Pro wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes died today at the age of 69. The cause of death is unknown at this time although he was quite a bit thinner the last time I saw him on TV a few months ago.
Born Virgil Runnels, Rhodes was a fixture in professional wrestling for more than four decades. Nicknamed “The American Dream”, his prime came during the 1970’s and 1980’s when he starred in both the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) where he would be a three-time world champion with his longstanding feud with Ric as well as the WWE (then known as the WWF). With his distinctive curly blond hair, flamboyant attire, awesome mic skills not to mention the “bionic elbow”, Rhodes was of the industry’s most popular figures and identfiable characters.
Rhodes also worked the behind the scenes as a booker. He would leave his mark there. How often have you seen the good guy or face appear to win the championship only to have it taken away from him on a technicality and the title return to the bad guy or the heel? Or how many times has the face been on the verge of winning the title only to have the referee knocked out and the heel’s friends beat our hero senseless? Rhodes would book these scenarioes so many times that they would come to be known as “Dusty Finishes”.
Rhodes’ sons Dustin Runnels and Cody Runnels would become wrestlers in their own right; better known to wrestling fans as Dustin Rhodes/Golddust and Cody Rhodes/Stardust.
Given Rhodes’ legendary status in the industry I have no doubt there will be a tremendous of tributes to him on WWE programming as well as TNA (Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling) and ROH (Ring of Honor) over the next week.
I leave you with one of Rhodes’ best interviews at the height of his rivalry with Ric Flair in which he talks of “Hard Times”.
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