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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2017 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Dusty Rhodes
By Mizfan and Shane
Apr 1, 2017 - 8:32:34 AM

Dusty Rhodes
Class of 2017


"I don't have to say a lot more about the way I feel about Ric Flair. No respect! No honor! There is no honor among thieves in the first place. He put hard times on Dusty Rhodes and his family. You don't know what hard times are, daddy! Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work and got four, five kids, and can't pay their wages, can't buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell them 'Go home!'. And hard times are when a man has worked at a job thirty years — thirty years! — they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say 'Hey, a computer took your place, daddy!'. That's hard times! That's hard times.”

Mizfan: On June 11, 2015, the wrestling world was put on hard times.

It’s very strange for me to be thinking about Dusty in the past tense right now. I’m currently wrapped up heavily in The Legacy Series, where Dusty is not just alive but positively bursting with vitality on commentary each week. But Dusty always seemed to be overflowing with life, and it was that same welcoming energy that drew people to him, often by the thousands upon thousands, for decade after decade of his life.

Though I came to wrestling long after Dusty had (mostly) hung up his boots, I have experienced great joy discovering all the nooks and crannies that made his career one of the greatest ever. There are the expected moments, the spine tingling and rabble rousing promos, the hanging of Ric Flair upside down in a steel cage while both men bleed enough to fill buckets, the storming of Madison Square Garden to take on Billy Graham, but one of the wonderful things about Dusty is there is so much more to him than that. His sometimes gripping, often hilarious commentary provided over the years. His contributions to even the most basic tropes of wrestling. His fantastic eye for talent, right up until the time of his death. You can even find him bleeding his way through the latter days of ECW if you like, and in a hundred more unexpected places beside.

You could say Dusty’s career was always unexpected though. Even in it’s very success, it’s not something that could have been predicted. Dusty just didn’t fit the mold, and he knew it, but he made it work. Part of the reason he is indeed so loved, by me and by so many over the years, is that words like “shouldn’t” and “can’t” simply didn’t exist in his vocabulary. He was more than a dream, he made dreams into reality, and for that alone he is truly incredible.

I’ll leave you with some words, first from the man himself and then from the my learned colleague Shane, that I think sum things up better than I ever could.

“I admit, I don't look like the athletes are today supposed to look. My belly is just a little big, my hiney is just a little big, but brother, I am bad, and they know I'm bad.”


Shane: When asked to talk about Dusty Rhodes, it is to his everlasting credit that I have to ask which Dusty Rhodes? Are we talking about Dusty Rhodes from WWWF, a man who, had it not been for a promise that Vince Mcmahon Sr. made to Bob Backlund, may have become “hollywood” before Hulk Hogan? Are we talking about the former three time NWA champion, the common man who gave the uncommon promo that set the wrestling world on fire? Are we talking about the commentator in WCW who entertained my generation on Saturday Night, on [the show he was on that Brooklyn so enjoys], and on Pay-Per-View? Are we talking about the Dusty Rhodes who, backstage, put on many of the talents we now take for granted? Or are we talking about the Dusty Rhodes who, just before he passed, gave birth and shape to a whole new generation of nXt kids? Because, honestly, the way I feel about it is this: every one of those iterations of the American Dream deserve their place in the Hall of Fame.

Dusty Rhodes, to me, was a symbol of hope. He was a symbol of never giving up. He was a symbol of imagination touching down on potential and giving us a vision that only dreams are made of. Dusty Rhodes, in fact, was the embodied, manifested, stuff that dreams are made of. Whether working it out through a language that was, according to Bobby Heenan on commentary, “of the cow pasture,” or working it out through blood, sweat, tears, hard times, and a steel cage, Dusty Rhodes took what might have otherwise been considered dirty, lowly, a polka-dotted joke, and he turned it into something the wrestling world had to see to believe.

And see him, we did.

Dusty Rhodes became the dream materialized, for himself, for many others in the business, and for the millions of fans who hold him up in our memories. Dusty Rhodes was the American Dream, and he lives on through Dustin and Cody, yes, but, also, Dusty Rhodes lives on through every wrestler who achieves more than they should, believes more than they should, and inspires more in us and from us than we could otherwise imagine.

Dusty was the dream, but he wasn’t a dream in passing.

Nor was he a dream deferred.

He was a dream spoken into being, against any and everything we might have imagined.

Maybe it’s better that way, to start out as nothing more than a dream.

Maybe it’s better that way, to be so unlikely that even when you’re living the dream it still kind of feels like a dream.

Maybe it’s better that way. So that once you’ve gone from dream to being, and once you’re gone gone, you can return, in the hearts and minds of the people, to what you were all along.

You can return to the felt energy that connects to us, through us--the felt energy that turns every me into an us. You can return to that essence that expands within our identity until it nudges us into a social reality that will be altered by vision enacted. You can return to the very essence that made you. That made us love you. Dusty Rhodes, you can finally return to dream.