Dusty Rhodes, one of professional wrestling’s most charismatic and innovative superstars, died at the age of 69 on Thursday following a yet-to-be disclosed illness.
As a life-long wrestling fan, one of my earliest memories of life was watching “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes wrestle on TBS Superstation. He was everything that I adored about the wrestling business. His charisma literally jumped through the television screen and touched millions of viewers throughout his tremendous career.
I remember borrowing my best friend’s VHS copy of “Starrcade ’85: The Gathering” and watched in awe as Dusty defeated Ric Flair to win the heavyweight championship.
As a wrestling fan, you get used to seeing your old heroes pass away. Their lives on the road often leads to drugs and untimely deaths, but hearing about Dusty Rhode’s death elicited a more empty feeling.
Virgil Runnels (Dusty’s given name) was a husband, father and a trusted WWE employee who had found his niche working with NXT stars on their promos in Orlando. His death came as a shock to the entire wrestling world, and forced an old-school wrestling fan to look back at his life and career with reverence and happiness.
There will never be another Dusty Rhodes. His promos, work ethic, creativity and charisma will never be matched by another superstar on this earth. We can all take solace in knowing that the “Dream” is now getting “funky like a monkey” in a better place.