Wrestler of the Day – January 17: Ted DiBiase

So my options for the 17th were Kevin Fertig (Thorn) and Mark Briscoe. On the 18th I had to pick between Ted DiBiase and Batista as they share a birthday. If you can’t catch on, Fertig and Briscoe are out and the big stars get their own days. We’ll start with my pick for the best heel of all time: Ted DiBiase.

DiBiase started off in the territories but would get a quick run in the WWF in 1979.

Hulk Hogan vs. Ted DiBiase

Yeah it’s the same guys you think it is. Hogan is NOTHING yet as he’s just a big muscle head with limited talent in the ring. Well I guess some things never change. He would become Thunder Lips in Rocky 3 a few years later and change his life forever. He even has Freddie Blassie as his manager and a big gold robe here. DiBiase is this young kid that used to have a midcard title but it was stolen by those pesky Brazilians and put into some tournament.

DiBiase is billed from Omaha, Nebraska of all places. This is Hogan’s MSG debut. Hokey smoke this is actually famous then. The inside of the robe is all rainbow colored. Vince is clearly about to orgasm on the spot at the sight of Hogan in tights. Hogan stalls but gets caught in a full nelson. It’s so weird seeing him at 26 and this green. DiBiase is incredibly popular and fast here. I feel like I’m in some parallel universe seeing DiBiase vs. Hogan with DiBiase as an over face.

Now I’ve never been one to make jokes, but Hogan is called the Fabulous One and has a coat with rainbow colors. I doubt this was intentional but it’s funny by mistake. Ted gets knocked to the floor and Hogan keeps hitting him which is kind of pointless. Hogan hits a legdrop which 8 years later would get you a 30 count but here it’s just a regular move and only gets two.

Hulk reminds me of a muscular Dolph Ziggler. This ends any connections between the two for the rest of time. Hogan puts on a chinlock and the bell rings which confuses everyone so I’m guessing it was accidental. Yeah it must be since the match just keeps going. DiBiase makes a standard comeback but the crowd loves it. A charge misses though and DiBiase passes out in a bearhug. Oddly enough the only two matches that I can think of that have ended like that have both involved Hogan.

Rating: C. Total formula stuff before the formula was written but that’s fine. Both guys were pretty new at this point so it’s not like you could ask for much of them otherwise. How in the world did this match never get a huge build and a huge blowoff 8 years later? Well depending on who you listen to that would be the Honky Tonk Man, but look up some of my other stuff for that since I’m tired of telling that story.

DiBiase would move on to Mid-South where he would have his greatest success before coming to the WWF. Here’s a match from 1985 against a rookie.

Ted DiBiase vs. Shawn Michaels

Ted’s last name is announced as DiBias. Shawn is quickly taken to the mat and DiBiase drives knees into his back. A hard shoulder block puts Shawn down again as we’re in squash territory already. We hit the chinlock but Shawn fights up and gets a fast two off a small package. DiBiase is livid and a sunset flip for two makes him even angrier. Ted comes right back with an elbow to the jaw and another to the head. A powerslam and the Figure Four are enough to make Shawn tap. Squash.

I’ll stay in this time period but go to Houston Wrestling, a territory I’ve never actually covered to see a team I’ve never actually covered. The video is at least labeled Houston but it seems more like a Mid-South match so take it for what it’s worth.

Ted DiBiase/Steve Williams vs. Blade Runners

Yes it’s Sting and the Ultimate Warrior as VERY green rookies and basically ripping off the Road Warriors. DiBiase and Williams are faces here and we’re joined in progress at the five minute mark with Sting holding DiBiase in a headlock. DiBiase fights out and cleans house until Sting comes back in to tag in Rock (Warrior) to face Williams. Neither guy goes anywhere on the power match but Williams gets tired of just standing around and runs both Blade Runners over to send them outside.

Back in and Williams grabs a headlock on Rock before running him down with another shoulder. The Blade Runners’ manager Eddie Gilbert gets on the apron for a distraction, allowing Sting to get in a cheap shot and the Blade Runners take over. Rock hooks a chinlock on Williams as Gilbert crosses his heart that he didn’t do anything wrong. Sting, in a ridiculous looking half t-shirt, comes in and actually hits his big elbow drop for two.

