MILLION DOLLAR MAN - TED DIBIASE
"If you work hard, if you're willing to pay the price, you can be whatever you want to be." Ted DiBiase, pro wrestler, Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, minister, The Million Dollar Man
ABOUT TED DIBIASE:
Ted DiBiase started wrestling at an early age in the 1970's when the sport was still divided into territories. When Vince McMahon solidified the sport into the WWF and later the WWE, Ted took on the persona of The Million Dollar Man. He joins our show to talk about his early career, the origins of his character, and the iconic match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Plus he tells new stories about wrestling, Andre the Giant, and how life has led him to become a minister with The Heart of David ministry.
Ted DiBiase: I'm sitting here at my desk, in my office, and in my right hand I've got a Death Wish coffee, I don't know what you'd call it, a carafe, stainless steel.
Ted DiBiase: I love it.
Jeff: Nice, awesome. I'm so glad that you love it.
Ted DiBiase: As we speak, I'm drinking the coffee, I love it.
Jeff: Awesome. I can't thank you enough for taking time to talk with us on the show.
Dustin: Are you a big coffee fan, Ted?
Ted DiBiase: Oh yeah. I mean, I'm not a connoisseur of coffees and all of that stuff, but I know that it's like, there's a couple doughnut coffees like, I like Tim Horton's coffee, I drink a lot of that in Canada, and I like Dunkin' Donuts coffee. But my favorite coffee is Death Wish.
Dustin: Oh man, you didn't have to say that.
Jeff: I think you just got us a raise there, Ted.
Dustin: I'm blushing now, man.
Ted DiBiase: I tell you, it really is. My wife keeps telling me, she says, "Don't forget to bring that home with you."
Ted DiBiase: We finally figured out we can go online and order it, so it's what we're doing too.
Dustin: Oh man, you don't have to. You just let us know and we'll send you over another nice care package and get you all stocked up.
Ted DiBiase: I got to tell you guys a story about ... The first time I met you guys was at the New York Comic Con and I signed some autographs for a bunch of the guys, and you guys said, "Wow, we'll send you a care package." I thought, "Great." So, I'm on the road again, my wife calls me and she said, "Honey, there's a box at the front door. It's got a skull and crossbones on it, and it says Death Wish." And she said, "What is it, do you know what this is?" I just started laughing, I was like, "Don't call the police, nobody's trying to bomb us." I said, "It's just coffee." Anyway, I thought you guys would appreciate that story. She loves it too.
Dustin: You can imagine the troubles we have getting through customs sometimes.
Ted DiBiase: Oh, I can imagine.
Jeff: To start off the show, I'd love to talk about one of the most current things that's going on with you, and that is the documentary that you and your sons put together, The Price of Fame, which is now available on iTunes.
Ted DiBiase: Right.
Jeff: I think it's always incredible when someone who's had a career, like yourself, who's done so many different things, does a retrospective thing, and looks back on it. Can you talk a little bit about how that came to be? Was it your idea, was it your sons' idea? What was the starting point for the documentary?
Ted DiBiase: Well, I gotta back up even further because I had a crisis in my life in 1992, at the height of my fame, and my wife catches me in adultery. Wrestlers were kind of like rock stars, and we lived that lifestyle. It wasn't that I was unhappy at home, it was filling a void, which is, that's not great either.
Ted DiBiase: But, the bottom line is, it is what it is. And when I was confronted with it, it made me go, it's when I did an about face. It's kind of like I hit the wall and realized that I had risked the most valuable things in my life. And so that was a turning point for my life. And I never realized it, that was in 1992 and this journey, and this growth, and my relationship with God for the next eight years. And then in the year 2000, I walked away from wrestling as a vocation. I've been in evangelism for the last 18 years. I've traveled all over the world, churches, prisons, rehab centers, sharing my story and sharing the gospel. I've written a couple of books, you can get a DVD with me sharing my story from a platform in a church. But, I had never done a movie about it, had never included the rest of my family.
Then a guy named Pete Fiero, Pete came to interview me. He was doing the interview as a favor to a friend. Pete lives in New Jersey but the greater New York area. Because he was a fan of mine, I said I'll go to the interview. The interview was what you call a shoot interview, meaning it's not wrestling storylines, it's real life. And so when you start asking me questions about my real life, I'm going to start telling you about what God has done and how it's changed me. What I didn't know at the time, was Pete, in his own words, was a somewhat backslidden son of a minister. His dad was a minister, and so apparently my story resonated with him and it kind of got all over him.
Pete's vocation is, he does wedding video and photography, so he documents weddings. I'd come back to New York, he'd come and hear me speak, and we developed this relationship. He just came to me one day and he said, "Ted, you've told your story, and you've been telling to for some time, but it's never been done in a film. I'd like to do that." I said, "Well, okay, let's give it a go."
And then my son came along and put a little twist on that. Kind of like, "Okay dad, let's tell the story. It's your story but let's kind of tell it through my eyes and involve the family." So that's not happening. And of course, our wish is that the people that see the film will come away with a couple things. Number one, they'll come away with an understanding that fame is not all it's cracked up to be. That like anything else, it has its ups, it has its downs, it's what you make of it. And that you can be as popular as anybody in the world, everybody knows who you are, you can make a lot of money, and you could be the most empty person on the planet.
Ted DiBiase: Again, obviously the answer to all that as far as I'm concerned, is Jesus Christ. And that's what I continue to do today. That's basically why we did the film, and the film is out on iTunes. It was on Amazon first, and then iTunes. I know that it's been in the top 10 and 20 in the documentary division of iTunes and Amazon. Actually, as we speak, this week, I think the 3rd or the 4th, maybe it's already the 4th, but this week, I'm not sure the day, but it's going to be released on DVD in Walmart.
Ted DiBiase: Across the country. And we're hoping that people that haven't seen it will go buy it, and watch it, and maybe there's something in it for you, and me, and everybody.
Jeff: That's really cool.
Dustin: Even watching the little bit that I got to, when you talk about your father, it's so touching, man. That really speaks to me and really hit home, and watching you moved by that.
Ted DiBiase: I appreciate you sharing that, because 35% of the children in our country today are being raised without a dad.
Ted DiBiase: That's part of what's wrong with our country, is the breakdown of the family. I'm not just talking about deadbeat dads, guys that just, you get your girlfriend pregnant and you skip town, and you're a turd. But I man, there's dads that come home every day from work bit they're not invested in the lives of their sons. If you watched Ric Flair's documentary, which by the way aired the same night-
Jeff: Oh my goodness.
Ted DiBiase: For whatever reason, it aired the same night on the [30 30 00:08:18]. And God bless Ric, at the end of that, they ask you, "Well, how do you want to be remembered?" And he says, "Well I obviously won't be remembered as a good husband or father, so I guess I'd like to be remembered as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time." And he was, and has been one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. But that's sad. I knew, I know Ric, and Ric's a friend. But I knew for a long time that Ric was adopted. What I didn't know, and didn't know until I watched that 30 30, was that he had a very poor relationship with his dad. I think that a lot of Ric's antics, and wanting to be the center of attention, and the woo man, it's him crying out for, it's like saying, "Hey, look at me. Look at me."
Ted DiBiase: And of course, I'm not an expert. Again, I love Ric. Ric's recently been through hell, almost died, and has made a tremendous comeback. And I'm happy for him.
Ted DiBiase: I can't wait to see him at WrestleMania.
Dustin: How much of your success and Ric's success do you chalk up to having a tumultuous childhood in that fashion? I mean, Jeff and I talk about it a lot, where sometimes maybe the best circumstances being raised in, doesn't quite make the best character. Sometimes we have to go through a lot of hardship to be these giant characters, like Ric Flair.
Ted DiBiase: I speak to a lot of kids. I tell them, I said, "You're not a product of your environment. You're not a victim of your environment. What you're a victim of, are the choices you make in the environment." And I said, "Here's the thing, just like in a card game, you can't choose the cards you get. You have to play the hand you've been dealt. Life's not fair and bad things happen. Parents divorce, or you don't know your dad, or you don't know you mom. Or you blow it. So what are you going to do?"
You come up in a poor neighborhood, that was my dad's story. He was Italian, grew up in a very poor Italian neighborhood, but he went to the University of Nebraska. Well first he went to the navy. And in the navy, I think it was 1946, AAU National Heavyweight Wrestling title, as a heavyweight, and then went to Nebraska, graduated from Nebraska, lettered at Nebraska eight times, four years in football, four in wrestling, and was a conference heavyweight champion for three consecutive years.
Ted DiBiase: That, coming out of poverty, which was an inspiration to me.
Ted DiBiase: That's part of my story. I got a break, because my parents divorced when I was two, my mother remarried when I was five, and she married Mike, and I had that influence in my life for 10 years, and it just stayed with me. When he died, it was ... well anyway, you watch the documentary. I'd go out to that cemetery where he's buried countless times. I remembered some of the things that he told me. I tell kids that. "It's easy to do what everybody else is doing," he said, "But it takes strength to cut your own path in life and be the head, and not the tail, be a leader, not a follower." He said, "If you work hard, if you're willing to pay the price, you can be whatever you want to be." I followed that and it led me to success.
Jeff: Yeah, and it definitely did. Going back into the beginning of your career as a wrestler, I'm always curious because you started out in the 70s when the sport was just at the beginning of starting to get almost a pop culture sensibility. Television was picking it up, it was really starting to be a larger than life kind of thing. What was it like to be in the wrestling community, especially moving into the 80s, not only when you were wrestling in the mid-South and stuff like that, but when early WWF was becoming this powerhouse thing. Was it instantaneous or did you kind of feel that takeoff as you were gradually going into the sport?
Ted DiBiase: Again, having been raised in it and what have you, what's funny is that I looked at some of the stuff Vince was doing, I almost thought it was cartoon.
Ted DiBiase: It's kind of like he's killing our business. But the reality is, it was a stroke of genius. What Vince McMahon did is he took wrestling, which was basically, when you go to a wrestling match you're not going to see polo shirts and khaki pants.
Jeff: Yeah, right.
Ted DiBiase: Back then anyway. Back then, it was a rough crowd.
Ted DiBiase: It was a rough crowd. And of course, what Vince did was he just came out and announced to the whole world that we are sports entertainment. We understood that educated people, you watch it long enough, you've ever been an athlete, been in a fight, you watch things, you go I can't ... It's kind of like magic. You know that they can't really make an elephant disappear, but he disappeared with slight of hand and you go, "Oh my gosh, how'd they do it?" That's the kind of thing with wrestling back then. It's kind of like walking into a movie. When you walk in you know it's not real. But if the story is told in a way that it draws you in, then you're captivated by it, suspended disbelief.
Ted DiBiase: But what Vince did, is he dressed it up. He made colorful characters, absolute heroes, and absolute villains. I was like Snidely Whiplash.
Dustin: Yeah. Oh yeah!
Ted DiBiase: That was the deal. But when I understood where wrestling was going, it was when I picked the paper up the day after WrestleMania 3 and I read the headlines: "Wrestling Sets Indoor World Attendance Record, 93,00 People at the Pontiac Silverdome."
Ted DiBiase: I said, "If I'm going to stay relative in wrestling, then I'm going to have to go there."
Ted DiBiase: And I started that journey.
Jeff: Before we get into when you got into the WWF and the Million Dollar Man era, you've always been celebrated in the sport for your technical prowess, for how you really were an incredible athlete through and through in what you did, and I was curious. What was your training regimen like, what was your workout regimen like during those times?
Ted DiBiase: It's funny because, with wrestling, we didn't have days off. We wrestled every day.
Ted DiBiase: The territory days, you have to ask for a day off, and it's real hard to get one if you're considered one of the top guys, because if you're a top guy, and you're the main event draw, then the rest of the cards is dependent on you to be there. So, That guy doesn't get very many days off. I was wrestling virtually every night of the week, and it's an acquired skill. I grew up loving it, that's part of it. It's obvious if you go back and look at pictures of me from the mid-70s to about the time I was in the WWE, I was athletic, I played college football, but I never had a great body. I never tried too. And so I started working out more, I started pumping the weights more to get a somewhat better physique. But I've never been known as, remember [inaudible 00:16:43], the guy with the six-pack? I never had the six-pack.
The schedule was rigid. We would fly into a town, check in to a hotel, get to the gym, get in a good hour and a half workout, get showered, eat, get a little nap, go to the show. And then, you know what? Get up the next day and it depends, a lot of times we would fly into a major city, and then we would work maybe two or three shows that were within striking distance of that city. And then we would fly out. It just varied. Sometimes we'd be in for one day and be gone. It wasn't an easy life at all.
Dustin: Yeah, it doesn't sound easy. How much does coffee come in to a factor when you're doing that much work?
Ted DiBiase: Oh my gosh, are you kidding? That's why I love it, because I live on it. It's funny, my grandmother used to run a truck stop. That's where you usually find really good coffee, is at a truck stop.
Ted DiBiase: My affinity for coffee goes all the way back to when I was very young. Between those ages like when I was four or five years old, I would hang out a lot at my grandmother's truck stop. A lot of the regular truckers, they would come in and I was there, they'd get to know me, and so I'd go over and I'd sit with them. "Hey little buddy, come have a cup of coffee with me." Truckers, they stop and they want their coffee. What the waitresses would do was, they'd put about an inch of coffee in the cup, and then they'd fill it with milk and sugar. But I thought I was having my coffee and even though I was, I still can't get over that. I love my coffee, but I can't do it black. I gotta have the-
Jeff: You've been drinking it like that since you were four, I'm sure it comes into play. Oh man, that's funny. Let's get to The Million Dollar Man. When you joined up with this now larger than life sports entertainment, you become, like you said, the Snidely Whiplash, you become one of the greatest villains to ever grace the ring. Before that, you were already ... I mean all wrestling was doing angles, and storylines, and that kind of thing but The Million Dollar Man, you were that persona, it seemed, 24 hours a day. Was that tough to also be the technical wrestler that you were, but then also this larger than life character?
Ted DiBiase: That's the thing, I was a character and I was a heel character when I worked in mid-South, but the interviews were more serious. The interviews were more like, they weren't over the top.
Ted DiBiase: And that was the difference that Vince wanted, that over the top. If I still remember, I did an interview, and we would do our interviews every three weeks, and they would do them for the next 21 markets. Vince just happened to be walking by when I ended that interview, and I laughed like that. And that laugh is basically an exaggeration of the way I laugh. He sticks his head in the door and he goes, "That's The Million Dollar Man." He said, "I want to hear that laugh every time you finish an interview."
And I tell everybody. I said, "You know what? 19 year active wrestling career, noted as a great technical wrestler, all this other stuff. But what does everybody remember most? Hahahaha."
Jeff: Yeah, oh man, it still gives me chills every time.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, the laugh. The laugh is, that's it, it's Snidely Whiplash, so that's what Vince did with wrestling. He animated the characters. I never was on the cartoon, the cartoon was before me.
Ted DiBiase: But it became family entertainment. And man, it's like going to the circus.
Ted DiBiase: Because there was all this variety of characters. The Million Dollar Man, thew rich guy with all the money, a guy with a snake, Hillbilly Jim.
Ted DiBiase: Oh my gosh, just a plethora of characters. Brutus The Barber.
Jeff: Oh yeah, that's right.
Dustin: I wonder, nowadays we see a lot of guys biting off that Million Dollar Man style, where I swear to God, people just show up to watch these people fight in hopes that they lose. And that is their draw. But we see a lot of guys, especially I would say, Money Mayweather is the best example, biting off your style. Do you think that's on purpose? They're seeing what you're doing and trying to mimic it, or do you think you tapped in to something that everybody else is finding out for themselves?
Ted DiBiase: I don't know. I think they might be finding out for themselves. There's been at least two guys, especially like JBL. JBL and I are buddies, and I tell JBL, I said, "JBL, you are a cowboy version of me." Again, it's the same, generally, does the same character. You know, rich cowboy, comes rolling in in a big Cadillac deal, talking about his money, kind of like what was that old show on TV with the ... Dallas?
Jeff: Oh, Dallas, yeah.
Ted DiBiase: JBL was that, he was a similar character. And a heel, a guy who talked big, then when you confronted him he'd become a coward. It's a bully. It's like my character bullied people with my wealth. And you never get tired of seeing a bully get his butt kicked.
Jeff: Yeah, it's true.
Dustin: It's true. Unfortunately, we haven't seen that with Money Mayweather yet.
Jeff: No, that's true.
Dustin: So did you get this persona from somebody, like were you inspired to have this angle from somebody else before you?
Ted DiBiase: Well, no. This was brand new, and it was Vince McMahon's personal idea. I guess because Vince had seen me in action, and seen some of my interviews, and what have you. He just thought I was the perfect guy for it. So they brought me up to New York, interviewed me, and the rest is history.
Jeff: As you grew the character though, were you able to give your input into the character, and of the storylines or angles that subsequently came with it?
Ted DiBiase: A little bit. Vince always said, "I don't want everybody to always agree with me, I don't expect that." He said, "If you don't like something, tell me. But don't come like a cabbage, all head, no rear."
Ted DiBiase: He says, "In other words, if you don't like something, tell me that. But then tell me what we could do different."
Dustin: I like that, that's a good angle. That's a really good angle.
Ted DiBiase: But he also said, "Remember this. At the end of the day, we're spending my money. And as long as we're spending my money, at the end of the day, we're gong to do it the way I want it." But he was always pretty good about that. Sometimes he liked it, sometimes he didn't. That's business in any business.
Jeff: Yeah. I'm sure the countless arcs that you were a part of, the countless fights, or matches and things, I'm sure there are tons of stories out there that you've told multiple times, but is there any angle or storyline that you think fondly back on from that time, that kind of enjoyed being that character and got to do?
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 to 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.
Ted DiBiase: 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.
Ted DiBiase: 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.
Dustin: It's genius.
Dustin: It's pure gold.
Jeff: One of the greatest storylines ever, for sure. And gotta ask the question, because I mean, saying the words larger than life obviously comes to mind, Andre the Giant. We've all heard stories of him and that kind of thing, but for someone like you, who got to work so closely with him, especially in a storyline like that, is he everything that everybody always says? What was he like in real life?
Ted DiBiase: Andre, he was great.
Ted DiBiase: He was a kind guy, he was a good guy. Now, there's some fans that might not agree with that, but those are usually fans that are taken for granted. Andre's 7'4" 450, he couldn't hide anywhere.
Ted DiBiase: 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.
Ted DiBiase: You add celebrity to that, and it was like wow. I can remember a night we were in a restaurant/pub having dinner and his lady comes up and she's wanting autographs. And I was the buffer. I said, "Mam, if you would be willing to wait outside, we'd be happy to sign your autographs." And she started with the, "Well we bought these tickets, and we bought all this merchandise, and spent our money, invested our money in it," and I said, "You know what lady? You got what you paid for. But because you did that doesn't give you the right to interfere in a man's private time."
Ted DiBiase: Just showing a lack of respect. And so I saw that on numerous occasions, but I'm going to tell you, for people, and this has happened to Andre and it's happened to me. I've walked out of a restaurant and had somebody stop me and say, "Mr. DiBiase, we spotted you come in, but we didn't want to bother you, and we waited." They're going to get my autograph, they're going to get a picture, they're going to get anything they want because they showed me that respect.
Ted DiBiase: That would be the only time that I would say Andre was not seen as a really nice guy. And that would be a time when nobody would, but he was a prince of a guy.
Ted DiBiase: A gentle giant. I just had a blast with him.
Dustin: And 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. There's a whole bunch of wrestlers who went to West Texas State University. It's called West Texas A&M now. And largely due to the influence of the Funk family, Terry Funk. Well Terry Funk's dad, Dory Funk Sr was the promoter there. And of course Dory Funk Sr, Terry Funk. Let's see if I can run this list down for you.
Ted DiBiase: Bobby Duncum, I don't know if you guys remember him, bot Bobby Duncum, he played football at West Texas State and was a top wrestler in regional wrestling, Both Dory Funk Jr and Terry Funk, Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody-
Ted DiBiase: And then after Stan and Bruiser, came myself, Tito Santana, and Tully Blanchard. We were all on the same team.
Dustin: Oh wow.
Ted DiBiase: And then [Kelly Kaminski 00:31:19], who was Gene [Kaminsky's 00:31:20] son, he didn't stay in the business long though. And then a guy named Manny Fernandez was another guy, and Barry Windham.
Ted DiBiase: All of those guys, they just weren't in wrestling, all except maybe one of them or two of them, were gigantic stars.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, and they all came out of West Texas.
Dustin: Wow, that's crazy.
Ted DiBiase: But anyway I was at West Texas State and that's where I met Andre. He came to town and the Funk's asked me to take him, you'll love this story. 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?
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, 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.
Jeff: I'm glad you remember some of that night, geez.
Dustin: That's great.
Ted DiBiase: That's the night I would have needed a lot of Death Wish Coffee. Oh my gosh.
Dustin: At least the morning after.
Ted DiBiase: But Andre was, he could put it away, and he's been known to. But in all the years I traveled with him, I never saw him out of control, I never saw him obnoxious, ever.
Ted DiBiase: What a lot of people don't know is that he didn't like taking pills. He didn't like pain pills, he didn't like drugs at all. I mean he was so anti drug, marijuana, and the whole deal. So, when he was in pain, he killed his pain by drinking.
Ted DiBiase: He got to where he drank mostly wine. But again, I never saw him ... it was a pain killer. The guy was 49 years old when he died.
Ted DiBiase: And that was about the life expectancy of guys with that condition. I think that's changed. I know like Big Show, I don't know what Big Show's taking, there's something now that they said stopped it, where they could stop the ... because all of his internal organs continued to grow.
Dustin: Oh my God.
Jeff: That's crazy.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah.
Jeff: Well, going forward in your career a little bit, you ended up going on the other side of it and you became a manager for a while. Did you enjoy that as much as being in the ring?
Ted DiBiase: No. Nothing was as good as being a player in the ring.
Ted DiBiase: But because of a neck injury, I got out of the ring. I managed and commentated for several years. And I enjoyed it, I was still part of the show, part of the business. But no, nothing;s as good as being the guy.
Jeff: Oh yeah.
Dustin: I'm assuming the neck injury's from wrestling?
Ted DiBiase: Well it was cumulative. The doctor told me he said, "The basic bump you guys take is from your feet to your back," and he says, "How many times do you do that in a night?" And I said, "Oh my gosh," I said, "Probably at least 15-20." "How many nights a week?" "Okay, seven." "And how many years?" "18."
Well 19 actually. So he said it was degenerative. The discs, there were two discs, C5 and C6, cervical discs that they took out of my neck. When you take that bump to your back, most of that is absorbed across the top of your shoulders. Right at the top of your shoulders where your spine meets your cervical, your neck, that's where those discs are. And I can tell you four, five other wrestlers that have had the same surgery I had.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah. It's just part of the business.
Dustin: Did you have to get those discs fused together, is that what's going on?
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, well they take the discs out. When I did it, they took bone plugs from my hip and replaced the discs with the bone plugs. They don't do that anymore, they use something artificial now. And then fuse it, yeah they put a little plate in there so it won't move.
Jeff: The question we ask every single episode of this show, it's as poignant with you as it is anybody, throughout your entire career with wrestling, now with the incredible work you're doing with the ministry, and also the books you've written, the movie, all of that stuff, what fuels you to keep doing what you do?
Ted DiBiase: A desire to ... because I'm grateful. I mean I tell you, when I had to face my wife with the truth, it was the most humbling moment in my life. When I looked in the mirror and saw myself for who I really was, in spite of my fame, and the stardom, and the money, and all that stuff, I was empty, because I had no integrity. Because I now have this desire to give back, because I've been blessed. I've been blessed with an unbelievable career, an unbelievable wife who stuck by my side, and gave me a chance to redeem myself. So I'm going to keep going. People ask me all the time, "When are you going to retire?" Well I retired from wrestling, actually physically wrestling, when I was 40. But I said, "I've never found the word retire in the Bible."
Jeff: That's true.
Ted DiBiase: I guess I want to just keep going and doing what I'm doing with the ministry, and trying to give back, and trying to help people. And I'll keep going until they put me in a wheelchair or I just don't wake up.
Dustin: Speaking of grateful, I know, speaking a little candidly, you know Jeff was adopted, and my parent divorced very early, and I had a rough relationship with my father. And your story is definitely inspirational to people like us, and we're very grateful that you're out there spreading the good word and helping people out dealing with those situations themselves, and trying to get them on the right foot, to begin with. A lot of thanks to you, man, really appreciate that.
Ted DiBiase: Oh hey, thanks, guys. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on and most of all, thanks for the coffee, man.
Dustin: Anytime, we'll load you up brother.
Jeff: Finally, for all of our listeners and watchers, what's the best way to follow you. Do you social media, do you have a website?
Ted DiBiase: I am @MDMTedDiBiase on Twitter, and I guess if you would just go on, and write my name, it would bring up the actual one. I'm on Twitter. I do have a public Facebook page, Million Dollar Man. Well, I do have milliondollarman.com. I have that website, and then the ministry website is hod, Heart of David Ministries. That's where you can find me and see what I'm doing.
Jeff: Excellent, because I know you're very active, you're going all out. In fact, I know this episode will air after it has finally aired, but you're on your way to WrestleMania 34. That's going to be some fun stuff too. We cannot thank you enough for taking time to talk with us on the show. It was an absolute honor to talk with you.
Ted DiBiase: Hey, my pleasure, guys. And again, thanks for the coffee.