What might have been? That is a question that is pertinent to today’s piece. How one decision leads to another which leads to another…etc. A chain reaction of events that changed the course of history for the WWE.
Today Brian looks at the impact of such a no show in deciding the destination of the Intercontinental title many moons ago.
It all starts with a newly crowned Intercontinental champion who stole the show at Wrestlemania III…Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. He and his wife are having a baby and Ricky decides that he wants to spend time at home with his family. The only problem…he was still the IC champion. So Vince McMahon decides he needs a new star to carry his second most prestigious title.
The decision is made to have “The Natural” Butch Reed defeat Steamboat and become the new champion. The only problem…Butch Reed no showed the night they were going to do the title switch. With Butch Reed nowhere to be found, a new wrestler needed to be elevated. Vince goes to his top guy at the time…Hulk Hogan and looks for his input. Jake Roberts name is mentioned, but he is also a no show.
It took a random stroll through the hallway for history to change. Wayne Farris (The Honkytonk Man) was walking down the same corridor where Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan were brainstorming and as Farris passed by them…Hogan blurts out, “What about him?” Vince calls Farris to his office and suggests a scenario where the Honkytonk Man beats Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental championship. The two shake hands and a deal is struck.
Just like that and Honky was the new IC champion. Wayne Farris made it known to Vince McMahon that he wasn’t going to become a transitional champion. He wanted an opportunity to really have a solid run and that’s exactly what he got. The Honkytonk Man would hold on to the IC belt for 454 days…a record which still stands to this day. Was it meant to last that long? No, but that brings us to the second part of this tale.
There came a time when McMahon wanted a title switch and decided to take the belt off of HTM and put it back around the waist of “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. The Honkytonk Man refused the idea for a few reasons. The first being was his title run was a success…he had managed to become one of the biggest draws to the company as a top heel. The second was he failed to see the logic of having Savage winning the title, but rather chasing after it instead. McMahon had a handshake deal with Farris that McMahon felt obligated to honor.
To appease Randy Savage, who was more than likely upset by the decision, was instead given a richer prize…the WWF heavyweight title. Randy would get the belt in a one night tournament at Wrestlemania IV defeating “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase in the finals. It was a bigger title to receive, but with Savage getting promoted…someone needed to be sent down a peg or two. That person was Ted Dibiase.
Ted Dibiase had become the biggest heel in the the WWF at the time and was promised a world title run to further elevate his character. With Savage getting the belt instead, it was Ted Dibiase who became the odd man out. Vince’s bright idea to try and keep Dibiase happy was to create a new title just for Dibiase. Hence, the Million Dollar belt was created.
Ted Dibiase was obviously angry and resentful towards the Honkytonk Man over the incident for many years. Although, recently Dibiase has gone public and admitted that having the Million Dollar belt made him more money than the WWF title ever would.
So there you have it….a no show that set off a chain reaction of events that changed WWF history. Instead of Butch Reed becoming the first black Intercontinental champion….The Honkytonk man became arguably one of the greatest IC champions of all time….Randy Savage became a legend and Ted Dibiase became one of the most talented wrestlers never to be World champion.