The SmarK Rant for the RF Video Shoot Interview with Dusty Rhodes
This was taped late in 1999, from what I can tell. As a reminder, this and all other shoot interviews I talk about are available at www.rfvideo.com.
Footage from ECW opens things up.
We start in West Texas State, pre-wrestling era for Dusty, as he went there with the likes of the Funks and Tully Blanchard. He got a football scholarship under dubious circumstances, but wrestling was his true calling.
Dusty remembers himself booking shows as early as childhood in the backyard. I’m not sure about the rumors that he invited a young Ric Flair over to his house and then put himself over.
He was trained in wrestling by a local named Bill Graham (no relation to anyone else with that name) and got started from there. Graham’s only question: “Can you do a dropkick?” At that point, he COULD, of course. Joe Blanchard (Tully’s dad and AWA President in that promotion’s dying days) taught him the essentials.
Early on he went to Australia with Dick Murdoch and met Jim Barnett. Barnett switched things up a bit, making Dusty the talker on the team and paying him more money.
Back to the states, as Dusty tells the story about his dad dying on the same day as Dustin being born. Fritz Von Erich paid for the funeral. Talks a bit about the importance of Living the Gimmick.
Over to the AWA, and a feud with Crusher & Bruiser. Dusty was still a heel at this point, keep in mind. Went to Florida and did tons of hour-long draws with Jack Brisco, until the fans had apparently turned him babyface by default, which led to the angle with Pak Song where he turned for real.
Talks about Kevin Sullivan’s devil-worship stuff in the 70s and how much the crowds were into it, to the point where there would be organized devil-worshipping groupie sessions, who were opposed by redneck bikers. And you thought Vince Russo’s fans were weird.
Eddie Graham started grooming Dusty to book in 1974. Dusty then stops to reflect on how much power he really did have over the years and how some MIGHT see that as a knock on him.
He then takes credit for a shitload of stuff, including training Paul Heyman to book and making just about major star in the 80s. He then trashes Meltzer and thinks that if he started his own promotion, he’d just put himself on top. Hello, Kettle? This is the Pot. I just called to say that you’re black.
Onto Dory Funk, who was a great wrestler, but wasn’t so great as a booker. Dusty notes he always seemed to get the booking jobs to clean up Dory’s mess. Apparently everything Dory said or did was a work.
Starrcade ’83 came about because Jim Crockett came to Dusty one day looking for a “special” aura to his big show. Dusty rejected early name suggestions from Barry Windham like “Autumn Bomb” and settled for a play-on-words for “Decade” instead – Starrcade. Eddie Graham let him go from his Florida obligations so he could book the NWA. Jim Crockett offered Dusty crazy money to name his big shows and book. No word on whether Dusty actually set up the rings and sold all the tickets door-to-door by himself, too, but it wouldn’t shock me to hear about that from him one day.
His first experiment in sportz entertainment was the Boogie Woogie Man video that led to the Valiant-Jones haircut angle. He regrets not copyrighting his event names, because when Eric Bischoff came along he took all of Dusty’s and added some lame ones of his own. Dusty named all of WCW’s PPVs from 1983 until 1993. That actually makes sense, since Bischoff’s contributions were “Uncensored” and “World War III”.
Wargames was thought up on a car trip to a house show, and is his favorite gimmick match. He describes the party atmosphere of the 80s.
He continues to make friends, talking about what a shitty booker George Scott is. Dusty actually hates “the b word” and prefers “executive producer”. The buck always stopped with Dusty. Piper & Steamboat apparently couldn’t deal with that and left for the WWF in 1984. That’s a unique interpretation of their reasons for leaving.
He was ready to pass the torch to Magnum before he accident killed his career. Dusty claims Magnum had more charisma than Hogan, and that he got way more chicks. Magnum got 40,000 letters a day from fans after the car accident.
Talks about the Andersons cage match that turned Nikita babyface and we get a clip of that.
Barry Windham, who once had tons of potential as a wrestler and booker, just prefers to stay home these days. Barry was Dusty’s #1 guy backstage and a protégé.
Onto the Midnights/RnR stuff and how Dusty came up with videos to get them over. Says the RnR were like the Beatles in terms of crowds and money. Says they could go 30-60 with ease, but it wasn’t believable for Ricky Morton to get beat up that long, so he didn’t book them longer than 20.
A bit on managers, with Paul E & Jim Cornette being his favorites. Thinks Cornette had the edge in talent.
Knew Steve Austin would be a superstar right from the start. Yeah, that’s why he booked him to bump like a pinball for Dustin, because he knew he’d be a superstar.
