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An Interview With
The American Dream Dusty Rhodes

Part 1
January 14, 2000
By Larry "Smokey" Genta

We all remember some of our personal “firsts”.  Our first love, our first drink, our first concert.   Wrestling fans remember the first guy that climbed in the square circle that turned them on and made them want to see and hear more.

The first exposure I ever had was piling into a car with some friends who knew all the wrestlers names, and we drove 60 miles to a high school auditorium in Lehigh Acres, Florida. 

The crowd was small, the building was like a sauna and the PTA was selling cookies and pouring grocery store cola in Coca-Cola cups.  The fans were restless throughout the matches but suddenly they hurried to find their seats and stirred with anticipation.  Everything up to that point had just been foreplay and the payoff for the entire evening was eminent.

That night I experienced “The American Dream”.

Almost 30 years later Dusty Rhodes still moves people to the edge of their chairs. His career has taken him around the world, and he has achieved greatness in every aspect of the wrestling business. He is one of the greatest entertainers every to take a stage or to have held a microphone, but when “Dream” came through the curtain it seemed like lightening had hit the building. They all cheered.  Young and old…black and white…good ole boys and city slickers all came to see Dusty. 

Recently, Dusty Rhodes left World Championship Wrestling. But this weekend the crowd will cheer for Dusty again when he travels to Philadelphia to have some fun, with his old friend Paul E. (Dangerously) Heyman and the ECW.

He reeks history and tradition but he has big plans and a bright outlook for the future. He has a new web site www.dustyrhodes.net and has the time and desire to build his company Turnbuckle Entertainment the same way he built his fan base, in the small venues, surrounded by people who love the wrestling game more than themselves and ratings points.

I heard from around the globe when I asked for some help with questions for “Dream”, and he was “shooting” like only Dusty Rhodes can.

Smokey:  Wrestling at the turn century means Web Sites, Internet Angles, TV six nights a week and dozens of wrestlers and even executives being paid not to work.  Does the state of wrestling bother you today?

Dream: Your right. It could bother me, if I let it. And I know that it works on a lot of guys heads but you got to make up your mind to deal with the changes that the move to the corporate world has created.  I’m not singling out any company, but the corporate guys don’t know jack-sh*t about wrestling.  Just after the move was made with Bischoff, there was a meeting held by a corporate guy. I’m sure he’s a good guy, but I had heard that same speech nine times before from guys like him.  Long after those guys in the shirts and ties have moved on to their next thing…Dusty Rhodes will be in wrestling.

Smokey: You have been with WCW and Turner almost from the start and suddenly you and management parted ways. One of our readers asks if there is any sense of loyalty to one’s federation anymore?

Dream: A sense of loyalty is a lost in corporate America on both sides of the table, and that’s not just in wrestling. Many times I hoped that I could have stayed with WCW till the end.  I never wanted to leave…but I probably should have four years ago when Turnbuckle Entertainment first became a reality. There are so many things that I’ve always wanted to do and Turnbuckle offers the opportunity to do those and so much more.

            WCW has been great to me and Ted Turner is my friend and a guy who really loves wrestling.  Being here in Atlanta with WCW was fantastic, my family is here, my kids are in school and I am able to do things like coach football at my son’s school. But, it’s not all about the money, and I guess the fact that I’ve been called twice to come back means somebody’s thinkin’ twice. 

Smokey:  Many fans were looking forward to seeing you and Dustin on the same side of wrestling again, but it wasn’t to be.

Dream:  So were we.  They had plans for a stupid angle with Dustin that I wasn’t interested in.  To shoot an angle that dealt with a father and son that were apart for 5 years? Five years of crying at night because we were lost and they want to sell it as an angle for a rating? No thanks.  Make me the commissioner? No thanks.   Would I have stayed despite all that?  Yea, maybe for “Piper Money”, or a “Piper Bus”, or maybe I could have had a private dressing room too.

Smokey: Obviously it can’t be just about money.  How does it feel to be making appearances with Paul E. and ECW?

Dream: Smoke, it is great.  I am having more fun than I have in a long time and it really touched me the way I was received there.  Paul E. Dangerously is one of those guys who learned the business from all angles and he works hard to improve his product with every show. Their style is different, but they are professionals.  The guys in the back and the fans out front made me feel like John Wayne when I walked in that first time. They have treated me with respect, I’m having a blast, and it is great to know that I could come in, contribute and help their rating at the same time.  No, I say it all the time; it’s not just the money. I insisted on working for free that first night with ECW, and being back in the ring, in a setting that is as close to the way wrestling was in the old territory days was my pay day.

Smokey: You know Ted Turner and have spent time with him.  How close is he to the operations of WCW? Have you heard from him since you left WCW?

Dream: You know I doubt he even knows.  I love Ted Turner but his company is so large that that sometimes I doubt if the different departments and management know the potential that exists. I mean here I have appeared in various capacities with TNN, and have a couple projects that we are working on with them, and now I’m associated with wrestling on their network too. At the same time “Turner South” is a new cable station of the Turner Network.  Does Dusty Rhodes fit there?  Maybe I should be the host of John Wayne Week on TBS instead of Randy Quaid. If its called Turner South could you see Dusty Rhodes traveling down the same back roads of the south that he’s been on his whole life…doing human interest stories and “Where are they now?” features?  I doubt if Ted knows what happens week to week, but I know he’s committed to broadcasting wrestling and will always be a fan of wrestling.  That’s why every Saturday Night for the last twenty years you can turn your TV on at 6:05 on Saturday night and it will be there.

