Plot: In the world of professional wrestling, Ted Dibiase rose to the pinnacle and was one of the hottest villains during the peak of the industy. As The Million Dollar Man, Dibiase taunted crowds, bought his way to the championship, and put on technical wrestling clinics inside the squared circle. In his personal life, he had a loving wife and young children, but as he spent over 300 days a year on the road, he was surrounded by the temptations his fame attracted. This was a common theme for pro wrestlers of his era, as drugs, booze, and wild women were everywhere. Dibiase would fall into the traps of alchohol and adultery, only to have his wife put the pieces together and realize he had betrayed his own family. The Price of Fame tells the story of Dibiase from his childhood to his rise to fame to being on the brink of losing his family, all revealed through first hand accounts of the events.
Entertainment Value: As pro wrestling fans are likely aware, in the years after his in ring career ended, Ted Dibiase would become a vocal force for religion and would tour the country with his testimony about how his relationship with God played a huge role in saving his life. So know that while The Price of Fame has a lot of stories from his wrestling days, this is at the core a religious documentary and the last half or so focuses in on his experience with faith. I only say this because I know not everyone appreciates the religious content, as the movie itself proves to be a solid watch, regardless of your personal religious or spiritual beliefs. In other words, you don’t need to be a Christian to appreciate the journey Dibiase has lived and thankfully, the movie never turns to a hard sell of religion. The man simply lays out his own experience and how it has impacted his life, the faith aspect is never overly preachy or heavy handed. And by no means is that all this movie is about, it follows Dibiase’s entire life and spends ample time on subjects other than his religious beliefs.
I know what most of you are likely wanting to know, which is what will wrestling fans find worthwhile in The Price of Fame? In truth, the movie offers a lot that wrestling fans will appreciate, not the least of which is a look at Dibiase’s childhood and relationship with Mike Dibiase, also a pro wrestler. We hear from folks like Harley Race and Terry Funk about Mike, including an interview in which Funk reveals he was supposed to work the match that Mike died in, but refused to go out again, which led to Mike being asked to take his place. The entire movie is sprinkled with wrestler interviews as well, with Roddy Piper, Gene Okerlund, Jim Ross, Lex Luger, Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, George Steele, and Shawn Micheals featured in one camera interviews. These are brisk, but offer some candid perspective on the business, the lifestyle of the road in the 80s, and some of them share their faith related stories. A good portion of the movie is focused on Dibiase’s career and so fans have a lot to glean from this program, even if they’re not interesting in the religious aspect. While The Price of Fame is a little slow at times, it is always interesting and the small, personal scale really enhances the intimacy and impact of the subject matter. If you appreciate pro wrestling, stories of faith, or interesting documentaries, this one is worth a look.