Everyone Has A Price: The Million Dollar Man and the greatest wrestling match of all time
By Jeff Ayers — / Death Wish Coffee Blog
MAIN EVENT: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Wrestling has always boasted larger than life characters and incredible storylines that spiral in and out of the matches themselves. One of the greatest matches ever was during the Main Event in 1988, televised live on NBC.
In 1987, Ted DiBiase, known as The Million Dollar Man, hatched a plan to buy the WWF World Heavyweight Championship Belt from Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan said no and told The Million Dollar Man that he'd have to win it from him in the ring. So Ted DiBiase approached Andre the Giant to fight Hulk Hogan and win the belt for him, with another part of the plan involving an evil twin referee.
This was the 80s at the height of wrestling fandom, and this storyline was the most talked about at the time. We recently had the Million Dollar Man himself, Ted DiBiase, on our podcast Fueled By Death Cast and he talked about that match.
What was one of your favorite story arcs?
Ted DiBiase: The one thing that they did, the one angle that was shot that I just think was one of the greatest ever was the one that really catapulted me into being a big star. And that was Market Square Arena, Saturday night, Main Event, NBC, and it was the first time that professional wrestling had been on live network television. Since the 1950s. And the match was the first time that Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant had gotten back in the ring since WrestleMania 3 where Hulk won.
But the story was that I had bought the services of Andre. Andre was going to beat Hogan and sell me the title. Now, my whole deal was I could buy everything, including the world title. And of course, I didn't know until that night that Dave Hebner had an identical twin. So, twin referees, and it was just great. One referee goes down and he's out, and his identical twin runs down there to the ring, and Andre does something to Hogan, and goes down and covers him, the referee goes, "One, two," and Hogan's shoulder's three feet off the mat, referee just goes ahead and counts three, rings the bell, and gives they belt to Andre, declares him Champion, Andre brings me in the ring, wraps the belt around my waist, and I carried the belt for probably a week, maybe a week and a half.
And then, of course, the then acting storyline, Jack Tunney, the president of the WWF declares a default, "You're not the champion because you didn't win the belt. We can't give it back to Andre because he won't take it," because he technically won it, but he'd been paid off, "And we can't give it to Hogan because he technically lost it, so what do we do?" We have a tournament to declare a new champion, which was WrestleMania 4.
Speaking of Andre the Giant, what was he like to work with?
Ted DiBiase: He was a kind guy, he was a good guy. Now, there are some fans that might not agree with that, but those are usually fans that are taken for granted. Andre's 7'4" and 450-pounds — he couldn't hide anywhere.
The one thing that Andre was always looking for was a place to be comfortable and not be bothered, because people would just hound him. And I found this out by traveling with him. I could put on glasses and a hat if I wanted to and maybe get by. Or even in a crowd, I might not be spotted. But everybody's going to notice Andre the Giant.
You worked with him a lot. What was your relationship like with Andre?
Ted DiBiase: Oh, it was great. I met Andre when I was still in college playing football in West Texas.
He came to town and the Funk's asked me to take him. After the show, I took him to a place where all the college kids went. And we sat down, the gal comes to take our order, and Andre says, "Do you have a trash can?" And she says, "Yes sir, we have several big trash cans." And he says, "I want you to empty a trash can. I want you to fill it with beer and ice. Put four cases of beer," or whatever, I can't remember now. And she kind of looked at me wide-eyed, and I said, "Yeah, do it."
And of course, if you looked at him, if he wrapped his hand around a beer can, you couldn't see it. It was like you or me, you know those little miniature cans?
It's like us wrapping our hand around one of those. It looked like a toy cup. That's most of what I remember that night.
That's the night I would have needed a lot of Death Wish Coffee. Oh my gosh.
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