Tales of the Virgil Pt. 4: How Much Did The Million Dollar Belt Cost?

So there we were in Stosh's basement. Stosh, myself, Michael Sorg our cameraman, and WWE Legend Virgil had just finished shooting our first music video for Kayfabe (check it out here). We proceeded to shoot the shit, and by shooting the shit I mean listen to Virgil tell epic stories from the 80's. Well, after a third round of hearing about shitty pay days in Memphis, I finally got a word in edgewise, and asked the one question that had been on my mind since we met this morning...

"Thanks Virgil, can I ask you a question man?" I asked knowing it might be a good time to change the subject.

"Anything brother"

"So, did the million dollar belt really cost a million dollars?"

"It cost $968,000.00, and in the 80's that was a lot of money. You know how much that would be in today's money?"

"No idea man, probably a shit ton"

"$20 MILLION dollars"


"Well it would have been $20 million If the gold market hadn't gone to shit last year.  They keep it at the WWE towers in the lobby, a pair of armed security guards lock it up every night in a safe when they close.  The safe lives in the basement, its too heavy to be anywhere else, and instead of key cards they use fingerprints to get in and out.  The only way to steal it is to cut a hand off of either Vince McMahon or one of the security guards."


"Any other questions, brother"

"Naw man, that's all need to know."

Fact Checking


Let's address the elephant in the room: how much is $968,000.00 adjusted for inflation?  Here is the math:

FutureValue = Principle (1 + Interest / CompoundingFrequency) ^ CompoundingFrequency*Time

Naturally, this doesn’t take into account possible fluctuations in gold and diamond prices that could cause the overall value of the belt to increase or decrease dramatically above or below the inflation rate, but assuming a reasonable inflation rate of 5%, the value of the belt today would be (Virgil drum roll):

$3,794,685.01. Hey that is still a lot of money, but not quite $20 million.  

Then there is this Wikipedia entry; which completely refutes the $968K million dollar belt and puts the value of the belt in 1988 at around $125K. This lower cost is because wikipedia alleges the belt was only gold plated and the diamonds were all cubic zirconia. Still, this CZ gold plated behemoth of a belt built today would run you about $490,016.14, and hey, that’s still a lot of money. But the $490,016.14 dollar man doesn't quite have the same ring as the MILLION DOLLAR MAN, now does it? 


Tales of the Virgil Pt. 3: Oh, Deer

There was a legendary wrestling bear back in the territory days. Its name was Victor. I read a book written by Rowdy Roddy Piper (In the Pit with Piper) where he mentioned wrestling it up in Canada. Roddy Piper, an otherwise fearless madman known for having unnecessarily long alley fights with Keith David, copped to being terrified by the bear; he realized the bear could’ve ended his life whenever it wanted to. For example, at one point Victor the Bear shoved Piper's whole head into his maw. Keep in mind, this was probably for 30 loonies up in Nova Scotia somewhere, presumably in the dead of winter because winter is year long in Canada.

A wrestling bear (Victor?) appears in Hardcore Holly's book The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story. Bob Holly says: “I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? The bear could kill me, I guess.” My friend Matt used to laugh hysterically at this rationalization. Getting killed IS, in fact, the worst thing that could happen to you; there is no fate worse. Luckily for the Attitude era, Bob Holly survived the wrestling bear and this pro-race-car-driver-turned-wrestler gimmick.

I read another book, this one by Bret Hart (Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Professional Wrestling) where he mentioned that as a kid Terrible Ted the Battling Bear would stay at his childhood home. Bret's dad was the legendary promoter for Stampede Wrestling, Stu Hart. Stu would hire the bear for a run in his territory, and it wasn't uncommon for the talent to stay at the Hart family's palatial estate. The invite was extended to every man or, in this case, beast. In the book, Bret recalls a time when Terrible Ted the Battling Bear licked ice cream off of young Bret's feet. This was one of the more normal episodes in young Bret's life; keep in mind this is coming from a man whose dad's favorite hobby was to invite grown men over in order to torture them with wrestling moves in his basement dungeon.  

Maybe tales of legendary wrestling bears were on Virgil’s mind when opined, nearly in conjunction with his crocodile suggestion from before, we should have another animal join our live show.

“You should get a deer too,” Virgil said as he was hitting a taxidermied deer head with his drumsticks.