We hit another chinlock as the fans chant OU (for Oklahoma University where Williams was a big star) sending JR into a frenzy. Williams fights up but misses a charge into the corner to put him down. Rock comes back in but misses an elbow drop, allowing for the hot tag off to DiBiase. Everything breaks down and Gilbert runs in to dropkick Sting onto DiBiase but Ted rolls through for the pin, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Rating: C-. Pure formula stuff here but the fans were way into it. Commentary suggests this is a Houston Wrestling match so it’s nice to get another territory off my to do list. The Blade Runners were nothing special but they would get far better as singles guys. Of note here were some of the dropkicks DiBiase tried. I kid you not, one of them hit Sting in the stomach. It’s a good thing he didn’t use that much as a heel.

It was on to the WWF soon after this where DiBiase would be put into the main event scene very quickly. Here’s DiBiase challenging Hogan from a Houston house show on December 10, 1987.

WWF World Title: Ted DiBiase vs. Hulk Hogan

 

DiBiase has Virgil and Andre with him. Both are listed as seconds. So he has two seconds? There’s a “that’s still not a three count” joke in there but it’s really bad so I’ll pass. Hogan comes straight at him with the belt and DiBiase runs. The place erupted for Hogan to say the least. Hogan pulls him right in and the fight is on. He beats on Ted and DiBiase heads to the floor to hide.

 

That gets him nowhere but Andre makes Hogan go back into the ring. Virgil is pulled into the ring and both he and DiBiase take big boots to send them to the floor. Hogan keeps posing and the fans keep getting louder. We finally get going and Hogan uses his wrestling skills to take DiBiase to the mat. We hit the floor and DiBiase finally takes over a bit. Ted stomps away and chokes Hogan a bit and Hogan does his always interesting version of selling.

 

Hogan starts his comeback and sets for the leg drop but Andre trips him up. Hogan yells at Andre….and wins by disqualification? That’s it? We get a six minute main event? Seriously? Apparently not as we’re not only going to continue but Andre must leave ringside and has been fined two thousand dollars! I’ve never heard of that before but it’s still pretty cool.

 

DiBiase jumps Hogan and might have hit him with a foreign object to take over. DiBiase hammers away on him with his usual stuff but Hogan Hulks Up and the big boot puts DiBiase down. Virgil gets on the apron and DiBiase hits him with a knee. Hogan grabs a fast roll up to retain the title. His day was coming very soon though.

 

Rating: D+. The match was pretty worthless for the most part although the nice little switch in there was a nice change of pace from the usual stuff. It’s always cool to see a different ending like that as if nothing else it makes the fans think they’ve seen something special which is the entire point of a house show.

We’ve covered Wrestlemania IV already so here’s Savage vs. DiBiase from SNME XV, about two weeks before Wrestlemania.

Ted DiBiase vs. Randy Savage

Andre is with DiBiase and Vince is FURIOUS. Vince if you hate your own booking that much maybe you should step down. With Virgil and Andre interfering Savage is in trouble earlier and as I’m typing that DiBiase messes up. That’s never happened before of course. This match is more or less awesome just based on who is in there. Jesse thinks that might not be Dave Hebner. DAng that was a brilliant angle.

DiBiase busts out the spinning toehold! Is there a class on that at West Texas State or something? The heels triple team Savage and Virgil is thrown out for it. This is solid so far but again it feels like they’re off a bit. They might not be wanting to do any of the stuff they had planned for Mania. The referee goes down “by mistake” and Andre beats the heck out of Savage on the floor. Liz runs off and of course comes back with Hogan. Savage gets counted out first though and DiBiase wins it. In a stupid thing, when Hogan gets there with a chair he throws it in the ring where either heel could have picked it up. Genius isn’t he?

Rating: B-. Solid but not great. This was about setting up Mania and obviously this wasn’t the projected final so it’s not like they were giving anything away. These two could always have a good match and this was no exception. I liked it but not as much as the mania one actually.

DiBiase did a lot of work over in Japan for AJPW, including a show co-produced by WWF and All Japan where he received what might have been the first title shot at new WWF Champion Ultimate Warrior.

