Like most of you right now I am feeling completely shocked and rocked by the sad news of the death of WWE Hall of Famer, the 'American Dream' Dusty Rhodes. There are so many other names I would have put well ahead of the list I'd expect to go before the Dream, and this news has completely come as a huge shock that will rock the wrestling industry across the world. Words cannot adequately describe the empty feeling I currently have as these types of blogs are always the hardest of all to write because there are so many things that could be said about the man that one blog just wouldn't do him justice. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on Dusty the performer and my memories of this legend of the business.
Dusty was a unique character who was full of charisma, had that special connection so few stars have with the audience, and above all else was one of the true legends of this great business. Whether we saw him as that son of a plumber who battled Ric Flair over the NWA Championship, or the lovable guy dancing with Sapphire in those yellow polka-dots, or the patriarch of the Rhodes family we are all blessed with some truly great memories of this legend of the industry. Without doubt one of his finest moments was the now infamous 'Hard Times' promo where Dusty references out-of-work steel workers, factory runners and other blue collar individuals, which connected so deeply with many in the WWE Universe at the time that fans would come up to him in tears to thank him for honouring their plight in such an amazing way. Dusty Rhodes character really was what the man himself was, a common man who was one of the people. If you haven't seen that promo then I really urge you to check out how one of the greats of the industry delivered such a hard hitting and inspiring promo.
My biggest memory of Dusty that will forever stick with me was being in Detroit to see him inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. That night was also my twenty second birthday and I'm so honored to have been able to attend this spectacular night and pay tribute to so many legendary names of the business. His speech was simply one of the greatest I have ever heard from anyone at the Hall of Fame, combining plenty of great stories, humor, and fond memories of a storied career that made fans and stars laugh and cry. It's a memory I will forever treasurer as it was cool to see Dusty on stage with Cody and Dustin, sharing that special moment where their legendary father was honoured so perfectly. Dusty looked so happy that night and certainly stole the show with the speech he gave and he was more than deserving of being the headline inductee that night.
While I never really saw Dusty wrestle live in his prime I did get the opportunity to see the man perform at the 2004 Gathering of the Juggalos, in a triple threat match with the Rudeboy and Terry Funk. While the Dream may not have been at the top of his game the man still had the entertaining presence about him and he shone in the spotlight. It was from then that as soon as I got home I began watching old Dusty matches and can remember becoming enamoured with this legend of the squared circle. I even remember buying the Dusty Rhodes story DVD when that first came out and watching the documentary over and over again because I enjoyed it so much. From then on out I would go out of my way to watch the matches on that DVD, and I witnessed some truly amazing matches between Dusty and Ric Flair in their memorable battles for the NWA Heavyweight Championship. Seeing the reaction of the fans as the Dream defeated Ric Flair for the championship in a steel cage match at the Great American Bash 1986 on July 26th is one of the most memorable moments in the storied career of Rhodes, and one of my favorite Dusty matches of all time.
Dusty is a legend of the industry who has a rare accolade that he is one of only six men to be inducted into the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Halls of Fame. The man is also one of the few names to work in all four of the major promotions across America in WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA. Without doubt one of the biggest contributions Dusty bought to the industry was the birth of WCW Pay Per View, Starrcade. This event was the NWA and WCW's alternative to Wrestlemania, and became one of the most successful and popular events on the wrestling calendar. Rhodes was also a part of the WWE creative team back in 2005, and most recently worked down in the NXT developmental system where he would pass on his years of knowledge and skill to the stars of tomorrow. Dusty won multiple championships and accolades during his career in the wrestling industry and will no doubt be given a fitting tribute by WWE on Smackdown, Raw, and at Money in the Bank.
I want to end this piece by simply saying thank you Dusty. Thank you for the memories you gave me and many wrestling fans around the world. While I may not have watched you in your glory days as part of the NWA, I always found you to be one of the most entertaining stars in both wrestling and WWE history. You leave behind a legacy in your two sons Cody and Dustin, who can both be extremely proud they had a legend like you as a father, and can continue the legacy of the Rhodes name in your honour. Your influence on the industry will never be forgotten and you truly were taken from us too soon. To Dustin, Cody, and the rest of the Rhodes family I send my deepest condolences and hope that in your moment of sadness you can reflect on what a truly remarkable man your dad was to so many people.
Simply put #ThankYouDusty