Dusty Rhodes (wrestler)
|Birth name||Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr.|
|Ring name(s)||Dusty Rhodes
The Midnight Rider
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||285 lb (129 kg)|
October 12, 1945 |
Austin, Texas, U.S.
|Billed from||"Diablo Canyon, Colorado"
(as The Midnight Rider)
|Trained by||Joe Blanchard|
|Debut||November 14, 1968|
Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr., better known as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (born October 12, 1945), is a retired American professional wrestler and current trainer currently working for WWE. He makes occasional on-air appearances on other WWE television and pay-per-views and works as a backstage booker and producer in WWE's NXT Wrestling developmental territory. Billed as "the son of a plumber", Rhodes' character was that of the American working man, particularly in promo videos such as his famous 'Hard Times'.
Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and during his time in Jim Crockett Promotions (the forerunner of WCW), he was a former United States Champion, and multi-time Television, World Tag Team, and Six-Man Tag Team Champion. He has also won many regional championships during his wrestling career.
He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. He is the father of professional wrestlers Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes and Cody Rhodes, both currently wrestling for WWE.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Early career
- 1.2 National Wrestling Alliance territories
- 1.3 Jim Crockett Promotions (1985–1989)
- 1.4 World Wrestling Federation (1989–1991)
- 1.5 Return to WCW and ECW (1990s)
- 1.6 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2005)
- 1.7 Independent circuit (2003–2006)
- 1.8 Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling
- 1.9 Return to World Wrestling Entertainment
- 2 Personal life
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 Media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Professional wrestling career
National Wrestling Alliance territories
In 1974, Rhodes turned face after turning on tag team partner Pak Song and manager Gary Hart during a match in Florida against Eddie and Mike Graham. This led him to break out as a solo face superstar, primarily in Florida, referring to himself as "Stardust", the "White Soul King", and the "American Dream", a working class hero. Rhodes ascended to the top of several National Wrestling Alliance promotions, including those in Florida (where he also wrestled wearing a mask as "The Midnight Rider") and in Georgia. In 1977, he wrestled for the then Vince McMahon, Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation (currently WWE) He had moderate success in this stint in the WWWF, but he was mainly used a low-carder wrestler.
On November 25, 1978, Rhodes won a single-night tournament to capture the vacant Florida Heavyweight Championship, with injured champion Steve Keirn presenting him with the title in an emotional moment. Rhodes vowed that both of them would be seen as champions in the eyes of the people.
He eventually began working with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) in the Mid-Atlantic, which eventually purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW), formerly Georgia Championship Wrestling. While there, he formed a team with Manny Fernandez. He also teamed with Magnum T.A. as "America's Team". The tandem began teaming up to oppose the Four Horsemen and the Russian Team in 1985. They were one of the more dominant tag teams in the promotion until 1986, when Magnum's career was ended in a car wreck. Subsequently, he teamed with Nikita Koloff as The Super Powers. Rhodes was also a World Six-Man Tag Team Champion with the Road Warriors.
Rhodes had feuds with stars such as Abdullah the Butcher, Pak Song, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Blackjack Mulligan, Nikita Koloff, Harley Race, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Crippler" Ray Stevens and, most notably, The Four Horsemen (especially Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard). Rhodes, Flair and Race each fought each other many times over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rhodes won the NWA World Title three times; twice by defeating Race and once by defeating Flair.
Jim Crockett Promotions (1985–1989)
Rhodes became a booker for Jim Crockett Promotions after he won the Television Title in 1985. He is credited with inventing many of the WCW pay-per-view names and gimmicks, such as War Games, BattleBowl, and Lethal Lottery. The term Dusty Finish refers to one of Rhodes' favorite techniques, ending a match in controversy after the referee is knocked unconscious.
During his stint as booker, JCP were engulfed in aggressive competition with the World Wrestling Federation. When the WWF introduced Mike Jones as Ted DiBiase's bodyguard, Bobby Heenan suggested to name the character Virgil as an inside joke on Dusty's real name. Years later, when Jones appeared in JCP's successor World Championship Wrestling in a similar role, he was named Vincent, in reference to WWF owner Vince McMahon, reportedly again at Heenan's suggestion. The joke continued later in WCW when Jones changed his name again, this time to Shane, the same as Vince's son's, Shane McMahon. As the executive producer of JCP's programming, he was credited by his real name (Virgil Runnels) to avoid fans seeing that Dusty, still a top draw in the company, was actually running things behind the scenes.
