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SMOKE SIGNALS
An Interview With
The American Dream Dusty Rhodes
Part 2

January 21, 2000
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.

 In 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.