An Interview With
The American Dream Dusty Rhodes
By Larry "Smokey" Genta
Here’s part two
of the exclusive interview that I conducted with Dusty Rhodes last week
based on the questions received from readers.
Dusty Rhodes has a new and quickly improving site located at dustyrhodes.net and his company Turnbuckle
Sports has announced their first show as “Dusty Rhodes American Dream
Tour” invades Bessemer, Alabama on Wednesday February 9th. Scheduled to appear in the ring that night
along with the Dream will be Erik Watts, Ray Lloyd, Ron Reece and Luther
Biggs among others.
Many of the questions addressed to Dusty Rhodes were recollections
of his legendary career both in and out of the ring in the wrestling business.
Smokey: One of our UDC members named
Ben, noted that your experience in wrestling had taken you to every part
of the world, but also that you have worked in every capacity in the business.
What has giving you the greatest feeling of accomplishment, and
which area do you feel you have made the biggest contribution?
Dream: It’s got to be coaching.
Coaching has always been too important to me.
There is a lot of talent and potential out there that doesn’t know
the basics, like the philosophy of the road. I like being a teacher and
The Dusty Rhodes Academy will provide men and women a place to learn the
business and develop their craft no matter where they are experience wise.
I can still remember Dallas Page getting
in the ring for the first time in Tampa against Dick Slater. He was terribly bad physically but he wanted
to learn it all. I liked that
about him. You know Smoke, it’s
like goin’ deer huntin’. I love
it, but it’s especially fun to take someone out the first time, show him
how, and then watch him get excited about it.
Smokey: So many questions asked about
your personal career “highlights”. How could you pick one?
Dream: There are three, and all are equally sweet memories.
front of Madison Square Garden on horseback, and when I looked down I
saw my wife Michele, and my family. My mom was sitting next to my friend
George Steinbrenner. The designer Halston was there, so was Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Cheryl Tiegs and other celebrities.
Looking up I saw the announcement of Dusty Rhodes “The American
Dream” on the marquee. Seeing the words Madison Square Garden and SOLD
OUT, was pretty heavy.
Another one was at the Tokyo Dome in 1991 when I was
in the ring with my son Dustin in front of 60,000 people. I was filled with pride and it was a time that
I’ll always cherish. The third might surprise some people but it was when
Dallas Page won the WCW Heavyweight Title. The coach in me made it one
of my proudest moments. He was a floppy-eared jackass mule in horrible
shape and too stubborn to give up when I first met him. To see him climb
his way to the top and see him with the belt was an accomplishment that
everyone said would never happen.
Smokey: So much has recently been said
about the backroom agenda’s that some guys have, both bookers and individual
talent. How strong is the networking
behind the scenes? Do guys get
“buried” in the back before the fans get to see them in the ring?
Dream: The ones that didn’t reach
the top will always say that. Does
it happen? Probably, but I really can’t tell you why. What I will say is that 90% of the guys who felt they were buried,
really were buried because of their ability or lack of it. There are reasons
a guy makes it, and a lot of reasons why he doesn’t.
Smokey: I can’t take credit for the
next question, but I like it a lot. Dream
is there any one guy who you thought may have been held down, and had
what you thought it took to be a lot bigger star than he became?
Dream: A lot of guys may have had
potential but I think Barry Windam in his prime was a helluva talent. He was good, he was tough, he was outspoken
and he was one of my boys.
Smokey: Okay since you are “The Dream”, the questions about
your Dream Matches were flying in. I
broke them into categories…and they’ll come from a few angles.
If you could have had a match with
any other wrestler in history, with both of you in your prime, who would
you have liked to hook up with for a PPV match?
Dream: Hmm. How about Dusty Rhodes “The American Dream”
against Gorgeous George (Wagner) in his prime, with a young Muhammed Ali
as the special guest referee. That would be some show.
Smokey: Just the thought of that match
is entertaining. Okay the next
one is for Dusty the fan. A dream
match of wrestlers past and present that you would pay to see?
Dream: I think it would be two guys
that were great in the ring like Johnny Valentine and Jose Litteri, that
would be an exciting match.
Smokey: How about a match with you managing in the corner?
Dream: A six-man tag match, my guys
are Dustin, Dallas Page and Scott Hall, with Dick Murdock our special
referee. That would be some fun.
Smokey: There were more. How about one for Dusty the promoter? The one match that you would like to book with
the roster of current wrestler’s?
Dream: I think a Steve Austin-Bill
Goldberg match-up is one a lot of people would love to see.
