Recently on Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, the professional wrestling veteran talked about 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase in great detail. Among other things, Prichard discussed 'The Million Dollar' Championship, including how it was made, misplacing the belt, and the title's present whereabouts.
"God, I've got to tell you, I loved the idea. It was… it fit DiBiase and I just loved the idea. What better way to display your wealth as 'The Million Dollar Man'? Can't win a championship, then buy it. And then, buy your own championship and he makes the rules and he keeps it by hook or by crook no matter what he does. But Terry Betteridge, Betteridge Jewelers on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut, if you have a s--tload of money to drop, go give Terry a visit! Tell him Bruce Prichard, Brother Love, sent you. But beautiful, beautiful jewelry shop and Terry Betteridge is a world-renowned jeweler. I want to say he's a second-generation jeweler, as a matter of fact, but Terry used to bring jewelry to the office for Vince around Christmastime and s--t. When Vince would be shopping, that's how he would Christmas shop. Terry would bring in jewelry and Vince would go, 'I'll take that and that and that and that.'"
Much like the Stonehenge prop in This Is Spinal Tap, 'The Million Dollar' Championship was undersized and comically inappropriate for its intended purpose. In Prichard's view the belt in its original form appeared more fitting for Elvis Presley than a professional wrestling champion.
"So they drew up this 'Million Dollar' belt and Terry was going to make it for us and DiBiase and I went to go shoot the initial vignette that [podcast co-host Conrad Thompson] just mentioned, when he went in to order the belt. And Terry is bragging about how he has started this beautiful belt and how great it's going to be. 'It's 18-karat gold and it has got diamonds in it and it's this beautiful thing' and then he shows it to us and we look at each other like 'ruh roh' because you've seen 'The Million Dollar' belt and all of our listeners have seen the belt. Well, if you look at not the middle plate, the big '$' in diamonds, or the two side plates right next to it that are smaller '$'s with diamonds, but if you look at the little '$'s along the edge that kind of work as the wraparound of the belt, well, that was the size of the middle plate. The little side plates, that size, is how big Terry had made the center piece. And we were like, 'oh, s--t! This isn't going to work!' Because it kind of looked like one of those belts Elvis would wear on his [Las] Vegas show when he got into the white leather. And [I] immediately called Vince to say, 'hey man, this isn't going to work' and we got Terry on the phone and we brought - I forget which belt we brought over - it was either one of the WWF Championship belts or an Intercontinental, but just to give him a size reference because he had no frame of reference because he's thinking 'belt' and he's thinking 'grandiose', so he's thinking Elvis' big belt buckle, like that. So we had to push the debut date of 'The Million Dollar' belt back a few weeks to allow him to make the three center pieces much, much larger and there were actual diamonds in that belt."
Prichard shared that the cape worn by DiBiase in the third vignette introducing 'The Million Dollar' Championship belonged to Vince McMahon.
"I saw Vince had this cape and so I borrowed this cape and thought, 'wouldn't it be great if you, like, threw the cape over your shoulder?' and, s--t, he had a cape! It just worked! He's 'The Million Dollar Man'!"
Prichard added, "it was [Vince McMahon's personal cape], yeah. Vince also had that full-length, it wasn't mink, not the full-length fur coat that DiBiase wore in the vignettes and s--t. That was Vince's too, yeah. Doesn't every millionaire have a cape? I don't know, man. I'm not a millionaire. I don't own a cape, but I thought every millionaire had a cape, so 'The Million Dollar Man' should have a cape."
Prichard shared that 'The Million Dollar' Championship had real diamonds on the back, set in the leather and that the belt cost nearly $50,000.
"Yeah, the real diamonds are on the back, set in the leather on the back. Yes [there is leather on the back], brown leather. It cost a lot of money. I'm not going to tell you the figure. It cost a lot. I want to say it was close to $50,000."
Also during the podcast, Prichard told a story about a time where he and DiBiase lost 'The Million Dollar' Championship. As the story goes, they left it in a car while they had dinner and later found that the car had been broken into.
