The true history of WWE's most expensive title: the Million Dollar Championship

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February 12, 2013

“The value of the title when it was created was $40,000,” DiBiase revealed. “That was in 1988. Today, it’s worth even more. It was gold plate, which is not much, but all of the stones are cubic zirconia, which means they’re almost diamonds. And there’s like 700 of them in the title.” Bling and all, the impressive adornment was premiered by DiBiase on a March 1989 edition of “Superstars.” (WATCH) From then on, the title became an appendage for “The Million Dollar Man” and the centerpiece of a rivalry between DiBiase and the dangerous and unpredictable Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

“He took the title and put it in the bag with his snake,” DiBiase recalled. “There was no way I was going to go after it there.” (WATCH)

Eventually, the two faced off for the title at WrestleMania VI in front of nearly 70,000 fans inside Toronto’s SkyDome. The innovator of the DDT was not able to secure the championship from DiBiase that night, but it didn’t matter. The Million Dollar Championship had entered into the elite status of titles that had been defended on The Grandest Stage of Them All. (WATCH)

“That was a great run,” DiBiase fondly remembered. “People always ask me to name my favorite match and I can never name just one, but one was the WrestleMania match I had with Jake in Canada.”

Regardless, it isn’t Roberts who is remembered as the quintessential Million Dollar Championship challenger. That honor goes to the DiBiase’s ubiquitous attaché, Virgil. “The Million Dollar Man” recalled one frantic evening with Virgil and the title.

“We flew into Atlanta and we went to baggage claim and I set down the briefcase [containing the title]. Virgil’s job was to take the bags off the carousel and load them onto the cart,” “The Million Dollar Man” explained. “We checked into the hotel, were splitting bags and I asked him, ‘Virgil, you’ve got that briefcase, right?’ He looked at me like a deer in headlights and said, ‘No, you got it.’ And I realize we left it sitting by the baggage claim carousel at the Atlanta airport.

“We raced back to the airport. I told the driver, ‘You get to that airport as fast as you can. If you get a ticket, I’ll pay for it. I’m The Million Dollar Man.’ [laughs] It’s not at the carousel so we go to the baggage claim and I asked if they’d found an old briefcase. The guy reaches down behind the counter, pulls it up and says, ‘Pal, you don’t realize how lucky you are.’

“I opened it, spun it around and showed him and said, ‘No, buddy. YOU don’t realize how lucky I am.’ ”

After years of mistreatment and an unsuccessful challenge for his former boss’ precious prize at WrestleMania VII, Virgil finally defeated DiBiase for the title at SummerSlam 1991. At none other than Madison Square Garden, the Million Dollar Title finally had its second-ever champion. (WATCH)

“The reaction to that match was great,” DiBiase recalled. “After all the years of mistreatment, he finally fought back and did it. He wound up with my prized treasure. People went crazy. They absolutely loved it.”

Despite the feel-good moment of Virgil’s victory, “The Million Dollar Man” reclaimed the title soon after. But when DiBiase scored the World Tag Team Championships alongside Irwin R. Schyster three months later, the Million Dollar Title faded away. It was then that the championship’s whereabouts became somewhat mysterious.

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