:
Wrestling as WWF World Champion at house shows after buying it from Andre The Giant: “I don’t know whether it was a week or two where I would go to a few house shows and they introduced me as the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion. Of course, that was to continue to let people’s anger stew, so to speak. How could this jerk do this? Then of course they come out with the statement from [storyline WWF President] Jack Tunney, the supposed boss, saying there was no way I could buy the title. They were stripping me of the title and since technically speaking, Andre had won, whether it was fair or not, that was the decision made that night. And since Andre was unwilling to take the belt back because I had paid him, what are they going to do? Well, the only thing they could do was hold a tournament to crown a new champion. So there was the setup.”
The legacy of Mid-South Wrestling:
“It was one of the best. I mean, even today when you talk to wrestling fans, it’s like Mid-South has its own following in a similar way to ECW in the ’90s. Bill Watts, who has mellowed out somewhat over the years, he was kind of like a Vince Lombardi in that you learned from him through fear and intimidation. But he was very good. I mean, he came out of the Eddie Graham school of wrestling, so to speak. And Eddie is considered one of the greatest psychologists of our business in terms of what makes it work and angles and all that stuff.”
His bloody feud with Hacksaw Jim Duggan:
“Jim and I could go in a match and be wrestling each other, the people would be screaming for him, booing me, and when we’re up there of course it’s business. We worked really well together, and when things click between two wrestlers, you can be in the midst of business but at the same time we’d be telling jokes.