The Million-Dollar Interview: My 1-on-1 with Ted DiBiase
Over the July 4th weekend, I had the honor and privilege of sitting down with a man who could easily be considered one of the best heels in wrestling history, Ted DiBiase.
What was originally slated as a 15-20 min interview grew seamlessly into a conversation that spanned over two hours about everything I could possibly think to ask. Of course during those two hours, fans would come up to say hello and typically walked a 50/50 line of “It’s great to meet you, you were the best bad guy” or “It’s cool to meet you but I hated you 20 years ago”. Every time the latter was said, DiBiase would have a smile on his face and simply respond “Then I did my job right”. Without further ado, here is the majority of our conversation:
Adam Huss: We are here at Supercon 2014 on Miami Beach and I am now in the presence of one of the greatest heels of all time, The Million Dollar Man, Mr. Ted DiBiase. Thanks for taking time to speak with me today.
Ted Dibiase: It’s my pleasure and I am happy to be here.
Speaking of being here, you were born in Miami, FL if I’m not mistaken. How does it feel to be back in your hometown and do you frequent the area?
I was indeed born here at Mt. Sinai Hospital. I don’t really get back here too frequently as the family and myself have resided in Mississippi for some time. I grew up briefly with my biological father, Ted and was raised by my adopted father Mike DiBiase. I unfortunately lost Mike to a heart attack when I was 15 so I finished school living with my grandparents in Arizona.
Sounds like a long road traveled in such a short time.
It was and still is. Now I am a minister in my post-wrestling career and enjoy spreading the gospel as the founder of the Heart of David ministry. However I still have my involvement with the WWE under a Legends Contract, so it’s nice to still have appearances in that regard.
During the later part of the 2000’s your son, Ted Jr. followed in your footsteps. What was it like seeing him in the WWE and what advice did you give him?
He had a good run, especially with Cody (Rhodes) and Randy (Orton) when they had The Legacy stable. I wasn’t really into it when they decided to have him mimic my old gimmick from the 80s and 90s. I felt like it was chastising his talent and there was so much more that could be done. Eventually he learned a lesson that we all learn; the road can be cruel and can affect you in the worst way. He realized his responsibility as a father and husband should be first and foremost and did what I was hoping he would. I am happy to say he is a successful entrepreneur now and I consistently refer to him as “The Real Million Dollar Man”.
The road can be hard and trying with such a demanding travel schedule.
It really is. A lot of people fall victim to one vice or another. Alcohol, drugs, women, it makes the road just as dangerous as the ring. I am lucky to be with the woman that loves me. The road almost cost me the real things that matter in my life and luckily a combination of a strong woman and strong presence and belief in God, I was able to hold on to what is near and dear to my heart. My family.
From sitting here talking to you and watching you interact with passing fans, you seem to really love the fans and are a complete 180 of your wrestling persona. So I have to ask. Years ago a sketch on Raw involved you and Virgil coming out and having a child dribble a basketball for money. In the end before the 20th bounce you kicked it away. How did that make you feel as Ted DiBiase the man vs. the wrestler?
Every so often someone brings that up. *Laughs* we were driving into Milwaukee trying to figure out what to do for my character that night. When I asked, “What’s there to do in Milwaukee?” they replied “Beer and basketball.” So I figured we could do something with dribbling a basketball. The whole promo was a work. We met the kid and mother before the segment. They knew what was going to happen but we were still giving the little boy the money. I remember going out their and cutting my promo, saying a lot of inflammatory things towards the crowd as well as the child. I was thinking “I’m lucky if I get back behind the entrance unscathed”. We got back there and the rest of the wrestlers just looked at me and said “Man, you just solidified yourself as the super heel”. All I could say was, “I did my job then”.
Well I’m glad that was a promo because it was definitely one of the biggest heel moments I can remember.
Funny story. Few years’ back I am at an airport and go to the car rental desk. This very tall guy walks me out to the lot and then before I sign off for the car goes, “Mr. DiBiase?” and I say “yes?” He proceeds to tell me that he is the little boy that I kicked the basketball away from. We spoke for a few minutes, turns out he had gone to college and actually been drafted by the Lakers I believe, but never made it all the way to the main roster. It was definitely an interesting moment because I always felt like one day I would run into that kid again.
That’s awesome. Definitely makes that a complete story. Would you say that’s up there with your favorite moments that you have been involved in throughout your wrestling career?
It was a good one. My favorites were just the friendships and brotherhood that could be built in the locker room. Winning the Tag Belts a few times with Mike (Rotunda aka I.R.S.), and the whole sequence with me buying the world title from Andre (The Giant) and then the tournament that led to me fighting “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the belt at WrestleMania IV. That was a great night.
Speaking of Mike Rotunda, what’s your opinion of the WWE today and in particular his sons and their wrestling abilities?
Taylor (Bo Dallas) just got the push from NXT to the big show. I definitely want to see how his gimmick develops. As for Windham (Bray), I think he is the best character that WWE has done in a long time. He is captivating, and masterful on the microphone. Really a great concept he has going and I am excited to see this storyline develop further. I just wish more wrestlers wouldn’t be repeats of already used ideas. JBL was just a southern version of the Million Dollar Man gimmick. Same with Del Rio. Same gimmick again but a Mexican aristocrat. There should only be one of these types of characters. Otherwise it can become stale very quickly.
In 2005 WWE released an Ultimate Warrior DVD where a lot of inflammatory comments were made and he was painted in a very negative light. 3 months ago, three days after the culmination of a long road to peace being made between Warrior and WWE, he passed away very unexpectedly. You were a feature on the DVD and he even made a passing comment during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Were you able to make peace and do you regret what was said?
I’ll be honest. Jim (Warriors given name) was a hell of a wrestler and personality. When I did that interview for the DVD, I wasn’t making things up to make it a must see interview. It was an honest opinion. It was felt by quite a fair amount, that Jim felt he was above it all. It upset a lot of guys in the locker room because they felt like the same dues and respect that were given by so many of us were not seen coming from him. When I heard him make a remark regarding my during the HOF speech I thought “I need to squash this once and for all”. As I started making my way back to where he was after the ceremony, I paused for a second and thought “ Man, does he really want to see my face when he is with his wife and kids. Right after he makes his way all the way back into the WWE and the HOF?” I figured I would have another chance to bury the hatchet. Well as you know 3 days later he passed, so I never got to make peace with Jim.
Wow. That has to weigh heavily. On that note I will let you finish it up with whatever you’d like to say.
Thanks for a good interview. You can find me with Heart of David Ministry spreading the gospel. I appreciate everyone who comes up to me and says hello and just remember, EVERYONE’S GOT A PRICE! HA HA HA!
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