Pro wrestling has always featured an uncomfortable duality, a raging battle between show and sport. Wrestlers are athletes, men and women who defy gravity and confront pain few could even imagine on a nightly basis. But for all their astounding feats in the ring, wrestling is also show business. The competition that exists is behind the scenes. In the ring, it’s a dance, two individuals working as one to control the audience’s emotions.
Some never understand the beauty of this athletic soap opera, too focused on the legitimacy of the competition to recognize the brilliance of the performance. But before he ever put on a shimmery green suit, dollar bill sign prominently on the lapel, it was a duality the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase didn’t always quite grasp.
Wrestling is in Ted DiBiase’s blood. His mother Helen Hild was a model before journeying into the wild world of wrestling. While others relied on gimmicks, Hild was a beauty, a brawler and a technician, every bit the brute in the ring as any of the men, despite weighting just 125 pounds. Stepfather Mike DiBiase was also a serious wrestler, a notorious shooter and former University of Nebraska star.
Is it any wonder, for much of his career, that DiBiase was more focused on his snap mare than snappy interviews? Wrestling, as promoted by Vince McMahon and his WWF, was foreign ground for DiBiase. And despite his struggles with a vision so different than the one he had known all his life, he thrived as the Million Dollar Man, creating one of the sport’s truly iconic villains.
Bleacher Report’s lead combat sports writer Jonathan Snowden caught up with DiBiase, days before his return to WWE Raw, to talk about his career, how he came to join the WWE Universe and how he came up with his trademark evil laugh.