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The most uncommon of common men.

Last Thursday I had busy all morning. Not having had much sleep the night before, I had worked to get several things done before catching up on my zzzs. When I woke back up to get something to eat, my father mentions to me, “Hey, did you see that Dusty Rhodes died?”

I was taken by surprise by that question. Sure, he was 69 years old, but Dusty wasn’t someone who had vanished years ago to live out his golden years. He  was still vibrant and appearing on TV with some frequency. Sure, he had lost some weight, but hearing of his passing took me by total surprise.When I became a wrestling fan in the late 80’s, Dusty was one of the first people I read about in the wrestling magazines of the day. Since we didn’t get cable I didn’t get to watch the NWA, only reading about it in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the other mags, and Dusty was in all of them. At the time, he had just left the NWA and had been working in Florida with an upstart try to bring Florida wrestling back. However, it wasn’t long before he came to the WWF and wearing the polka dots he later became known for. I got to see him live at the Civic Center in Augusta Maine in early 1990, sitting ringside, as he and Sapphire with Miss Elizabeth took on Randy Savage and Sherri Martel with Brother Love in their corner. It saddens me now that out of those six people, only one is still alive.

When I became a wrestling fan in the late 80’s, Dusty was one of the first people I read about in the wrestling magazines of the day. Since we didn’t get cable I didn’t get to watch the NWA, only reading about it in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the other mags, and Dusty was in all of them. At the time he had just left the NWA and had been working in Florida with an upstart try to bring Florida wrestling back. However it wasn’t long before he came to the WWF and wearing the polka dots he later became known for. I got to see him live at the Civic Center in Augusta Maine in early 1990, sitting ringside, as he and Sapphire with Miss Elizabeth took on Randy Savage and Sherri Martel with Brother Love in their corner. It saddens me now that out of those six people, only one is still alive.

As the years went on, my video collection grew. I got a lot of Dusty’s big matches in there. All the matches with Ric Flair, The war games matches, even a match near the end of his career teaming with his son in Japan. He would even admit he wasn’t in the greatest of shape. Sure, he was announced at 265 pounds, but I never believed that. But as Kevin Owens is showing us now, you do not need to be a stone cut bodybuilder to make it in this business.

Growing up as a fan,  I learned more of what Dusty had really done for the industry. He had been the booker for Jim Crockett’s NWA in the 80’s and in that position had been the WWF’s main rival. He had been the thorn in Vince McMahon’s side since the early days of Vince’s run. A lot of match concepts, gimmicks, and story ideas came right from the Dream’s mind. Whether you like it or don’t, the concept of the “Dusty finish” is something that is as munch a part of pro wrestling as the ring.

And he was still giving back.

Dusty had been working the in developing of young talent for the WWE for years, especially in the modern age of NXT and the Performance Center. He wasn’t the trainer in the ring, he was a teacher of the history of wrestling and making a person into what they could be in NXT and the WWE. Every single person that went through NXT or are there now met him, and I have yet to hear a bad story about him. I would have paid a lot of money (if I had it) to just sit and take those classes and sit under the learning tree of Dusty’s experience.

But in a way, even as fans, we got to experience some of that as well. Every time he came on screen, you knew you were going to get something fun. Even in a more serious storyline, Dusty was always entertaining. A lot of fans gave him flack for his run as a commentator, but I loved it. It was zany, sometimes you didn’t know what the devil he was talking about, but it was always a good time.  I still sometimes pop out a “clubberin'” reference every now and again. He words were genuine as well.  The War Games DVD is a great look at Dusty Rhodes just being himself. You could tell how proud he was of the concept and what he had accomplished, and the pain he felt when it was all run to shit.

Thanks to the magic of Youtube, we all have been able to experience a lot of Dusty’s moments that we may not have been able to see otherwise. More matches, interviews, and all the other things that he has left behind. Even for those of us who never got to meet him, or live during his glory days, we get to go back and see all the hard work he put into this industry. Watching the WWE young stars of today is the best look of what Dusty ultimately leaves behind.

Long live The American Dream.

 

 

If you wiiiilll, Jack!

You can find my books here

One response »

  1. sunsetdragon says:

    Yes long live the 250 pounds of southern blue eyed soul who dined with kings and queens and also on pork and beans.
    We will miss him.

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