I finally sat down and watched Ted DiBiase’s 2017 documentary, The Price of Fame.
As a huge fan of Dibiase from his earliest days as a face in WWWF where he and Pat Patterson would have some of the greatest live matches I’d ever seen for the then “North American Title” to his later reincarnation as “The Million Dollar Man” where he was as tremendous a heel as ever set foot in the ring, I always had a deep respect for him as one of the all-time best. I’d also met him a few times over the years, starting with Dr. Mike Lano’s memorable Sam Muchnick tribute in St. Louis and always found him to be warm, accessible, and incredibly well-spoken- as clearly evidenced in The Price of Fame.
The Price of Fame: DiBiase’s Past.
But this film delves into the darker side of Ted DiBiase- his “demons” as they referred to it.
In short, “The Price of Fame” revolves around Ted reaching the height of world wide popularity and success as a performer and its “price.” He must come to terms with his adultery and making amends with his forgiving and loving children, Ted Jr., and Brett, as well as his wife, Melanie. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and it makes their forgiveness of him even more powerful, dramatic, and screen worthy.
There were several very moving scenes. In particular, those with Ted at his Dad’s tomb made the hour and a half documentary poignant for me. For those that do not know, Iron Mike DiBiase died in a match in 1969 versus Man Mountain Mike. This happened when Ted was a mere 15 years old. And, yes, no matter how old you are, you never, ever get over the loss of your father, especially when you’re so young. Ted’s pain over his dad’s sudden, tragic death really hit me. As I also experienced the loss of my own beloved father at nearly the same age.
Throughout the film, some of my all-time wrestling heroes make cameos. They were discussing not only DiBiase, but life on the road and its temptations and pitfalls. This included the late Harley Race and Roddy Piper, as well as Mick Foley and Terry Funk. They come off as wise and knowing men.
The fact that some of the cast are among the “Mount Rushmore of professional wrestling” as folk like to say, only adds to the appeal of the film.
There were some fairly glaring plot holes in the film. For instance, DiBiase’s first marriage pretty much being glossed over. They didn’t address the details of Ted DiBiase Jr leaving WWE and the wrestling business. If he was so set on following in his Dad’s footsteps, why was his career so relatively short? That would have been worth exploring as Ted, Jr. is a major character in this film. There is also a third son who is mentioned but never seen. Therefore, if the film is about a family coming to terms with their patriarch, one wonders why he wasn’t included.
The Price of Fame: Redemption
Having heard some criticisms of the documentary for being “preachy” I did not know what to expect and sat on watching it for the longest time. Despite that, I watched The Price of Fame with an open mind. In one immensely powerful scene, Ted’s Pastor friend who helped him pull his marriage back together when his wife discovered his infidelities was brought to tears in discussing how his religious beliefs and counseling have helped people. However, Shawn Michaels discussing his faith while wearing a hat with a hunting company’s logo on it, surrounded by deer kills on his walls? This left me cold.
DiBiase, George Steele, and Lex Luger also appear in the documentary 350 Days. It also covers some similar ground i.e; the temptations of the road and its toll on marriages and the family. That film is well worth exploring as well. Both are available free on Amazon Prime as well as on Blu-Ray, DVD, and various other platforms.
Ultimately, there are wrestling obsessives who dismiss heartfelt films like this because “there’s not enough wrestling” or “I knew this from my shoot interviews”. They probably watch documentaries for all the wrong reasons and will miss out if they don’t see this. I cried watching one of the scenes where Ted pours his heart out to his long-lost Dad. How many wrestling films can bring you to tears?
Ultimately, the film is well worth seeing.