Joshua Modaberi recently interviewed WWE Hall of Famer “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’ for Wrestling101. Here are some highlights:
Introducing The Undertaker: “When I introduced The Undertaker nobody knew him, at the time if you know how this works they were using my celebrity and me introducing The Undertaker was helping him get over. He wasn’t ‘The Phenom’ then he was just a new kid on the card, this new character The Undertaker and of course he grew in to be one of the greatest attractions the WWE has ever had. At the time it wasn’t a big deal to me, I was just doing my job.”
His experience with WCW: “WCW started basically buying talent created by Vince McMahon because that’s what they did with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and myself and gave us contracts. My contract wasn’t as good as theirs because when I went there I wasn’t a wrestler anymore, if I had been wrestling I might have had a million dollar contract, but I was a manager by then.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that Eric Bischoff doesn’t know that much about wrestling. This guy was selling meat out the back of a truck and became a ring announcer for Verne Gagne and I’ve always wondered how he ever got a job. I guess he’s got a pretty good line of bulls–t, he used to boast that he was going to run Vince out of business and then Vince not only ran him out of business but he ended up working for Vince.
“Eric took credit for the NWO but that wasn’t his idea, the NWO had already been done in Japan, so they had copied something that had already been done. It was a good idea, but originally I was supposed to be the mouth piece of the NWO and reality is I think Eric saw how it was getting over and he saw how he could put himself in the role that he had hired me for. As each week went by pretty soon Eric isn’t the announcer anymore, he becomes part of the NWO and I just went to him one day and told him I’m not just going to walk out there and be Hulk Hogans’ Virgil, you hired me to be the spokesperson for this, so if that’s not what I’m going to do you can send me home. The reason I said that was because they had to pay me one way or the other, because I had a contract where they had to pay me for three years.
“The biggest angle in wrestling wasn’t so much the NWO takeover of WCW, it was the battle between the WWF and WCW. Both companies got the largest ratings they had ever had, we were doing better rating than Monday Night Football at the time, but it just was not well run. We could be going on the air for a live TV show and they still hadn’t decided what they were going to do for the last segment of the show.”
His son’s WWE departure: “He has had a couple of little injuries and he did go back on the road and wrestled at some live events but they didn’t put him back on television. In the meantime he’s married, he has become a father, which made me a grandfather a little over a year ago. I think that’s why I never really wanted him to be a wrestler in the first place, it had nothing to do with wrestling, it had everything to do with being away from your family.”
Vince McMahon as a boss: “I got along fine with Vince (laughs), it was kind of like a love hate relationship at times, and Vince said this to me a long time ago and I think he says it to everybody, ‘we can agree to disagree’, he doesn’t expect people to be yes men, if you don’t agree with him it’s not going to piss him off and he’s not going to fire you, but he added, ‘because we’re spending my money whether you like it or not we’re going to do what I want to do.’
“I haven’t always agreed with what Vince did, I was not a big fan of the Attitude Era, but for the most part we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for what Vince McMahon did for me and did for wrestling. You talk about a work ethic, the guy is unbelievable he only gets four hours of sleep, he stays physically fit, Vince is 68-years-old and he looks great.
“As a boss I can’t complain, I know Vince has given a lot of guys that had differences with him second chances. I know when I left to go to WCW he wasn’t particularly happy with me but he brought me back, we buried that hatchet and everything is fine.”