Ted Dibiase Jr. Talks Signing With WWE, His Father's Reaction, HBK, Daniel Bryan's Success, More

I recently spoke with Ted Dibiase Jr., who discussed his time with WWE, if he was pushed too quickly, his legendary father, Daniel Bryan's success, the upcoming The Price of Fame documentary and more.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of our interview, where we discussed how hard it is to get a spot on the WrestleMania card, part-timers getting top spots at WrestleMania, why he decided to leave WWE, the upcoming The Price of Fame documentary and much more.

You can follow Diabiase on Twitter @TedDiBiase. Also, you can help support The Price of Fame, which features both Ted Dibiase Jr. and Sr., on Kickstarter by clicking here. The film takes a look at Ted DiBiase Jr.'s journey to learn his father's road to redemption, while spotlighting Ted Dibiase Sr.'s life and wrestling career. The goal is to raise $30,000 by April 25th to fund the project.

Wrestling INC: What have you been up to since you left the WWE?

Dibiase: That's a loaded question. A lot. Most of which I've certain been enjoying my time at home and getting to spend time with my wife and my son for a change. As a lot of people know, being part of the WWE is an amazing job and it's a dream come true but it requires about 290 days out of the year. So, it's a lot of time away but it was definitely worth it. For me, it was time to come home but since then I've kinda putting some of my education to practice.

I'm working on, and launching a new company and at the same time I've been working hard at really putting this documentary together that we've doing a project with a guy named Pete Ferrera out of New York. He's really talented, and we're really telling a story from my perspective and it's a fantastic story and I want to do my dad justice. But also, you know, talking about his life and his faith now but really hitting on the success he had as a wrestler and the icon he became in the wrestling industry. So, that's been a lot of it. Doing some business development for this company out of New York. I've got a couple financial former partners at Goldman Sachs so I'm helping these guys launch their company. So, a lot going on, man.

Wrestling INC: You sound like you're busy and I'd like to talk more about the documentary here in a bit. You talk about your father being an icon in this business. What was that like growing up, because you talk about the travel and how hard that can be? What was that like because your dad was such ahuge superstar and legend, but also at the same time he had to be on the road a lot? It was even tougher back then.

Dibiase: I think their schedule was actually worse than ours. I remember my dad coming home like two and three weeks at a time and then he'd be home for four days and then gone for three weeks and home for three days. It was longer periods of time each time he would leave. For us, we were like five days a week and then home the rest of the week. So, I was a bit of a break there but it was interesting man. You know, I grew up in the locker room with Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Jake the Snake and the Ultimate Warrior. It was quite interesting being a little kid. I didn't realize how cool that was until I got older, in hindsight (obviously 20/20) but it was fun, but it was tough because dad missed out on a lot. He wasn't there for the birthdays, I mean, honestly I don't remember a birthday that he was actually there for. We would always schedule around and do stuff when he could be there but he was definitely gone for all the weekends. So, he wasn't at the soccer games or football games and I never had any regrets or bitterness towards that. That's just what he did.

I think it was harder on him than it was on me and my brothers. But, yeah, I look at that and that kinda the decision that I had to come to make. Am I gonna continue this dream and this really amazing job and miss out on all the small moment and be the one who teases my son how to right a bike and be there for the birthdays or not? It's a tough choice and it's not for everybody. That's the decision that I'd made for now. I'm not saying that I would rule out wrestling in the future, but, for now, this is what I need to do.

Wrestling INC: Being a third generation wrestler, how far back did you seriously know that you were gonna enter the business. I'm sure that it's always, since you were a kid, I'm sure it's always in the back of your mind. But, when did you really start to think like this is something that I want to do?

Dibiase: Well, I'll be honest with you, the dream was always there. As far back as I can remember. You can't be in the back with those guys whose like action heroes and superstars and not wanna do it. Especially as a kid. The challenge was my father was very adamant about us boys not entering into the business, because it was so hard. For the longest time it felt like well this is not even an option, and that was a little disheartening. But I have so much respect for my dad that I'd never do anything against his wishes or something that would upset him, because we have a very good relationship. He's my dad, but he's also my best friend.

