Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. passed away today. Perhaps you knew him better as Dusty Rhodes aka The American Dream.
Pro Wrestling fan or not, I’ll bet you knew of him.
Dusty began his career in 1968 in the AWA as a bad guy. That’s when I first saw him wrestle on late night tv. Dusty was a bad guy and partnered with Dirty Dick Murdock. They were a couple of cowboys chasing the tag team title.
I was a kid living deep in WWA territory that was run by Dick the Bruiser and we considered the AWA a lesser organization. I knew who Dusty was but since I never saw him in “my” territory, going against my champs, I didn’t give him much thought.
In 1973, I moved to Florida and into NWA territory. Remember this was when pro wrestling wasn run by several smaller organizations with no national company like the WWE. Dusty showed up as a singles wrestler. He was still a cowboy but definitely a more modern man of the people.
Given the mic, Dusty shined. He didn’t look like the typical champion, but once he dropped his atomic elbow and did a little victory dance, he became the people’s champ. Dusty’s career flourished and he went on to great success not only in the NWA, but also Vince McMahon’s WWF (later the WWE), the WCW and ECW.
Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 and continued to be a force behind the scenes as a writer and creative director.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dusty Rhodes’ family, friends and fans.