Ted Dibiase has been one of those wrestlers who’s had success everywhere he went throughout his entire career. But to most, he will be best remembered as the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, the overbearing, cocky, wealthy snob who was hated by fans in the 80s and into the 90s.
Ted is the son of wrestling legend “Iron” Mike Dibiase, who is one of the few ever in the business to die IN THE RING of a heart attack, witnessed by Ted himself. But that didn’t scare him enough to not enter the business and become a huge success. Ted was a hot-fire babyface in the St. Louis territory, Bill Watts’ Mid-South/UWF, All Japan, and more. In the WWF, Ted was the first WWF North American Champion in the late 70s, a precursor to the Intercontinental Title, but his second run would be his legacy.
Ted Dibiase, in the ring, was one of the absolute finest technical wrestlers in the sport. As The Million Dollar Man, he added a successful gimmick to that, a new layer to his legend. Ted Dibiase came in with his bodyguard Virgil, and WWF filmed vignettes of him using his money and power to bully others and do things that average “nickle and dime peons” as he called them, could not do. His trademark laugh and modified cobra clutch finisher, the Million Dollar Dream, will always be remembered.
Ted had a number of memorable angles in the WWF, but the biggest would have to be in 1988 when he set his sights on becoming WWF Champion. He orchestrated a plan to take the belt from Hulk Hogan, who had it for over three years at the time. Ted’s attempt at “buying” the belt from Hulkster failed, so he had to be crafty. First, Ted purchased the services of Andre the Giant from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Andre got a near flash-pin and came half a second away from beating Hogan in their Wrestlemania III match PLUS he was the most feared man in the business. Collectively, they were called The Mega Bucks. On February 5, 1988, Hogan and Andre had their historic rematch on a special edition of the Main Event, which to this day stands as the most watched pro wrestling tv show in North American history. Dibiase paid Dave Hebner’s twin brother Earl to screw Hogan out of the title. After the match, Andre handed Ted Dibiase the championship. The next week on TV, WWF President Jack Tunney vacated the belt due to the controversy of the hand-over, which led to the Wrestlemania IV tournament. Little known fact: Ted actually worked a couple of house shows as WWF Champion despite not officially being recognized as one. Ted would go on to make the finals of the tournament and main event the show in a losing effort to Randy Savage.