Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr., better known as “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, had a long, successful career as a professional wrestler. Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and during his time in Jim Crockett Promotions, he was a United States Champion, Television Champion, World Tag Team Champion, and Six-Man Tag Team Champion. He has also won many regional championships throughout the country. Billed as “the son of a plumber”, Rhodes’ character was that of the American working man, particularly in promo videos such as his famous ‘Hard Times’. Rhodes is now currently a trainer for WWE, and he makes occasional on-air appearances. He also works as a backstage booker and producer in WWE’s NXT Wrestling developmental territory. Dusty Rhodes is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. He is the father of professional wrestlers Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes and Cody “Stardust” Rhodes.
Relive Dusty Rhodes’s great career here!
NWA (Central States) North American Tag Team titles w/ Dick Murdoch defeating Terry and Tommy Martin (November 7, 1968);
NWA Central States Heavyweight title defeating Tommy Martin (December 13, 1968);
NWA (Texas) American Tag Team titles w/ Baron Von Raschke defeating Thunderbolt Patterson and Wahoo McDanial (1969);
NWA (Texas) American Tag Team titles w/ Dick Murdoch (1970);
NWA (Detroit) World Tag Team titles w/ Dick Murdoch defeating The Stomper and Ben Justice (March 21, 1970);
NWA Florida Tag Team titles w/ Dick Murdoch defeating Argentina Apollo and Jose Lothario (September 17, 1970);
NWA Florida Brass Knuckles title defeating Jose Lothario (December 1, 1970);
IWA (Australia) World Tag Team titles w/ Dick Murdoch defeating Mario Milano and Mark Lewin (January 21, 1971);
NWA (Tri State) North American Heavyweight title defeating Bill Watts (May 21, 1971);
NWA (Hawaii) North American Heavyweight title defeating Sam Steamboat (November 25, 1972);
NWA Florida Brass Knuckles title (December 1972);
NWA Florida Tag Team titles w/ Dick Slater defeating Kevin Sullivan and Mike Graham (1973);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Bill Dromo (September 5, 1973);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Jos LeDuc (March 1974);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Bill Watts (November 28, 1974);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Killer Karl Krupp (1975);
NWA Florida Tag Team titles w/ Blackjack Mulligan (1975);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Bob Roop (October 6, 1975);
NWA Georgia Heavyweight title defeating The Spoiler (January 30, 1976);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Bob Orton Jr. (July 27, 1976);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Billy Graham (Febuary 15, 1977);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Buddy Wolfe (June 1977);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Ernie Ladd (August 1977);
NWA (Mid Atlantic) World Tag Team titles w/ Dick Slater defeating Ole and Gene Anderson (September 23, 1977);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Lars Anderson (November 26, 1977);
NWA Florida Television title defeating Bobby Duncum Sr. (1978);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Dick Slater (June 18, 1978);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating The Spoiler (June 19, 1978);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Bob Roop [Tournament] (November 25, 1978);
NWA (Tri State) United States Tag Titles w/ Andre the Giant defeating Stan Hansen and Ernie Ladd [Tournament] (December 25, 1978);
NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title (January 1979);
NWA Florida Television title defeating Bugsy McGraw (January 1979);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Curtis Iaukea (July 4, 1979);
NWA World Heavyweight title defeating Harley Race (August 21, 1979);
NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title defeating Mark Lewin (December 21, 1979);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Leroy Brown (Febuary 16, 1980);
NWA (Florida) United States Tag Team titles w/ Bugsy McGraw defeating Terry and Dory Funk Jr. [Tournament] (July 4, 1980);
NWA Florida Tag Team titles w/ Bobo Brazil defeating Nikolai Volkoff and Ivan Koloff (August 1980);
NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Bobby Jaggers (October 26, 1980);
NWA (San Francisco) United States Heavyweight title defeating Dick Slater for vacant title (November 8, 1980);
NWA Florida Tag Team titles w/ Andre the Giant defeating R.T Tyler and Bobby Jaggers (Febuary 15, 1981);
NWA World Heavyweight title defeating Harley Race (June 21, 1981);
NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating Jimmy Garvin (October 31, 1982);
NWA (Florida) Global Tag Team titles w/ Terry Allen defeating Johnny Heffernan and Don Kent (Febuary 15, 1983);
NWA (Florida) Bahamas Heavyweight title defeating Angelo Mosca (July 1983);
NWA (Florida) United States Tag Team titles w/ Blackjack Mulligan defeating Zambouie Express (November 5, 1983);
NWA (Mid Atlantic) World Tag Team titles w/ Manny Fernandez defeating Don Kernodle and Ivan Koloff (October 20, 1984);
NWA World Television title defeating Tully Blanchard (March 16, 1985);
NWA World Television title defeating Tully Blanchard (July 6, 1985);
NWA (Georgia) National Heavyweight title defeating Buddy Landell (December 19, 1985);
NWA (Mid Atlantic) World Six Man Tag Team titles w/ Road Warriors defeating Baron Von Raschke and The Koloffs (May 17, 1986);
NWA World Heavyweight title defeating Ric Flair (July 26, 1986);
NWA World Television title defeating Arn Anderson (September 9, 1986);
NWA (Mid Atlantic) United States Heavyweight title defeating Lex Luger (November 26, 1987);
NWA World Six Man Tag Team titles w/ Road Warriors defeating Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson and Ric Flair (July 9, 1988);
PWF (Florida) Heavyweight title defeating Big Man Steele [Tournament] (March 11, 1989);
NWA Mid Atlantic Tag Team titles w/ Buff Bagwell defeating Terry Taylor and Rikki Nelson for vacant titles (January 22, 2005);
OnlineWorldofWrestling.com Hall of Fame Inductee (2006);
WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Hall of Fame Inductee (2007);
In The Beginning:
Dusty Rhodes played college football at the University of West Texas.
American Wrestling Association:
Jay Ambler wrote: Dusty Rhodes’ legendary turn from heel to babyface occurred in May 1974. He was wrestling at the Tampa Armory (officially known as Fort Homer Hesterly Armory) in a tag team match. Rhodes was paired with Pat Song and manager ‘Playboy’ Gary Hart. Their opponents were Eddie Graham and his son Mike. While Dusty held on to Mike Graham, Song set up to deliver a chop while Eddie Graham was distracted by Hart. Moments later Graham ducks and Song ‘accidentially’ strikes Rhodes. The crowd went wild and Dusty then went on the offensive against Song and Hart. This match forever changed Rhodes’ career and the ‘American Dream’ was born.
National Wrestling Alliance:
November 7, 1968: Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch defeated Terry and Tommy Martin for the NWA North American tag team titles.
December 13, 1968: Dusty Rhodes pinned Tommy Martin for the NWA Heart of America title in St. Joseph, Missouri.
December 1, 1970: Dusty Rhodes defeated Jose Lothario for the NWA Brass Knuckles title in Tampa, Florida.
September 17, 1970: The Outlaws (Rhodes and Murdock) defeated Jose Lothario and Argentina Apollo for the NWA Florida tag team titles.
September 1, 1972 – American Wrestling Association: Dusty Rhodes defeated Wahoo McDaniel.
November 15, 1972: Dusty Rhodes defeated Sam Steamboat for the North American title.
1973 to 1981: Dusty Rhodes captured three more NWA Florida tag team titles with Dick Slater, the late Bobo Brazil and Andre the Giant.
1973 to 1982: Dusty Rhodes captured seven NWA Southern titles.
1974 to 1980: Dusty Rhodes won ten NWA Florida Heavyweight titles.
January 30, 1976: Dusty Rhodes defeated the Spoiler (Don Jardine) for the NWA Georgia title.
January 25, 1978 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Dusty Rhodes defeated Ken Patera.
February 23, 1978 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Eddie Graham and Dusty Rhodes defeated Karl Kox and Bobby Duncum.
October 29, 1978 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Dusty Rhodes defeated Bobby Duncum in a “Bunkhouse” match.
December 25, 1978: Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant beat Ernie Ladd and Stan Hansen in the finals of a tournament for the US tag titles.
~~~The following month, Rhodes again won the title this time teaming with the Spoiler.
August 21, 1979: Dusty Rhodes beat wrestling legend Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight title.
July 14, 1980: Dusty Rhodes and Bugsy McGraw teamed to capture the vacant NWA U.S. tag team title.
August 3, 1980 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Harley Race vs. Dusty Rhodes in two straight falls ended a no contest.
~~~A no contest ruling meant Harley Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Title – Fritz von Erich was the guest referee.
June 21, 1981: Dusty Rhodes won his second NWA World title defeating Harley Race in Atlanta, Georgia.
July 4, 1982 – Georgia Championship Wrestling: Don Muraco defeated Dusty Rhodes.
