This article was originally published in Wrestling Perspective #83
2000 Editors’ Award For Lifetime Achievement: Ted DiBiase
Few people in wrestling have been able to be the business’ best face
and heel during their career. That select group includes Ted DiBiase. Based
on his in-ring talent alone, Ted should have captured the National Wrestling
Alliance World Title back when that belt actually meant something in the
early Eighties, but politics got in the way. That’s a shame, as no
wrestler deserved the honor more.
As a fresh young babyface in the early Eighties, DiBiase captured the
imagination of the wrestling public with his incredible work, awesome interviews
and natural charisma. He really did have it all. No he wasn’t a showman
like Ric Flair, but he was just as solid in the ring, and perhaps just
a tad more believable, particularly on the selling side of things.
When he fell victim to a series of Terry Gordy piledrivers in 1981 (one
on the floor of the old WTBS studio, several more in the ring) it was an
image that would be permanently ingrained in the memory of any wrestling
fan that saw it. To this day, it’s one of the most memorable angles
in the history of televised wrestling - one we will certainly never forget.
It was an incredible moment that probably seems passé to today’s
wrestling audience. But not only were the piledrivers an amazing sight,
but the way Ted sold them that day and in the following weeks made them
seem that much more deadly and made him appear to be superhuman at the
same time. That angle should have made Ted a world champion. But he was
held back and he never became the NWA champion. No matter, it turns
out he never needed the world title to prove his value.
As a headline face in the Mid-South area, he seemed to get even better.
It was in this territory that Ted made a decision that would take him to
the next plateau in this business. When he turned heel against his longtime
friend the Junkyard Dog it shocked many people (some even slashed his tires).
Sure we were marks back then, but the angle was so effective that Ted would
become this business’ top heel - one so believable he had to hide in the
trunk of a car to avoid angry fans. Black glove and all he appeared to
be a true menace.
After Mid-South/UWF came the Million Dollar Man. The vignettes
that introduced Ted as the Million Dollar Man in the World Wrestling Federation
set the standard in this business. If you saw them, you’ll never forget
the kid who couldn’t bounce the basketball 15 times because Ted kicked
it to the side after the 14th bounce (you don’t do the job, you don’t get
paid). You’ll never forget the kids who were kicked out of the public
pool because Ted wanted to sit poolside sans brats. You’ll never
forget his appearance on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Then there’s
his catch line, “Everybody’s got a price for the Million Dollar Man,” delivered
with arrogance and a maniacal laugh. Yes, that laugh. Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!
For years, there wasn’t a better heel.
One of the most talented ring generals ever, Ted always looked great
in the ring. But he also had the rare ability to make others look
just as good or better. He could take the least talented opponents and
make them look like world beaters, yet still keep his credibility in tact.
How does one make Virgil look good and retain his own credibility? You’ll
have to ask Ted, because we’ve yet to figure out how he did it.
Watching Ted as either a face or a heel and you forgot that wrestling
was a work. He was that good. We rooted for Ted, as a face or a heel, because
he was good. For years he was one of the best in the business and on certain
nights the best in the business. He mixed wrestling and entertainment,
but never sacrificed either. When it was time to hang up the tights a few
years ago due to a neck injury, we’re sure Ted had some regrets. No one
really wants to say goodbye, but when Ted looked back on his career, we
hope he looked back on it with pride. Few were ever better. Fewer
still made such an impression on a generation of wrestling fans.
So for his many years of service and his undying love for the professional
wrestling business, it is our honor to have Ted join Arn Anderson (1997
winner) and Gordon Solie (1998 winner) as the recipient of the Editors’
Award for Lifetime Achievement for 1999. Congratulations Ted and
thanks for the wonderful memories.
This article is Copyright © 2000 Wrestling Perspective. All
Rights Reserved. This article may not be quoted, reprinted or distributed
without written permission from Wrestling Perspective publishers Paul MacArthur
and David Skolnick.