December 5, 2004
REAL NAME: Ted Dibiase
Dibiase was the adopted son of wrestling legend "Iron" Mike Dibiase. When Ted was fifteen, his father died of a heart attack during a match. After his mother, fellow wrestler Helen Hild, fell into a state of depression and turned to alcohol, Ted was sent to live with his grandparents. After graduating from high school, Dibiase went to West Texas State on a football scholarship.
Dibiase wouldn't graduate from West Texas State, dropping out instead to begin wrestling in Oklahoma. In his June 1975 debut, Dibiase defeated Killer Karl Kox and there was no turning back.
Dibiase would tour Japan early in his career before returning to North America and competing in the Central States territory, winning the Central States title from Sgt. Slaughter and later, the Missouri title from Dick Murdoch.
Dibiase would team with Murdoch when he traveled to the Mid-South and won the NWA U.S. Tag Team titles on April 26, 1976. In December of that same year, he defeated The Spoiler to win the first of five North American Heavyweight titles. He also received an NWA World title match against Harley Race but succumbed to a neck injury before he could claim the title.
In 1979, Dibiase went north to the then-WWWF where he would be billed as the North American Champion upon his arrival. In June he lost the title to Pat Patterson and the title was deactivated in favour of the new Intercontinental Championship. Dibiase remained in the WWWF for several more months, and was even Hulk Hogan's opponent in Hogan's Madison Square Garden debut.
In 1980, Dibiase returned to Mid-South and quickly regained the North American title, defeating Mike George in Shreveport, LA on February 1st. Future wins for that title would come over Paul Orndorff, the Junk Yard Dog and Brad Armstrong before his fifth and final title reign ended at the hands of Terry Taylor in March 1985.
In October 1983, Dibiase would win the NWA National title after winning a 12-man tournament with a bizarre ending, when Jerry Lawler forfeited the match in the finals.
In March 1985, Dibiase teamed with Stan Hansen to win the Pacific Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions. Back in North America, Dibiase found himself another tag partner: Steve "Doctor Death" Williams and in May, the two defeated the Rock and Roll Express to win the Mid-South Tag Team Championships, en route to becoming one of the top teams in Mid-South history. Dibiase would continue to team with Hansen in Japan and Williams in the Mid-South/UWF organization until the summer of 1987, when Dibiase signed with WWE.
Dibiase would return to the WWE as "the Million Dollar Man", with Mike Jones, the former Soul Train Jones, as his bodyguard/valet Virgil. Dibiase would instantly become the top heel in the company, as he flaunted his money and got audience members (including a youngster named Rob Szatkowski who would go on to greater fame as Rob Van Dam) to perform degrading tasks for money.
However, perhaps what gained him the most amount of notoriety in the WWE was his attempt to purchase the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan and later, attempting to lead Andre the Giant to the title, with the intent of buying the title from Andre.
Left to try and win the title in the ring, Dibiase made it to the finals of the WWE title tournament at Wrestlemania IV, only to lose to Randy Savage. Dibiase chased Savage for that title throughout the summer of 1988, eventually teaming with Andre as the Megabucks against the MegaPower team of Savage and Hogan at SummerSlam '88.
Dibiase also uses his money to buy the #30 spot in the 1989 Royal Rumble, but was tossed by Big John Studd who won the Rumble. But money couldn't buy everything as Dibiase found out when he attempted to purchase Hercules, only to have Hercules balk at the idea.
If he couldn't win the WWE Championship and he couldn't buy the WWE Championship, Dibiase decided to purchase his own championship, introducing "the Million Dollar Belt" to the WWE. The title was never official and rarely did Dibiase even bother "defending" the title. Shortly after the 1990 Royal Rumble (in which Dibiase drew #1), Jake "the Snake" Roberts returned from a neck injury that Dibiase had caused and immediately targeted the Million Dollar Man, even stealing the Million Dollar belt.
Prior to his victory over Roberts at Wrestlemania VI, Dibiase also tried to buy off the Big Boss Man and, much like Hercules before him, the Boss Man wasn't having any of it. After a short feud with the Bossman, Dibiase began to feud with Dusty Rhodes as the Million Dollar Man clashed with the Common Man. First Dibiase bought off Rhodes' manager, Sapphire and then, he attacked Rhodes' son, Dustin.
