The American Dream

The Dusty Rhodes Story

Description: Before watching this DVD if you would have asked me what comes to mind when I think of Dusty Rhodes I'd have said 'Funky like a monkey' and Polka dots. I was too young to watch his NWA matches and his 80s tenure for WCW was never available to me either. It was only during his short stint in the WWF in the late 1980s that I ever saw of him. Based on that, I would have laughed at the thought of a 3-Disk Retrospective. It would be like a 3-disk Best of Heidenreich set! However, I am glad to say 'The American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story' has changed my mind, for the better.

Once again, WWE have taken advantage of their ownership of the NWA, WCW archives and delivered up one of their best sets ever. Just like the Bret Hart DVD, the main meat of the DVD is a full-length documentary tracing Dusty Rhodes career from his early days in AWA through his glory in the NWA and stints elsewhere. Almost every area of his career is explored with comments from past and present superstars on his influence. It can not be stated enough how much of an influence he had on the promos and interviews that a wrestler gives today. This is explored in great detail with many superstars talking (and imitating) his best ones. The three disks are filled to the brim with some of the best. At times there is a little overkill with this (number) and you feel maybe a few key ones would have made more of an impact. However, it is nice to see how his style evolved and changed depending on where he was and who he was facing.
I never rated Dusty as a wrestler and his look never gave me any impression otherwise. This disk slaps me in the face with so many great matches that I am literally shocked. After viewing many old-school matches on the Ric Flair and Bret Hart sets I was used to that slow pace style of 'mat wrestling'. With Dusty Rhodes you got everything. At times he would brawl like a classic Stone Cold match and then he would start to get technical like a classic Hart match. It seems Rhodes could do it all. His appeal was that he didn't have the body of Hulk Hogan, he looked like, as he was dubbed in the WWF 'a common man'.

His stint in the WWF is an interesting aspect of the disk. As you maybe scratching your head at mentioning 'polka dots' in the opening, the reason is this. Apparently (according to Bruce Pritchard) during Rhodes first WWF match, Vince was watching and said

'I see him in polka dots'

It has been widely claimed that this was a rib (joke) played on Rhodes. Previously, he had been booker for NWA/WCW and so McMahon was looking to humiliate his former rival. This is disputed on the disk with almost every McMahon kiss-ass claiming that it wasn't. Dusty is still unsure but in his own words 'I'll make it work'. And he did. Rhodes was hugely popular in the WWF and went on to many memorable feuds, notably with Big Bossman, Ted Dibiase and Randy Savage. It was during this time that his son Dustin Rhodes was also introduced. In my opinion, this is given far too much time and turns into one of those 'teary family reunions' that Trisha is so fond of.

One aspect that is not looked at is his terrible, terrible booking decisions for WCW. The fact that he broke up the Hollywood Blondes (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman) the greatest team WCW had. That he promised both of them a huge singles push and then did nothing with them should have been mentioned. They also skim over the reasons he left NWA/WCW for WWF. The fact that he used his position to push himself and his friends in the main event. This was similar to what Hogan did in WCW in the late 1990s and had an adverse effect on the business. I can only assume the purpose of the disk is to focus totally on the positives in Rhodes' career and to ignore all the negative aspects of him.

The disk ends in the present with Vince explaining why he hired Dusty to be part of the WWE creative team. Some have seen this as a mistake and the quality of the product lately has done nothing to disprove that thought. However, only time will tell if he will 'make it work'.

Extras consist of either, interviews, promos and matches. Also included is an alternative commentary by Dusty Rhodes on his match against Ric Flair (26/7/86). Sadly, this is not the highlight it should be. One reason is (Just like the Mick Foley DVD) you are unable to watch this match without the commentary. This is a shame, particularly when the match is such a well respected bout. (PWI Magazine voted it Match of the Year of 1986)

I'd be lying if I said all the matches are gold. However, there are enough that are really good. Highlights include:

WWWF Heavyweight Championship: vs Superstar Billy Graham (26/9/77) This was a curious inter-promotional match which proved not only that Dusty Rhodes was popular wherever he went, but also that he could compete against a muscle-bound beefcake like the Superstar.

NWA Heavyweight Championship: vs Harley Race (17/12/79) A great match. Voted match of the year by PWI Magazine. One of the best on the disk. These two put each other through hell. Race doesn't hold back and you believe it when people say he was 'stiff' and really hurt.

NWA Heavyweight Championship: vs Ric Flair (26/7/86) Despite the commentary, this is still a great match. Both men in their prime. A terrible ending, but otherwise a great match.

WWF Wrestlemania VI: Rhodes& Sapphire vs Macho King & Queen Sherri (1/4/90) Rhodes at his most flamboyant. He is able to put across his personality in this match. Both he and Savage are so unalike that this is such a wonderful oddity. Yet it works. Hugely entertaining.

Dusty Rhodes is presented here as a true icon of the wrestling business. His impact is felt in every promo you hear now. Catchphrases were his thing 'Harley Race is getting funkay like a munkay' became a household phrase, much in the same way as 'Do you smell what the Rock is cookin'?' did. 'The American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story' is a great tribute to one of the best in the business and should be used as a template by WWE whenever they release a Greatest Hits set, just so they know exactly how to get it right.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by David Simpson on July 17, 2006.

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