The WWE Hall of Fame is filled with a group of the most elite names in professional wrestling history. Spanning many decades, it includes the most recognized names of their respected eras, even transcending to eras that they are not directly involved in.
For instance, Dusty Rhodes is considered one of the most popular champions of all time, and his last world title victory was 1986. Still, the manner of cutting promos, and the “flip, flop, and fly” elbow smash is used by a number of pro wrestlers even to this day.
There are also names in the Hall of Fame who set the bar of what a villainous character should look like. Rick Rude, who made a career in the WWE out of calling fans fat, out of shape, no-good sweathogs, was one of the most successful heels of all time. Although Rude never won the WWE Championship, he won the Intercontinental and United States Championship on one occasion, as well as the WCW International Championship – once the top title in World Championship Wrestling – on three occasions.
There are other bar-setting heels that are in the Hall of Fame, who never won the WWE Championship, despite being one of the top talents. One of these names is “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Before donning his pompous money gimmick, DiBiase was very popular in both the National Wrestling Alliance and the Universal Wrestling Federation.
Ted Dibiase-1979, New York pic.twitter.com/dAedEQBFzb
— Steve Viglio (@stevesgraps) November 26, 2013
In 1979, he was even awarded the short-lived North American Heavyweight Championship, before losing it to Patt Patterson. This was the only singles title he won throughout his entire career in the WWE, before winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with IRS as Money, Inc.
WWE explains the closest “brush” that he came to becoming World Champion.
“It’s no surprise that the Million Dollar Man had several brushes with WWE gold, the most respected of which is his showing in the WrestleMania VI WWE Championship Tournament. En route to the finals, which would decide the new owner of the vacant WWE Championship, DiBiase defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Don Muraco before ultimately losing to Randy Savage.”
Despite never winning a major world championship, he once was strongly considered. According to Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline, DiBiase was discussed to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship around 1979. During this time, DiBiase left the WWE for the NWA. When he debuted in 1980, he was a top babyface and feuded with “Wildfire” Tommy Rich. During this time, names such as Dusty Rhodes, Giant Baba, and Harley Race were the top names on the card. Rich would actually go on to win the championship in 1981 as a babyface, but DiBiase would make his way to Mid-South Wrestling as a top name there.
Thankfully, DiBiase was able to build a strong enough resume, and certainly an indelible heel character, to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
[Featured Image by WWE]