Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Dusty Rhodes, a.k.a Virgil Runnels, tried to epitomize the American Dream of a simple blue collar man grasping the gold ring. Claiming to be the “son of a plumber”, Dusty Rhodes truly is an icon of professional wrestling and a poster boy for the working man. He began his wrestling career in the American Wrestling Association, or, the AWA, as a heel wrestler and was teammates with a fellow Texican and professional wrestler named “Dirty” Dick Murdoch and they were called the “Texas Outlaws”. They had great success as a tag team holding both, the Central States version of the NWA North American Tag Team championship and the NWA American Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. His most famous finishing manuever was an elbow smash to the head of an opponent known as the Bionic Elbow.
Dusty Rhodes became a face wrestler in 1974 when he turned against then partner, Pak Song and manager Gary Hart during a match against the Graham brothers, Luke and Mike. From there he made wrestling history and held a plethora of singles’ titles, to include the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. He has also feuded with a virtual who’s who in professional wrestling like Harley Race, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, the Road Warriors, Abdullah the Butcher and Terry Funk. He has also gone by the names of Uvalde Slim and the Midnight Rider.
Dusty Rhodes has worked for many wrestling organizations like the WWE, WWF, TNA, NWA and WCW. In fact, it was Rhodes who reportedly came up with names for many of WCW’s super cards like War Games and Battle Bowl. He is also famous in most circles as the man who created the controversial match ending called the Dusty Finish. This is where a referee of a match gets knocked out and another ref comes down to “officiate” the rest of the match. When it is over and a winner is declared, the original ref “comes to” and declares the match a disqualification due to the infraction against himself as a referee. This has also been used in many title matches and usually set up return grudge matches.
A one time stint in the WWE was an angle where he would wear an outfit with big yellow polka dots on it and was referred to as the “common man.” Many people thought this outfit was made to make Dusty look ridiculous but he later said that the gimmick and the outfit were his own idea. He was embroiled in a feud with his manager, Sapphire, against the Macho Man Randy Savage and his manager, Miss Elizabeth. Sapphire would later pass away and Dusty would eventually drop the gimmick.
He is currently employed behind the scenes in the WWE as a booker for ECW. He was nominated into the Hall of Fame in the WWE in 2007 by both of his sons, Dustin and Cody, who are professional wrestlers themselves, both currently in the WWE. Dusty Rhodes was and always will be a true hero in the sport of professional wrestling.