Ted Dibiase buys the WWF Championship

Discussion in 'Old School Wrestling' started by legendkiller1979, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. legendkiller1979

    legendkiller1979 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    It was 30 years ago tonight, 2/5/88, that Hulk Hogan's four year reign as WWF champion came to an end. This was the culmination of the greatest storyline in the history of the business. At the time, it was thought that you would have to kill Hogan to get the belt from him. Along comes Ted Dibiase who says he is going to buy the championship. Of course nobody thought this was possible. Even buying the services of of Andre the Giant, it was still seen as impossible. After all, Andre already lost to Hogan at Wrestlemania III.

    The stage was set for the biggest rematch in the history of the WWF. The idea that Dibiase would buy the title only added to the intrigue. The WWF promoted this even perfectly. This was at a time when there was time to build hype for an event. The hype for this event was off the charts. No event in the history of wrestling, to this day, was watched by more people than this was. The event certainly lived up to the hype.

    In one of the best swerves ever, an evil referee counted 3 when Hogan's shoulder was up after a one count. Confusion and anger ensued. Andre proceeded to "surrender the world tag team championship to Ted Dibiase". The real Dave Hebner came out which only added to the confusion. I don't know that they could have taken the title off of Hogan in a better way.

    Everything about this storyline was done to perfection. it had a long build up that culminated in a swerve that those who saw it at the time will never forget. For those who didn't see it, go to Youtube and watch the build up and then watch this event on the network. You will not be disappointed.
     
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  2. Jeff Deliverer of Mail

    Jeff Deliverer of Mail Join WZCW because writing is hip
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    I remember it, I was a huge Hulkamaniac and I couldn't believe what I was seeing, Hogan pinned then two referees. Saturday Nights Main Event seemed like a lot bigger deal than most PPVs do in this day and age. The Hogan vs Andre 2 rematch for the title was huge like you stated. I remember the Saturday Night Main Events being on the higher channels so it would fuzz in and out a lot, somehow that made it seem more unique to me, like I was watching an event that I wasn't allowed to see free or something. Hogan claiming that The Million Dollar Man must have paid a guy to get plastic surgery to look like Earl Hepner was pretty funny too.
     
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  3. relentless1

    relentless1 G.O.A.T.

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    Only issue is they should've let Ted keep the belt and have him hold the belt until SummerSlam where Macho can take it after winning a #1 contender tournament, making a great moment for the first Summerslam and giving Ted his due run with the title; you can also still do the MegaPowers explode angle it'd just be a bit shorter timetable
     
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  4. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    This angle would also tie in perfectly to the "Mega Powers" explode angle w/ Hogan, Savage and Liz. It was executed perfectly. DiBiase causes Hogan to lose the title to Andre, Hogan returns the favor and costs DiBiase the title at WM 4 forming an uneasy alliance with the "Macho Man" in the process (who had turned babyface around the same time.) What's amazing is that this entire angle, Andre/Hogan, DiBiase/Hogan, DiBiase/Savage and finally Savage/Hogan took place over the course of three years and booked solely by Vince and Pat. We will never see an angle planned so meticulously and played out over several years again.
     
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  5. Vanilla Midget

    Vanilla Midget Registered Suplex Offender

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    Love this idea, although I would have only had Ted hold it until Mania, then make WrestleMania IV Macho vs Dibiase. Not sure how you get Hogan out of the picture. Maybe it would be enough to have had Hogan simply choose a grudge match over Andre and let his new bestie Macho chase the strap.

    The tournament allowed the Andre v Hogan rematch, as well as wrote Hogan out of the title picture all while keeping him superhuman.

    That was really the point of all this, move the title off of Hogan and ultimately onto an additional top face in the Macho Man. All of this while keeping Hogan in God mode and putting heat on Andre and Dibiase.

    That was the short term, the long was setting up Hogan vs Macho for next year. I never loved the twin ref angle. If you’ve got two referees who look alike, why not? It just seemed overkill when you’ve got the Million Dollar Man capable of just buying people.

    It was all probably more confusing then just having a ref do a fast count, then accept a briefcase full of cash in the ring. Might have painted a clearer picture.

    This is an example I like to point to when you look at how WCW booked the end of Goldberg’s title reign in 98. Hogan wasn’t dissimilar- the most over guy in the company has been booked seem unstoppable. How do you get the title off of them?

    The simplest way is to just have them lose, but that wasn’t an option for 1980s Hogan.

    Ted buying the title is a classic moment. The whole twin thing was a bit ridiculous, but you’d think at the rate they were having Hogan run through heels that they would build Dibiase a bit more as a threat or maybe not rely on two refs who look the same.
     
