Dusty Rhodes is a name wrestling fans know quite well. Whether as a multiple time Champion in many promotions, a behind the scenes figure that in later years shaped many wrestlers in the fine art of a promo, or as the father of Goldust and Cody Rhodes. The latter known, for the moment anyway, as Stardust (That name likely a call-back to an old nickname of his dad). But however he is remembered, he certainly will be remembered as a man that changed the course of wrestling many times over.
After training with the late Joe Blanchard, Rhodes teamed as a heel with the late Dick Murdoch in the American Wrestling Association. But it was his face runs in many NWA promotions, as well as the WWWF (Later WWF & WWE). His nickname, The American Dream, matched the over-the-top charisma that he exuded both in the ring and on the mic. Along the way, winning countless regional championships, as well as the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. During his time in Jim Crockett Promotions (Later WCW), he was the perfect antithesis to long reigning NWA Champion Ric Flair and his group The Four Horsemen. While both men were charisma machines, Flair as a gallivanting heel that looked down on normal people, whereas Dusty was a man that didn’t look chiseled out of granite, or dress in Armani suits. Even his debated WWF run saw him fighting battles as if they were for every fan in the audience or watching at home. This area of his career would be enough for anyone to hang their hat on, but that only scratches the surface of Dusty.
While there were a few misses associated with his work in varying promotions behind the scenes, such as an over-reliance on fake out finishes to championship matches that would come to bear his name, or bringing Phi Delta Slam into TNA because they were buddies of his. But these are not even a fraction of the other feats in this part of his career. In WCW, he was the one that devised the legendary War Games match that many fans want to see return. In TNA, he jokingly suggested that an entire PPV be centered around steel cage matches. The idea became the annual LockDown event. And in NXT, he helped to help multiple wrestlers to transition to the big time. Among more notable names, Kevin Owens, and Bray Wyatt. The latter even breaking kayfabe on Twitter to thank the man that developed the cult leader-like character that captivates many fans today.
As a father, Dusty has a legacy living through his sons Dustin and Cody. Dustin etched his name in wrestling history as the unusual character Goldust, while Cody was able to make nearly everything WWE had him do work. The two sons got to induct their father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. He occasionally appeared to help out Cody. Most notably in his feud with Rey Mysterio in 2011. Dusty may not have seen face off at WrestleMania, but he at least got to be a part of them becoming WWE Tag Team Champions in 2013. One of the last major moments of his on-air career seems rather fitting that he and his family stand tall.
Dusty Rhodes may only have seen 69 years on this planet, but he gave 47 of those years to the wrestling business. It would be faster to go over the list of wrestlers that he didn’t touch. And ultimately, that’s the Dusty that will be remembered by fans, and wrestlers alike. And that’s why the legacy of The American Dream will never be forgotten.