By Arda Ocal
7:00 AM EDT, June 4, 2012
WWE's No Way Out pay-per-view this year falls on June 17, the same day as Father's Day. This year will be a very special celebration for WWE's newest dad, Ted DiBiase. His son, Tate, was born May 15. DiBiase couldn't be happier to be a dad. Nothing could have prepared him for the moment he met his baby boy.
“Everyone was telling [me], 'Hey your life is gonna change, it's gonna be the most amazing moment in your life.' I was like, 'Yeah, I'm sure it will be,'" DiBiase said. “Literally had no expectations. I remember sitting outside the hallway and they told me to come in, and my wife actually had high blood pressure [and] the baby came three weeks early. So there was a little stress involved. And I heard him cry for the first time, and it was like water works. I was this big, tough guy, and they brought him over, they cleaned him up, and here I am holding this kid. It really is one of the greatest moments in my life. Definitely one of my proudest achievements so far, 'cause he was completely healthy and my wife was completely healthy afterwards. Nothing went wrong [with the birth], and there was a lot that could have gone wrong.”
DiBiase is currently recovering from multiple injuries. A few days after breaking his wrist, he broke his ankle after landing on it awkwardly as he jumped from the second rope. The ankle suffered six fractures and three torn ligaments, one that ruptured. DiBiase didn't require surgery for those injuries, but did opt for shoulder surgery to repair a nagging injury, one that he chose to brave through instead of taking time off the road. With the ankle injury forcing him off the road, he felt the time was right.
“I got that done, shoulder was good, just orthopaedics. I was just in and out. I was probably out four weeks or so, so I was ready to go. I’m back in the gym, [the] ankle is probably 85 percent and I'm looking at maybe another month out, I think. If I had to, I think I could probably go today, but I think WWE is giving me some time to make sure it's healed, which has been a godsend because now I have more time to play dad," DiBiase says with a laugh.
That time, of course, is limited. DiBiase will soon join his fellow Superstars on the road, and that arduous schedule requires sacrifice and time away from family, no matter how new that family may be.“That thought is very haunting [to] me everyday," DiBiase admitted. “You know that's part of what we signed up for, though. I didn't understand how intense I guess that feeling would be. I'm very blessed to have a job that is my dream job, and I love doing what I love to do. The downside is that I'm constantly away from my family. The fear is being away and missing a lot of those small moments with Tate. Missing the first time he sits up or takes his first step. I wanna see it all so bad. I didn't know how much I'd love waking up in the morning, picking him up from his crib and holding him up for a while, and just sitting there with him. I'm gonna miss a lot of days doing that. That's what we do. You know that's the part where people say they wanna be a professional wrestler, that's one of those things you have to do. If you're like me, family means more than anything to you. That's a huge sacrifice that you make, 'cause time is something you can't get back.
This theme is not new to DiBiase. His father, WWE Hall of Famer “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, also had this perplexing dilemma with Ted and his brothers Mike and Brett. With Grandpa's schedule less hectic, he now has the opportunity to enjoy time with his grandson.
“'The Milion Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase has a new name, ladies and gentleman, and it's 'Big Daddy,'" DiBiase said. "I’ve never seen a more grown man cry so much, out of tears of joy (when he first met his grandson). Every time he picks Tate up, his eyes just well up in pride, he's just so happy. And to be home and to have that time with him is special. For me there was a lot of time missed between him and me when I was a kid. So he feels this is where he can make up for that time, and I couldn't be happier for him.”
Not too far into the distant future, Tate will be thinking of Father's Day gifts for dad. But what did Ted and his siblings get “The Million Dollar Man” for Father's Days gone by?
“Even though he's not good at using them, my dad is a huge gadgets guy. He always loves the new technology, like the newest iPad or iMac. We have always been really good at like getting him a new TV, like when people use DVD players, orBlu-Ray Players.”
This year, DiBiase has a different plan.
“My dad, he was kinda like me," DiBiase said. "He wasn't there a lot, so when I was growing up I learned how to hunt, fish, play golf, and now he's got a hard time 'cause of his knees and back, and he can't get out on the golf course. The guy probably can't tie a fishing hook to a fishing line, but that's something my son will do, which is his grandson, so I'm going to put together a pamphlet of how to fish at a Carolina rig, how to tie on a hook, you know, little secrets and stuff about hunting that I'll be introducing my son too, that my dad will also learn how to do. So it's like the son teaching the father so he can teach the grandson. That's my idea going into this year.”
While recovering from his injuries, DiBiase was also able to found the Ted DiBiase Foundation, a charity based on the biblical principles of “clothe the naked and feed the hungry.”
“I'm a Christian, and I work in a very dark place like the entertainment industry," he said. "It's a hard place to live out those morals and values. I've have had a lot of time to think about it, and yes, I'd like to be a future WWE Hall Of Famer or a future WWE Champion. That would be incredible. But what my new son Tate would be most proud of is that his dad used his platform or celebrity to help impact people less fortunate to change the world or make the world a better place. Honestly at the end of my life, that's how I'd like to be remembered, and that's what we are doing here with the foundation. (Superstars) have all the meet and greets through Make-A-Wish and that's awesome. I just wanted to add a little bit more, and I myself will be there to meet the people, and we will try to get other guys in there, and give gift packages and more. The other aspect of the Foundation is starting a leadership program right here in Mississipi, and hopefully that will spread through other areas of the country in the world. Just changing the world one day at the time.”
One particular fan interaction sticks out for DiBiase.