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  6. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    Oh baby what an event! Savage/Honky for the IC belt, Strike Force/Hart Foundation for the tag belts and the biggest WWF Championship rematch ever. These were the days of TV squash matches on Saturday mornings and a couple of big shows each year. This had such a "big deal" feel to it--it was on TV but all title matches. And, as mentioned, the addition of DiBiase to the Hulk/Andre match made it even bigger.

    The Savage/Honky match set the tone and, as much as we wanted Savage to win, all focus was on the Hogan/Andre match. They saved Strike Force/Harts until after the WWF title match--in fact, the show went off the air before that match ended--but that was great because to simply go off the air after DiBiase getting the title handed to him would have left us with such a feeling of "what just happened?!" and helpless waiting until the next weekend's show to recap it. Still, the feeling of "what just happened?!" was there, but as we watched the tag match, it felt like we were still involved in the show and it gave us a nice way to make sense of what we had just seen, along with Vince and Jesse.

    Anyway, the match itself was electric. Hogan had slayed the Giant at Mania III, but that just made the rematch all the more nerve-racking. He can't do it AGAIN can he? How can Andre lose two in a row?? Not only that, but Hogan now has DiBiase and Virgil outside the ring to worry about. Oh man, just writing this, I can remember the feelings of that night. Even when Andre had won, it didn't feel real until Finkel announced it. Then when the other ref came out, it gave us a sense of "ok, they'll fix this". But they didn't...at least not on that show.

    What an incredible show that was! It also led to the Mania IV tournament which, in theory, was AWESOME to this 9-year-old. Hogan was always champ and only a few heels like Bundy, Kamala, Andre even seemed like threats. Now, all of these guys have a shot? Steamboat might be champ?? Muraco?? Bam Bam?? Valentine?? Jake/Rude get to square off AND have a shot at the title??? My mind was blown. I pictured how each guy would look with the belt. So many more possibilities than ever before had presented themselves to me. People have differing opinions on the tourney itself, but I loved the idea. I didn't watch Mania IV live, I actually saw it in the newspaper the next day that Savage had won 4 matches and the title. But I remember being so excited to rent the dual-VHS Mania IV from the local video store. Even though I knew what happened, I couldn't wait to see it. Two tapes instead of the normal one?! The tournament, a battle royal, IC and tag title matches, a six-man tag and a Warrior match?! This is gonna be so awesome!!! Hahaha.

    Royal Rumble had debuted on the USA Network in January. I didn't realize it was on cable, so when I stumbled upon it towards the end unsuspectingly, it was awesome! I wanted JYD to win, but Duggan was cool. A surprise of being able to watch the Rumble, the Main Event, WrestleMania IV and the inaugural SummerSlam--what a time to be a young kid who loved WWF!
     
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  7. King Patrick Star

    King Patrick Star K. O. T. R. 2007 -€“ Team Undisputed

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    That’s where I got the idea that if you can’t win the big one, just buy them all. HAHAHAHA!!
     
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    Jack-Hammer likes this.
  8. Jack-Hammer

    Jack-Hammer YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!!!!
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    It's an iconic storyline and a perfect example of how fun wrestling can still be if you suspend disbelief and don't base your opinions on those of dirt sheet writers.

    It wasn't the first time a wrestler had tried to "buy" a championship he was unable to win. In the spring of '83, Larry Zbyszko "bought" the NWA National Heavyweight Championship for $25,000 from Killer Tim Brooks. I think it was in late March of 1983 but then NWA President, Bob Geigel, stripped Zbyszko of the title in late April and a tournament was held to determine a new champion. Zbyszko defeated Mr. Wrestling II in the tournament finals on May 6th and held the title until September 25th.

    Vince added a few little tweaks to make it just different enough, such as utilizing the twin Hebner brothers, the screwjob ending, not recognizing DiBiase as ever having been champion in the first place and not having DiBiase win the title. It was still a very similar storyline to the one in Georgia Championship Wrestling, just on a much bigger scale in front of a much bigger audience.
     
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  9. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    This was the first time I remember saying "Why is he not champion?"

    It made little sense to not let him keep the title and still doesn't to me... if he can buy it, he can buy it... the gimmick says that. If he buys it, keeps it and LOSES it right away to Savage at Mania 4, then its a much bigger stage to get Savage off the ground and the feud is red hot thereafter.

    I think Hogan/Andre simply didn't want to step away into their own feud/go down the card more than DiBiase not being the right guy. Hogan wasn't going to be there, but he couldn't bear two smaller guys being above him while he was gone.... so Andre had to be involved and thus him.

    Even the tournament to be was ruined by having Hogan and Andre in it, but we won't rehash that bile...

    That angle could have been the biggest in history, today it's an interesting moment rather than a major one... all because they wouldn't let DiBiase hold the belt and defend it once...
     
