The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems–Million Dollar Man Collection!

The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Collections – Million Dollar Man: Priceless

Today is normally Smackdown day, but I was kind of in the mood for something completely different, so here’s a shitload of Ted Dibiase matches I haven’t covered before! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned lately how amazing that the WWE Network is for the times when I just want to review something, but it’s pretty amazing. What I should really do is redo SuperClash III so I can continue ragging on the dying AWA, but that’s a project for another day.

Ted introduces the collection, and pays off an intern who is setting up The Virgil Collection so he can take it over. It appears to be a single t-shirt. Poor Virgil. Hopefully he too gets a collection.

An Early Encounter

The Fabulous Hulk Hogan v. Ted Dibiase (12.17.79)

From MSG, early in the careers of both guys, and in fact this is the MSG debut of Hulk. Vince reads the disclaimer that the program is owned by Madison Square Garden and any dissemination, re-broadcasting or descriptions of the action are STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Well, I guess I’m fucked, then. I’m sure I’ve done this match before but I don’t remember where or when, so we’ll cover it again. Hulk overpowers him to start, but Dibiase goes to a full nelson and Hulk easily fights out of it. Hulk tries to ride him down and Dibiase comes back with armdrags and Hulk freaks out and bails while claiming that his tights were pulled. Back in, Hulk goes on a whole run with the referee about the tights, but Dibiase grabs a headlock. Hulk tosses him out and makes the cardinal heel mistake of pointing to his head to indicate his intelligence, but I feel like he’ll be OK in this case. Dibiase sells it for a long time, but beats the count, so Hulk boots him off the apron and once again indicates his intelligence. Back in, Hulk suplexes him and follows with the legdrop for two. Big elbow gets two. Hulk was quite the clumsy oaf at this point in his career. Hulk goes to the chinlock to slow things down even more and the bell rings for some reason, but the ref waves it off and Dibiase manages to make the comeback. Hulk misses an elbow and Dibiase is fired up and gets a dropkick, but misses a blind charge on his second try and Hulk gets a backbreaker and finishes him off with a bearhug at 11:15. Hulk was very raw at this point but you could obviously see the charisma. Dibiase was very over as a babyface, too. 1 for 1.

Wrestling Heritage

Ted Dibiase v. Jack Brisco (02.05.84)

No commentary or identifying stuff here, but Scrappy McGowan is the ref so I’m assuming this is GCW from the Omni in Atlanta. Dibiase is now firmly a heel at this point in his career, and he runs away from Brisco to start and, yes, points at his head to indicate intelligence. Brisco immediately slams him after that and Dibaise leaves the ring again. Back in, Brisco takes him down for an armbar and works on a hammerlock, but Dibiase makes the ropes like a coward and bails again. Stall, stall, stall from Dibiase and he charges and hits the post, as Jack goes to work on the arm. Finally Ted goes to the eyes and chokes him down to take over. Back elbow gets two and Dibiase hits the chinlock, but Brisco powers up into a wristlock and Dibiase grabs the tights to put him back in the chinlock again. Brisco finally powers out after a few minutes and gets his own rear chinlock, and then switches to the dreaded abdominal stretch when Dibiase fights out of that. Jack takes him down for the figure-four, but Dibiase makes the ropes and loads up his BLACK GLOVE OF DOOM behind the ref’s back, which gives him the tainted win at 12:28. This one kind of sucked. 1 for 2.

Maggie’s Back in Town

Mid-South Tag titles: The Rock N Roll Express v. Ted Dibiase & “Sheik” Hercules Hernandez (12.03.84)

