Hello faithful Ragers, and welcome to the inaugural edition of a new feature here on our fine website. The 'WWE Week in Reviews' written by our own Adam Langton have proven quite popular, and so I decided to create another ongoing piece for the sports entertainment professional wrestling fans among us. Since Adam has the current goings-on under control, I've decided to take us all back to the first golden era of modern wrestling. Welcome to...the era of Hulkamania!
Well, sort of. While the Hulkster might be the most obvious choice with which to begin our journey, he's not the person I've decided to cover this week. Today's subject is one of the greatest villains of Hogan's time on top of the WWF. That man is none other than the 'Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase!
First off, a little background on DiBiase himself. Ted was born Theodore Marvin Willis on January 18, 1954 in Miami, Florida. He was first introduced to the wrestling world by his adoptive father, Italian wrestler 'Iron' Mike DiBiase. Sadly for Ted, tragedy would strike him pretty early in life. Mike DiBiase passed away in the middle of the ring during a match on July 2, 1969. The cause of death was ruled a heart attack. Nevertheless, DiBiase eventually did get the wrestling bug himself, dropping out of college to pursue a career in the scripted sport in 1974. The future WWE Hall of Famer was trained by none other than wrestling legends Terry and Dory Funk, Jr.
From 1975-1979, DiBiase competed for the Bill Watts promoted Mid-South Wrestling territory. He made his WWF debut in '79, but his first stint was very short lived. DiBiase then worked for a mix of the NWA, Mid-South, and All-Japan Pro Wrestling. In 1987, over a decade into his career, Ted finally scored his big break when he signed a new contract with the then World Wrestling Federation. DiBiase's re-debut in the WWF coincided with an extreme character makeover, one that would give birth to one of the greatest bad guys in the history of professional wrestling.
The wrestler formerly known as simply Ted Dibiase, was now the filthy rich jerk known to all as the 'Million Dollar Man'. Prior to the character's in-ring introduction, viewers were primed with a series of vignettes illustrating DiBiase's life philosophy: everyone has a price. The very first vignette can be seen above, featuring the MDM buying his way into private use of a public pool. This set the tone perfectly for what to expect: this was a man who could get absolutely anything he wanted, and he didn't care in the least about the feelings of the common people he stepped on along the way.
In this next segment, DiBiase both buys and bullies his way into the best table at a packed restaurant. When challenged by an (incredibly hammy) fellow patron, DiBiase's menacing bodyguard Virgil quickly puts the kibosh on any protests. This all led to DiBiase's first big "live" in-arena storyline in late 1987.
DiBiase was a perfectly proficient grappler between the ropes, but he was also an incredibly lazy, entitled son of a...well you know. Instead of doing things above board, and winning the WWF World Championship in a match with the current title holder Hulk Hogan, the MDM sought to use his vast wealth to buy the belt outright. Unsurprisingly, The Hulkster didn't take too kindly to DiBiase's indecent proposal, soundly refusing the offer and challenging the tycoon to meet him in the squared circle.
Never one to accept a physical challenge when he didn't have to, the 'Million Dollar Man' sought out Hogan's WrestleMania III opponent Andre the Giant. Andre was already a certified legend at that point, and was the only man to even come close to ending Hogan's over three year reign as champion. DiBiase hatched a plan to guide the Giant to victory over Hogan, then purchase the belt from him. That plan would come to fruition on February 5, 1988 on a live edition of 'The Main Event' on NBC.
With the aid of an easily bribed referee (and some handy "plastic surgery"), Andre secured the victory via a quick three count. Andre then handed the title straight over to DiBiase. The MDM's triumph was short-lived however, as WWF President Jack Tunney declared the transaction null and void. This set up a first for the WWF: a single elimination tournament for the company's top prize at the biggest event of the wrestling year.
The 'Million Dollar Man' was never without a plan though, using Andre to quickly remove Hulk Hogan from the tournament via a double disqualification. From there, DiBiase was free to march quickly through to the finals. Unfortunately for Ted, he hadn't counted on the most unpredictable superstar of all meeting him there.
The 'Macho Man' Randy Savage overcame a much harder road to the finals than did DiBase, and concluded the night by capturing his first WWF Championship. Sure, he needed Hulk Hogan's help to do it, but DiBiase had Andre in his corner, so it all evens out. DiBiase and Andre would then combine as a tag team to face off with the newly formed 'Mega Powers' at the first SummerSlam event. Sadly for Ted, not even millions could prevent Hulk Hogan and the 'Macho Man' from kicking his butt all the way around Madison Square Garden.
The 'Million Dollar Man' would remain a WWF mainstay from that point on, feuding with the likes of Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. He even managed to dominate the tag team ranks for awhile as part of the team 'Money, Inc.' with I.R.S. Despite those accomplishments, DiBiase would never again regain the level of stardom that he enjoyed from 1987-1989.
An injury forced DiBiase to retire from in-ring competition in late 1993. He became a manager for a time, leading a group aptly named the 'Million Dollar Corporation'. He even enjoyed a brief stint as the 'money man' for the nWo. Today the former 'millionaire' works for the now WWE in a backstage role. His wrestling legacy lives on through his son, former World Tag Team Champion Ted DiBiase, Jr.
I'll leave you with what may be my favorite 'Million Dollar Man' moment of all time, and a sampling of his super catchy theme music.
Hey Anonymous: the new WWE Week in Review will be up tomorrow! We're just getting the concept off the ground so there have only been two posted, so far. Glad you're enjoying them! Let us know if there's something you would like to see added to the Week in Review columns!
Message Posted On Jul 6th, 2013, 1:45 am
Nice article, but where are the other WWE Week in Reviews? I can only find one.
You really need great managers to make wrestling work. Bobby 'the weasel' Heanan, Jimmy Hart, etc.
Message Posted On Jul 5th, 2013, 4:27 pm
I agree, the old school wrestlers just had something you don't find in any of the "past attitude era" wrestlers anymore. It's so polished now and everything is designed to appeal to the biggest possible audience (from 5 to 90 m/f) with some special moves and finishers beeing so idiotic and ridiculously executed that you'll want to turn off the TV at times (yes Cena and Rock, talking about you). But alas, it happens every time something good goes mainstream and really big money gets involved.
Level 2 (83%) Points: 1443.9 Since: 11/Apr/13
Message Posted On Jul 5th, 2013, 4:37 am
Personally the new wrestler's aren't made this way. I prefer the old school. Great article.
Level 4 (22%) Points: 263.4 Since: 22/Aug/12
Message Posted On Jul 5th, 2013, 4:14 am
The Buy-the-Belt storyline leading into the single elimination tourney is one of the best storylines of all time. Great write-up.