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  10. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    From what I've read and heard Vince wanted the rubber match between Hogan and Andre to "headline" WrestleMania IV. Remember, he had to outdo WrestleMania III which was at the Pontiac SilverDome or at least match it and Hogan was the golden goose at the time. Still red hot in 1988. Vince knew Hogan was going to step away in '88 to film No Holds Barred and was hoping to score one last huge payday with Hogan/Andre. At least that was Vince's thinking according to Bruce Pritchard to was in Vince's inner circle at the time. I don't think Vince felt DiBiase (as a heel champion) could've drew more money than the specter of Hogan possibly regaining the championship.

    As far as my personal feelings I wouldn't have minded seeing DiBiase as champion and had it been in today's media market where TV dominates he would've been but remember this was 1988 and house shows dominated. The fact is Vince felt he needed a babyface champion to draw the people in.

    I remember reading a while back that DiBiase was actually introduced as the WWF Champion at a few house shows immediately after the Main Event and drew a lukewarm response. Whether that factored into Vince deciding to go with a "held up" title I'm not sure. Maybe Vince got cold feet and decided to go with what he knew was going to draw and that was Hogan/Andre III.

    I still think it was a major storyline. The fact that DiBiase never officially held the title was only a minor detail. It just proves that money can't buy everything.
     
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  11. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    It was always going to be lukewarm... he'd just beaten Hogan and many fans wouldn't have even realised if they didn't see the match. Half the audience would be "WTF?"

    I always felt that angle should have happened at Mania... forget the tourney, have Hogan drop to Andre and close Mania with the shock of DiBiase buying the title.
     
    #11
  12. FromGlasgow

    FromGlasgow Championship Contender

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    Unfortunately being from the UK I didn't get to see the surprise and instead just read about afterwards in wrestling magazines, Did eventually get to see it a couple of years later obviously the confusion and surprise were lost on me by this time, I thought it was a great angle and fitted in perfectly with Ted Dibiase's persona as it was the one goal he had not achieved was winning the world title so buying it made sense as he had supposedly bought everything else and he claimed everyone has a price and the twin referees just added to the whole thing its one of these angles where it always stays in your mind as one of the best unexpected endings.
    If I were to choose one wrestler past or present who should have been world champion it would be Ted Debiase with his wealth and the addition of Andre and Virgil at his side he would have come accross as a very powerful world champion within that era and would have made for some good storylines with the fan favourites chasing the title as we never really got a proper heel champion for longer than a couple of months during the 80's and early 90's, Sheik and Slaughter felt like transitional champions and Savage only turned heel towards the end of his reign even Flair only held it for a couple of months after he won the royal rumble.
     
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  13. HeenanGorilla

    HeenanGorilla Championship Contender

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    I agree that with Andre and Virgil in his corner and with a seemingly endless supply of cash, he could have been a long-time heel champ, much like Honky was with the IC belt. No one ever mistook Honky for the best wrestler in WWF, but his underhanded ways of retaining the belt made him a wonderful heel champ that was able to last for over a year. I think if you add DiBiase & company and his resources to that equation, it could have been a multi-year success. Not necessarily a straight run of DiBiase being champ, but maybe a year or so to start and then Hogan, for example, beats him...but then DiBiase uses his money and power to regain. That could have continued for several years and stayed hot atop the card.
     
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  14. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Championship Contender

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    It made perfect sense.

    You were not allowed to purchase a championship. End discussion. Nothing more to understand.

    Andre pinned Hogan in the ring to defeat him in a championship match, so regardless of how he did it, he still defeated him for the championship.

    But he was not allowed to 'sell' the championship to another party, so Dibiase was never the champion. However, when he did attempt to sell it, he was forfeiting the title, so he was no longer champion either.

    Just because Dibiase's gimmick was that he could buy anything, doesn't mean that he could actually buy anything.

    Mr. Perfect's gimmick was he could never lose because he was perfect. He would still lose anyways.

    I don't think that you can argue the execution of that angle. It's one of the biggest, most successful angles in history. If it was just an 'interesting moment', I doubt very much it would still be remembered as well as it is 30 years later.
     
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  15. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Championship Contender

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    It easily could have. Use all of his resources. The team of Virgil and Andre protecting him. And add in the fact that once you got past all of that, Dibiase himself was still an amazing wrestler and incredibly tough to defeat. It would have been money, and if that exact act came along even just a few years later, probably would have happened.

    But the WWF model was a strong, dominant, babyface champion. And it's hard to argue with them on it, considering how much success they had with that exact model for the entire 25 years of their existence up until that point.

    That model wasn't changing after such a successful 4 year run with babyface Hogan leading the way. Especially when it was only ending because he was leaving to help launch McMahon's foray into movies (No Holds Barred - which Vince did think would be the start of something new and bigger than wrestling for him). Babyface Savage had been built as a great placeholder for a year, but the timing wasn't right to break the mold with the more southern style NWA program that Dibiase as champion would have meant.
     
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