Tuesday’s episode of NXT saw the return of the Million Dollar Championship. Ted DiBiase announced that Cameron Grimes vs. LA Knight at TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday is now a ladder match for the famed belt. Both wrestlers have vied for the services of DiBiase, and the winner will carry on his Million Dollar Legacy. So, who will win? What will the title mean?
After Ted DiBiase failed to buy, steal, and win the WWF Championship throughout 1988, he created a title of his own. DiBiase first debuted the Million Dollar Title on February 15, 1989, after weeks of vignettes showing DiBiase directing the belt’s creation at Betteridge Jewelers in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The title was never officially sanctioned, but that didn’t stop it from trading places a time or two. DiBiase lost the title to Virgil at SummerSlam 1991 but won it back three months later.
The Hall of Famer brought the belt back in late 1995 to christen his new protégée, The Ringmaster, aka Stone Cold Steve Austin. Ted DiBiase Jr. held the title during his WWE run in 2010 until it was abandoned later that year.
Despite other wrestlers holding the title, the only time it produced any heat is when it was around the waist of the ‘Million Dollar Man.’ The unmitigated gall of an arrogant rich dude creating his own championship drew the ire of wrestling fans.
Virgil’s title win was a feel-good moment because it was the story of an evil employer getting his just deserts.
Unfortunately there was nowhere to go but down for Virgil as the momentum of his career-defining win quickly dissipated. The title did nothing to help a budding Steve Austin and did even less to augment the Ted Jr. Today, nostalgia of the Million Dollar Title runs strong. It’s essentially a babyface in heel’s clothing.
Cameron Grimes has become the most entertaining character in NXT due to implementing his real-life GameStop stock earnings into his character. LA Knight is still relatively new to the black and gold brand and is catching on quickly. Both wrestlers are acts that fans love to hate because of how well they portray their characters.
There is one big difference.
LA Knight looks like a million dollars. While no one would call Grimes a slob, Knight carries him as the guy on the red carpet that everyone wants a piece of. That screams a**-**** and can mean the difference between heat and fans just going along with a cool act. DiBiase swindling the match in Knight’s favor would generate sympathy for Grimes.
Instead of giving the title to someone, as was the case with Austin and Ted Jr., Knight wins the belt in a scenario where Grimes should have won. Knight walks around with a prize that doesn’t belong to him, and Grimes looks to right the wrong.
There are people online suggesting the Million Dollar Title should be defended with some regularity this time around. All championships are props. However, while all other belts mark a wrestler’s excellence, the Million Dollar Title is about status. Its exclusivity is signified in diamond-crusted jewelry.
DiBiase screwing Grimes out of the title, says that wrestling’s ultimate elitist believes Grimes is not worthy of the finer things in life. Afterward, Grimes looking to win the title from Knight is not about carrying on DiBiase’s legacy but proving he’s worthy of anything, regardless of the naysayers.
In the end, the Million Dollar Title would have served its purpose. It is not by being defended with multiple titleholders but as a vehicle to make two wrestlers bigger than before.
***The painting of the Million Dollar Title is by Dave Cole. If you’re looking for the most unique pro wrestling artwork, check out davecolrdojo.com***