Wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase talks with Wrestlenewz’ Dorathy Gass about his new biopic, The Price of Fame; his journey with faith and realizing what really matters in life. DiBiase talks about his rise to fame, lessons learned, life on the road as the Million Dollar Man, what his career highs were, tips for up-and-coming superstars, and which current WWE talent has caught his eye.
The Price of Fame trailer, below.
WWE Hall Of Famer “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase Talks ‘The Price Of Fame’ (Exclusive)
As a long-time wrestling fan and journalist, there is no greater honor than having the ability to speak with any superstar in the business to gain a greater insight into the industry. I recently had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with WWE legend and Hall of Famer, the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. DiBiase was a superstar I loved to hate as a child, and truly one of the greatest heels during the Golden Age era. However, as intriguing as The Million Dollar Man was back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Ted DiBiase’s story outside the ring is just as interesting.
Currently a Christian Minister, DiBiase is promoting The Price of Fame, a documentary film about his rise to fame and what this cost his home life; the spiritual journey he took to finally realize where he belonged. Ted is the main focus of the movie, his story, however son and former WWE superstar Ted DiBiase Jr. also plays a major role within the film and fans will love the insight from other past superstars including WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michael, Mick Foley, as well as, the late and great Rowdy Roddy Piper. The movie explores the life of Ted DiBiase, “Million Dollar Man”, the legacy that was built in that squared circle, but also the lasting impact which has been felt for generations outside the ring. For fans of DiBiase, the movie is a must-watch where audiences get an insight into what the price of fame was for Ted, and what he found that changed everything, something that ended up being priceless. Still, wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike can take a huge message away from this piece and after watching it myself, I was inspired by what truly matters in life.
Below are some segments of my telephone interview with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase.
Dorathy Gass: As a devout Christian myself, I found the film really spoke to me and my faith. What do you hope the general audiences and your wrestling fan base will take away from the Price of Fame.
Ted DiBiase: Regardless of whether you are a believer or not, I would think that hopefully people come away understanding the really important things in life, the things that are going give you peace, that are going to give you a sense of well-being and purpose; these are not acquiring fame, not acquiring stuff, big houses and fancy cars and all that goes along with it. The real value and peace in life comes from strong family. I know that’s what it did to me, that whole journey as a Christian believer, as a minister. When I speak in church or to anybody, I tell them, I say, look, I rose to the highest place I could be in my industry. I was one of the top stars in probably what most people say is the greatest years of wrestling in the late 80 and early 90s, with Hulk Hogan and all that. Not to mention the fact that Vince McMahon, in an effort to market my character, just went over the top with it, where not only was I a part of that, but, was treated like that – I was travelling everywhere in Learjets and limousines and not everyone got that treatment –Hulk Hogan and maybe Andrea the Giant at that time were travelling that way. He said it was money, for him, well spent to market the character and make him believable to the people, even though people knew it was showbiz, it was a marketing ploy.
But, for me though, oh my gosh, for me to go from travelling around the country in my car every day, in the old days – you know – the territorial wrestling, where you made all the trips by car and it was your car (laughs). Now I’m travelling like a king and it’s easy for that to go to your head. So, I believe God allowed me to go there, okay go and get all the things you think you want, I’m going to let you have it and find out what it’s like there without me. And I found out, found out its empty. When I called home and realized my wife discovered I was cheating on her and I was doing the same thing everybody else was doing basically, that I had put at risk the most valuable thing in my life. And that I had been so selfish and self-centered in doing it. Reality is, what my actions were saying is that my job and career were coming before everything. It lifts you up there, because that’s what you need to make you feel good and I realized that it didn’t make me feel good at all.
Dorathy Gass: And it’s incredibly courageous to put yourself out there in a film like this. How did the Price of Fame come to be? Whose idea was it to tell this story? I found it incredibly brave for not only you to be out there, but your son, and your whole entire family to tell this kind of story.
Ted DiBiase: Well, it’s another God story. I’ve been telling this story as an evangelist, evangelism, the foundation for most evangelists are giving their own personally testimony; here’s what God did in my life. I’ve been telling this story for 17 years. Pete Ferriero came along, and Pete was asked by a friend to do an interview with me several years ago, five years ago, maybe. Or more. We did a shoot interview, in other words, we’re not going to talk wrestling storylines, we are going to talk about real life. So, anytime you start asking me about my real life, I’m going to start telling you what Jesus is doing in it. I started sharing this with Pete on film, Pete in his own words said, “I was the back-slip son of a minster, and Ted’s story resonated with me”. Pete and I became friends and the story impacted Pete where this would turn him around. As I would come to the New York area and speak in the church, he’d come and see it and seem me and this relationship developed. And then finally he came and said to me, “I’ve never done this before: what I do is wedding photography and video – I document weddings – but, I’ve never done a documentary before, but I’d like to do a documentary on your story”. I said, wow. Okay. Really, just out of friendship, I didn’t know where it would go. It was his first shot at it, so I didn’t know where this would go, I figured we would make a DVD out of it and it and I could sell it at my table. I never dreamed in a million years it would become a Fathom Event. My son got involved. And Pete put this thing together and the first time I saw my own story on film, I wept.