We had outfitted the deer to be our bass player. We called him Buck, since he was one. Pretty nice deer mount. In fact, my wife and I had written that particular head mount into the closing documents when we had bought the house. “We will only buy this house if Buck comes with it!” we screamed at our real estate agent. The sellers were more than happy to let us have the deer head. They had no use for it but they didn't want to see it thrown away. I come from the woods of Northern Wisconsin, where every house has a wall of death featuring as many trophy deer heads as the head of the household has had the skill and luck of amassing. To this end, my mom's wall of death is staggering. During deer season, people bungie-cord deer carcasses to their trucks and drive slowly through town, hoping someone strikes up a conversation about the deer's antlers. It's the biggest week of the year. I'm just trying to underscore this is all a really big deal where I come from. The deer mount in my basement serves as a nice reminder about where I came from. And there Virgil was, hitting the antlers with drumsticks, a scene weird enough to warrant filming.

“You should get a real live deer and put it in a wrestling onesie,” Virgil said. “You gotta blow people’s minds!”

Elliot and I are travelling the countryside with our bass playing deer and our, presumably, drumming crocodile. We take over and play every juke joint, truck stop, and Chuck E. Cheese, blowing mark’s minds all over the great U S of A! Maybe we could train one of these beasts to drive our GMC Vandura or cook us gumbo? We're rock stars so of course we'd party with these animals and forget that they are, in fact, animals. Maybe we'd superglue wigs onto their heads. Maybe we'd let them stretch their little scaly and furry legs at some abandoned truck stop somewhere in the midwest. Maybe we'd just let them run wild while we pass out after a show and too many burritos. I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen to us? Besides dying, of course.       

Tales of the Virgil Pt. 2: Led Zeppelin

Midway through the shoot, Virgil turns to us and asks us if we like Led Zeppelin.

“Yeah, Led Zeppelin is awesome. Do you like Led Zeppelin?”

Virgil says: “Yeah," and then after a beat "we should listen to Led Zeppelin.”

“Right now?” I ask. 

“Yeah, put on some Led Zeppelin,” Virgil pointed a drumstick at Elliot. Elliot was right in the middle of queuing up Kayfabe again. Elliot turned and stared at Virgil through his wraparound geriatric blublockers. There was a pause as Elliot, Sorg, and I all looked at each other--thinking the same thing. Who was going to break the news?

“Well, Virgil, we’re shooting a music video for MaxXouT right now,” Sorg says. “And we need to have the video line up with the music that’s playing, so we can’t really play along to Led Zeppelin right now. We have to play along to their song Kayfabe.”

Virgil shrugged, nodded and returned to the slapping the drums with his sticks. I hoped his next move would be to play the John Bonham solo in Bonzo’s Montreaux note-for-note, every ratamacue, every paradiddle, every roll and fill, with Elliot, Sorg, and I watching him awestruck. That would’ve been awesome. We would’ve toured the world, and ended every show with an hour long drum solo, cymbals on fire, Virgil spinning upside down in his drum throne, actual chasms opening up in the core of the earth as our rock couldn't be contained! It would've been so fitting, full circle! One of the 2 books of sheet music I used to teach myself to play guitar was Led Zeppelin's brown bomber. I listened to that album for an entire summer, learned each song note-for-note, listened to it so many times I can't listen to any of those songs ever again. But, I'd even play Living Love Maid if Virgil could pound the skins like that drunken English countryman, Bonzo, the Beast.

Instead, Virgil stuck the action figure of himself into the hi-hat, like the hi-hat was a giant mouth. He hit the peddle to make it look like the hi-hat was eating up the plastic version of himself and made screaming noises. We all laughed.

Tales of the Virgil Pt. 1: Real, Live Crocodiles

Crocodile Mile

Crocodile Mile

I have a taxidermied mounted crocodile head (who doesn’t) set up where we shot the video. Usually it wears an old school Riddell Green Bay Packer helmet or my Elvis sunglasses and sits on top of a bookshelf in the corner. The day of the music video, we realized it could be an eye-catching, weird visual element to add, so we perched the crocodile head on top of my guitar amp. We decided to have Virgil hit it with drum sticks at one point, though I don’t believe that footage made the cut (see the full video here). But, the crocodile head isn't the star of this story, it's the conversation that it inspired. In between filming shots Virgil turned to me and said:

“You guys need to do crazy shit when you play live. You need to blow people’s minds. You should get a real live crocodile and have it come out on stage right when you’re jamming.”

Virgil did some air guitar, actually more air bass to really drive the point home at this juncture. I readily agreed with these suggestions not because I agreed but just to see what would happen next if I pulled the string.

“I’ve been in show business for thirty years. You gotta blow people’s minds!” Virgil continued. “But, you should probably keep that crocodile in a cage because you wouldn’t want it biting anybody. You know, that’d cost a lot, there’d be a lot of legal fees.”

Shit, it’s craziest enough to work. Anybody have any live crocodiles out there I can borrow?