I feel like Hercules’ new Middle Eastern philosophy here would clash with the Greek legends that his character is based on. But I guess Kratos switched from Greek god to Norse badass, so people can change. Dibiase tries to hide a foreign object during the referee’s patdown, but the ref finds it under his armpit. I’m thinking it’ll show up again. Dibiase pounds on Gibson in the corner to start and the RNR monkey flip the heels in succession and then hit stereo atomic drops to send the heels crashing into each other and out of the ring. Classic babyface double-team there. Back in, Morton and Gibson outsmart them again and the heels regroup as we take a break. Back with Dibiase holding a chinlock on Ricky and switching off with Hercules behind the ref’s back, and Ricky gets a hope spot before Dibiase knees him in the gut and kicks him in the face to cut that off. That was part of the genius of Ricky Morton – he didn’t just sell endlessly, he knew exactly when to fire up for brief moments to keep the crowd into it. Dibiase chokes him out on the ropes and Herc hits him with a chair behind the ref’s back, and that gets two. Bill Watts, on commentary, notes that the heels won’t feel so smart when they’re getting a $10,000 fine for using that chair on camera. OH YEAH, this was during the time when Watts (in kayfabe) banned all chairs, tennis rackets and 2x4s. Herc with a facelock on Morton and Dibiase comes in to beat on him, but Ricky gets a small package for two before Dibiase beats him down again. See what I mean? Sell, sell, sell, but keep fans hoping. Dibiase with the sleeper, but Morton fights back again and manages to throw Dibiase to the floor. Dibiase comes back in via the middle rope, but Morton nails him on the way down and it’s HOT TAG Robert. They whip the heels together and put Dibiase on the floor with the double dropkick, but Skandor Akbar throws fire at Morton, unsuccessfully. Meanwhile Gibson has Herc pinned while the ref gets Morton out, but Buddy Landell brings Dibiase the foreign object from earlier, and he loads up the ISOTONER OF DEATH and knocks Gibson out to win the tag titles at 9:45. Love me some Rock N Roll Express. 2 for 3. Sadly the relationship between Hercules and Dibiase would go horribly wrong once they both made it to the WWF. Once you try to buy someone as a slave, you just can’t come back from that. Or so I’ve heard.

King Rat Gets Gold

North American title: Brad Armstrong v. Ted Dibiase (12.17.85)

Moving ahead a year, from the Mid-South TV show, and the North American title is FUCKING HUGE at this point. Did they melt down a damn pickup truck to make that thing? Dibiase quickly pounds away with elbows, but Brad sends him to the floor and Dibiase gets some advice from Akbar. That advice? “I hear Saudi Arabia is a good long-term investment.” Hey, maybe THAT’S where Dibiase got his millions from! Back in, Armstrong works a headlock and Dibiase is unable to disengage him while Watts runs down the card for next week. Sounds like a hell of a show, actually. Hopefully they complete the collection on the Network someday. Armstrong snaps off a backslide and goes back to the headlock, but Dibiase rolls him over and grabs the tights for what appears to be a pin, but the ref sees the cheating and won’t allow it. So Dibiase escapes with a backdrop suplex as Watts plays up the high-tech camera work that takes you right inside the ring. I bet he stole that technology from Verne Gagne and the Team Challenge Series! If I see any slow-mo replays with Greg Gagne explaining a bodyslam, I’m filing a lawsuit on Verne’s behalf. Dibiase chokes away on the ropes and goes to the chinlock, but Brad fires up again and backpacks Dibiase into the corner to escape. Dibiase misses an elbow and Brad fires away and gets the sleeper, but Dibiase runs him into the post to break and wraps the knee around it. Watts is HORRIFIED at this flagrant abuse of the rules and Brad is selling like crazy as Dibiase drops elbows on the knee to set up the figure-four, and Brad has no choice but to give up at 9:16 to make Dibiase the NEW North American champion. Hell of a match here. 3 for 4.

Against the Blade Runner

Ted Dibiase v. Rock (05.30.86)

Still in Mid-South, although late in the game now. Blade Runner Rock is not to be confused with The Rock, of course. Rock quickly attacks Dibiase (now a babyface at this point) and pounds away in the corner, then unleashes clubbing forearms that are of Warlord-quality. He gets a slam and continues throwing his one offensive weapon, the forearms, but Dibiase fights back and slugs him down as Rock can barely run the ropes without tripping. Finally he tosses Dibiase over the top and suplexes him back in, but Dibiase manages to roll him up for the pin at 3:25. Frankly I’m surprised he could take that bump because Rock had all the mobility of an LJN wrestling figure at that point. This was HORRIBLE but of course Jim Hellwig got the last laugh on all of us. 3 for 5.

The Million Dollar Man was Born

Dibiase talks about how he hid his wealth and fortune for years, and then let it all shine when he got to the WWF.