Rhodes was fired from Jim Crockett Promotions after Starrcade '88, because of a taboo on-screen bloodletting (laid down by the Turner Broadcasting System following their purchase of the company) during a November 26 altercation with the Road Warriors. Furious with the interference, Rhodes booked an angle where Road Warrior Animal pulled a spike out of his shoulder pad and jammed it in Rhodes' eye busting it wide open. Rhodes was then fired from WCW. Following this, Rhodes returned to Florida to compete in Florida Championship Wrestling, where he captured the PWF Heavyweight title and also returned to the AWA for a few appearances.
World Wrestling Federation (1989–1991)
In late 1989 Rhodes came to the WWF as the yellow polka-dotted "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes, a gimmick some felt was intended to humiliate him due to his synonymy with the rival JCP/WCW. Although Dusty later admitted that the gimmick and outfit were his own ideas. The truth is during an episode of WWE Legends of Wrestling, it was said that it was Vince McMahons idea when he exclaimed "I see Dusty in polka dots!" He was managed by Sapphire, who was intended to represent the "common woman". During his early time in the WWF, Rhodes was embroiled in a heated feud with "Macho King" Randy Savage and his manager/partner Sensational Queen Sherri, who in turn found a rival in Sapphire. After a particularly intense confrontation between the two couples, Savage's ex-manager Miss Elizabeth allied herself with Rhodes and Sapphire and was instrumental in helping them win the WWF's first mixed tag-team match during WrestleMania VI. Sapphire, however, left Rhodes during SummerSlam 1990 for The Million-Dollar Man's money, Afterwards, Rhodes dropped the Polka dots and feuded with Dibiase and Virgil, which also resulted in the national debut of his son Dustin at the 1991 Royal Rumble. Both departed the WWF shortly after, marking the end of Dusty Rhodes' career as a full-time in-ring competitor.
When Ric Flair left for the WWF in 1991, taking the NWA World Heavyweight Title belt with him, Dusty's PWF Heavyweight Championship belt was used as a replacement at The Great American Bash for the title match between Lex Luger and Barry Windham until a replacement could be made.
Return to WCW and ECW (1990s)
Rhodes returned to WCW shortly afterwards as a member of WCW's booking committee. He also served as the manager of Ron Simmons, from 1991 to 1992, and was in Simmons' corner on August 2, 1992 when he defeated Big Van Vader to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He later joined the broadcast team, usually working with Tony Schiavone on WCW Saturday Night. He would be paired with Schiavone and Bobby Heenan on pay-per-views.
In 1994, Rhodes returned to the ring to team up with his son Dustin along with The Nasty Boys versus Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck, Terry Funk, and Col. Rob Parker. The angle occurred after Anderson turned on Dustin during a tag team match at Bash at the Beach '94 and Dusty, admitting to being an absentee parent who should have been at his son's side instead of Anderson, put on the trunks one more time in order to help his son gain his revenge.
Rhodes was originally on the side of WCW when its battle with the New World Order (nWo) began in 1996. At Souled Out 1998, Larry Zbyszko asked Rhodes, who was working the PPV broadcast, to accompany him to the ring for his match against Scott Hall. Zbyszko won the match by disqualification due to interference by Louie Spicolli. Rhodes entered the ring, delivering his trademark elbow smashes to Spicolli as Zbyszko stood and grabbed Hall. Rhodes went to elbow Hall, but seemingly inadvertently hit Zbyszko instead. Hall then pointed to Rhodes as he revealed an nWo shirt. The three began to drop repeated elbows on Zbyszko before Rhodes announced "That's tradition, WCW! Bite this!". Announcer Tony Schiavone left the broadcast booth in shock but later returned, kayfabe ripping Rhodes for his actions for most of the rest of the night. As a member of the nWo, Rhodes served as the manager of Hall and Nash.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2005)
Rhodes began appearing with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) in 2003, returning to the ring to feud against the villainous Sports Entertainment Xtreme faction, and later becoming the Director of Authority at their November 7, 2004 pay-per-view, Victory Road. At the same time, Rhodes acted as head booker and writer. In May 2005, TNA President Dixie Carter asked Rhodes to move onto a creative team, which included Jeremy Borash, Bill Banks, and Scott D'Amore. Rhodes resigned as booker, waiting out the rest of his contract with TNA, which expired soon after.