The Rhodes family clashed with Dibiase and Virgil for the rest of 1990 and even into 1991. Meanwhile, at the 1990 Survivor Series, Dibiase announced his surprise mystery team member, the Undertaker although Dibiase would hand the managerial reigns of 'Taker over to Brother Love.
As the feud with Rhodes was winding down at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Dibiase found that his bodyguard, Virgil, was less than happy with his present position. Virgil finally became so upset that he turned on Dibiase, and, with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in his corner, defeated his former boss by countout at Wrestlemania 7.
Dibiase wasn't without someone in his corner for long as he took Sensational Sherri to be his new valet. Even Sherri's help couldn't prevent Dibiase from losing his Million Dollar belt to Virgil at SummerSlam '91. Instead, Dibiase relied on some interference from Repo Man to help get his title back in a rematch.
Dibiase began teaming with Irwin R. Shyster (Mike Rotunda) and, with manager, Jimmy Hart, formed Money Inc. The new pairing gelled quickly and defeated no less than the Legion of Doom to win the WWE Tag Team titles on February 7, 1992. Money Inc. would lose and regain the Tag Team titles from the Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) over the course of 1992.
In early 1993, Dibiase had a match against a returning Brutus Beefcake. He and Shyster continued to attack Beefcake even after the match was over. The beatdown convinced Jimmy Hart to leave Money, Inc. and prompted Hulk Hogan to return and team with Beefcake at Wrestlemania IX.
During a five day period in June 1993, Money Inc. lost, regained and again lost the WWE tag team championship to the Steiner Brothers. Money Inc. continued to team, feuding with Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) and the 123 Kid (Sean Waltman). In January 1994, Dibiase suffered an injury to his neck and spine (on his 40th birthday, no less) and was forced to retire from the ring.
After joining Vince McMahon behind the mic during the 1994 Royal Rumble, Dibiase turned his attention to managing. He formed the Million Dollar Corporation, with IRS, Nikolai Volkoff and Bam Bam Bigelow. Over the summer of 1994, however, he promised to bring the Undertaker back to WWE. What he produced was a fake Undertaker (Brian Lee) who lost to the real version at SummerSlam 94. But SummerSlam wasn't a complete loss for Dibiase as he added Tatanka (who turned on Lex Luger) to his stable.
Dibiase's feud with the Undertaker continued into 1995, with King Kong Bundy and Kama, the Ultimate Fighting Machine taking on the Phenom, and Kama even stole 'Taker's urn. Meanwhile, Dibiase's team of Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka lost in the finals of the WWE Tag Team Tournament at the Royal Rumble. Post match, Bigelow engaged in an altercation with football star Lawrence Taylor, leading to a match at Wrestlemania XI.
Bigelow would leave the Million Dollar Corporation after the loss to Taylor, but Dibiase added Sycho Sid, the 123 Kid and, temporarily, Henry O. Godwinn, although the latter quickly turned on Dibiase. By the beginning of 1996, however, Dibiase found himself a leader without a corporation, only to rebound by signing the Ringmaster, the future "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who became the new Million Dollar Champion. But it was a loss by Austin to Savio Vega in a Caribbean strap match that would force Dibiase to leave WWE.
Dibiase would resurface in WCW, as part of the New World Order. His stay in the NWO was a short one, as he took on the managerial reigns of the Steiner Brothers. After leaving the Steiners, Dibiase would leave WCW as a whole.
Ted Dibiase, the one-time "Million Dollar Man", had become a born-again Christian outside of the ring and, with his wrestling career over, at least for the moment, decided to devote his time and life to more worthwhile causes, including speaking at churches and working with the Sunshine Foundation. In addition to starting his own ministry, the Heart of David Ministry, he also worked as a motivational speaker, speaking out against drug and alcohol abuse.
In 1998, Dibiase published his autobiography, entitled Every Man Has His Price. A year later he became an ordained minister. But wrestling wasn't quite out of his system just yet. In addition to appearing on several World League Wrestling shows, Dibiase returned to WWE in March 2005, acting as an agent and working on the creative end of the Smackdown brand.
--- compiled by John M. Milner
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