Dusty Rhodes vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham in a Texas Death Match
Today the wrestling community lost one of its greats.
WWE announced that Hall of Famer and three-time NWA world champion Dusty Rhodes – real name Virgil Runnels – passed away.
I first watched Dusty when I was 6 years old. He was the “common man,” feuding with the “Macho King” Randay Savage. Savage had Queen Sherri while Dusty had sweet Sapphire. Savage had the crown and robes while Dusty had the polka dots. It was an angle that I wished had continued longer than it should. Later I would learn that the polka dots were a rib, however the American Dream made that work and as he put it “took it to the pay window.” Dusty proved that you can make the worst gimmicks work.
Over the years I watched him as become a commentator or a manager, having no idea how instrumental he was behind the scenes. He’d make the occasional ring appearance on WCW or ECW. Fans today may hear about his work with NXT rookies.
It wasn’t until I became older that I discovered Dusty’s work in the ’70s and ’80s. Everyone talks about the wars he had with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen, but Dusty was involved in some battles with “Superstar” Billy Graham, Harley Race and Terry Funk.
Dusty Rhodes tells a good Terry Funk story
Dusty’s promos were legendary and they really tugged at the heartstrings. One of the things that made Dusty so popular was that he was a guy folks could relate to , similar with “Stone Cold ‘Steve Austin or Daniel Bryan. You could imagine yourself having a beer with Dusty at a football game. He’s someone who bring home for dinner to meet your parents.
Dusty was also a heck of a tag team wrestler, mostly known for his association with Dick Murdoch. He’s also held titles with Bobo Brazil, Andre the Giant and the Road Warriors.
As a booker, Dusty was ahead of his time. He created the Great American Bash and Starcade. Not all of his ideas worked – i.e. The Shockmaster – but you couldn’t say Dream’s ideas were boring.
The world will miss you Dusty. Thanks for the memories.