But, it wasn't until college - I think it was like '05 - my dad got signed by WWE as kinda an agent role and part of the creative team. He really didn't like it. He was there for about a year and then it was traveling all the time and gone all the time and it was different from when he left. More of a production, and things were done differently. Whereas, my dad and those guys, they used to call matches on the fly and it was hard for my dad to tell somebody how to put a match together or what move to do. The talent that was there was younger, and they weren't as experienced and he was better at taking someone in the ring and actually teaching team. Him going back, that opened the door for me and that kinda revived my dream and of a sudden, it became a reality. Here I am, and the end of college. I'm not quite sure what I want to do and I'm like, "Dad. Here's my opportunity." You see the atmosphere is different, it's a publicly traded company, that has wellness policies, everybody held to a higher standard of conduct. Not only within the ring, but outside the ring. So, because the atmosphere changed, there was more opportunity for financial gain. So, he said, "Well, if you're gonna do this, you have to graduate first." He said, "if you're gonna do it, you're gonna go and you're gonna learn from the one who taught me, and that's Harley Race." I said, "Ok." So I graduated like half a semester early and I jumped in a car the next day I drove 12 hours north and began my journey.

Wrestling INC: I interviewed your father last summer and he was talking about how he was not very happy when you and your brother told him that you wanted to enter the business. Once you started training with Harley, did his mood change at all? Was he getting excited about the idea or was he cautious?

Dibiase: One, he was concerned. When he started, he learned from some of the best, some of the greatest. He was a big star in Mid-South and worked for Bill Watts, and got to work with all those guys there. He was more concerned with, I think he didn't want me to be disappointed if I found out or if I realized that I'm not good at this or I'm not good enough to be in the WWE because that's really to only opportunity for huge success. Unless you want to ground it out on the independents, there nothing wrong with that, but I think he scared. I've been doing some speaking lately and I tell people, my dad at once point asked me and he said, "Son, are you sure you have what it takes?" It kinda hurt my feelings a little bit, just being honest, but he was just being a father. You know, he was a little worried.

But, as I started to progress, I really picked things up pretty quickly. Then I got invited to go to Japan and work a couple tours with Pro Wrestling Noah, and the feedback was very positive. So, he started to get excited, and it started changing then where he was like, "Ok. Maybe he can do this." Then the interest grew and finally we had something to talk about because I was a big soccer player. I don't think a lot of people know that, but I was a huge soccer player in high school and he just didn't get soccer. He played football. I played football too. I was a lineman, quarterback and a receiver. So, we love sports but he didn't know soccer and he didn't know the quarterback role or receiver role. So, now he could tell me. Then the education, when I started picking his brain about wrestling, it was cool man. We were talking every day and he was just ripping my matches apart, which was disheartening sometimes, but I know I needed it.

Wrestling INC: It wasn't that long after your, you were in Japan that you signed the developmental deal with the WWE and less than a year from that you made your debut. Did you think you were ready? It happened really fast.

Dibiase: I honestly never expected in a million years for it to happen that fast. You know, I'm pretty gutsy. Was I completely ready? I don't know, I mean I've seen, I think a lot of the guys get put on the road before they're completely ready. The problem is, there is not a lot of guys to learn from. The way you learn this business is, you work with people who are better than you, you work with the veterans. I wasn't working with any veterans and the only way I was gonna work with veterans is if I go on the road. So, that's when the real learning process began because you kinda plateau when you're in the developmental, you feel like it's so far under you actually get in ring with, you know, top guys. I was fortunate to work with Taker, and Hunter, and Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton. So that was when I really began to get a grasp of the art of what we do. But, I was ready to go, man. I wasn't gonna tell them not I'm not ready, don't bring me up.

Wrestling INC: It seems like when I talk to a lot of, when talk to multi-generational wrestlers, they'll talk about how it's easier to break into the business, but it's much harder to get pushed or develop your own character, or get to the top because the expectations are so much higher. A lot of people instantly see your father, your grandfather. Is that kind of what you experienced?