Independent circuit (2003–2006)
Rhodes began taking independent circuit bookings in 2003, after the closure of Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling and during his run with TNA.
Rhodes made his first indy circuit appearance on April 12, 2003 for Ring of Honor, when he participated in the "I Quit Bunkhouse Riot" as a member of Homicide's team. On December 12, Rhodes defeated Jerry Lawler at an International Wrestling Cartel show that also featured Mick Foley as the special guest referee. The next day, Rhodes appeared at NWA Bluegrass and defeated Slash.
Rhodes returned to ROH on March 13, 2004, where he competed alongside The Carnage Crew in a Scramble Cage match against Special K, which the Carnage Crew won. On July 24, Rhodes returned to FIP and defeated Gangrel. Rhodes would briefly disappear from the independent scene before resurfacing in October, appearing for Northeast Wrestling in a victory over Kamala. Later in the month, he appeared for IWA Mid-South in a tag team match with Ian Rotten in a victory over Chris Candido and Steve Stone.
Rhodes made three appearances for the Japanese promotion HUSTLE in 2004, the first being on January 4 in a six-man tag team match with Steve Corino and Tom Howard against Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and Sicodelico, Jr., which Rhodes' team lost. The second was on March 7, where he teamed with his son Dustin against Shinjiro Otani and Satoshi Kojima, which he also lost. The third was on May 8, where he defeated Steve Corino.
Starting in December 2004, Rhodes made regular appearances for Carolina Championship Wrestling, where his first match for the promotion saw him team up with The Rock 'n' Roll Express to take on Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, and Stan Lane, all three of the best-known members of the Midnight Express. He also briefly resurrected his feud with Tully Blanchard in CCW, earning two consecutive victories over him, the second being in a Bunkhouse Brawl.
On March 12, Rhodes defeated Abdullah the Butcher where Mick Foley served as referee. On April 9, 2005, Rhodes challenged Jeff Jarrett (who was still contracted to TNA, but due to TNA's then-affiliation with the NWA, he was allowed to appear for other affiliated promotions) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In a match that featured Jimmy Valiant as the special guest referee, Jarrett retained the title after Terry Funk made a surprise appearance and interfered. This led to Rhodes challenging Funk to a Falls-Count-Anywhere Bunkhouse match, which Rhodes won. This would be Rhodes' final appearance with CCW until August, where he would team with his son Dustin against Phi Delta Slam.
On July 15, 2005, Rhodes participated in Ballpark Brawl IV in a victory over Kid Kash.
Rhodes participated in the first WrestleReunion, competing in an eight-man tag team match with D'Lo Brown, The Blue Meanie, and Tom Prichard against Steve Corino, Andrew Martin, Evil Clown, and the Masked Superstar.
On December 3, 2005, Rhodes returned to Carolina Championship Wrestling for one night only to face Terry Funk in an "I Quit" match, which Rhodes won.
Rhodes made his final major appearances on the independent circuit before returning full-time to WWE in mid-2006, defeating Jerry Lawler by DQ at a Southern Championship Wrestling Show on March 4, and defeating Steve Corino in a Texas Bullrope match at a Big Time Wrestling show on April 15.
Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling
Return to World Wrestling Entertainment
WWE Legends and Hall of Fame (2005–2007)
In September 2005, Rhodes signed a WWE Legends deal and was brought onto the Creative Team as a creative consultant. He made an appearance on the October 3, 2005 WWE Homecoming in which he, along with other legends, beat down Rob Conway, to whom Rhodes delivered a signature Bionic elbow.
Rhodes made an appearance on the June 19, 2006 edition of Raw, appearing in a backstage segment with Vince McMahon where he promoted his new DVD, The American Dream - The Dusty Rhodes Story, and would attempt to convince a trio of male strippers (who'd been hired by D-Generation X to annoy Vince) to buy the DVD.
Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 by his two sons, Dustin and Cody. During his acceptance speech, Rhodes asked Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to hold up the "sign" and induct him and Harley Race into the Four Horsemen.
