article was originally published in Wrestling Perspective #89
© 2001 Wrestling Perspective
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Editors Award for Lifetime Achievement: Dusty Rhodes
They call him the American
Dream and whether a promoter or Rhodes himself coined that handle, for
many fans he has embodied the concept of the American Dream. Hardly the
most svelte wrestler ever to enter the
ring, Rhodes was so good behind the mic he made us believe that this son
of a plumber was a world-beater. He destroyed the Four Horsemen by himself
and we bought it. He survived a brutal four-on-one attack from Kevin Sullivan,
the Purple Haze, Elijah Akeem, and Kareem Muhammed and we bought it. Heck,
he made us think that Baby Doll associated him for purely prurient reasons.
(Hey Dusty, could you tell us what 'evil' was in those pictures?) That's
an amazing performer to say the least.
Rhodes became the biggest
draw in the southeast using an act based more on ballyhoo and psychology
than pure athleticism. Behind the mic where, inspired by the likes of Muhammad
Ali, Rhodes was so good he'd talk a mile a minute and a lot of it might
not make any sense, if you will, but it did. Those interviews ... oh, those
interviews. He got your blood pumping and sold the hell out of his next
match. We were angry that we couldn't be in the Omni that night to watch
Dusty do his magic in the ring. In a business where image is everything,
Rhodes created an image that no outsider would find believable. But to
the wrestling fan, it was. That image sold tickets. Lots of tickets. That
image and what Rhodes did inside and outside the ring created memories
we'll always cherish.
As a performer, Dusty's
legend is inarguable. He was one of the most charismatic men ever to step
foot in the squared circle. He drew crowds and made a lot of people a lot
As a wrestling promoter,
Dusty's legacy is mixed. He had many years of great success and developed
several innovative concepts, including War Games, a can't miss match that
WCW eventually screwed up with their own incompetence. But Dusty wasn't
prefect. His penchant for screw-jobs led to something known as the "Dusty
Finish." You can certainly spend an entire column or even an entire
issue, heck a few issues, knocking Rhodes for his mistakes and how they
damaged the wrestling business over the years. Lord Alfred Hayes notes
some of Dusty's flaws in this issue and many would be hard pressed to disagree
with the good Lord.
To this we say, ah well.
Find anyone in this business who has achieved the level of success of a
Dusty Rhodes who hasn't made his share of costly mistakes and doesn't have
his detractors. Quite honestly the American Dream has always occupied a
special place in our hearts. Anyone who saw Dusty in his glory days knows
why. After all, to err is human, to be the Bull of the Woods, divine.
Because we both grew up
in New York state, we rarely saw Dusty when were kids. From time to time,
hed show up on WWWF television shows or make occasional appearances at
Madison Square Garden, and it was a treat to sure. But we did follow the
Dream, thanks to Bill Apter and crew, who made him come alive in the pages
of Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler and of course, Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
There was just something about seeing this fat, bleached-blonde wrestler
covered in blood that would send chills down our spines. We assumed Dusty
would take care of 'bidness' the next time he went up against Dick Murdoch
or Terry Funk and naturally he would avenge the brutal beating Harley Race
gave Barry Windham the next time the champ came to the Sunshine State.
Through the magic of cable
television, we eventually got to watch Dusty on WTBS and, well, we were
hooked. When Gordon Solie told us Stardust himself, the American Dream
Dusty Rhodes was going to be on the show, we were always psyched. When
knew Dusty would talk the talk, strut the strut, and just be his old Dusty-self.
Heck, Dusty was so good, when Ric Flair won the title from Dusty for the
first time, we were shocked. How could this upstart beat the Dream?
That's how good we thought Dusty was -- and in wrestling perception is
In later years, Dustys
act got a little tired to most, but we still enjoyed his one-man superhero
act against the Horsemen or the Road Warriors. Tully, Ric, Arn and Ole
would bounce like they were in a pinball machine taking the bionic elbow
from their boss. Finally, theyd get the Dream down and put a whooping
on him, but Dusty always vowed revenge. He was the quintessential babyface.
Of course, hed probably get booed out of the building with the same act
today. Or maybe not. We would love to see a Funky Like a Monkey Tour ...
So, Dream, for your many
years of service to the industry, we bestow you with this years Editors
Award For Lifetime Achievement. The Dream joins Arn Anderson (1998 winner),
the late Gordon Solie (1999 winner) and Ted DiBiase (2000 winner). Congratulations
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