Dibiase: 100%. I was actually offered a developmental contract before I even stepped in a ring and I didn't wanna do that because part of that, that stigma. I wanted to really earn the respect of the guys, and hopefully fans that [thought], "Hey, he did it the hard way." But, yeah, that is a little easier for us to get our foot in the door, but it's like microscope is on you and they're watching you. Everybody's comparing you to your father, and mine just happened to be really good. They were watching me saying, "Is he gonna be as good as his dad?" I'll be the first to tell you - I'm definitely not as good as my dad, but my dad had 23 years of experience and worked with some of the best. So, it's just hard, and it's harder today to really learn the craft.

Wrestling INC: You were put into Legacy, and you were talking about some of the guys you got to work with. Undertaker and Triple H and Shawn Michaels. What were some of your favorite matches during that time?

Dibiase: I really enjoyed - I'm trying to think of the year - maybe '09? We did SummerSlam, when Shawn came back and we really started our feud with DX. The SummerSlam match, that was cool and they come out on the tanks. I just remember that moment. We're standing in the ring and I was telling Cody, I was like, "Dude, this is real? Are we dreaming right now?" You know, the lights went dark and the glow sticks just come out and I'm about to go toe to toe with, you know the other childhood hero other than my dad, Shawn Michaels. It was just a very surreal moment. So that was an awesome match. I really enjoyed it.

Then, I had a good match with Bryan Danielson - or Daniel Bryan, whatever you wanna call him - in Survivor Series a couple of years later. I remember that match was just a lot of fun. We had the crowd. Then obviously wrestling in WrestleMania. Even though the time got cut and I wasn't crazy about the match, but it was WrestleMania. You know, 74,000 people there in Scottsdale, Arizona. I think it was 26? Wrestled Randy and Cody. It was just cool. I wrestled in WrestleMania, I've filmed a movie. I've really done a lot; I've done everything you'd wanna do. I mean, I wasn't a WWE Champion, but man, I did it. It's like a childhood dream can true. So I don't feel like I've missed out on anything.

Wrestling INC: You mentioned wrestling Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series. What are your thoughts on how far he's come since then, and did you see that coming?

Dibiase: Did I see it coming? Kind of. I guess I wanted it to happen for him so bad. I'm so happy for that guy. If there's anybody in this business alive today that deserves what they're getting, it's him. He's just an impeccable, amazing talent. Bryan was actually the one, he was in Japan the first time I went, and really held my hand and showed me the ropes and then WWE turned him away twice after I had debuted and I think they fired him before that. And, it was like, how is guy dude never gonna get a shot? Then he comes and he just kept grinding, you know? He's the ultimate underdog. He's just the nicest guy. He's just a great guy. For somebody, like the success he has right now he deserves it more than anyone. Because he's extremely good.

One of the matches I had, I think it was in Paris maybe. It was not televised, but I remember Christian got hurt and Arn Anderson asked me and Bryan to put in a little more time. And we did, like, 42 minutes one night. I just remember he just called everything. I just went ahead a listened to him and we had the most fun. It was one of those nights where the crowd was just reacting to everything. But he just knows. He knows how to tell a good story and he's just so humble about it. You know, he's very humble, which I have a lot of respect for. So happy for him. I can't stand his beard, he is one ugly dude. But, man he's a good guy. Good friend.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of our interview, where we discussed how hard it is to get a spot on the WrestleMania card, part-timers getting top spots at WrestleMania, why he decided to leave WWE, the upcoming The Price of Fame documentary and much more.

You can follow Diabiase on Twitter @TedDiBiase. Also, you can help support The Price of Fame, which features both Ted Dibiase Jr. and Sr., on Kickstarter by clicking here. The film takes a look at Ted DiBiase Jr.'s journey to learn his father's road to redemption, while spotlighting Ted Dibiase Sr.'s life and wrestling career. The goal is to raise $30,000 by April 25th to fund the project.


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