During an interview on WWE's The American Dream DVD set, Rhodes claims that his most popular promo of all time was his "Hard Times" interview during his feud with Ric Flair. The promo—which references out-of-work steel workers, factory runners and other blue collar individuals—apparently resonated with wrestling fans so much that people came to him in arenas in tears to thank him for "honoring their plight."
Sporadic appearances and NXT (2006–present)
A few weeks before Survivor Series 2006, Rhodes returned to WWE to be a part of Team WWE Legends, led by Ric Flair. The team, consisting of Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons, and Arn Anderson (acting as manager) competed against the Spirit Squad at Survivor Series. Rhodes, along with the other legends, was eliminated early on in the match before Flair managed to become the sole survivor.
A few weeks before WWE's 2007 broadcast of the Great American Bash, Dusty Rhodes returned to WWE television to feud with Randy Orton. At The Great American Bash, Orton defeated Rhodes in a Texas Bullrope match after Rhodes was nailed in the head with the cowbell. The following night on Raw, after Orton defeated Rhodes' son Cody Rhodes, Orton delivered a vicious kick to Dusty's head while "The American Dream" was trying to tend to his son. On December 10, 2007, on the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode, Rhodes was at ringside to see Cody and Hardcore Holly defeat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Championship, and congratulated the two on their victory afterwards.
On March 29, 2008, Rhodes inducted his mentor Eddie Graham into the WWE Hall of Fame. Two nights later, on the March 31 edition of Raw, Rhodes was seen in the crowd of superstars paying their respects to Ric Flair during his farewell ceremony. Rhodes made an appearance on the 800th episode of Raw, where he was involved in an in-ring segment, which saw superstars including Kung Funaki, Hornswoggle, The Boogeyman, Jesse, Festus, and the commentators Jerry "The King" Lawler and Michael Cole, dancing in the ring. On April 4, 2009, Rhodes inducted The Funk Brothers (Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr.) into the WWE Hall of Fame. On August 31, 2009, Rhodes was the special guest host of Raw and booked a match between his son, Cody and Randy Orton for Orton's WWE Championship with John Cena as the special guest referee. Before the match began, he turned on Cena as all three members of Legacy took him out along with DX. After the assault, Orton shook hands and praised Rhodes, but gave him an RKO. He reappeared on June 7, 2010, to help Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley defeat I.R.S., Ted DiBiase, Jr., Virgil, and Roddy Piper. He reappeared on the November 2 edition of WWE NXT, during his son, Goldust's (kayfabe) wedding with his NXT rookie, Aksana. Rhodes showed up on the November 15, 2010 episode of Raw in a backstage segment with both of his sons Goldust and Cody Rhodes.
Currently, Rhodes is the head writer and creative director for the weekly NXT Wrestling television broadcast. On February 25, 2011 edition of Smackdown, Rhodes briefly turned heel when he helped his son Cody attack Rey Mysterio in an ambush. Rhodes turned face when he inducted the Road Warriors in the WWE Hall of Fame. He appeared on the November 29, 2011 special holiday edition of SmackDown backstage with Roddy Piper and the rest of SmackDown roster. On April 10, 2012, Rhodes made an appearance on WWE Smackdown: Blast from the Past as a face, embarrassing his son Cody Rhodes.
On the March 4, 2013 episode of "Old School Raw", Rhodes was attacked by Jack Swagger during Swagger's match with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He returned on the March 25 episode of Raw in a Hall of Fame panel Q-and-A session with John Cena and The Rock. Rhodes has been hospitalized due to infection on his left foot which caused by snake bite.[better source needed] On September 12, 2013, he was removed as NXT Commissioner.
Rhodes made his return to Raw on September 16, 2013 after accepting a "business proposition" from Stephanie McMahon in an attempt for the WWE to rehire both his sons Cody and Dustin. After learning that McMahon would only rehire one son of his choosing, Rhodes turned down the offer and was subsequently knocked out by The Big Show on the orders of Stephanie McMahon. Rhodes made a second Raw appearance two weeks later to accept a challenge for Battleground in which Cody and Dustin would take on Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns with Dean Ambrose at ringside while he represented his sons at ringside in a tag team match, with the stipulation that if the Rhodes Family won, Cody and Dustin got their jobs with the company back, but if they lose Dusty would be fired as an NXT trainer and none of them could appear on WWE programming ever again. They were then subsequently attacked by The Shield when Dusty 'disrespected' Triple H and his wife, Stephanie. The Rhodes brothers won the match at Battleground, thus reinstating them to the roster and allowing Dusty to retain his position in NXT. During the match, Dusty got into an altercation with Ambrose, hitting him with the Bionic Elbow.
