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No Holds Barred: Dusty Rhodes

Posted: Jan 11, 2010

We continue with our ongoing look at pro-wrestling in the South during the seventies.

Another one of my all-time farorite wrestlers is the one and only “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. During the seventies and into the early eighties I was fortunate enough to catch Rhodes in matches countless times at the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium (and a few times in Spartanburg) and every event was a show stopper. And then there were the numerous appearances on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show every Saturday afternoon.

I had a several chances to speak with Dusty over the years, and have always found him to be a genuine and downright nice guy.

Rhodes was born Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr. in Austin, Texas on October 12, 1945. During the peak years of his career, which began in 1968, Rhodes weighed in at 302 pounds and stood 6’ 2.”

Dusty is a 3-time NWA World Champion and has also won the NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship once, the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship ten times, the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) seven times and the NWA National Heavyweight Championship one time. He has also won many other championships during his wrestling career. He is a member of the WCW and  WWE.

Rhodes began his illutrious career as a bad guy, tag teaming with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch to form the tag team The Texas Outlaws in the American Wrestling Association.

In 1974, Rhodes turned solo star after turning on tag team partner Pak Song and manager Gary Hart during a match in Florida against Eddie and Mike Graham. He was on his way to superstardom, primarily in Florida, referring to himself as "Stardust", the "White Soul King", and the "American Dream." Rhodes rose to the top of several National Wrestling Alliance promotions in Florida - where he also wrestled wearing a mask as "The Midnight Rider."  I have to wonder if the Allman Brothers Band song influenced that choice of name?

Soon he began wrestling with Jim Crockett Promotions in the Mid-Atlantic area, the forerunner of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Here, he formed a team with Manny Fernandez. He also teamed with Magnum T.A. as "America's Team," fighting the Four Horsemen 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 a World Six-Man Tag Team Champion with the Road Warriors.

Here in Greenville, Rhodes was involved in several memorable feuds over the years, including an outstanding series of matches against Blackjack Mulligan, and some serious contests against  Harley Race, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Crippler" Ray Stevens and especially Ric Flair. I was front and center for a few of those blood-lettings and I can honestly say, Rhodes vs. Flair was one of the most entertaining cards I ever saw.

After years as a superstar in the Mid-Atlantic, Rhodes continued his career with the WWF where he left in January 1991, marking the end of Dusty Rhodes' career as a full-time in-ring competitor.

Rhodes soon returned to WCW as a member of WCW's booking committee and later joined the broadcast team. Then in 1994, Rhodes returned to the ring to team up with his son Dustin along with The Nasty Boys versus Arn Anderson, Terry Funk, Bunkhouse Buck, and Col. Rob Parker.

He eventually left WCW and went to ECW before    returning once more to WCW and re-igniting his feud with Ric Flair.

For several years, Rhodes operated Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, a small Georgia-based promotion, featuring wrestlers trained by himself alongside veterans such as Steve Corino.

In 2005, Rhodes signed a WWE Legends deal and was brought onto the Creative Team as a creative consultant. Dusty was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 by his two sons, Dustin and Cody.

These days, Rhodes is semi-retired and is working for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He also works as a backstage booker and producer on the FCW brand.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.





Pro Wrestling in the South Back in the Day

Pro Wrestling and the Oscars

Nature Boy Ric Flair

Blackjack Mulligan

Ox Baker

Ox Baker Video


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gongsi028 says...

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copperhead says...

Every Saturday, Always a show when the dream was there

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