Smokey: One of the top questions I was asked…Are you, or would you go back to WCW?

Dream: I probably should have left the corporate world before now, but now I’m excited about the things that are ahead with Turnbuckle Entertainment and Turnbuckle Sports.

Smokey: Is your appearance with ECW related in some way with Turnbuckle Sports or Turnbuckle Entertainment?

Dream: No, Turnbuckle is its own company and it will offer more than any wrestling company has before.  We will run small shows in rural America in little arenas and gyms, and even if there are 300 people in the stands we will be providing a place for people to learn the business and to prepare them for what’s ahead. It’s the way it started.  When there was only a couple hundred in the building we still went out and kicked ass, and gave the people the best show possible. But Turnbuckle will have a training center and The Dusty Rhodes Academy will be a place for anyone to learn the business.  There won’t just be a school for guys that want to wrestle.  We will welcome any student that wants to be a manager, a referee, an announcer, and even a place for females that want to get in the sport, or even in the ring.  We will teach it all, from instructing someone how to be a booker to showing how to produce and promote an entire wrestling event. We will have guest instructors and observers from every facet of the industry.  I have even invited the notorious wrestling writer Dave Meltzer to observe and contribute to the Academy.

            One of the other exciting projects will be the first ever Dusty Rhodes Wrestling Fantasy Camp, which will be structured similar to baseball fantasy camps when people from all walks of life can live out their dream of becoming a wrestler. They’ll get to mix it up with their favorite stars from years back and over several days we will prepare them for their own 5 minute fantasy match. and mix it in with an awards ceremony, a golf tournament and a lifelong memory. 

            We actually booked our first Turnbuckle Sports Wrestling Show today! The first stop on the Dusty Rhodes American Dream Tour will be in the town of Bessemer, Alabama. Our first show will be at the Bessemer Civic Center on Wednesday February 9th at 7:30 PM. It will be great to get in the ring that night, no matter how many people are in the stands.

Smokey: Sounds like “The Dream” has a dream of his own underway.  Who can we expect to see in the ring at a Turnbuckle promotion?

Dream: We’ll use some guys who aren’t currently under contract to other federations and as time goes on you’ll see the students from the Academy in all facets of the show.  But in Bessemer, Alabama you’ll see talented guys like Erik Watts, and Ray Lloyd who people remember as Glacier and Buzz Stern. Ron Reece and Luther Biggs will also be on that card and other will be announced in the coming weeks at www.dustyrhodes.net  

            Turnbuckle is moving into our new offices this weekend and although our new phone lines won’t be up till next week we suggest checking out the web site, and sending us mail if you are interested in any aspect of The Dusty Rhodes Academy or Turnbuckle Entertainment.

Smokey: One of our readers stated that the thing that sets you apart is the fact that you have the most knowledge and experience than anyone in every aspect of wrestling, from selling in the ring to selling at the concession stand.  You have stayed active and informed and always have had a legion of young guys that you have taken interest in. With the return of some of wrestling’s most recognizable names of the past it seems we hear a lot of veterans take credit for the success of wrestling today. Your comments?

Dream: There are only two people who know wrestling inside and out, from then to now, and that is Vince McMahon Jr. and Dusty Rhodes, The American Dream.  Vince is my friend and someone whose love of the industry has shaped the business. I have always had a desire to coach and to train the people who will be the future of the business and Turnbuckle will give me all those opportunities.  My legacy lives on every time someone drops an elbow or pulls on a pair of boots to wrestle.

Smokey: When can we expect an autobiography from The American Dream?

Dream: (laughs) we’ve talked about it for a while, and in fact I spoke to Vince McMahon about the same thing after Foley’s book took off.  The next book is doing well too, but I look forward to Dallas’ book.  It’s going to be terrific because it’s a real story about overcoming what seemed to be impossible odds. He was terrible when he walked into that old building in Tampa the first time.

            But I don’t think I could write just one book. It would have to be like a Lonesome Dove series of books.  I could write one called The Corporate Cowboy that could tell the stories of all the bodies that are hidden, or maybe a book of crazy road stories.  But I always envisioned being in an airport an seeing a guy reading a book that had a jet black cover with a shiny razor blade on it with bright red blood dripping off the edge of the blade…and it’s titled “Please Stop the Bleeding”, by Dusty Rhodes.

            Dusty and I talked for over an hour and it was all too good to try to stuff into one Smoke Signals. Next Friday the exclusive and candid comments from Dusty Rhodes continue when we answer more questions that were asked by readers. Highlights from part two include “The Dream Matches” that Dusty would like to see, the one match he wants to have and the feud he’d love to book.  Dusty also talks about his three greatest moments in wrestling, and revels the one wrestler who he feels got “buried” by the system.  In addition he reflects back on Magnum T.A. and Nikita Koloff, and answers a question about the racial atmosphere of those early days on the road.

If you are in the Big Easy also known as Nola or Nawlins’ you can catch Kimberly at the Auto Zone World of Wheels show tis Saturday, or maybe stopping by the House of Blues for lunch before her flight to Cincinnati’s Souled Out Show on Sunday.

See you with an update on Monday and the conclusion of our interview with Dusty Rhodes next Friday.

Looking forward to the showdown between Buff and DDP and anxious to see if the nW o adds a member…or two.

In the words of Dusty…”It shud be panda-monium…Mr. Solie!”

Smokey

Check Out www.dustyrhodes.net for the latest information on Turnbuckle Entertainment and The Dusty Rhodes American dream Tour