The Push Into Nowhere: Virgil’s Million Dollar Victory

Brian Damage

For years, Virgil aka Mike Jones was used as a personal bodyguard to top WWF heel ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted Dibiase. Virgil was supposedly used as an ‘inside joke’ by Vince McMahon to take a few jabs at the NWA/WCW head booker Dusty Rhodes whose real name was Virgil Runnels. Bruce Prichard has since denied those rumors…although those rumors remain. In any case, Virgil was always in the corner of Dibiase…often helping the Million Dollar Man win matches via his interference. In late 1990 and early 1991…the WWF was slowly turning Virgil against his employer.

The slow burn storyline had Dibiase more callous towards Virgil by ordering him to do menial tasks like giving Dibiase foot massages ..etc. The storyline finally came to a head after a match at the 1991 Royal Rumble where Dibiase and Virgil defeated the father and son tandem of Dusty and Dustin Rhodes. When the match ended, Dibiase ordered his bodyguard/man servant to put the Million Dollar title around his waist. After some hesitation…Virgil used the Million Dollar Belt as a weapon and hit his boss over the head with it…subsequently ending their 4 plus year partnership.

The WWF fans went into a frenzy after Virgil broke free of Dibiase and it looked as if Virgil was going to be made into a huge singles star. The WWF booked Virgil to be paired with ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper as Virgil’s mentor to help get him over as a babyface. The two even teamed up together on several house show matches. Virgil became a thorn in Ted Dibiase’s side costing him matches by appearing ringside for the Million Dollar Man’s matches. Virgil also adopted the Million Dollar Man’s finisher (The Million Dollar Dream sleeper hold) as his own finisher. After months of back and forth animosity…the two were booked to face each other at Summer Slam ’91. Dibiase’s prized possession…the million dollar belt would be on the line.

The heavily advertised match saw Virgil pin Dibiase, after Dibiase’s head crashed into an exposed turnbuckle. A turnbuckle that was exposed when Dibiase himself removed the padding. The Madison Square Garden crowd erupted after Virgil pinned the Million Dollar Man and won his title. The way the WWF framed it…Virgil was a true underdog, who overcame great odds to defeat his former employer. It became a very special moment at the Summer Slam event.

Virgil would hold on to the Million Dollar belt for approximately three months. While being pushed as a star…Mike Jones readily admitted partying with several women with his belt in tow. Regardless of his new lifestyle as a champion…it wasn’t the cause of his downfall. It was more so the lack of charisma and mic skills he displayed that eventually bored Vince McMahon. Virgil would lose the title back to Ted Dibiase at the Survivor Series in 1991. After losing the belt, Virgil would get a bit of a push challenging and losing to WWF champion Bret Hart. He would quickly fall down the ladder on cards after that, becoming more like glorified enhancement talent putting over newer stars like Yokozuna and Nailz.

Meanwhile, the actual title would be put in storage as Dibiase formed a tag team called Money Incorporated with IRS. Virgil was ultimately released from the company in 1994. What seemed like a budding new star, quickly became a mere footnote. Virgil would eventually reemerge as the head of NWO security in WCW under the name Vincent. A far cry to what initially was planned for him a few years earlier in the WWF.

2 thoughts on “The Push Into Nowhere: Virgil’s Million Dollar Victory

  1. That match in SummerSlam is one of my early wrestling memories as that whole event I thought is one of the best shows ever. The championship matches that night delivered with Bret vs. Perfect being my favorite match of that night followed by the L.O.D. vs. the Nasty Boys and Dibiase vs. Virgil. My third favorite match of that night is Big Boss Man vs. the Mountie. There was a lot of good wrestling that night with an entertaining main event. I loved the build for Virgil and Dibiase though it’s a shame it didn’t lead much for Virgil as I think his lack of charisma and mic skills is what did him in. He’s a solid wrestler but that’s kind of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, me too. Very first American wrestling memory, certainly, after close to a decade of World of Sport. One thing I will say is go back and listen to Piper’s commentary on the Virgil v DiBiase match. It’s one of he greatest commentary performances I’ve ever heard. You’d think it was the most important match of all time the way he is selling it. It’s an often overlooked classic piece of work, underlining why Piper was easily one of the greatest talkers of all time. Have to also say Hitman v Perfect that night is my all time favourite match and Mountie’s “You wanna see my finger? Here’s my finger!” coupled with the cell mate saying “don’t you just love the way the leather touches your body” are two of my favourite comedic moments. Try getting away with that nowadays!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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