1983: Terry Allen (Magnum T.A.) and Dusty Rhodes (as the “Midnight Rider”) captured the Global tag team title.
November 5, 1983: Dusty Rhodes and Blackjack Mulligan beat Kareem Muhammad and Elijah Akeem Ambulakia for the US tag team titles.
June 30, 1984 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Dusty Rhodes defeated NWA Champion Ric Flair in a Best 2/3 Falls.
~~~Dusty Rhodes did not win the NWA World Heavyweight Title from the Nature Boy Ric Flair because of DQ finish.
October 24, 1984: Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez defeated Ivan Koloff and Don Kernodle for the NWA World tag team titles.
July 6, 1985: Dusty Rhodes pinned Tully Blanchard for the NWA Television title in Charlotte, North Carolina.
August 3, 1985: Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. defeated Nikita Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev.
Starrcade 1985: Dusty Rhodes pinned NWA Champion Ric Flair in to win the title!
December 14, 1985: Dusty Rhodes was awarded the NWA National title when champion Buddy Landel was fired.
1986: The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes won the NWA World Six-man tag team titles.
January 21, 1986 – Portland Wrestling: Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes by DQ to retain the NWA World Heavyweight title.
February 2, 1986 – MoscaMania: Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes in Hamilton, Ontario.
April 28, 1986 – AWA Rage in the Cage: Dusty Rhodes beat Arn Anderson in a steel cage match.
July 26, 1986: Dusty Rhodes pinned Ric Flair for the NWA World title.
September 9, 1986: Dusty Rhodes defeated Arn Anderson for the Television title in Columbia, South Carolina.
February 15, 1987 – MoscaMania 2: Tully Blanchard defeated Dusty Rhodes by DQ in Hamilton, Ontario.
May 9, 1987 – Championship Wrestling from Florida: Dusty Rhodes defeated NWA World Heavyweight champion Ric Flair by DQ.
Crockett Cup Tag Team tournament 1987: The Super Powers (Rhodes and Koloff) defeated Blanchard and Lex Luger in the finals.
Starrcade 1987: Dusty Rhodes defeated Lex Luger for the United States title in Chicago.
1988: The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes won the NWA World Six-man tag team titles.
March 27, 1988 – NWA Clash: The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes beat The Powers of Pain and Ivan Koloff in a barbed wire match.
June 8, 1988 – NWA Clash: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated Sting and Dusty Rhodes by DQ to retain the Tag Team titles.
September 7, 1988 – NWA Clash of Champions #3: Dusty Rhodes defeated Kevin Sullivan.
December 7, 1988 – NWA Clash of Champions #4: Road Warrior Animal defeated Dusty Rhodes by DQ.
Bunkhouse Stampede 1989: Dusty Rhodes won the Bunkhouse Stampede Match!
In The Meantime:
March 11, 1989: Dusty Rhodes defeated Big Steel Man in Tampa, Florida for the PWF title.
May 23, 1989: Dusty Rhoes defeated Al Perez for the Florida Championship Wrestling Heavyweight title.
World Wrestling Federation:
August 28, 1989 – Summerslam: Dusty Rhodes defeated The Honky Tonk Man.
November 23, 1989 – S-Series: Dream Team (Rhodes/Taylor/Beefcake/Santana) b Enforcers (Brown/Honky/Bossman/Martel).
November 25, 1989 – SNME: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes defeated The Big Bossman.
January 21, 1990 – Royal Rumble: Dusty Rhodes entered the Rumble at #10 but was eliminated by Earthquake.
January 27, 1990 – SNME: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes vs “Ravishing” Rick Rude ended in a DOUBLE COUNT OUT.
April 1, 1990 – Wrestlemania VI: Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire w/ Elizabeth defeated Randy Savage and Queen Sherri.
Spring/Summer 1990: Sapphire started receiving gifts at ringside during Dusty Rhodes’s matches.
August 27, 1990 – Summerslam: Ted DiBiase purchased the services of Sapphire, taking her away from Dusty Rhodes.
~~~Randy “Macho King” Savage easily defeated the very distracted Dusty Rhodes on the same night.
October 13, 1990 – SNME: Randy “Macho Man” Savage defeated “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes by Countout.
November 22, 1990 – Survivor Series: Ted DiBiase/Rhythem and Blues/Undertaker defeated Dusty/Koko B Ware/Hart Foundation.
