11 June 2015 saw the passing of the wrestling icon VIrgil ‘Dusty Rhodes’ Runnels at the age of 69. Today we looks back at his legendary career, the impact he had on the world of wrestling and his legacy.
The pro wrestling world and the world in general, lost a true legend by the name of Virgil Runnels aka ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes.
While we could talk about his endless, accomplishments in the ring like his three NWA world titles…his oozing charisma on the microphone or his adept ability as a booker and a trainer….Dusty Rhodes simply had “it.”
You couldn’t help but gravitate to his personality and feel like he was wrestling for the “common man.” Virgil Runnels got his unique wrestling name from his love of baseball. A player by the name of Jim “Dusty” Rhodes was his inspiration.
Dusty teamed with friend and fellow Texas native Dick Murdoch and formed one of the most dominating tag teams of the late 60’s and 70’s…The Texas Outlaws.
Dusty went on to become a successful singles star winning multiple titles within the National Wrestling Alliance including the Florida, Georgia, United States, Television, Tag team and of course World title among many others. Dusty had the ability with his words to sell any event like it was the biggest, most important must see event in history.
As a booker, he came up with the classic…”Dusty Finish.” Basically, made the fans believe a challenger won a match but instead have a referee reverse the decision at the last minute. Dusty was Jim Crockett Jr’s right hand man during the 1980’s as head booker…and created some of the best days of pro wrestling during that era.
Of course, the less we talk about Dusty’s “polka dot” phase in the World Wrestling Federation the better…but Dusty being Dusty….he found a way to make that gimmick work the best way it could.
Here’s some other odds and ends you may or may not remember about ‘The American Dream….
Dusty Rhodes started two wrestling promotions of his own
Dusty created the Professional Wrestling Federation in Florida and later formed Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling in Georgia. Both have since folded.
Dusty Wrestled in ECW
Just to be straight, this wasn’t the WWE’s reformed watered down ECW..but the original where he feuded with ‘The King of Old School’ Steve Corino.
Dusty competed in Ring of Honor
Dusty Rhodes was an Authority figure in TNA
Not only on camera…but was also a writer and head booker during some of TNA’s top days as a wrestling company.
Dusty Rhodes Won a 4th NWA World title
He was able to pin Ric Flair and win the NWA world title under a mask known as The Midnight Rider. However, because, Dusty was “suspended” at the time…
The NWA ordered Dusty to remove his mask in order to see his real identity. When the Midnight Rider refused…the title win was reversed and given back to Flair.
Dusty Rhodes’ Daughter Was A Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader
Dusty’s eldest daughter Kristin was a member of the Dallas Cowboys cheer leading squad back in 1999-2000.
Dusty’s Two Brother In Laws
Dusty has two brother in laws who are also involved in professional wrestling….Fred Ottman (Tugboat/Shockmaster) and Jerry Sags (The Nasty Boyz)
“I have wined and dined with Kings and Queens, and slept in an alley eatin’ pork and beans!”. -Dusty Rhodes
Glenn says: My first visions of Dusty Rhodes were in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and when Championship Wrestling From Florida was shown on television in New York, then when we got Georgia Championship Wrestling on TV 17, the Superstation.
So some of us were one up on people when Dusty showed up in the WWWF to challenge Superstar Billy Graham….he will be missed.
Dennis Hines says: There’s been just as many bad things said about Rhodes s good, but what isn’t debatable is that he earned his proper spot as a true legend in this sport.
He really wasn’t so much of a wrestler as he was more of a brawler, but in the rough-and-tumble NWA, that style worked well. His feuds with Flair and Blanchard were first rate.
I was in St. Louis back in 1981 and watched Rhodes wrestle Flair to a time limit draw of 62 and a half minutes.
At the end of that match, both men, bloodied and blown up, looked at each other and shook hands. His work in NXT with today’s young hopefuls is truly apparent in guys like Ambrose and Rollins. RIP, Mr. Rhodes.