Everybody’s Got a Price (07.06.87)

Yes! So this is the original series of vignettes introducing the Million Dollar Man, from Prime Time Wrestling in 1987. In the very first one, Dibiase is driving around in his limo, explaining that he can buy anything he wants: Love, happiness or even YOU. Sadly, Dibiase cuts his finger while counting his money, so Virgil rushes him to a hospital for IMMEDIATE medical attention. The hospital is booked up, so Virgil starts putting Benjamins down on the desk until the nurse goes to find him a doctor. Man, that one would hit too close to home given the medical system years later.

Next up, Dibiase gets ready for a swim in his dressing room while Virgil learns that morals and pride can’t buy you gold or diamonds. Especially not Olive Garden FUCK MONEY. So Dibiase goes to a public pool and wants some privacy, but the guy in charge is a typical public servant who finds a “chlorine problem” after Virgil drops some cash on the table. $200 is all it takes to convince him, and Virgil kicks all the kids out of the pool and then they all have to watch from behind the fence while Dibiase lounges poolside. These are AMAZING.

Next one finds Dibiase looking for some lunch, wouldn’t you know that the fancy café is all booked up and there’s a 30 minute wait. So Virgil starts dropping the bills, and at the $300 mark the maître d’ manages to find a table while the other customers in line grumble. Now we just need a vignette where Dibiase runs for President and wins.

Fourth one and Dibiase needs a room at a hotel, but the honeymoon suite has been reserved for months. Dibiase thinks there’s been a mistake and Virgil starts dropping money on the desk. This time it takes $400 to convince the clerk, and we cut to Virgil kicking the new couple out of the room. Dibiase probably should have thrown a few C-notes at them as well and they probably would have left happy! Everyone’s got a price for the Million Dollar Man! 4 for 6.

A Rich Debut

Ted Dibiase v. Jerry Allen (08.15.87)

From WWF Superstars, Dibiase finally makes his debut and he makes the ringside fans beg for money before throwing a few bucks their way. Dibiase pounds on Allen in the corner and puts him down with a back elbow before dropping the fist and stomping him down. Allen gets a brief comeback with a bodypress, and a stungun sets up the first ever MILLION DOLLAR DREAM, into a legsweep to finish at 1:52. Great squash debut. 5 for 7.

Nice Try, Kid (11.14.87)

From Superstars again, and this is one of the famous segments where he offers some kid big money if he can do a simple task. Like dribbling a basketball in this case, 15 times in a row. So he brings a little kid out of the audience, and then kicks the ball away at bounce #14 and it’s NUCLEAR heat. 6 for 8.

Houston, We Have a Problem

WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Ted Dibiase (12.10.87)

Oh hells yeah. From the Houston Coliseum, with the nightmare commentary team of Bruce Prichard, Mike McGuirk and Duke Doherty. Hogan scares off the rest of the circus and puts Dibiase out with an atomic drop to start, then chases him out and rams him into Virgil. Back in, the big boot puts Dibiase right back on the floor, and then one for Virgil, and he even invites Andre into the ring. You don’t want none of that, Hulk. Dibiase stalls for a while on the floor, and they start for real back in the ring. Hogan actually chain-wrestles Dibiase down into a facelock, but Dibiase breaks with a shoulderblock on the ropes and pounds him on the floor. Virgil waves some money in Hulk’s face in a funny bit, and back in Dibiase stomps him down and chokes away. Hogan fights back with an elbow and slams him, then literally walks all over Dibiase, running the ropes and stepping on him each time…but Andre trips him up for the DQ at 5:50. Boo! However, Andre gets the boot and the match MUST CONTINUE. And he’s fined $2000! Geez, Dibiase could pay that out of the money Virgil carries on him for show. So we continue and Dibiase drops elbows, then the elbow off the second rope that never hits. Except it hits this time, so it’s something of a misnomer. That gets two, and he follows with a clothesline and the fistdrops for two. I’ve always wondered why he did the fistdrops that way — was it just a style thing like Hennig’s shaky kicks, or was there supposed to be a physics reason? Hogan comes back with clotheslines and rolls up Dibiase to retain at 8:04. Pretty disappointing, actually. 6 for 9.

And the rest of the collection is all stuff from the usual PPVs or ones I’ve seen a bunch of times, like the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart singles match from Coliseum Video, so we shall wrap it up here with a high recommendation and call it a day!