Talks about warring with Vince in the 80s. Takes credit for selling out the building in a match against Bubba Rogers and thinks they’d still be around (presumably on the strength of those Bubba-Dusty matches) had Crockett not gotten greedy. Yeah, THAT’S why the NWA died, because Crockett got greedy. Dusty’s booking had NOTHING to do with it.
Thinks Hogan beat him because he had Hollywood Connections and Dusty didn’t.
Tully: Good worker, bit of a crybaby. Thinks he was a spinoff of Flair. Onto Flair, who’s the “ultimate flim-flam man” and doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. Dusty takes credit for creating the Ric Flair character, and naming him as such. See, Flair wanted to called “Ricky Rhodes”, and Dusty told him “Ricky, you gotta find your own way, if you will” and Flair was so inspired by these words from the Dream that he went on to draw millions of fans around the world, all for Dusty. Dusty doesn’t think Flair is God, but then he’s kinda biased.
Clip of Dusty calling out Flair on an episode of Worldwide, as David Crockett has heart failure.
Dusty Rhodes v. Ric Flair. Stalling to start. Hiptoss & elbow and Flair begs off. Rhodes wins a slugfest and Flair bails. Back in, Flair pounds him in the corner and drops the knee for two. Dusty comes back with a press slam and a lariat for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, cue the Horsemen run-in. 4-on-1 beatdown follows, and the usual suspects save. *1/2
On another episode, Dusty calls out Tully, resulting in another beatdown.
Back to the interview…
Talks about the early days of Ric Flair. Doesn’t think Ric’s a good booker, but notes he has a rabid following of people who don’t know anything about the business.
Onto the UWF and the wasted interpromotional war. Dusty actually ADMITS A MISTAKE, as he notes he was too focused on Vince and didn’t see the potential in the UWF guys.
The Bunkhouse Stampede: Well, he took a lot of heat from the boys on this one. It was a basically a throwaway PPV. When the boys questioned him going over in his own match, his response involved a naughty word. Ah, Dusty, truly a wrestler’s booker.
Onto Sting and his trials and tribulations, and Luger’s. Funny story about a Luger-Wahoo match in Florida gets thrown in, but he admits to not knowing the details on the Bruiser Brody incident.
The Turner buyout and Dusty’s departure come next, as Jim Herd fired him as booker and wanted to turn him heel. So he told Herd where to stick it and went back to Florida to book until Vince called him. Funny how he skipped over the whole Road Warrior incident there, where Herd specifically told him not to blade on TV anymore and he did a five-alarm bladejob on TBS shortly after and got fired.
Dusty wanted Pat Patterson’s job in the WWF and made no secret about it. The polka dots were NOT to humilate him, apparently, but rather a test to see if he could it over, which he did. His original choice for Sapphire was not Juanita, but rather a black hooker off the street. Vince wanted a family image, and by gum he was right in this case. This interview is becoming more surreal by the moment.
Went back to WCW in 1991 to finish unfinished business and try to forge the new WCW out of the dogshit given to him. He did his best for two years and fought kicking and screaming when Bischoff came in 1993, but finally gave way for Hulkamania.
Talks about Dustin and missing his childhood. He knows a bad father for not being there. Loved the Goldust gimmick and thinks they didn’t even scrape the surface of it.
On the WWF War: Thinks they could have won if three things happened. 1) They needed a PR company to promote the shit out of Magnum & Flair and get them on talk shows. They needed to make “NWA” the same kind of brand name that the WWF had. 2) Contracts suck, period, and guys needed to work for their money. 3) TBS had to change their image as a hick station. That’s actually the most astute thing Dusty’s said in this entire interview.
History pieces piss him off because they leave out the 70s and act like wrestling died in 1964 and reawakened in 1984 when the WWF went national.
The Dusty Finish? He liked it. Veers off onto the Shockmaster and how funny it was, and Jeff Jarrett’s guitarshot on Moolah in 1999. He’s proud to be associated with a finish forever, when most bookers aren’t even remembered.
On today’s product: Times dicate T&A and storylines, so Vince delivers. Thinks three hours of Nitro is way too much, and thinks that ECW kids should slow down all the highspots. Most astuteness from Dusty.
Talks about the origins of his name.
Thinks Jerry Lawler is a flim-flam man in the Flair mold. Big fan of JR, but knew from Day One that Ross wanted his job.
Talks about WCW’s big run. Doesn’t think it’ll happen again because Vince adapts so fast and wouldn’t let Turner beat him again.
