Ted DiBiase may have retired from the ring 20 years ago, but his fan base continues to grow.
This was evident during the Florida Supercon in Miami Beach when fans of all ages came by the WWE Hall of Famer’s table. “The Million Dollar Man” enjoys the conventions.
“I get to talk to them and hear their stories,” he said. “I hear the stories of them watching with their grandfather or father or mom or grandmother. I hear what they like and didn’t like. I get a chance to interact, so it’s great.”
DiBiase, who remained active in the business after hanging up the boots, credits WWE’s marketing efforts in keeping him and other fellow legends relevant.
“I went to Scotland last year and walked into of their equivalent to a Walmart to pick up a few things,” he recalled. “A little boy, who had to be 6, had his grandmother by the hand saying, ‘Grandma, that’s the ‘Million Dollar Man.’ I almost had a cow. I said, ‘How do you know me?’ He said, ‘video games.’
“…They keep including us. They put us out there. I had a new action figure come out last year. I never even played the video games, but the kids tell me about them. They continue to put us on the games. It really keeps you alive.”
The legend’s contract DiBiase signed with the company also sees him attend charity events and even make a cameo a time or two. The WWE Network has also been a new avenue for new fans to get caught up on the great careers of veterans like DiBiase. A popular show was the “Legends’ House”, which saw a group of past personalities living together. If there was a season two would DiBiase become a resident if asked?
“Yeah…maybe,” he said. “Watching the show, I don’t know if I want to put myself in that situation or not. I have watched some of the segments. I thought it was great. I thought it was funny…I knew the revelations, but it was great to see how they opened up.”
His son Ted DiBiase Jr. decided to step away from WWE after following in his father’s footsteps. DiBiase Sr. respects the move and wanting to be home with his family.
“My son wanted to become a wrestler because I was a wrestler,” he said “I was his hero. I didn’t want them to wrestle. It was the same reason my dad didn’t want me to wrestle. It’s not the wrestling. It’s the lifestyle that goes with it and the demands it puts on you. It’s not so bad for single guy. You heard all the stories whether it’s wrestling or any other professional sport or movie stars or rock stars. When you’re a celebrity, you don’t have to find trouble because it will come find you.
“The demands of being on the road and away from home, it all factors in. That’s where all the drugs and divorce and everything came into play. As a dad, you don’t want your children in it. Even though my son was successful, once he had a child. That was the kicker for him. To be in this business and be a star, not just be on the card, to be a star puts a demand on your time.”
It doesn’t matter how many conventions DiBiase does, he is still fascinated by some of the memorabilia that he encounters. He remembers a collector who came by a while back with a figure.
“I don’t remember what it was,” he said. “I guess because it was so unique it would go for $1,500 to $2,000. I have all these figures at home, but they are all out of the packaging. They’ve been played with by the kids.”
During his appearances he brings a replica of his prized million dollar championship. WWE owns the original.
“I used to carry a declaration sheet with the belt to bring into foreign countries if customs ever asked me, I would have to show them,” DiBiase said. “It’s declared value was $40,000. Of course that was like1988. All the stones in the real belt are cubic zirconia , so they are all false diamonds. They aren’t cheap. There are 700 stones in the belt. So that’s just in the stones. It’s not solid gold. It was gold-plated. The jeweler had designed the belt and set all the stones just like you would a ring.”
Looking at today’s roster, DiBiase views someone who could be a million dollar champion.
“Alberto Del Rio is the Mexican version of the ‘Million Dollar Man,’” he said. “He is the one with all the money. At the same time I think Bray Wyatt could because I think that character is something new and fresh and something I think has been missing for awhile. It’s different. Different is good.”
Interestingly enough, Wyatt is the son of DiBiase’s old tag team partner Mike Rotunda or Irwin R. Schyster (I.R.S.).Tampa
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