He’s just a common working hard with his hands
he’s just a common man working hard for the man”
I was walking through the airport yesterday afternoon when my phone buzzed. I looked at the screen and it said that @WWE and @TripleH had both retweeted something. I assumed it had to do something with the “Money in the Bank” pay-per view coming up this Sunday. However, the actual tweet stopped me in my tracks.
WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka â€œThe American Dreamâ€ Dusty Rhodes, passed away today at age 69. pic.twitter.com/MDfxIAbxwN
— WWE (@WWE) June 11, 2015
Dusty Rhodes is one of those figures in professional wrestling who you always imagined would never go away. In the most recent years, he would pop up every now and again, either as part of one of those Wrestlemania “let’s see how many legends we can throw together in a skit before Ron Simmons says DAMN!!!” – OR – showing up to bring his great microphone skills to a feud that involved his two sons, Goldust or Stardust (Cody Rhodes). However, and what I hope younger viewers come to learn about Rhodes after hearing of his passing, Rhodes had the skills in the ring and on the stick to keep an arena of fans in the palm of his hands.
Rhodes’ gimmick in the world of professional wrestling is that he was just the son of a plumber, 265 lbs. of “blue-eyed soul,” just a “common man” who worked his way up in the ranks to become one of the greatest wrestling champions in history. And if a simple son of a plumber could accomplish that much in his life, so could you. Rhodes was fighting for you to realize your own dream, to get out there and don’t let the world get you down, no matter what was up against you. In Dusty’s world, the odds that were built against him were people like the Four Horsemen, a quartet of men who at one time, chased him down in a car, tied his arm to a truck and “broke his arm”. These same four broke his leg in the middle of the ring. But Dusty always prevailed. No matter how many times Ric Flair flashed his expensive suits and watches into the camera, and bragged about how many women he let ride “Space Mountain”, Rhodes was there to show you that any person could be World Champion if you tried hard enough. Most famously, he was sure to let everyone know that Flair had no idea what “hard times” were all about.
Dusty was such a fan favorite and a man-of-the-people, that the people in the arena would flock to the ring every time he was in action. When Ole Anderson turned on Dusty in a cage match, fans were trying to jump the cage to get the bad guys off of Dusty. When Rhodes won his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Harley Race, he was joined by so many fans in the ring to celebrate with the “American Dream.” They really felt as though Dusty WAS reaching out to you and we were all doing this together against the Four Hoursemen or Race or whoever the opponent was on that given night. Dusty had a gift of gab, and the things that flew out of his mouth were instant classics:
“I’ve wined and dined with Kings and Queens and slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans”
“The man of the hour, the man with the power. I am the hit-maker and the record breaker. I’ve got style and grace, a pretty face. I’ll make your back crack, your liver quiver. If you ain’t into this mess, you’re at the wrong address. Superstar, when the other wrestlers are in the back smilin’ and jokin, the Dream’s out back, WOO, cookin’ and smokin'”
Rhodes, even though HE grew up as the son of a plumber, had two sons who went in to the professional wrestling business, Dustin and Cody Rhodes. As mentioned earlier, Goldust and Stardust (Cody) have had their television moment with Dusty in the past couple of years on two different occasions, but it was a different interaction with Dustin and Dusty back in 1994 that a lot of people remember for another great promo. After Arn Anderson turned on his then partner Dustin, Dusty brought his son to the ring to have a discussion with him about being a leader, and wanting to be his tag-team partner.
Others may remember Dusty from his run in WWF, where he was the “Common Man” who dressed in black and yellow polka dots and danced around the ring. He was accompanied by his friend “Sapphire”, who was meant to embody the “Common Woman”. Together they fought against the “Macho King” Randy Savage and Sherri Martel. However, Rhodes would lose Sapphire to the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, after being lured by his money. Dusty then went on to feud with DiBiase and Virgil (who was named Virgil after Rhodes’ given name), before leaving for WCW again.
Dusty has done a lot for the wrestling business, more good than bad. He is instantly recognizable by his voice, having that southern drawl with that lisp that just never went away. A subtle flaw in his speech that aided him in being a symbol as the true “common man.” His forehead was full of scars from all of the blood feuds, cage matches and other battles he put himself through. But the one thing that was always on his face, and was most prevalent, was his smile. No matter the situation, Dusty always looked like he was the happiest person on TV, and that he loved what he was doing. It never seemed lost on him that he grew up from just a common background to become one of the most lovable figures in wrestling history. He may not be living the American Dream here on earth anymore, but I know somewhere he’s wining and dining with Kings and Queens. Dusty, you will be missed.
Feel free to post your favorite Dusty Rhodes memories in the comments below.