Talks about his TCW and aspirations to write & direct a movie. Plus the Dusty Rhodes Fantasy Camp, where you get to book yourself to the World title whether or not you deserve it. Okay, just kidding. He wants a piece of the ECW action with Paul Heyman.
Dusty Rhodes & Tommy Dreamer v. Steve Corino & Jack Victory. Dreamer & Corino brawl into the crowd, and Tommy garbage cans Corino and tosses him into a ticket window. Back to ringside, Dusty beats on poor Steve. Dusty & Tommy double-team Victory, but Corino superkicks Dreamer. He refuses to use a ladder, and Tommy plays face-in-peril. Victory stomps away and Corino makes lewd gestures at Dusty. Corino goes up, but gets planted into a ladder facefirst. Hot tag Dusty, usual follows. Stereo DDTs on the heels and double bionic elbows finish at 8:40. Rhyno attacks, Sandman saves. *1/4
He talks a bit about Japan and how he wasn’t a big fan of Giant Baba (now there’s an understatement), and so he got caught up in the NJ-AJ wars when he worked a New Japan show and defended the NWA title there. Backstory: All Japan was an NWA member at the time, but Baba HATED Dusty, and in fact his booking of himself to the World title in 1986 caused a major PR problem between Crockett and Baba.
We wrap things up.
Classic footage time:
From 86, the Horsemen trail Dusty’s car with a video camera in an angle stolen nearly shot-for-shot in 1997 for an Outsiders/Steiners angle. They follow him to Jim Crockett’s office, then jump out of the car and tie Dusty to a glass repair truck and break his arm with a baseball bat. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.
From NWA TV: The James Boys, a pair of masked outlaws who just didn’t care about nothin’, attack the Midnight Express and kidnap Jim Cornette, then drag him outside and try to hang him from the back of a moving truck. The James Boys then cut a promo, sounding suspiciously like Magnum TA & Dusty Rhodes.
From 88, Magnum & Tully mouth off at each other about the “I Quit” match from 85, as Tully gripes that no matter where he goes all he hears from the fans is “I Quit”. Tully cuts an awesome heel promo running down Magnum, then when Magnum won’t back down Tully attacks the crippled TA. Dusty saves with a baseball bat and just brutalizes Tully, nailing Jim Crockett on the backswing. This leads to Dusty getting suspended for 120 days, and we see the “board meeting” where this occurs, where of course Dusty cuts a tough-guy promo to declare his forthcoming vengeance on JJ Dillon for orchestrating the whole thing.
The next week, the mysterious Midnight Rider comes into town and demolishes a jobber with a DDT and bionic elbow. The angle never ended up drawing a dime and was dropped very soon after.
Barry Windham explains his heel turn, but gets confronted by the Dream. The new Horsemen beat Dusty down until Luger saves him and takes his own licks.
Back in the dressing room, Dusty and pals head out to the ring and Dusty calls out Windham. Dusty kicks his ass as wrestlers surround the ring. Barry keeps running and the boys keeps throwing him in. Dusty DDTs him twice as the clip ends.
Dusty Rhodes & The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express & Bubba Rogers. Same match that I covered on the Cornette shoot tape.
From NWA TV: Ivan Koloff kills Dusty and goes after Nikita, but gets nailed. Vladimir Petrov gets Nikita, but Dusty comes back to clean house…and then gets killed again. Petrov & Nikita have a Bald Russian Staredown.
The Four Horsemen v. The Road Warriors & The Superpowers. This is from Worldwide in 1987, just prior to Ole’s forced departure from the group. Mega-brawl to start, faces clean house. The Horsemen sacrifice Ole and let him take the initial beating, until he bails. Flair tries with Hawk, who totally no-sells the chops. Flair regroups and tries again as we go to commercial and return with a bunch of Horsemen down from the Sickle. Nikita chokes Tully down, same for Ole. Flair wants a piece of Animal, so they go. Flair chops the shit out of him, no effect. Press slam for Flair and he bails. Back in, Animal gets caught in the Horsemen corner, but he shoulderblocks out and Hawk comes in. He slams everyone as TV time runs out at 6:26. No finish shown, so no point rating it.
The Bottom Line: Another interesting shoot interview from RF Video, as Dusty interprets history in his own unique manner. I was a little disappointed that stuff like the Midnight Rider flop and his later booking days for WCW weren’t addressed, and the Dusty Finish question was TOTALLY dodged, but the footage of Dusty getting his ass kicked is classic and Dusty certainly has the charisma to make for an interesting interview no matter what the subject.
Recommended, but with reservations. Check it out at RFVideo.com.