"Dusty Rhodes is your favorite wrestler's favorite wrestler."
The quote above was tossed around by several individuals this afternoon. It was so perfect I had to share here. If you're reading this I would imagine you have to know by now that Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Runnels) passed away at the age of 69. Without giving this too much thought this may very well be the most difficult post I've done here at South Atlanta Wrestling. It's difficult because Dusty's death has hit me far harder than I expected it to and also because I fear that nothing I write will be good enough for The American Dream.
Where to begin? For me, when I think about him I immediately think of Saturdays at 6:05 PM. The tagline here is "Blame Dad, Ric Flair and Ted Turner" and I stand by that, but Dusty Rhodes was a huge part of that as well. From my earliest memories of wrestling it seemed that Dusty and the Four Horsemen had been locked in a neverending conflict. Dusty was the perfect hero against the villainous Horsemen. Of course Flair and Tully Blanchard were the two that you most associate with him. It was such a perfect clash of styles when you had the "Son of a Plumber" (Dusty) in there with "The Stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin' n' dealin' son of a gun!" (Flair). You had Dusty riding into town like John Wayne standing up for himself and the common folk. Take "The Baseball Bat Incident" which is one of my favorite angles in wrestling history. Even his build was perfect because you could relate to him in a way that you may not be able to relate to Flair, Hogan, Road Warriors, etc. Charisma was through the roof too, you watch his famous "Hard Times" promo and you feel like you're about to go to church. Listen to that passion and that credibility he brings there. We talk about Brock Lesnar being one of those guys who "makes you believe," I defy you to listen to Dusty there and think that he did not legitimately mean each and every word of it. He was believable and the people loved him for it.
When I sat down to write this I knew that one thing I had to mention was his time as a commentator. I always got a kick of him on commentary especially when someone was "clubberin'" or he was fascinated with Meng's Faces of Fear tights or best yet when someone got a bicycle among many other famous Dream-isms (mothership, pay winda, etc.) Somewhat related, even you watch him on WWE Legends of Wrestling on WWE Network he is wildly entertaining. Seriously, if you see him on the panel in any episodes give them a watch. Great stories and a great storyteller.
Now I'm not the guy to educate you on this, but I recommend you check the Wrestling Classics Message Board for threads about Dusty's time as a booker. He was successful in that endeavor as well.
I say all this just to make the obvious point that Dusty Rhodes is a legitimate, no doubt about it, honest to goodness, wrestling legend. Learning of his death this afternoon was a huge punch in the gut. Dusty was one-of-a-kind and will certainly be missed.
My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.
RIP Dusty, you are missed.