WWE star Virgil, bodyguard for ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase, dead at 61

Michael Jones, known to professional wrestling fans as Virgil, the dour bodyguard of WWE star “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, died Wednesday. He was 61.

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No cause of death has been announced for Jones, who also wrestled as Vincent in the World Championship Wrestling promotion. According to WTRF-TV, Jones was diagnosed with dementia and had two massive strokes in 2022. In December, a GoFundMe page was established to help cover Jones’ living expenses.

Jones’ death was announced on his verified Instagram account and confirmed by WWE.

“This is to confirm the sad news about our beloved Meatsauce God and Wrestling Superstar Virgil/Michael Jones has passed away,” the post read. “There is so much to say here and would love to share stories but for now it’s a rough day as our friend is gone.”

Mark Charles III, a pro wrestling referee was the first to announce Jones’ death in a Facebook post earlier Wednesday.

“My dear friends, it is with great sorrow that I bring news from the Jones family of the passing of our beloved Michael Jones, whom we know and loved as Virgil, Vincent, Soul Train Jones and more,” Charles wrote. “... I ask that you pray for him and for his family. May his memory be eternal!”

Jones was a defensive back at Virginia Union and was an amateur wrestler, according to The Athletic.

He began his pro wrestling career as Soul Train Jones in 1985 and joined the WWE the following year as Lucious Brown, according to the sports website.

In 1987 he began his signature role as Virgil, the bodyguard for DiBiase, who was portrayed as the arrogant “Million Dollar Man.”

Jones, as Virgil, would stoically take DiBiase’s abuse and orders to perform demeaning tasks. But that changed at the 1991 Royal Rumble, when Virgil turned the tables on the “Million Dollar Man” after teaming with DiBiase to defeat Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes in a tag-team match, according to Bleacher Report.

The WWE capitalized on the Virgil-DiBiase feud, including the duo in a March 1991 match at WrestleMania VII that ended in a count-out win for Virgil, The Athletic reported. Later that year at SummerSlam, Virgil pinned DiBiase to win the Million Dollar Championship.

In a 2016 interview with Ring Rust Radio, DiBiase spoke about his relationship with Jones.

“When we were together, he was never a problem,” DiBiase said. “The guy didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t do drugs, he was always on time. Of course, you know you lay the foundation down when the relationship begins, and I think Virgil understood at least, he knew what his job was and he knew where his place was in terms of the pecking order.

“We would do our thing on the road and then I would see him in three days or a week, whatever it was and then we would come back. I didn’t really socialize a lot with him so to speak, but we had a great working relationship and were friends.”

Jones retired from competition in the ring in 2000, according to The Athletic. He would make an appearance in the All Elite Wrestling promotion in 2019, returning again as Soul Train Jones and an ally to Chris Jericho.

Jones’ death was the second death of a major wrestling star this week. On Monday, Ole Anderson, a wrestler, manager and promoter who was a founding member of the “Four Horsemen,” died at the age of 81.

Several wrestlers posted condolences on X, formerly known as Twitter, including Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Brutus Beefcake and Matt Hardy.