Ring Rust Radio recently interviewed Ted DiBiase Sr. Here are some highlights from the interview.
On playing the Million Dollar Man Character in and out of the ring: “Well, I think everyone would agree that Vince McMahon, although he doesn’t get it right every time, he gets it right most of the time, and he is a marketing genius. The way that he has marketed wrestling is just incredible, and one of the things he told me is that one of the ways we are going to market your character, of course they did vignettes and all that stuff, but nothing spreads faster than the word of mouth. He said, so every time the people see you they should see the picture of wealth. So we’re going to fly you first class to everywhere you go, you won’t be staying in anymore Red Roof Inns, it’ll be the Hilton, Hyatt, or the Marriot, and every time you walk out of a hotel or out of an airport or out of a coliseum people will see you getting into a limousine. Then they gave me “flash cash” is what Vince called it, which means that every time you reach into your pocket to go to buy a newspaper or a cup of coffee, people will see a roll of 100 dollar bills, and of course that could be dangerous, depending on where you are ha-ha. He said, for example, you’ll have to pick your spot, and obviously don’t go to the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan and there are 50 people in there and say you’re going to pick up a tab. But you pick your spot and when you’re having breakfast or lunch or dinner somewhere and there’s a few people in the restaurant just stand up and announce yourself as Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar man and I’m in a particularly good mood tonight and because of that, dinner’s on me, and have Virgil go around and pick up everybody’s check. He said pay for it, bring me the receipt, and then I’ll replace the money. And I said oh my gosh, you know, that was fun and of course he added onto that saying if you abuse it, you lose it. Obviously we want you to have some fun with it but don’t be going nuts, and I never did really abuse it so it was a lot of fun.”
Being in the new WWE 2K14 game: “Well, just have a good time. The amazing thing is, like you said, here I haven’t been in the ring physically to have a match in 20 years, and I’ll be 60 on my next birthday so I’m an over the hill guy, even though some of my contemporaries are trying to still go, and they’re almost 60 or older, but that’s another story. I’ll give you an example; it amazes me the marketing (for the game). I was in Scotland and I’m walking into their equivalent of a Walmart and I’m going to be there for a couple of weeks there’s going to be an Indy wrestling organization that I became good buddies with the owner, SWE, Scottish Wrestling Entertainment, and so this particular trip, this was a couple of years ago, and I was staying a couple of weeks so I went in to buy some things. As I’m walking in, there’s a little boy and he’s got his grandmother by the hand and they’re walking out. And as they pass me I heard the little boy say to his grandmother, “that’s the Million Dollar Man”. I almost had a heart attack. I swung around wide eyed and with my jaw dropped open and I said “you know who I am?” You know, I don’t have blonde hair anymore, I’m 20 years older, I’m wearing glasses and about 30 pounds heavier and this kid recognizes me. He says yes, you’re the million dollar man. I said how do you know me? He said one word, video games. So it’s incredible the marketing and yes I’m thrilled I’m in the new game and, as the million dollar man says, everyone’s got a price and I’ll get a pretty nice royalty check. So, of course I’m always happy to know when they put me on a new game.”
If he was misused by the WWE: “Well, you know, I was a top heel in the company for a long time and whether I was moved over to a tag team with Mike Rotunda, you know, we were a top heel team. One of the things everybody asks me is it seems like you’ve been one of the all-time greatest heels but you were never the World Champion, whether it was NWA or WWE, and they say “don’t you regret that?” And I say well, you know I guess to be able to have the career that I had and to at one point say that I was the Heavyweight Champion of the World would be great, but here’s what you gotta understand. Wrestling is a business, it is show business and wrestling championships are props. Now, it’s true that, most of the time, the guy that’s wearing the World Heavyweight title is an extremely good wrestler, but again, the first Wrestlemania I had, Wrestlemania 4, initially the thought was that I would win that tournament somehow, underhandedly, you know, screw Hogan out of it, and have that run. Of course at the end of that run with Hogan you would lose the belt and Hogan would be champion again and then a new heel comes in, it’s kind of like you go from the top to a simmering stage where you’re still there but you’re not the top guy, but it was presented to me this way, I think it was Pat Patterson, who said, “Ted, what’s going to give you more heat? What’s going to generate more heat and what’s going to generate more money? If we do what we would normally do, and been done a thousand times, and we go to this Wrestlemania and you underhandedly win the title and you have the run with Hogan and on and on you go. Or, you don’t win and somehow you get screwed out of it and then in your arrogance you declare to the world that you don’t need the WWE’s world championship belt you’ll create your own.” And I said that’s the ticket. For me to walk out every night with my own belt declaring myself champion, I mean, people would just absolutely loathe me and I’ve made more money with the Million dollar belt than I ever would have with the other one.”
On managing Steve Austin: “No, I guess I’d say I don’t that anybody would say that they thought Steve Austin would become, in my opinion as a wrestling star, he’s the biggest guy we ever had. Now the Rock, of course the Rock went on to become an A list movie star and nobody’s going to deny that but in terms of worldwide recognition and popularity I don’t think anybody is going to top the Rock. But, as far as wrestling goes, yeah as a matter of fact the reason Vince put me with Steve basically because Vince, you know, he put me with several guys to more or less help groom them, give them advice and be with them what have you, and of course that rub also helps them because anyone that was put with me automatically was hated. I can remember some of the agents back at the time telling Steve he needed to spice up his TV matches and do more stuff and I told him no, don’t change anything. I said what you do is very believable, you go out there and wrestle and you’re not going to get over as fast as, say, some other guy, but the guys who get over real fast are the ones that die real fast, even though it’ll take you longer to get over you’re going to be over so solid you can do anything you want, and I think you’ll be one of the biggest stars we’ve ever had. I don’t think anybody realized it would be as big as it has been.”