Between 1988 and 1994, Ted Dibiase was known as one of the biggest heels in the WWE, and in many ways he helped launch Steve Austin's career.
During that time, Steve Austin was a WCW heel that had found some success but was looking for another avenue to ply his craft. In 1995, Dibiase was hanging up his boots while Austin joined WWE.
Going in two separate directions, The Million Dollar Man and the Texas Rattle Snake don't seem like a match made in heaven, yet the WWE ended up placing these two together. In an interview with Andy Malnoske of Wrestling Inc. Ted Dibiase explains how that happened.
Dibiase has a documentary out entitled The Price of Fame and in it, he discusses all sorts of topics. One is his unfortunate injury situation that shortened his in-ring wrestling career. After deciding he wasn't done with the business, he began calling matches for the WWE as a color commentator. It was at that time when WWE owner Vince McMahon commented that Dibiase was pretty good at the job and wished there was a more permanent role he could give him even though he could no longer wrestle.
Dibiase wrestled with some personal demons in his past but having tamed most of his issues, offered to take on a managerial role for wrestlers McMahon thought were in need of a mouthpiece. Of those people, a freshly arrived Steve Austin needed a gimmick.
McMahon believed Austin could use the extra attention and he placed Dibiase with him, giving Austin the Million Dollar Championship and eventually calling him "The Ringmaster".
Knowing Austin had the skill, Dibiase never envisioned his protege breaking out the way he did. Dibiase said, "I saw Steve's talent, but I don't think anybody envisioned that he would become the icon that he has." Dibiase was right. A misstep by Triple H that saw Austin benefit, a simple invitation to open himself up to the audience and a catchphrase that caught on like gangbusters were all it took for people to start praising Austin for his popularity.
Eventually, Austin broke away from Dibiase and became one of the biggest WWE Superstars in history. While he doesn't take credit, Dibiase would like to think he had a small hand in Austin's success. He added, "And I said, 'You know what Steve? Here's my advice. Don't change anything, because you come across very real. It may take you a little longer to get over, but once you're over, you're over, and then you can do whatever you want.' And that's exactly what he did."