Q&A with Ted DiBiase Jr.
I conducted a phone interview Thursday with Ted DiBiase Jr., who will face R-Truth Sunday as part of WWE’s Over the Limit pay-per-view.
I interviewed your father a couple years ago and he mentioned that he had discouraged you and your brother from following in his footsteps and becoming pro wrestlers. At what point did you know for sure that wrestling was what you wanted to do, and when did your father give his blessing?
Honestly, as far back as I can remember I knew I wanted to wrestle. As I got into my teens, there were a few moments where I really went to my dad saying, “I’m not kidding. I’d really like to give this a shot.” No. No. No. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college when my father got hired back as an agent and part of creative, and he saw then that the business had changed so much after it had gone corporate. It was just a new atmosphere. Guys were making more money and were more successful. They had instilled programs that promote health and wellness. So it was a changed atmosphere and that’s when my dream was revived. I went to him and said, “Look, I’ve got a year left in college, and when I graduate, this is what I want to do.” And I threw in the line, and he’ll tell you all the time, I said, “Dad, you’re my hero and I just want to be like you.” And I meant it, but I knew he couldn’t say no to that, so he finally gave in.
Has sharing a name with a famous wrestler and a great worker like your father been a bit of a blessing and a curse? Being a second- or third-generation wrestler opens doors for you, but on the other hand, it also raises expectations.
Exactly. It’s probably more of a curse than a blessing, especially right at the beginning. You are – you’re under the microscope. Every move you make, everything you say or do will be compared to what your father did, and mine just happened to be a Hall of Famer. The Million Dollar Man was one of the greatest villains ever in this business. So the comparisons and the expectations were very high. But that was a challenge I was willing to take on, and I knew that going in. My dad made that very clear. Even coming from other wrestlers, I think there was an attitude at first of, “Oh, he’s only here because of his father,” and that just motivated me more and gave me more of a drive to succeed on my own and to make a name for myself. I think I’ve done that.
Do you and your father talk much about wrestling? Does he critique your performances or offer suggestions?
Oh, yeah. I always ask my father what he thought because I definitely value any feedback I can get from him and I’m constantly trying to learn. I always want to get better. I think that’s one of the biggest things: never settle and keep pushing to get better. That’s why the guys that are on top are on top, because they never stop learning.
What was it like working closely with Randy Orton? I’m talking backstage, off camera. Was he in any way a mentor to you and Cody Rhodes?
Yeah, absolutely. Gosh, I’m going to say that was one of the defining moments in my career. I was lucky enough to be paired with a veteran who had experience with so many of the top talent that has come through the WWE. Randy has wrestled everyone, from The Rock to Hulk Hogan to all the top guys – Shawn [Michaels] and Hunter [Triple H]. He’s had that experience. He was part of Evolution with Hunter, Batista and Ric Flair – he got to ride with him and pick his brain, and so Cody and myself got to pick Randy’s brain. For two young guys coming up, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity or a better guy to learn from – in the ring [laughs].
You’re making the transition now from being a member of a tag team to a singles wrestler. Assess how that transition has gone to this point.
I think it’s going great. I’m loving it, now that I’ve just inherited my trust fund from my father. Who wouldn’t want to be me? I’ve got all the money I need and the Million Dollar title, and I’m as happy and cocky as ever [laughs]. No, it’s fun, man. This was a goal for both Cody and I, to go on our own and have successful careers by ourselves. I’m sure somewhere down the road we’ll meet up again. I wish him the best of luck. I know he’s going to do great on Smackdown.
There was a lot of speculation that when Legacy inevitably split up, you would be turned babyface, but obviously that didn’t happen. Was that ever the plan, and if so, do you know why it didn’t end up going down that way?
That’s the funny thing about the rumors and the Internet. There are so many people out there that they just know a hundred percent what’s going to happen, and it’s so funny when they’re wrong [laughs]. I never felt that way. That was just something that kind of had a snowball effect.
Photo courtesy of WWE