Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr.
, better known as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
is an American professional wrestler, who, throughout his forty year career, most notable for his run in various organizations of the National Wrestling Alliance
, tended to play the gimmick of the "common man" facing-off against more boisterous and physically fit competitors.
Working in various wrestling organizations since the late sixties, Dusty joined Jim Crockett Promotions in 1978. Throughout the late seventies and eighties, he would engage in a number of high profile feuds in the NWA, facing off against the likes of Terry Funk
, Harley Race, Abdullah The Butcher
, and especially the Four Horsemen, particularly their leader Ric Flair
. Dusty would win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
a total of three times, and in 1984, he delivered what became known as the "Hard Times"
promo, considered Dusty's finest, and definitely in the running for greatest wrestling promo of all time.
In 1985, Dusty would start working as a booker for Jim Crockett Promotions, in what would eventually become World Championship Wrestling. As booker, Rhodes would develop a number of creative feuds and gimmick matches, including the WCW standard "WarGames'' match. However, burnt out by constant competition with the WWF, Rhodes' booking style would become notorious for an over-reliance on ambiguous endings to matches, particularly ones in which a face had scored a major victory against a heel, that would later be overturned for various reasons. These sorts of unsatisfying endings are referred to in the wrestling community as "Dusty Finishes" to this day.
After openly defying a "no bloodshed" edict from TBS censors at Starrcade '88
, Rhodes was fired from WCW. He would join the WWF in 1989, where he wrestled as "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes for two years, feuding with Macho Man Randy Savage. The most notable aspect of this period was the god-awful ugly yellow-polkadot unitard he would wear in the role. Some thought the costume choice was WWF owner Vince McMahon
's way of humiliating one of his former competitors, but Dusty has always maintained that thing was his idea. Dusty would leave the company for a semi-retirement as an active competitor in 1991.
Rhodes would soon return to WCW as a booker (until he was supplanted by Eric Bischoff
) and on-screen manager, and would join the commentating team for much of the 90s. He gained quite the reputation as a Cloud Cuckoolander
in the role, so much so that "Insane Dusty Commentary" is a regular feature of Botchamania
. During the rise of the NWO
in 1996, Rhodes was originally cast as a pro-WCW figure, before eventually making a Face Heel Turn
and joining the NWO at Souled Out '98. Near the end of WCW's lifespan, Rhodes would briefly leave for a stint in ECW, before returning to WCW for one final feud with Ric Flair
After WCW's purchase and dissolution by the WWF in 2001, Rhodes would work for TNA
, and various other indie wrestling leagues for the next five years, including Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, a promotion founded by Rhodes himself. In late 2005, he would sign a WWE Legends deal, making occasional appearances on WWE programming from then on. Currently Rhodes serves as the on-screen Commisioner of WWE NXT
He is the father of fellow wrestlers, Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes
and Cody Rhodes
Tropes Accossiated with Dusty Rhodes
- All American Face
- Arch-Enemy: Ric Flair, Kevin Sullivan, Terry Funk
- Awesome, Dear Boy: The reason Dusty loves the "American Dream" gimmick even though some fans though it was demeaning.
- Bash Brothers: with Dick Murdoch, Blackjack Mulligan, Magnum T.A., Mike Graham, Dustin Rhodes
- Charlie Brown From Outta Town: He LOVED this trope:
- Uvalde Slim
- The Midnight Rider
- The James Boys (w/Magnum T.A.)
- Cuckoolander Commentator
- Finishing Move: The Bionic Elbow
- Heel Face Turn: In the 1970s and never looked back...until he randomly turned on Larry Zbyszko to join the NWO during Zbyszko's match with Scott Hall at NWO Souled Out 98, January 24, 1998. Of course, after disappearing following the Outsiders' split in May at WCW Slamboree 98, he returned following Ric Flair's victory over Eric Bischoff on the WCW Monday Nitro after Starrcade on December 28 to celebrate the win.
- Legacy Character: He has a few, not just Dustin and Cody.
- Memphis legend Troy Graham (1949-2002)'s masked gimmick the Dream Machine involved him blatantly imitating Dusty, with the idea being that the fans were supposed to think Dusty was under the mask.
- The Japanese wrestler Gedo (Keiji Takayama) is a huge fan of Dusty and of 1970s southern-style wrestling and has been called "The Dusty Rhodes of Japan." He once had a match on WCW WorldWide where Foreign Wrestling Heel manager Sonny Onoo called Gedo, "Japan-American Dream." This aired shortly after Dusty's NWO turn.
- Leotard of Power: With polka dots
- Parts Unknown (as the Midnight Rider): "Diablo Canyon, CO"
- Power Stable: Dusty Rhodes' Family (Florida), with Blackjack Mulligan, Barry Windham, "Cowboy" Ron Bass, the One Man Gang and Mike Rotunda.
- Red Baron: "The American Dream," "The Bull of the Woods," "Stardust"
- Ring Oldies: In his 60s and still wrestling from time to time.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!
- Start My Own: His Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling promotion in Marietta, GA, which ran from 2000 to 2003.
- Tag Team: The Texas Outlaws, with Dick Murdoch
- America's Team, with Magnum T.A.
- The Superpowers, with "The Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff
- Talk Show With Fists: "The Dew Drop Inn"
- The Unintelligible
- Wrestling Family: His sons are Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes and Cody Rhodes. His daughter-in-law for a while was Terri Runnels. He can also count Fred "Tugboat"/"Typhoon" Ottman and Jerry Sags among his brothers-in-law.