You know, he interviewed a lot of people, a lot of my contemporaries. Then my son Ted Jr., who had been in a movie and had some connections, said, “Dad, I’m gonna send this to the guys who helped market a lot of well-known faith-based movies – God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2, Fireproof, Blindside.” They told him they’d take a look at and get back to him after Christmas. The next day my son calls me and said, “Dad, they called me back today, a day later, and said we want to help you do this, because it’s great”. Now, Tuesday, November 7th, it’ll be playing at, I don’t know what the number is, it’s about 650-700 theatres across the U.S. at 7 pm. Regardless of what time zone you are in. You can go to FathomEvents.com or ThePriceOfFame.com, enter your zip code and it will let you know what theaters it is playing at near your.
Dorathy Gass: I’ve been a huge fan of yours for years, and I must admit I got a little emotional watching The Price of Fame and your journey. So, I’m just curious are you still involved with the WWE or wrestling community.
I’m one of the guys on their nostalgic contract or legends contract. In fact, WWE has contacted me to go to New York on Thursday to appear for them, as the company that created their last video game, 2K, has company party and they want a wrestler there, so I’m going to be in New York Thursday night representing the WWE.
Dorathy Gass: Do you watch current wrestling programming or the WWE?
I don’t, because honestly, I’m so busy – but I do occasionally. People go, look, you still don’t watch, but I do occasionally.
Dorathy Gass: I hear you, it’s a lot of programming and watching does take a lot of time. But I am curious, is there a current performer that you’d like to work with in a match or as a manger?
The one character that has stuck out to me is, that just, he just presents himself in such a realistic way, is Bray Wyatt. I mean he’s so real in his presentation. My thing when I talk to guys about being a wrestler, I go look, you gotta make it as real as you can. Like when you go into a movie, especially today, like back in the day, we understood that a lot of people got it was showbiz, but it’s like being a magician – you don’t give away your trade secrets. But when you walk into a movie, you know you are walking into something that’s not real. But, then if the actors are good and the story is good, they draw you in. And that what’s wrestling does. When I was very young, I finally figured it out, heard my dad’s conversations with people – he never told me – but I knew. I could watch matches that he was in, I remember watching matches with Dory Funk Jr., Jack Briscoe or Terry Funk. The match was such a contest, they presented it in such a real way, they would draw you in. That’s what I tell kids all the time, ‘make it as real as you possible can, because that way you’ll tell a good story and people will remember it’. Motion pictures have kind of gotten off today, there’s a lot of great graphics, they make everything look so real, but the story is lacking. I go to movies today and two weeks later I go, what was that movie about, I’ve forgotten.
Dorathy Gass: And the thing about Bray is, he rarely breaks kayfabe, I know that in this day and age, the superstars have a lot of demands and social media, interviews, and you see the ‘real’ them; but you rarely see Bray out of character.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah.
Dorathy Gass: Looking back on your wrestling career, what was your highest point, what was your lowest point?
Ted DiBiase Not sure if it’s possible to pick a moment, but the night that wrestling was on national network television, the first time since the 1950s. Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The match was Hulk Hogan and Andre, but the story was my purchasing Andre’s services.
Dorathy Gass: Yes, I remember that match!
Ted DiBiase: Yes, I was going to buy the title after Andrea beat Hogan, which was the set up for Wrestlemania 4. Which really put Ted DiBiase as this character out there. And then WM 4, with me and Randy Savage, and Randy goes from being a heel to a babyface overnight. And then that run with Hulk, and me and Andre wrestling him all over the country, I think that was really the high point. After that, I was there and a key figure when I went in, and then me and IRS tagged up was fun.
Dorathy Gass: I know we are running out of time and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Anything else you wanted to add about The Price of Fame?
I’m hoping the fans will go out, and often times people ask me what do I want people to take away from this, and I want people to remember that often times the things that we worry about and chase about are not important. People ask me all the time, are you really a multi-millionaire? And I go, no, I’m not, but I’ll tell you what I do have today: the love and respect of my wife, my children, and I have the unbelievable privilege and joy of watching my grandchildren grow up. And, it’s kinda like, I don’t want to just be remembered as a wrestling legend and Hall of Famer, I want to be remembered as somebody who left a great legacy for his children in terms of this ministry I started and giving back and paying it forward and helping other people. When I took this Ted off the throne and began to put my God first, then my family, and then my job; the whole dynamic of life change and I’ve been happier ever since.
On November 7, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. (local time), Fathom Events and Engage Media Partners will present “The Price of Fame: The Story of Ted ‘Million Dollar Man’ DiBiase” in more than 625 select U.S. movie theaters. The film will be followed by an exclusive never-before-seen sit down interview between the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and “Mr. Wrestlemania” “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. A complete list of theater locations is available on the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).