More reaction from those with Florida ties to the passing of The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.
The Author/The Friend
Former South Florida resident Howard Brody, 55, has worn many hats in the pro wrestling profession but friend is his top hat, and he tips it to his friend, Dusty Rhodes.
Brody authored the autobiography of The American Dream -- “Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream,” circa 2005.
“When I was working on the book, I got to see the real Virgil Runnels, a very loving, dedicated family man,” Brody said via phone. “Even though we weren’t as close now as when we wrote the book, we were still friends.”
Brody recalled during the book writing days: “He was driving, and I was falling asleep, and he said, ‘Wake-up. When you’re in my truck, no one sleeps.’ Every time we drove passed a farm, he would breakout singing the theme song to the TV show ‘Green Acres.’”
Brody continued: “Then he said, ‘Get your recorder out. Turn it on,’ and he told the whole story about Dustin. It was the most emotional I’d ever seen him. I didn’t ask or say anything. I just let him talk. When he was done, he said turn off the recorder, and he never talked about it again.
“Dusty was very sensitive to people’s feelings.”
Brody and Rhodes made several road trips. They drove from Rhodes’ home in Marietta, Ga. to Pensacola, Fla. for a Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser.
“He was one of a kind, a unique individual, and I will forever be grateful to him,” Brody said. I met a lot of good people because of Dusty, and he even tried getting me a job with TNA.”
Brody mentioned meeting former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner because of Rhodes. Steinbrenner wrote the foreword in the book.
“Dusty opened a lot of doors for me, and I will never forget that,” Brody said.
According to Brody, Rhodes could walk into an indie locker-room and recognize talent. He just had an eye for it.
Brody also said Rhodes saved the phone number of the late, great Dick Murdoch in his phone. Rhodes and Murdoch were good friends, like brothers, breaking into the business together as the Texas Outlaws. Rhodes did not attend Murdoch’s funeral in 1996, because he did not want to believe, know that his friend was dead, which is why he kept his phone number.
Brody noted Rhodes, a former shortstop and football player at West Texas State University, played on the Championship Wrestling from Florida softball team.
To close, Brody said his friend, Sheldon Goldberg, owner of New England Championship Wrestling, said it best, “Dusty Rhodes was more than an American Dream. He was an American Treasure.”
The Writer/The Fan
Florida’s John Patton, 43, a wrestling writer and Ocala Star Banner sports reporter, wrote via Facebook message: “Dusty Rhodes protected me as a child. I know this because I watched him do it twice each Saturday. First, in the afternoon came Championship Wrestling from Florida, where the ‘American Dream’ would battle the evil Kevin Sullivan and his ever-changing Satanic clan. It didn't matter who Sullivan brought in -- be it Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts, the Purple Haze, Maya Singh, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Abudadein or any other scary, nefarious character -- Dusty was there, defending all that was good.
“Then, at 6:05 p.m. on WTBS, there was the Dream in Atlanta, putting villains like the Andersons, Buzz Sawyer, Ivan Koloff and the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair on notice that justice for their underhanded ways would be delivered, if you weeeeell. And I knew he was fighting for all of us. After all, no one spoke with more passion, and the cavernous scars on his forehead were reminders of how much he was willing to bleed to keep us safe.
“Yeah, rumor has it that wrestling is a predetermined show. At least that's what I hear. But Dusty Rhodes was real. No one could ever convince me otherwise. He will be missed, but not forgotten. Not by me, not by anyone who believed in the dream.”
John also shared a wonderful post from WWE superstar Sami Zayn, an FCW/NXT alum. Dusty gave back, working with the up-n-coming talent like Zayn at FCW in Tampa and then the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
Sami Zayn on TwitLonger:
The Protege/The Friend
South Florida’s James Big Tilly Tilquist, 48, who wrestled in Florida and worked behind the scenes and wrestled for TNA, said via Facebook message: “He was one of the best performers and most loving friend you can ever ask for. He was a friend. He was a mentor.
“In my 25 years in the business, my greatest feat was being invited to the WWE Hall of Fame as his guest and sat with his family as he got inducted.
“To me, Dream was Florida wrestling. The first time I’d seen Dream, I knew I wanted to wrestle. I'm Blessed I got to know Dusty. I'm Blessed that he took us [Big Rocco/Big Tilly and tag team partner Sally Boy/Bruno Sassi] under his wing in TNA and Blessed to call him my friend and mentor.
“I just lost my dad 10 days ago, and I feel the same all over again. My heart is broken, and I miss him so much already.”
Former Florida ring announcer Shannon K. Rose, 40, president and publicist, Eclectic Media Productions, wrote via email: “What can I say. Wow. The guy who broke me in. The guy who shed a tear for Make-a-Wish to meet me, when I was near death.
“One of the most popular guys ever in pro wrestling. Dusty Rhodes has died. I am so very sad as we lost more than a legend, more than an icon, we lost the American Dream.”
The Veteran Fan
South Florida’s Greg Goode, 60, a longtime wrestling fan who began attending Championship Wrestling from Florida matches in the late 1960s, said via Facebook message: “I remember the first time I saw Dusty Rhodes. Back in early 1970, Dick Murdoch and him with their suitcases came strolling down the aisle of the Miami Beach Auditorium. The matches had not started yet. ‘Where the hell are the dressing rooms?’ they screamed.
“Later on that evening, they were introduced to that Miami audience as the Outlaws. It was announced that they won the Florida tag belts the night before in Tampa. Instead of challenging, they would be defending the belts against the former champs, Jose Lothario and Argentina Apollo. The Outlaws defeated the ex-champs in what could only be considered a squash match.
“The Outlaws were the first heels my best friend Dave and I cheered for. Heck, in Miami they soon had a cheering section in the mezzanine over the heels dressing room.
“Most of the audience was pretty vocal in their hatred of the Outlaws and liked to throw whatever was handy at the ring. Dave and I didn’t have the sense to be seated in the mezzanine; we preferred the trenches ringside. It was a golden time for me, and I'll never forget Dusty before he became the American Dream and a true legend.”
The Younger Fan
South Florida’s Steve Mesa, 29, runner-up in the WWE 2K15 video game challenge at WrestleMania 31 Axxess, said via Facebook message: “Unfortunately, I have never met the man in person.
“However, he truly was the best at what he did, whether it was feuding with the Four Horsemen or cutting a promo on living on ‘hard times.’ He was also a strong influence behind-the-scenes, especially when he worked with then-future Superstars at FCW and NXT.”
In honor of the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, CYInterview released a 40-minute interview with the Dream from a 2003 conversation with South Florida’s own Chris Yandek, 29, editor-in-chief of CYInterview.
Rhodes discussed the fans: “It’s an honor to be able to perform, but what you guys need to understand is, and I say this a lot, and they say it’s corny, but it is not corny...The reason that I have whatever I have today, my children have, went to school and college and all this stuff, if it hadn’t been for you all, there would not be an American Dream, and that’s in any walk of life, and if you ever forget where you come from, it’s just, it’s no good.”
Rhodes opened up about many more topics.
To listen to the 40-minute interview or read the highlights, click: