WWE Hall of Famer "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase appeared on WNS Podcast (show available every Wednesday at WrestlingNewsSource.com and Facebook.com/WNSPodcast). Highlights from the interview are as follows:
His upcoming tour of the UK and what UK fans are like in comparison to US and Japan: "Well, wrestling fans are wrestling fans by and large. The only place I would say that it’s different is Japan. For years Japanese people don’t seem to show a lot of emotion. In the US and UK you got me people whistling, screaming and hollering and doing what they do cheering for the good guys and cussing out the bad guys. I guess it’s a cultural thing in Japan but over the years that’s even seemed to change a little bit in Japan where they’ve kind of come out of their shell so to speak. But by and large, fans are fans wherever you go. They are stimulated by all the same things."
What it was like training under The Funks and working in the Amarillo area: "I’ve known The Funks most of my life. The Funks are two of the people who trained me. I’ve had many mentors I’m telling you. Because I grew up in wrestling. My father was a mentor, he died when I was 15 in the ring. He and Dory Funk Sr. were very good friends. When my dad died, we were In Texas. He had a attack in the ring in Lubbock on July 2, 1969 and three years later after I had signed a scholarship to play football in Arizona I was watching TV and wrestling comes on. It’s wrestling out of Texas. It’s The Funks and they’re coming to Tucson. I go, I visit them, Terry talks me into taking a recruiting trip to West Texas State. And all of a sudden I’m not going to the University Of Arizona anymore, I’m going to West Texas State and everybody kind of looked at me and went “Why would you choose a smaller school over the University Of Arizona?” And the answer is simple: Wrestling. Because in the back of my mind I knew one of my other loves was pro wrestling. And if I went to Texas and played football there then I could do both. I could pursue my other passion in the off-season. There were a lot of wrestlers that came out of West Texas State University which is now called West Texas A & M. The Funks, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen. Tully Blanchard, Tito Santana & myself were all on the same team. Let’s see who else. Bobby Duncum, Dick Murdoch, I don’t know who I’m missing but anyway a lot of guys. Dusty Rhodes. He’s another one. There’s a lot of guys that came out of the wrestling in Texas. I started under The Funks there. I refereed during the summers before I ever wrestled. Then I started my career in the summer of 1975 in Mid-South under Bill Watts. And in reality, I spent the better part of the first 12 years of my career in Mid-South. I went to New York in 1979 for a while. I went back to Amarillo and wrestled in the Amarillo area. Even went to Kansas City for a while and I went to Atlanta as well. But in the first 12 years from ’75-’87 when I went to the WWF, most of my time was spent in Mid-South and that was because it was a great territory. Bill Watts was a master of the art of wrestling and the psychology of wrestling. The WWE, just recently, got all of the library of Mid-South so I guess they can finish my DVD now."
His thoughts about the younger talent of today missing out on the territory system no longer being around: "Absolutely. Wrestling is an art form. Wrestling is sports entertainment for sure. But to be really good at what we do you have to be both an athlete and an entertainer. And actually, if you’re going to be lacking in one, then be more of an entertainer and less of an athlete. There’s a lot of guys that made big money in wrestling because they just projected such a realistic character. And they weren’t necessarily great athletes. Junkyard Dog played football, Junkyard Dog the wrestler, mechanically in the ring he was just not that good. His gift was, unbelievable work on the mic. He had charisma coming out of his ears. Dusty Rhodes was a great athlete. Actually, he was a baseball player as well. He played football but he played baseball. That was his number one sport. He wasn’t always heavyset like he is. But Dusty Rhodes, The American Dream he just gets charisma. But wrestling is an acquired skill. We’ve learned to wrestle by getting in the ring every night in front of a live crowd and just doing it. You learn the fundamentals, you learn the basics. You learn how to fall you learn how to take certain bumps. Basic bumps, a bodyslam an armdrag, hiptoss, headlock takeover. You learn those things and then you progress. But you learn from watching other guys, you learn from doing it. The difference is, when I broke into the business in 1975 I might have been the opening match every night but the guy across the ring might have been a 10-12 year veteran. What happened was, when Vince got so big and wrestling exploded and all the territories died, along with it, died the breeding ground. And now, over a period of time, very slowly one generation goes away and the next generation goes away. Realistically, my generation is the last really solid generation of wrestlers that wrestled as the art form that it should be. It’s not the talent’s fault. You can’t blame them for something they never had the opportunity to do. When I go talk to these guys in the indys I ask how long they’ve been wrestling and how many matches they’ve had and a lot of them tell me they wrestle as a hobby. They have a regular job and maybe one match on the weekend. I said there’s four weekends in a month. At the most they’re telling me they’ve wrestled 8 times a month. I told them I’ve wrestled 8 times a week. Every week. And there’s 365 days in the year. And I can guarantee you 325 of them I was wrestling. We didn’t have days off. Days off were when we wrestled in the town we actually live because we wrestled the circuit and we’d go back to the towns on a... (Continues on next page)