He who laughs last laughs best, unless ‘he’ is The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.
Anytime he laughs, it’s best -- best for business -- best for everybody.
To introduce the laugh for new school fans who don’t know and rekindle it for those who do and love it, The Million Dollar Man will be bringing that signature evil laugh -- as only he can -- when WWE goes Old School Raw beginning 8 p.m. EST Monday, Jan. 6 live on the USA Network.
“The laugh is kind of an extension of the way I laugh, but obviously over-the-top,” DiBiase explained its origins. “I was cutting an interview. Back in the day, we used to do interviews [one after the other] for individual markets. It was a long ordeal. We would set-up in the building where we were taping the television shows. This was before we were doing a live show every week. So I did this interview, and I ended the interview with that laugh.
“[WWE Chairman/CEO] Vince [McMahon] happened to be walking by, and he stuck his head in the door and said, ‘That’s it. That is the Million Dollar Man. You start every interview and you end every interview with that laugh.’ So it became the trademark.”
For wrestlers back in the day, it was no laughing matter when scheduled to face DiBiase in the ring. Actually, a sigh of relief is the reaction. DiBiase, a WWE Hall of Famer, is one of the best wrestlers all-time. That good in the ring, he worked well with any shape, size, type, skill level.
As for DiBiase, “I loved working with Jake [The Snake] Roberts. I loved working with Bret [Hitman] Hart. I loved working with Hulk Hogan. He was easy to work with.
“You get some of these wrestling fans, ‘Hulk Hogan wasn’t a great wrestler.’ Hulk Hogan was a great character, a guy who understood who his character was and what that character would do, and he was a pleasure to work with -- not to mention the fact that I made the most money working with Hulk Hogan.
“Big Bossman, he’s another guy who was a real good hand. I can’t say that there was anybody back then who I didn’t enjoy working with.
“Rowdy Roddy Piper’s going to be [at Old School Raw]. I had matches with Piper, too, and he’s a consummate pro. I loved working with [Randy Macho Man] Savage. He was a meticulous type of guy. He was a pro, and he’s very much missed.”
Before DiBiase emerged nationally via WWE as the hated Million Dollar Man, he topped hot Mid-South Wrestling, when territories existed. His mother, Helen Nevins, wrestled amd so did his step-dad, Iron Mike DiBiase. His sons, Ted Jr. and Brett, wrestled, and his son, Mike, is still involved in wrestling.
DiBiase’s former tag team partner, Irwin R. Schyster, is also a father of wrestlers. IRS -- who older school Championship Wrestling from Florida fans will recall as up-n-coming wrestler Mike Rotundo -- is the father of WWE superstars Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt.
“I love his boys and what they’re doing,” DiBiase said. “I love the whole thing [with The Wyatt Family], and that’s going some place.
“I don’t watch all the time, but what I like about what I’m seeing, when I do tune-in, is it seems the company is going back to a lot more characters. I went back to work for the company in 2005 and 06, and I said then it just seems like everybody is the same. Now I see this move back more toward characters, colorful characters.”
DiBiase wore a professionally tailored jacket with gold inseam trim and huge dollar sign on the back, a glittered $ sign label pin, gold sewn in lapels, a black bow tie, black dress pants with gold inseam trim and (of course) a custom-made gold and diamond Million Dollar championship belt.
“Back in the day, you had me running around in a suit, and you had Hillbilly Jim running around in overalls, and a guy with a snake and a guy dressed like a cop,” he said. “We had a variety of characters, and I think they’re getting back to that today, and I really do like that.”
DiBiase also likes WWE reuniting his Million Dollar Man character at Old School Raw with IRS, collectively known as Money Incorporated. Three-time WWE tag team champions, Money Inc. beat the Legion of Doom (Road Warriors Animal and Hawk), the Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) and the Steiner Brothers for WWE tag team gold.
So what better way to celebrate the new year and the beginning of tax season than with Money Inc. on Old School Raw, because everybody has a price and everybody has to pay taxes on it.
• OLD SCHOOL RAW
WWE Hall of Famers and legends unite with current WWE superstars and divas on Monday, Jan. 6 as WWE Monday Night Raw takes a trip down memory lane with Old School Raw, beginning 8 p.m. EST live on the USA Network.
“Old School” isn’t just labeled for some of the wrestlers appearing. Historic WWE theme music, graphics, entrance ramp, ring posts and colors will be part of the exciting Monday Night Raw that’s been a staple on television for more than 20 years.
Even with all the aesthetics of Old School Raw, WWE legends are the focus of the theme. The list of talent returning for this special occasion includes Ric Flair, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, IRS, Bob Backlund, The New Age Outlaws, Ron Simmons, Scotty 2 Hotty, Diamond Dallas Page and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
“Dallas and I are good buddies,” DiBiase said. “Ron Simmons, I love Ron. Bob Backlund. Let me tell you something. When Bob Backlund became a heel, when he became a bad guy, he was better than he ever was. [DiBiase chuckled] I hope that’s the Bob Backlund we’re going to see on Old School Raw on Monday night.”
We will see DiBiase as The Million Dollar Man.
DiBiase thought of the name The Million Dollar Man, but Vince McMahon devised the persona, patterning it after someone he would be if he wrestled. As for the attire, the company hired someone to make the original jacket, and the others DiBiase commissioned a tailor near his home in Clinton, Mississippi.
The Million Dollar Man debuted with a personal assistant/bodyguard named Virgil, lasting together from 1987-91. Hand-picked by McMahon in 1992 to team with the Million Dollar Man, Mike Rotundo became Irwin R. Schyster, and the heelish duo formed a tremendous tandem known as Money Incorporated.
“They created a character [IRS] who dressed almost like an executive,” DiBiase said. “He wrestled in slacks and a shirt and suspenders. He carried a briefcase into the ring, and they called him Irwin R. Schyster. What better name could you give [us] than Money Incorporated.”
They were managed by WWE Hall of Famer Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart.
“Jimmy Hart is great. He is absolutely wonderful,” DiBiase said. “Not only was he always on time but he would be there early. He’s just a consummate pro and just a pleasure to work with. He knew his job, and he did well.”
DiBiase, IRS and Hart did well, traveling internationally as well as nationally which featured stops in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Arena is the host site for Old School Raw, and its city is noted for its rich wrestling history with the NWA’s Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup in 1987 and the Great American Bash (NWA 1988-90, WCW 1991, 1996, 1998-2000) and more so for WWWF/WWF shows including Superstar Billy Graham beating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title in 1977.
• Monday Night Raw is the longest-running, weekly episodic program in U.S. prime-time TV history and is the most-watched, regularly scheduled, year-round program on cable, airing live every Monday night, 52 weeks a year. No re-runs. Each week, Monday Night Raw is also one of the most socially active shows on cable television.