Rhodes is divorced from his first wife Sandra and is now married to Michelle. He is the brother-in-law of pro wrestlers Jerry Sags and Fred Ottman. He has four children, Dustin, Cody, Teil Runnels Gergel and Kristin Runnels Ditto, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. He has a granddaughter, Dakota, the daughter of Dustin and his ex-wife, Terri Runnels and two grandsons Dalton and Dylan, children of Kristin and her husband Don Ditto.
Rhodes was diagnosed with osteomyelitis in his hip when he was six years old. He walked with crutches for a majority of his youth. He was able to overcome the disorder two years later, but it resulted in one of his legs being shorter than the other.
- Signature moves
- Wrestlers managed
- Entrance themes
- "Common Man Boogie" by Jimmy Hart and J.J. Maguire (WWF/E; 1989–1991, 2006–present)
- "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger (WCW) (1994, 2001)
- "Rockhouse" by Jimmy Hart and H. Helm (WCW; Used while a part of the New World Order) (1998)
- "This Is Why (I Sing The Blues)" by Reckless Fortune (ECW) (2000)
- "Midnight Rider" by Willie Nelson (ROH) (2003)
- "Kakutougi Theme" by Ryuichi Sakamoto (NJPW / Hustle) (1979-1980, 1992) (NJPW)/(2004) (Hustle)
- "American Dream" by Freedom (NJPW) (1980-1982)
- "You Can't Judge a book by the Cover" by Hank Williams, Jr. (NWA)
- "Leather" by Dale Oliver (TNA)
Championships and accomplishments
- Central States Wrestling
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Florida version) (2 times)
- NWA Florida Bahamian Championship (1 time)
- NWA Florida Global Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Magnum T.A.
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (10 times)
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Dick Murdoch (1), Dick Slater (1), Bobo Brazil (1), and André the Giant (1)
- NWA Florida Television Championship (2 times)
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) (7 times)
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Florida version) (2 times) – with Bugsy McGraw (1) and Blackjack Mulligan (1)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Georgia Championship Wrestling
- International Wrestling Alliance (Australia)
- IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Dick Murdoch
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling / Jim Crockett Promotions / World Championship Wrestling
- NWA United States Heayvweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with The Road Warriors
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (2 times) – with Dick Slater (1) and Manny Fernandez (1)
- NWA World Television Championship (3 times)
- Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament (1987) – with Nikita Koloff
- Bunkhouse Stampede (1985–1988)
- WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1995)
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling1
- NWA Mid-Pacific Promotions
- NWA Tri-State
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Feud of the Year (1987) with Nikita Koloff and the Road Warriors vs. Four Horsemen
- PWI Match of the Year (1979) vs. Harley Race on August 21
- PWI Match of the Year (1986) vs. Ric Flair in a cage match at The Great American Bash
- PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1978, 1979, 1987)
- PWI Wrestler of the Year (1977, 1978)
- PWI ranked him #11 in the PWI Years in 2003
- Stanley Weston Award (2013)
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Best Babyface (1980)
- Best Booker (1986)
- Most Charismatic (1982) tied with Ric Flair
- Most Embarrassing Wrestler (1990)
- Most Overrated (1987, 1988)
- Readers' Least Favorite Wrestler (1987, 1988)
- Worst Feud of the Year (1988) vs. Tully Blanchard
- Worst Gimmick (1988)
- Worst Television Announcer (1997)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
1This Mid-Atlantic promotion operates out of the same region as the original and has revived some of the championships that it once used. However, it is not to be confused with the promotion that was once owned by Jim Crockett, Jr. and sold to Ted Turner in 1988. That promotion went on to be renamed World Championship Wrestling.
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- NWA Florida Television Title history At wrestling-titles.com
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- NWA Georgia Heavyweight Title history At wrestling-titles.com
- NWA National Heavyweight Title history At wrestling-titles.com
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