I grew up in a tiny village without cable or a satellite dish, so my first real exposure to Dusty Rhodes was WWF era polka dot Dusty. I knew who he was before that, but I didn’t truly know *who* he was, if that makes any sense. I won’t lie and say he was my favourite wrestler, but there was definitely something about him that my little kid brain really liked. Part of it was the theme song, but he also had a voice and a way about him that were just…different. Different even in the world of late 80s early 90s WWF where everybody was different. It seemed like there was something special there beyond what we were seeing on TV, but I could never put my finger on it.
It wasn’t until I got to watch bunches of old tapes and then the internet came along that I finally figured it out. The day it really started to click though was the day I saw this.
All that “common man” stuff from WWF was true, but it was so much more than they ever let him explain. In those couple of minutes, everything made sense. Dusty Rhodes was everybody, especially everybody like me who wasn’t ever going to grow up to be a good looking super athlete or the absolute best at anything. You didn’t have to be, because you could overcome obstacles and the people who wronged you if you believed in something and were willing to fight for it. It might sound like an odd comparison, but I think my still younger self reacted to that the way his fans today react to John Cena. If you take out the part where John Cena is a genetic freak with an annoying tendency to make toilet jokes that aren’t very funny, the message is the same. Stand up for what you believe in and never give up. But whether that was his message or he was sending out warnings that he was going to make cold blooded sausage out of some folks, he delivered it like nobody else and that’s what I’ll remember him for even more than any match he ever had.
But if I am going to remember him for a match, it’ll be the one he invented. I remember seeing some of the early WarGames matches on a video my grandpa had and they kind of blew my mind. I have a distant memory of watching that tape and then watching WWF Challenge or Superstars or whatever it was right after and it taking me some time to adjust again because WarGames was so different from anything I’d ever seen.
No matter what he was doing, be it wrestling, booking, often nonsensical commentary (I still routinely use the words clubberin and uncle him), he made the kind of impact that not many can. There will never be another Dusty Rhodes, but because he helped teach so many people right up to the end, hopefully pieces of him will be around for a long, long time. “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes dies Link goes to the story from SLAM! Wrestling, who do a nice job with stories like these.