“Million Dollar” Man Ted DiBiase was today’s guest on The Apter Chat. The WWE Hall of Famer opened up to hosts Bill Apter and Josh Shernoff on a number of wrestling related topics including his strained relationship with former bodyguard Virgil and plans for him to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IV.
On Whether Plans For Him To Win The WWE Championship At WrestleMania IV:
I get asked that question a lot and originally it was discussed. It was discussed that I would somehow underhandedly end up in the last match [WrestleMania IV] with [Hulk] Hogan and screw him to win the title, but along the way it was almost like, I think people expected that because Hogan obviously, after beating Andre [The Giant], he was the man and here we go and he’s the champ. WWE or WWF, you want primarily because you’re catering to kids at this point because it’s family entertainment, you want your champion to be the good guy, as much as possible. There was the thought of having me screw Hogan and then have the run with Hogan. Usually a heel champion in the WWE, back then anyway, that was transitional. He either gets the belt and he drops it to the new babyface champion, or he drops it back to the guy that he beat. It was Pat Patterson who approached me and he said, ‘Ted, here’s what we’ve been thinking.’ He ran all those things by me.
On Why He Never Won The NWA World Championship:
I was definitely being considered and I think, if my memory serves me right and if what I’ve been told is true, I was one of the only people that won the Missouri Heavyweight Title that didn’t go on and become the NWA World Champion. I know that at the time they had several names in the hat. Three names: it was Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and myself and two out of the three ended up being the world champion and I’m the one that didn’t. Of course, I spent a lot of time in Mid-South with Bill Watts and Bill pulled out of the NWA and since I was wrestling for him, maybe I was no longer in consideration. People say, ‘Doesn’t it bother you that you were never the world champion?’ Obviously, it would have been nice, but by and large, wrestling is a business and it would have been nice, but there’s a lot that goes along with being champion and I think I fared pretty well.
On His Relationship With Virgil:
We first met in Vince’s office. I didn’t know who he was. I’d never seen him and I actually think it was Bobby Heenan’s idea because he had that look. He had a really good look. He had a great body, but in the ring he wasn’t good at all. I mean, he really wasn’t. He did everything he was asked to do. He was always on time. He never got in trouble. He didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. He didn’t do drugs. My understanding though is that he liked to gamble. So, I never had any problem with Virgil until post-wrestling. After I went to WCW, they were talking about, ‘Who else can we bring in?’ It was supposed to be like a takeover, like a coup and we needed protection. I said, ‘If you need protection, then maybe you need a bodyguard.’ So, I actually got him in there, but the trouble with he and I came when we started doing these autograph shows….I would go to one by myself and somebody would say, ‘We’re sure sorry you couldn’t make the last show.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Well, you know, Virgil contacted us to book you guys and we had you booked and he called a couple of weeks out and said you wouldn’t be able to make it, but he’d still be there.’ I was totally oblivious. He and I had a come to Jesus meeting about that. I had a conversation with him and said, ‘Look man, I don’t want to ever hear another story like that because you’re making me look like crap and just to serve your own purpose.’ I don’t know if Virgil got to a place where he was desperate to make money. If he did indeed have a gambling issue, I could see where that could become a problem; but, then he just started doing things that were just ridiculous. Somebody said he put up a table in Grand Central Station in Manhattan and was trying to sell pictures. I hate to say it, but it got to a point where if I’m seen with the guy, I’m making myself look like a fool, if that makes any sense. Any place he ever went and signed autographs, he would have a banner with both of our pictures on it. It was advertising both of us, but he was the only one there. I recently did a signing. I don’t think I knew he was going to be there, but I wasn’t mad because he was. I still am very cordial with the guy. The nicest way to say it is that Virgil is not the smartest apple in the basket. He’s not a real bright guy, but I do like the guy. I care for him and I know desperate people do desperate things when they need money. He and I have talked all of that stuff through and I think we’re OK. Would I be opposed to seeing him and signing autographs with him again? Absolutely not. I’d be happy to, as long as he’s on the up and up.
On Vince McMahon’s Idea For The Million Dollar Man Character:
He said, ‘Ted, I’ve got a great idea. There’s so many things in wrestling that have been done and re-done and repackaged, but this is fresh and original and I think you’re the perfect guy for it. Here’s the deal, I can’t tell you what it is unless you agree to sign a contract with the WWF. If I tell you and then you don’t sign with me, I’ve given away a great idea and I’m not giving this idea away.’ It kind of put me on the spot, so I said, ‘I need a little time to think about it.’ He said, ‘OK, that’s fine.’ He was very cordial that first meeting and I called my buddy Terry Funk, who I turned to for just about every decision I ever made in my wrestling career and I said, ‘Terry, what do you think?’ He just said, ‘Teddy, if Vince has something that he things is tailor-made for you and it’s his idea and never been done, pack your bags and don’t look back.’ I said, ‘I thought that’s what you would say.’ I called Vince back and said, ‘OK, I’m your man.’
On Vince McMahon Urging The Million Dollar Man To Pick Up The Tab:
When Vince laid this thing down for me and talked about it, they presented me with $2000 of brand new $100 bills. Vince said, ‘This is your flash cash. Here’s what I want you to do. If you abuse it, you lose it. You have to pick your spots. You go some place to eat and you don’t want to do this at the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan on Friday night when the place is packed. Pick your spot and stand up and announce yourself and tell everybody it’s their lucky day because you’re picking up the tab. If you can, have Virgil with you and have Virgil go around and pick up everybody’s check. Slap down the $100 bills. Bring the receipt to us and we will replenish the money.’ It’s marketing. He was marketing the character.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)