August 15, 2009
DiBiase Jr. proves bad can be goodA roguish heel in the ring, Legacy member follows dad's 'positive' footsteps outside it
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
It didn't seem like such a big deal to visit Hulk Hogan's condo. But it was certainly more than a bit intimidating to meet a true giant.
"I'd been wanting to meet Andre the Giant and I went to see my dad ... it may have been in Mobile (Ala.) ... I could see Andre sitting down," says DiBiase.
"He was huge, the size of a refrigerator. I'm saying to my dad that I'm scared and he's telling me, 'That's OK.'
"So I get the courage to walk over and say hi to Andre. He palmed my hand like it was a basketball and picked me up off the ground and sat me on his leg. He was a gentle giant."
Junior has plenty on his plate these days. A third-generation wrestler, following grandfather Iron Mike DiBiase, grandmother Helen Hild and his father, the 26-year-old DiBiase has made an impact in a hurry -- in a business his father tried to steer him away from.
"I wanted to (be a wrestler) ever since I can remember," he says. "But it's something my father was adamant that I not do -- with the travel and the strain on your family life.
"It was kind of like a miracle to me. I was in college and my father was hired back as a road agent. The way the business was being conducted had changed so much. The opportunity to make a very good living was much higher.
"He told me if I still wanted to do this, I had to finish college and then it was up to me. And he said he wanted me to train with Harley Race."
Soon enough, DiBiase wound up in WWE's Legacy faction with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. Rumblings suggest WWE will turn DiBiase from a roguish heel into a good guy, just in time for the direct-to-DVD release of The Marine 2, starring DiBiase, late this year.
"(The movie) was an incredible experience," he says. "It was nice to be a hero for once. Instead of getting body-slammed or Batista-bombed, I got really blown up."
So, would he relish the opportunity to be a good guy?
"I am who I am," he says. "My boys are Randy and Cody. Movie or no movie, I'm going to be loyal. But crazier things have happened."
Faith is important to DiBiase, whose father founded the Heart of David Ministry.
"It's a big part of my life. It means a lot to me," says Ted Jr. "I've been on missions, trips, and it's something down the road that I'll follow.
"You look at sports and Hollywood stars and there's a lot of bad out there. I've made some stupid mistakes and I realize the importance of setting an example."
And there were and are bad guys in wrestling.
"I give Vince (McMahon) props," says DiBiase. "The wellness policy is bulletproof. Guys are held accountable, it doesn't matter who you are. If you choose to screw up and misrepresent WWE, you are punished for it. And if you do it again, it's see you later, bye-bye. You can be replaced.
"It's important how I conduct myself out of the ring. I know what fans see on TV, they like to boo and hate me. But if they see me out with my family, I want it to be in a positive sense. I want to make a difference in a positive way. That's what my dad is doing."
Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.