December 1990: Dusty’s son Dustin Rhodes defeated Ted DiBiase in a 10-minute challenge match on Television.
January 19, 1991 – Royal Rumble: Ted DiBiase and Virgil defeated Dusty and Dustin Rhodes in a tag team match.
World Championship Wrestling:
1991: Dusty Rhodes signed with WCW in a creative role in the company and also as a commentator.
August 28, 1994 – WCW Clash of Champions #28: Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes defeated Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck by DQ.
Extreme Championship Wrestling:
ECW Living Dangerously 2000: Dusty Rhodes defeated Steve Corino in Danbury, Conn.
World Championship Wrestling:
January 24, 1998 – Souled Out: “Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko w/ Dusty Rhodes defeated Scott Hall w/ Louie Spicolli by DQ.
~~~Dusty Rhodes turned against Larry Zbyszko and World Championship Wrestling, joining the heel new World order.
February 22, 1998 – Superbrawl VIII: Kevin Nash and Scott Hall w/ Dusty Rhodes defeated The Steiner Brothers w/ Ted DiBiase.
WCW Greed: Dusty Rhodes and his son Dustin teamed to defeat Ric Flair and Jeff Jarrett in a “Kiss My A$$” match.
Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling:
Janyary 26, 2002: Dusty Rhodes opened Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, which primarily promoted matches in the southeast.
February 2, 2002 – TCW: Dusty Dustin Rhodes and Ron Studd beat Scotty Riggs and Fake Goldust and Jason Sugarman (TLC match).
July 2002: Dusty Rhodes met with Vince McMahon regarding a booking position with the WWE but nothing became of it.
September 14, 2002 – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling: Dusty Rhodes and New Jack defeated Sonny Siaki and Iceberg.
September 28, 2002: Dusty Rhodes did a radio appearance on WWBA in Tampa with Shannon Rose.
~~~Rhodes blamed the state of the business on fans thinking they are smart.
March 1, 2003 – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling: Dusty Rhodes defeated David Flair by DQ when Siaki and Desire ran in.
April 26, 2003 – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling: Henry Hoss defeated Sonny Siaki in a Bullrope match.
~~~Dusty Rhodes made an appearance to handcuff Siaki’s valet, Desire, to the ropes before the match.
May 9, 2003 – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling: Sonny Siaki and David Young defeated Dusty Rhodes and New Jack.
May 17, 2003 – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling: Dusty Rhodes and Jim Duggan defeated Disco Inferno and Sonny Siaki.
~~~Dusty forced Cody Rhodes to apologize to Rey, but it was all a set-up which resulted in Cody viciously attacking Rey Mysterio.
~~~Cody beat the hell out of Rey and dragged him up to the ramp and ripped off Rey’s mask before referees covered him with a towel.
Jay Ambler wrote: During the late 1970s Rhodes was able to garner tremendous heat or propularity with Florida fans. This often led to the moniker ‘star dust’ as he truly had become a regional celebrity. Years later Sports Illustrated would poll their readers and Rhodes would be distinguished because readers immediately recognized him. While in Florida Rhodes spent a considerable time out of the ring lending his name to charities, youth groups and causes that served to curb at risk youth.
Because Eddie Graham was also NWA president during this timeframe and because of the close relationship between wrestler and promoter, Rhodes’ career was able to expand beyond just the Florida territory. Despite having broken away from the NWA confederation WWWF (WWE) president Vince McMahon Sr. maintained a corgial relaltionship with other promotions. In 1977 during a series of matches Dusty Rhodes as the ‘American Dream’ challenged then WWWF champion ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham and sold out Madison Square Gardens. This series climaxed to the first bullrope match to ever take place in a WWWF promotion. The match was more about survival and the blood would shed as Graham and Rhodes tested their abilities and fans were stunned. These matches forever changed the WWWF as later northeastern fans would see cage and lumberjack matches. Rhodes set Manhattan on fire and returned back to Florida with even greater heat.
Rhodes returned to Florida and soon experienced his first NWA championship victory over Harley Race in 1979, which was held in Tampa (referred to in the press as the Tango In Tampa). It was also in Florida that Rhodes would experiment with such characters as the masked outlaw from Diablo Canyon the Midnight Rider and school Barry Windham, undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Rhodes owes much of his success to his relationship with Eddie Graham and the Florida fans.
Fitness model and WWE “Diva of the Decade” Trish Stratus
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