Although he’s not the same guy he used to be, Ted DiBiase is still a wrestler! Invite him to your church. He’ll wrestle with your teenagers and their peer pressure! He’ll wrestle with your congregation and test them to see if what they have is religion or relationship! He’ll wrestle with your men and their ego! He’ll wrestle with your married couples and the problems they face! But know this, Ted is guaranteed to win because now he has the greatest tag-team partner in the universe, Jesus Christ!
Learn more about Ted DiBiase, keep up with his ministry, or book him for a church event at his official website http://milliondollarman.com/
Could you please give us some insight about your Heart of David Ministry?
I had a strong faith from when I was very young, which was due to the influence of my stepfather Mike Dibiase. Dibiase is an Italian name, so like most Italians, my dad was Roman Catholic. I was brought up in Catholicism. I am not a Catholic anymore, but then again God looks at the heart, and although in a lot of ways I feel like I was misguided by the ritualistic [nature] of Catholicism, I would tell anybody I speak to today I don’t care what church you go to, [it’s all about] if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
That faith in God carried me for a very long time. It carried me through my father’s death at age 45. He had a heart attack in the wrestling ring, and then I watched my mother stricken with alcoholism, and I moved back to a very small town in Arizona, three traffic lights [laughs], with dreams of college football and professional wrestling. I would say that the influences of my great role model my dad, and my faith, carried me until I got to college.
Once I got to college pride and ego took over. Ultimately, in my darkest hours I would cry out to God and God would answer — when I got the scholarship and went to college and played football — but when I got there the pride of life took over. Basically, like so many of us do, when we are in trouble we cry out to God, and then when we get an answer it’s like thanks God I appreciate your effort I’ll let you know when I need you again. So the next 20 years it was all about Ted. I went through one failed marriage, with that marriage came a son. Then I remarried my wife Melanie who is a strong Christian girl, and I got the biggest break in my wrestling career, and it was right after my re-dedication of my life to God.
It is funny because the pastor said, “The devil will come quickly now to pluck the seed. Ted, you gotta nurture the seed.” My actions were, “God, I want what you have to offer, I believe Jesus is your Son and He is the only answer, but I want it my way.” In the wrestling industry there are a lot of things that will get you, whether you are a wrestler or a professional athlete or a rock star, all that comes with celebrity. A lot of people fall to temptations, to booze, to pills — not that I didn’t do my fair share of that stuff — but my biggest issue was women. The day that I got confronted with adultery and within a fraction of a second I realized I had put at risk the most precious thing in my life, all for the sake of striking my ego, that was a pretty hard day. So for me that was a real come to Jesus day.
And the Heart of David — I identified with David because that was David’s fall, and the more I studied David I realized what a dysfunctional family he had, but in spite of all that, God would say, “He is a man after my own heart.” And I realized that God’s love and grace is so, so tremendous that when he recognizes David, even as flawed in the flesh as David was, his heart and desire to please God ultimately was what was most important.
You seem like a genuinely awesome, kind person. So how did you capture the villain persona that was The Million Dollar Man?
Wrestling is sports entertainment. It always has been, and in wrestling, in every other form of drama, there is a good guy and bad guy. Every movie you go and see in some way you are presented with good and bad. And ultimately the good guys win. So the Million Dollar Man basically was a character who wasn’t my creation. He was actually created by Vince McMahon, and he just thought that because of my wrestling skills and what they call mic skills, my ability to talk, that I could pull this off, and I was the guy for it.
I also guess because of the way I carried myself as a villain, you know it is like the villain that you never get tired of seeing. It’s like there are two types of villains. There is the tough guy villain. Now, ultimately, people like tough guys, so if you get a tough guy, you know you are big and bad and boastful and you back it up and that’s ok. But ultimately the fans like that guy because everybody likes a tough guy. But guys who are tough but they talk real big are bullies, you know. You never get tired of seeing a bully get his butt kicked, and that’s what I was. You never get tired of being that type of guy getting beat up, because he talks big and he boasts and when he’s confronted he starts to whither away or has some other guys fighting his battles for him. That was the Million Dollar Man — the guy with all the money and he thought he was better than everybody because of his wealth, and pushed people around. That was the character.
I have had people ask me, how could I play The Million Dollar Man character and then go to a pulpit and preach the word of God? How could you possibly do that? That is like asking the guy who played the devil in the
church play, “How could you go do that?” It is a drama; there has got to be a bad guy. The other answer to the question is that as long as the Million Dollar Man got his butt kicked at the end of the day, the best message to kids is in the end that is not the type of person you want to be. As long as we are telling the story that way, then we are telling it properly.
Will you or have you ever performed stand-up comedy like a lot of your former colleagues are doing?
I have never done that. But I will tell you what is becoming popular is not so much the stand-up comedy, but, as they call it, the “road stories,” or sharing true tales of the road. As a matter of fact, I am going to be in Great Britain for two weeks in August, and originally I am going over there for a Comic-Con. The first weekend is the Sheffield, and the second weekend is in Glasgow, Scotland, and in the week in between they want to do three intimate evenings with myself and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and we are going to do these together. And basically it is an opportunity and place for the fans to get an intimate glimpse of things. Basically Mick Foley does a little stand up, but basically he is telling jokes but he is also telling his story, and that is what I will be doing. I will be telling my story, and I will relate to the fans the funny stories. Both Hacksaw Jim Duggan and I will relate funny stories that have happened to us along the way.