One of the most important roles in wrestling is that of the villain. The bad guy. The "heel," as he's properly known. It's just like in comicbooks: the hero's achievements are hollow if they don't face a real threat or obstacle. The first few years of his career, Batman fought common thugs and criminals, but which enemies do you remember? Hulk Hogan feuded with Rowdy Roddy Piper, not Screamin' Norman Smiley. Good guys sell the merchandise, but bad guys carry the show, which is why you need someone great to play the role. One of the greatest was the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase.
While working for another wrestling promotion, second-generation grappler Ted DiBiase was approached by the WWF. They told him they had a great gimmick for him, one that would get a huge push, but wouldn't tell him what it was until he signed. All they would say was that it was the gimmick Vince Mcmahon would have used if he was allowed to wrestle. Ted took the gamble, and it paid off. The Million Dollar Man quickly became the biggest heel in the company, leading into a historic feud with Hulk Hogan. He definitely knew how to work the mic and draw heat from the crowds, but he was an excellent wrestler, as well.
As part of DiBiase's in-ring persona, he dressed in suits that would make
the Riddler proud - they were just covered in dollar signs rather than question marks. This figure does a pretty good job of duplicating that, though it may be a bit reserved. Ted's wearing a green suit with silver lapels, and the whole thing has a metallic sheen. The card art shows him with green dollar signs on the lapels, but the final version lacks that paint app - he makes up for it with a giant silver dollar sign on his back.
The likeness is good, really capturing DiBiase's well-coifed hair and his slightly meaty appearance. He does look a bit serious, though - it would have been great to get a huge, wicked smile, since Ted's evil laughter was such a part of his persona. The figure is 7" tall and moves at the same 18 points as very other Jakks figure. You don't really need a ton of movement for this particular figure, since it's not like he wrestled in his suit - that was more for cutting promos.
The Million Dollar Man's promos were really what made audiences hate him. He'd appear in vignettes where he'd use his money to inconvenience others, like bribing a public pool manager to kick out all the kids on a hot summer day
so he could enjoy the pool alone, or paying for a pack of gum with a $100 bill. Other times he'd come out at a show and give someone from the audience a chance to perform some menial or degrading task for money - like offering a kid $100 to bounce a basketball ten times in a row, then kicking it away at #9. Jerk.
In keeping with that, the figure's only accessory is a million dollar bill. That's disappointing. Yes, it's printed nicely and everything, and features Ted's picture in the center, but come on, a bill? Just one bill? If nothing else, he should have come with the Million Dollar Belt, the one he had built when President Jack Tunney ruled that the belt could not be surrendered: after trying unsuccessfully to buy the belt outright from Hulk Hogan, Million Dollar Man set up a match with Andre the Giant and paid referee Dave Hebner's "evil" twin brother Earl to perform a screwjob on Hogan.
Despite persistent rumors that it was nothing but gold plating and rhinestones,
the Million Dollar Belt was built from real diamonds and gold - it cost $145,000 and DiBiase had to carry documentation when he traveled with it. After trading hands several times, it was finally retired in 1996 and currently resides in a safe at WWE's headquarters.
In order to help sell the Million Dollar Man character, the WWF gave Ted a fairly large per diem so he could actually throw money around like his character - use big bills for small purchases, be seen wildly overtipping waiters, stuff like that. They also booked him in first class on flights, and put him up in five-star hotels. It all helped create the illusion that Ted DiBiase was the Million Dollar Man, and helped make him one of the greatest heels ever.
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