After being trained in wrestling by Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, Ted made his professional debut as a referee in the Amarillo territory owned by the Funks in June 1974.
In 1975, he left for the Mid-South territory of Bill Watts, where he was known as the son of Iron Mike. Before moving out from the territory in 1979, he was the ‘Missouri State Champion’ in February 1978.
In 1979, he joined the ‘WWF,’ but his association was short-lived. He became the first ‘North American Champion’ during this period but lost the title to Pat Patterson on June 19, 1979.
Ted then moved to the Georgia area. Initially, he had a face run. Between the early and the mid-1980s, he participated in angles in several territories.
During this time, he also traveled to participate in the ‘All Japan Pro Wrestling.’
On October 14, 1983, he won the ‘NWA United National Championship.’ However, he lost it 3 months later, on January 28, 1984.
Along with Stan Hansen, Ted became the ‘Pacific Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Champion’ and also won the ‘World’s Strongest Tag Determination League’ in 1985.
The duo held the former title for almost 2 years. On July 3, 1987, they lost it to Jumbo Tsuruta and Tiger Mask. However, a few days later, on July 11, they regained the championship. Nevertheless, he was stripped of the title later, as he had left the Japanese promotion for the ‘WWF.’
On May 15, 1987, he returned to the ‘WWF’ as a “babyface.” However, during a match on June 26, he turned heel as a consequence of his actions.
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The following day, he appeared as “The Million Dollar Man” and displayed his tailor-made, gold-studded, diamond-encrusted, and self-awarded ‘Million Dollar Championship Belt.’
As part of the gimmick, he had a bodyguard named Virgil, who also later became his teammate, rival, and manager.
In 1987, he expressed his wish to buy the ‘WWF World Heavyweight Championship’ from Hulk Hogan, who challenged him to earn it by defeating him. Ted failed in a series of contests and, out of desperation, approached Andre the Giant to win it for him. After Andre won in it under questionable circumstances, he surrendered the belt to Ted. However, it was deemed vacant by the ‘WWF’ president.
Ted reached the finals of the ‘WWF World Heavyweight Championship’ in March 1988, but he lost the final match to Randy Savage. This year, he won the ‘King of the Ring Tournament.’
At the ‘Royal Rumble’ in 1989, he bought the number-30 entrance spot from Akeem to become the last entrant in the contest.
On February 15, 1989, he created the ‘WWE Million Dollar Championship’ as a response to his inability to buy or win the ‘WWF World Heavyweight Championship’ from Hulk Hogan. On October 14, he lost to Hulk Hogan again.
In 1990, he was penalized for buying the number-30 entrance spot at the ‘Royal Rumble’ the previous year and was made the first entrant. However, he survived for 45 minutes and set a record.
On October 13, 1991, he introduced “The Undertaker,” one of the most notable ‘WWE’ characters.
After 1992 ‘Royal Rumble,’ he formed a tag team with Irwin R. Schyster, called ‘Money Inc.’ Between February 1992 and June 1993, they won the ‘WWF Tag Team Championship’ thrice.
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In September 1993, he returned to Japan and won the ‘World Tag Team Championship,’ along with Hansen.
On November 14, 1993, he and Hansen won their first match at the ‘World’s Strongest Tag Determination League.’ However, he hurt his neck and back. After this incident, he announced his retirement.
In 1994, he returned to the ‘WWF’ by appearing at the ‘Royal Rumble’ as a guest commentator, which helped kickstart his new career as a commentator and manager.. In April that year, he established the stable ‘Million Dollar Corporation’ and signed with many wrestlers. He also brought an impostor posing as “The Undertaker.”
In January 1996, he introduced “The Ringmaster,” who later gained fame as “Stone Cold Steve Austin” and became ‘WWE’s poster boy of the “Attitude Era.”
On August 26, 1996, he joined the ‘World Championship Wrestling’ (WCW). He was the fourth member of the stable ‘New World Order’ (nWo). His gimmick was based on ‘The Million Dollar Man’ of the ‘WWF,’ and he was jokingly called “Trillionaire Ted.”
Shortly after the ‘Spring Stampede’ on April 6, 1997, he left the ‘nWo' and started managing ‘The Steiner Brothers.’ He stopped working with ‘The Steiners’ after Scott Steiner turned heel. Later, after managing Ray Traylor for some time, he quit managing altogether. His contract with the ‘WCW’ expired in 1999.
Between 2004 and 2008, he took up backstage roles with the ‘WWF,’ such as working as a creative consultant. However, he also occasionally appeared before the camera. On April 1, 2006, he inducted his former manager, “Sensational Sherri,” into the ‘WWE Hall of Fame.’ On July 15, 2006, he accepted the posthumous induction of his adoptive father, Iron Mike, into the ‘George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.’
He was inducted into the ‘WWE Hall of Fame 2010.’ He still continues to make sporadic appearances for ‘WWE.’