"We had been in maybe Hartford, Connecticut, maybe Providence [Rhode Island], and we finished up there, this is we, me and Ted DiBiase, and we were heading to Boston [Massachusetts]. It was probably Providence because we were going to Boston to fly out. He was going to fly out from Boston and I was going back to Connecticut, so wherever we were. So anyway, we get to Boston and we're in a Ford Bronco, so we have our bags in the back of the Bronco. We go to Chinatown and we go to our favorite little restaurant in Chinatown and we have some great food and a lot adult beverages and we come out and it's about 2 o'clock in the morning. And we're walking down a side street, we had been parked on the street."
Prichard continued, "we look and the side window had been busted open on the Bronco. It's bashed in. There's broken glass all over the ground. And we look, and we go, 'oh s--t!' We open up the door, we look, and our bags are gone. Someone ripped us off."
Apparently, everything inside the vehicle was stolen except for Prichard's briefcase and DiBiase feared that 'The Million Dollar' Championship was gone as well.
"We start going through the car and s--t and Ted looks at me and says, 'hey man, the belt's not here.' The belt was carried in a separate gold Halliburton everywhere we went. And we're going through there and the only thing they left in the car was my briefcase, which had kind of been in the back on the floor. But they stole my garment bag, they stole his garment bag, they stole his briefcase, and they stole all of his s--t. And we're like, 'motherf--ker, somebody stole 'The Million Dollar' belt.'"
Prichard took on the unfortunate business of waking McMahon to tell him that the title was missing.
"We called the cops. The cops come out and make a report. And I said [to DiBiase], 'well, you've got to call Vince.' 'Why do I got to call him? You call him.' 'Hey, motherf--ker, it's not my belt!' But I end up, there's a little payphone there and it's now 2:30, 3 o'clock, 3:15 in the morning and I make that call. 'Hello?' 'Hey Vince, this is Bruce.' 'Yeah, pal. What's up?' 'Well, I'm here with Ted and we were on our way to Boston and we stopped and got something to eat and somebody broke into our car and it seems that somebody stole 'The Million Dollar' belt.' 'What the f--k do you want me do do about it?' 'Well, I guess, nothing, but I wanted to make you aware of it. Ted lost the belt.' And he's like, 'Goddamnit, there's nothing I can do about it! Call the f--king news! Make some Goddamn noise! Wake somebody up!', which I had already done by waking him up, so long story short, we get to the Hilton there, Boston [Logan International] Airport and we check in and we start calling people. We were looking for Virgil because Virgil usually was pretty good about grabbing the belt. And as I started doing my investigative work, I'm going, like, 'Ted, s--t, man, are you sure you had the belt?' He's like, 'yeah, I'm pretty sure I had it because Virgil, we weren't riding together and I'm responsible for the Goddamn thing.' And we can't get Virgil to answer his phone in his room."
Prichard and DiBiase later found out that Virgil had the belt all along.
"Well, lo and behold, we later found out, in the morning, that when they were going to the airport, Virgil did have the belt. And I woke Vince up at 3 o'clock in the morning on a false alarm and I let Ted make the next call to him to let him know that we found the belt and it was a mistake and all that other good s--t. But it was a weird night in Chinatown in Boston."
Prichard professed that 'The Million Dollar' Championship went missing after DiBiase left WWE, and he does not know whether the title was ever recovered.
"I don't know if they got it back or not, but I know that when Teddy left, he gave the belt to a member of the ring crew and sometime after that, because it was an expensive belt, Linda called Ted and asked him to please send the belt back. Ted said, 'I do not have the belt. I gave it to someone on the ring crew to take back with them to Stamford [Connecticut].' 's--t, well, who'd you give it to?' I don't know if he knew the name or what, but they did some investigating and couldn't find the Goddamn belt! So she called Ted again. She goes, 'Teddy, I don't mean to be… but it's an expensive belt, you were the last one to be seen with it, we really need you to send it back if you have it.' And Teddy was adamant that he didn't have it and that he had given it to the ring crew. So I don't know if they ever found it or not. I know Ted has told me in private that he did not have it. He had told me the same story. He [has] never wavered on his story and I believe him because Ted is not the type of guy to do that, especially if he was asked. He would've given it back if he had it. Maybe they did find it. Maybe it's in a safe. I don't really know, to be honest with you."
Listen to the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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