Smokey: Is there one more match that
you still want to have?
Dream: Me and Terry Funk…one more
time. Why has that feud stayed
hot through the years? Because
we always sold it. Every time we went out we gave the people a show, TV
or no TV. It was the ultimate battle of all time and it would be the same
today. Our 50-year old asses would be a huge draw.
Smokey: You have been in plenty of
physical “wars” over the years, but there seems to be a lot more injuries
in wrestling now. Is it because
of the high-flying stunts, the fact that the wrestlers are generally bigger
than in years back or is there just less dedication day in and day out.
The Dream: The biggest difference is that
we got paid from town to town. It
was part of the business to get paid based on each shows attendance, and
you never knew what that meant week to week.
Nobody was taking time off because of hang nails or headaches.
I remember having my boots cut off me because of an infection one night,
patching it up and getting in a car to drive to the next town to work
the next night. It’s better now,
but it was the way it was then, there were no guarenteed contracts or
salaries. Everybody worked hurt, we had to.
Smokey: Many questions were directed
at your friendship with Magnum TA.
Dream: If there is ever a book to
be written or a movie to be made about the roller coaster life of one
man it would be that one. The
night he went down in the ring a doctor told me that Magnum had a million
to one shot of ever moving his legs.
He was a million to one shot, but as soon as they put him in a
hospital bed he began to fight and struggle his way back.
He wound up driving out of that hospital.
He was a man among boys. It was Magnum, not Hogan, that was the heir
to the throne and he would have had it all.
These days he is a very successful businessman in Charlotte, N.C
and he owns and operates Magnum TA Towers, a company that builds towers
in that area. Besides all that he one of very few people
that I would trust with the lives of my children.
Smokey: How about Nikita Koloff?
Your feuds with him jogged the memories of many readers.
Dream: He was one of the last great heels in the business.
He didn’t talk for two years and still got heat. One of the loudest roars
I ever heard was in the ring with Nikita when he took Magnum’s spot at
that PPV. He’s still around, and also lives in Charlotte.
Smokey: Dusty, you have traveled down
so many roads in wrestling, many of them in the south. One of our readers saw you wrestle in the early
70’s against Porkchops Cash, who he remembers as one of the only black
wrestlers of the era. Wrestling
always had a large number of black fans but our reader says the crowd
still cheered The American Dream. He
wonders why there weren’t more black wrestlers and why you think you were
so popular with minorities?
Dream: The promoters were stingy and
money hungry first, so it didn’t matter if you were black, white, yellow
or green if you could draw money, and fill seats you could work. Why did people of all colors love Dusty Rhodes?
Because I was just like them, a hard-workin, blue-collar, fat,
plumber’s son that grew up in the Black and Mexican part of Austin, TX.
Porkchops Cash? They’d
boo him out of the building. They
came to see good over evil and get funky with “The American Dream”.
Smokey: Yes they did…and still do.
Dream you sound like the recent shuffle of the deck has got you
jacked and Turnbuckle is going to be the outlet for your energy.
Dream: It’s never changed. I wake
up every day ready. Ready to make
that choice to cross the rapids and dance the tide.
Dusty Rhodes is one of three men that
Diamond Dallas Page calls his mentor in professional wrestling. He is more than just a legendary name in the
world of professional wrestling, he is a national treasure. My thanks
go out to Dream for giving me the opportunity to ask the questions that
are on the minds of UDC members and wrestling fans. This was the first
of my interviews to appear on-line. Let
it be noted that once again…The Dream is number 1.
Who is next weeks interview? You’ll have to check back on Monday when I
begin taking your suggestions for questions for our mystery guest.
UDC fans can catch Page and Kimberly
together when WCW tickets go on sale in San Francisco (today) Friday 1/21
and they are in Sacramento this Saturday 1/22.
Next Saturday January 29th,
DDP will be at the St. Louis Auto Show for an autograph signing. This is another Bang It Out For Books event
and the people at the Auto Show are a class act. They will be matching DDP’s $1,000 cash donation plus Scholastic
is sending books to the Columbia Community Education Center. Get out and support the people who are helping
support the youth of tomorrow.
If you have a glass of your favorite
beverage nearby, raise a glass for toast…
Here’s wishing Beniot, Saturn, Guerrero,
Douglas, Malenko and anyone else who is in transition the very best of
luck…and lets hope that WCW can be as entertaining after 8 o-clock as they have been before 8 o-clock.