WWF Title: Ted DiBiase vs. Ultimate Warrior

Now here’s an interesting match. It’s about as predictable as possible, but it should be pretty decent if DiBiase can save it, which he’s capable of. Warrior is WAY over here, which stuns me. The guy with real talent jumps the champion early and gets beaten up for it. You know how Hogan used a completely different move set and wrestled a different style when he was in Japan?

 

This is nothing like that for Warrior. He’s the same wreckloose he is in America and it’s just as bad. DiBiase avoids the shoulder block to take control though. This is a really short match as after a few shots and a piledriver which feels just right and feels so real that it feels just like a piledriver, Warrior does his Hulking Up which we don’t call Hulking Up because we don’t want our fans to realize we have two characters that are more or less exactly the same but this one is far worse at it. A bunch of clotheslines and a splash ends this.

 

Rating: C+. Well I guess keeping it short was the best idea in the end. There was no way this was going to go long or anything as even DiBiase’s greatness wasn’t getting two great or even good matches out of Warrior in two weeks. It was a house show main event llevel match and that’s all it needed to be I suppose. Still, too short to be anything worth watching.

Ted would drop down the card a bit but would still get an Intercontinental Title shot to close out 1991.

Intercontinental Title: Bret Hart vs. Ted DiBiase

Ok this has to be good. Crowd pops big for the title mention which hopefully is for Bret. Nice pop for Bret when he comes out. Apparently the leather jacket is a new thing here. That’s odd to hear indeed. Gorilla thinks Sherri likes Bret. That’s a scary combination: Sherri and Bret with Gorilla watching.

Long feeling out process to start with DiBiase stalling to try to tick Bret off. Bret, the hothead that he is, falls for it to an extent. DiBiase gets a shot to the ribs but runs when Bret comes after him. We hit the floor and it’s on. It’s weird seeing a big Marlboro ad behind the ring. I love watching DiBiase flip forward. It’s perfect every time.

Bret rams DiBiase and “the witch’s” heads together to drive Heenan crazy. We hit the headlock on the mat with Bret in control. DiBiase keeps rolling him to the side as this is a chess match so far. It’s time to talk about the Rumble some more as Bret hits a dropkick for two and now right back to the headlock.

DiBiase fights to his feet and manages to get a hot shot out of nowhere to turn the tide all over again. As good as Bret was on offense he’s somehow even better on defense which is odd indeed. Nice spinning neckbreaker for two. DiBiase hits the chinlock as Sherri keeps distracting the referee so Ted can get some choking in. Bret fights up and gets some punches him but is sent into the corner and smacks his chest against the buckle in one of his signature spots.

Million Dollar Dream goes on and Bret is in big trouble. Sherri grabs the wrench that they use to ring the bell and rings it for the referee as DiBiase grabs both belts and celebrates. Fink calls shenanigans and Hebner throws Sherri out. Bret gets a Russian Leg Sweep out of nowhere to get us back to even. Heenan wants to take the belt to make it a watch.

Bret plays possum (I’m stunned too) and takes over. Nice suplex gets two. Small package gets the same. Middle rope elbow has Ted reeling. We see the Million Dollar Ass as a gutwrench suplex gets two. DiBiase is knocked to the floor and almost lands on Sherri. Bret hits a perfect pescado and Ted is reeling. And there’s the time limit which thankfully they didn’t announce at all. That helps a bit actually.

Rating: B. Good stuff here but the chinlocks kind of hurt it a bit. One of the major things here is that Bret gets to show he can hang with a known master like DiBiase, but I really don’t see why they couldn’t let Bret get a pin. It’s not like DiBiase was doing anything in storylines so it’s not like his credibility would really be hurt or something. Odd ending to a rather good match.

The next big step for DiBiase was the tag team Money Inc., who won three tag team titles in a span of about two years. Here’s a non-title match from Summerslam 1992 against the Legion of Doom.

Money Inc. vs. Legion of Doom

This is on the main card with no real fanfare at all. The LOD comes to the ring on motorcycles along with manager Paul Ellering and……dang it…….Rocco the Dummy. There’s nothing more to it than that: it’s a ventriloquist dummy named Rocco who was the team’s “inspiration.” DiBiase is in his white trunks which I couldn’t stand when I first did this show but for some reason they work for me now. Vince gets in one of my favorite lines ever: “The Legion of Doom is well known for their psychology in the ring.” I’ll pause for a minute to let that one sink in.

