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Dusty Rhodes Receives Wrestling Perspective's Editors' Award For Lifetime Achievement

This article was originally published in Wrestling Perspective #89
Copyright © 2001 Wrestling Perspective
All Rights Reserved

You Can Order Issue #89 With A Credit Card

The 2001 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 of money. 

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, he’d 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 reality. 

In later years, Dusty’s 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, they’d get the Dream down and put a whooping on him, but Dusty always vowed revenge. He was the quintessential babyface. Of course, he’d 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 ... 2001. 

So, Dream, for your many years of service to the industry, we bestow you with this year’s Editors’ Award For Lifetime Achievement. The Dream joins Arn Anderson (1998 winner), the late Gordon Solie (1999 winner) and Ted DiBiase (2000 winner). Congratulations Dusty!

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Footnotes/Endnotes for this article should read as follows: 

MacArthur, Paul and Skolnick, David, "Editors’ Award for Lifetime Achievement: Dusty Rhodes," Wrestling Perspective, Volume XI,  Number 89, (2001): 1 -2.

This article is Copyright © 2001 Wrestling Perspective. All Rights Reserved. 
This article may not be quoted, reprinted or distributed without written permission from Wrestling Perspective publishers Paul MacArthur and David Skolnick.

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