“I had a little girl who is a big fan of mine in Georgia, her name was Lori. Lori has down syndrome. What we did was we had a limo pick her, her brother-in-law and her nephew up, brought her to the a show and completely surprised her. We brought her on her birthday, she didn't know where she was going. I was there to open the door when Lori got out. We met for the first time, and then I took her backstage, got her some pictures and autographs. Because it was a live event, we were able to take her out to the ring, and she kinda bounced off the ropes a little bit. We got the music guy to play my music, we walked through the curtain holding hands. It was just an amazing experience seeing the joy, just in that little bit of time, in that short three or four hours, something she will remember for a lifetime.”
Prior to his injuries that took him off the road, DiBiase began tailgate parties in parking lots before WWE events, calling them the “DiBiase Posse” Parties. Fans would show up to hang out, hear stories and eat burgers with the WWE Superstar. The “DiBiase Posse” was completely a self-created initiative, one that WWE has embraced.
“(WWE was) all about it," he said. "One party in Florida they actually sponsored, and we had a catering service there, big tent, and more than 150 people showed up. It was unfortunate that I got hurt, because you can see signs each week (on TV), DiBiase signs. (WWE) got T-shirts made, it was really starting to catch on. It's actually been really fun for me 'cause we get to these buildings for events and we just sit around a lot those days, like a hurry-up-and-wait type of thing. I get to go out, hang out with the fans, it's like they have that more intimate experience with the superstar that they see on TV every week.”
For years, Ted DiBiase was a villain character, in part modelled after his father. The Million Dollar Man's son was rich and didn't care who knew it. For DiBiase, it was a bittersweet experience.
“I love being Ted DiBiase, and I'm proud to be carrying the name," he said. "For me, it started off great with the tag team with Cody Rhodes, and there was Legacy with Cody and Randy Orton, which was incredible. After Legacy finished, I was wondering, 'What are we gonna do now?' And that's when they gave me the Million Dollar Belt. To be honest, I wasn't very excited about that because now I was trying to replicate my father, and I kept saying this is going to have to go above and beyond the Million Dollar Man, and [make] more of an impact than he did because my dad was one of the most promoted characters in the history of this business. I didn't get the same treatment as the “Million Dollar Man.” I wasn't flown first class, ride in limousines everywhere and have someone carry my bags (like Ted Sr. did to protect the character while on the road). Perception is reality. It is what it is, there's nothing I can do about it. I gave it my best, and I'll continue to give it a 110 percent no matter what character I'm playing.”
Despite some apparent flaws, according to DiBiase there was one fundamental reason why the character didn't work.
“That character isn't me,” DiBiase admits. “I'm not a cocky, arrogant guy. So sometimes that doesn't come off as well. Now I'm in a position where I'm getting to be me and fans are getting know me. Now I'm a good guy. I’m trying to stay away from the money (angle) as far as I can. I even got new trunks. I was thinking I like hunting, and I wear camouflage a lot so I'll incorporate that in my new attire. Hopefully it will just grow from here.”
There's another challenge. Even when DiBiase was coming to the ring as a good guy, his theme music was still the villainous “I Come From Money.” He hopes a change is coming.
“Honestly I hope (WWE) reads this. I have been begging for new music. I actually had my very own song written for me called "We're Country Strong" by Rolling Fork. My buddy Chris Celum wrote the song, produced it, and sang in it. It's really good for an entrance song. I told him that's the style I wanted. Maybe when I get back (WWE) will jump on it because I still come out to "I Come From Money" and it's killing me," DiBiase said with a laugh.
WWE recently announced that The Miz will play the title role in the third installment of “The Marine” film series. DiBiase starred in the second film as Sgt. Joe Linwood. There were no discussions for him to star in the third.
“Whether it was discussed, I'll never know. I can understand; Miz has a higher star power, and I can see why, but I can say with pride that Marine 2 was the second-most profitable WWE film to this day. I think only three have been profitable. Marine 2 was second behind the first Marine film and that was six months after it debuted on TV. I'm not saying it was 'cause of me. I think our director did an outstanding job with such a low budget. It did well and I'm happy with it. I wish The Miz good luck. I think he will do a good job and it will be interesting to see what kind of take he has on being a Marine, cause Miz is loud and boisterous, but he's been in the business so I'm sure he will do very well. I wish the guy all the luck in the world.”
DiBiase hopes that acting is in his future, but for now his plate is full with an impending WWE return and a newborn son. With professional wrestling constantly surrounding his family (on top of his father, grandfather and grandmother, his brothers Mike and Brett are also wrestlers), one question will remain in the back of his mind until Tate is old enough to get between the ropes and into the ring: will my son want to become a professional wrestler? DiBiase has already given this a lot of thought.
“I'll tell Tate exactly what my father told me, which is, 'You are your own man, and you can make your own choices, but you're not going to attempt being a wrestler until you finish your education first. Once you get your education, you're a grown man, you can do what you want, and I'll support you 110 percent.' I'll help Tate as much as I can, let him know it's going to be hard, probably harder, 'cause he is a DiBiase. When you're a DiBiase, that doesn't mean you're a shoe-in in WWE. I have two brothers that are not there. It's harder because those that have gone before you have, you're always gonna be compared to them. I'll be there to support him, be happy for him either way. As long as he follows through his commitment, and gives his 110 percent, I'll be a happy father.”
WWE No Way Out is a pay-per-view event scheduled for June 17. More information can be found here:Arda Ocal is an on air personality for theScore Television Network. Find his blog posts on #AftermathBlog here and find video interviews with current and past WWE Superstars and legends here.
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