Hawk starts with DiBiase and it’s Ted sliding to the floor to avoid a right hand. Animal jumps DiBiase on the floor and sends him back inside, only for Hawk to clothesline him right back to the floor. The fans are WAY into the LOD here. Off to Animal vs. IRS with Animal whipping him into the corner and standing on the tie like a smart man would. A gorilla press gets two for Animal before it’s back to Hawk for some arm work.

Irwin comes back with a sleeper but it’s only good for two arm drops before Hawk rams him into the buckle. The top rope clothesline misses IRS though and Hawk falls out to the floor. IRS drops some elbows as for two the fans won’t stop chanting for LOD. Back to DiBiase for some knee drops followed by a chinlock. Jimmy Hart, one of the greatest managers of all time, is yelling at Rocco the dummy. Money Inc. changes off without tagging to send Vince into his usual hysteria.

Hawk finally fights up and rams Ted into the buckle but the hot tag is broken up. The place is going to go nuts when Animal gets in. Ted drops some knees on Hawk and puts on a front facelock but the bird man carries him over towards Animal. IRS breaks up ANOTHER hot tag attempt but gets caught in a double clothesline with Hawk. Animal FINALLY gets the hot tag and cleans house but IRS breaks up the Doomsday Device. Not that it matters much as Animal powerslams DiBiase down for the pin about three seconds later.

Rating: C-. The crowd was HOT for this but it wasn’t much of note. This was part of the three way tag team feud with the Natural Disasters over the fall which ultimately saw Money Inc. coming out with the titles. This was the last appearance for this incarnation of the LOD for years in the WWF because of Rocco. Seriously, Hawk snapped over the idea and didn’t go back to America (to be fair though everyone knew the snap was coming sooner or later).

DiBiase would hurt his neck and be forced into retirement at the end of 1993. I’ll close us out in true DiBiase fashion with a battle royal from the 15th anniversary special of Monday Night Raw in 2007.

15th Anniversary Battle Royal

THE FINK does the intros. We’ve got Al Snow, Bart Gunn (man, where did they drag him out of?), DOINK THE CLOWN, Repo Man, Steve Blackman (in far better shape than he ever was when he was a regular), Pete Gas of the Mean Street Posse, BOB FREAKING BACKLUND (58 years old here and looking to be in better shape than most of the roster), Gangrel, Goon, Skinner, IRS, Flash Funk, Scotty 2 Hotty, Jim Neidhart, Sgt. Slaughter and Gillberg, who gets a full entrance with guards and pyro sticks and canned chants. That’s AWESOME. This is supposed to be a 15 man battle royal but there are 16 in it. Eh who cares?

Gillberg is ganged up on and tossed immediately. Backlund is out quickly and the point of this isn’t who wins but is just for fun. A Head shot by Snow puts Doink out. Same for Gangrel. HEAD CHEESE EXPLODES!!! Skinner is called a fabulous one (haha) and there go Bart, Flash and Blackman. Repo Man puts Goon out and Skinner puts Repo out. Final Four are Slaughter, IRS, Skinner and Scotty. IRS gets his briefcase but gets it knocked into his face so we can see the Worm. Skinner puts Scotty out but walks into the Cobra Clutch. Slaughter dumps Skinner but IRS dumps Slaughter in the same ending from X7’s Gimmick Battle Royal.

BUT WAIT! Here’s Ted DiBiase, who is officially in the battle royal also. However, he says that IRS has his price so IRS dives over the top, making DiBiase the winner! And that my friends, is why Ted DiBiase is better than your favorite heel. We even get the evil laugh! The match isn’t worth rating because that’s not the point. The ending made me smile a lot though.

Ted DiBiase is one of the best performers in the history of wrestling. If there has ever been a better heel, I’ve yet to see him and that includes Hollywood Hogan. There was nothing redeemable about Ted DiBiase and he was able to get the WWF Title off of Hulk Hogan when no one else could. What made him even better was that he could have a good match with just about anyone and gave a lot of young guys a lot of rubs along the way. If you want a lesson on how to be evil in wrestling, go find some of his stuff from the 80s. It’s more than worth your time.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of on the History of In Your House at Amazon for just $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GV3KXSE

And check out my Amazon author page with wrestling books for just $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

Comments are closed.