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Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr. (born October 12, 1945), better known as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, is a semi-retired Americanmarker professional wrestler currently working for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He makes occasional on-air appearances on the Raw brand and works as a backstage booker and producer on the ECW brand.

Rhodes is a 3-time NWA World Champion and has also won the NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship once, the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship 10 times, the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship 7 times and the NWA National Heavyweight Championship 1 time. He has also won many other championships during his wrestling career. He is a member of the WCW, WWE, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Halls of Fame.

Professional wrestling career

Rhodes started his career as a rule-breaking heel, tagging with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch to form the tag team The Texas Outlaws in the American Wrestling Association. In 1974, Rhodes turned face after turning on tag team partner Pak Song and manager Gary Hart during a match in Florida against Eddie and Mike Graham. This led him to break out as a solo face superstar, primarily in Floridamarker, referring to himself as "Stardust", the "White Soul King", and the "American Dream", a working class hero. Rhodes ascended to the top of several National Wrestling Alliance promotions in Florida (where he also wrestled wearing a mask as "The Midnight Rider") and in Georgiamarker.

He eventually began working with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) in the Mid-Atlantic, which was the forerunner of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Here, he formed a team with Manny Fernandez. He also teamed with Magnum T.A. as "America's Team". America's Team started teaming up to fight the Four Horsemen and the Russian Team in 1985. They were one of the more dominant tag teams in the promotion until 1986, when Magnum's career was ended in a car wreck. Subsequently, he teamed with Nikita Koloff as The Super Powers. Rhodes was a World Six-Man Tag Team Champion with the Road Warriors.


Rhodes had feuds with stars such as Abdullah the Butcher, Pak Song, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Blackjack Mulligan, Nikita Koloff, Harley Race, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Crippler" Ray Stevens and most notably, The Four Horsemen (especially Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard). Rhodes, Flair, and Race each fought each other many times over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rhodes won the NWA World Title three times; twice by defeating Race (in 1979 and 1981) and once by defeating Flair (1986).


Rhodes became a booker for JCP while they were competing with the World Wrestling Federation after he won the Television Title in 1985. He is credited with inventing many of the WCW pay-per-view names and gimmicks, such as War Games, BattleBowl, and Lethal Lottery. The term Dusty Finish refers to one of Rhodes' favorite techniques, ending a match in controversy after the referee is knocked unconscious.

Dismissal from JCP

He was fired from Jim Crockett Promotions after Starrcade '88, because of a taboo on-screen bloodletting (laid down by the Turner Broadcasting Company following their purchase of the company) during a November 26 altercation with the Road Warriors. Rhodes booked an angle where Road Warrior Animal pulled a spike out of his shoulder pad and jammed it in Rhodes' eye busting it wide open. Rhodes was then fired from WCW. Following this, Rhodes returned to Florida to compete in Florida Championship Wrestling, where he captured the PWF Heavyweight title and also returned to the AWA for a few appearances.

World Wrestling Federation

In late 1989 Rhodes came to the WWF as the yellow polka-dotted "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes, a gimmick some felt was intended to humiliate him, although Dusty later admitted that the gimmick and outfit were his own ideas. He was managed by Sapphire, who was intended to represent the "common woman". During his early time in the WWF, Rhodes was embroiled in a heated feud with "Macho King" Randy Savage and his manager/partner Sensational Queen Sherri, who in turn found a rival in Sapphire. After a particularly intense confrontation between the two couples, Savage's ex-manager Miss Elizabeth allied herself with Rhodes and Sapphire and was instrumental in helping them win the WWF's first mixed tag-team match during WrestleMania VI. Sapphire, however, left Rhodes during SummerSlam 1990 for The Million-Dollar Man's money, which resulted in a feud with the latter, which also resulted in the national debut of his son Dustin. Both departed the WWF in January 1991, marking the end of Dusty Rhodes' career as a full-time in-ring competitor.

When Ric Flair left for the WWF in 1991, taking the NWA World Heavyweight Title belt with him, Dusty's old Florida Heavyweight Championship belt was used as a replacement at The Great American Bash for the title match between Lex Luger and Barry Windham until a replacement could be made.

Return to WCW and ECW

Rhodes returned to WCW shortly afterwards as a member of WCW's booking committee and later joined the broadcast team, usually working with Tony Schiavone on WCW Saturday Night. He would be paired with Schiavone and Bobby Heenan on pay-per-views.

Mike Jones's Virgil character in the World Wrestling Federation was named, at the suggestion of Bobby Heenan, as an inside joke on Dusty's real name. When Jones jumped to World Championship Wrestling, Heenan continued the joke by suggesting Jones's WCW character's name be made "Vincent", in reference to WWF owner Vince McMahon. The joke continued later in WCW when Jones changed his name again, this time to Shane, the same as Vince's son's, Shane McMahon.

In 1994, Rhodes returned to the ring to team up with his son Dustin along with The Nasty Boys versus Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck, Terry Funk, and Col. Rob Parker. The angle occurred after Anderson turned on Dustin during a tag team match at Bash at the Beach '94 and Dusty, admitting to being an absentee parent who should have been at his son's side instead of Anderson, put on the trunks one more time in order to help his son gain his revenge.

Rhodes was originally on the side of WCW when its battle with the New World Order (nWo) began in 1996. At Souled Out 1998, Larry Zbyszko asked Rhodes, who was working the PPV broadcast, to accompany him to the ring for his match against Scott Hall. Zbyszko won the match by disqualification due to interference by Louie Spicolli. Rhodes entered the ring, delivering his trademark elbow smashes to Spicolli as Zbyszko stood and grabbed Hall. Rhodes went to elbow Hall, but seemingly inadvertently hit Zbyszko instead. Hall then pointed to Rhodes as he revealed an nWo shirt. The three began to drop repeated elbows on Zbyszko before Rhodes announced "That's tradition, WCW! Bite this!". Announcer Tony Schiavone left the broadcast booth in shock but later returned, kayfabe ripping Rhodes for his actions for most of the rest of the night.

He eventually left WCW and went to ECW where he put over former ECW World Champion, "King of Old School" Steve Corino. Rhodes returned once more to WCW, re-igniting his feud with Ric Flair.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling

He appeared on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) shows, becoming the Director of Authority at their November 7, 2004 pay-per-view, Victory Road. At the same time, Rhodes acted as head booker and writer. In May 2005, TNA President Dixie Carter asked Rhodes to move onto a creative team, which included Jeremy Borash, Bill Banks, and Scott D'Amore. Rhodes resigned as booker, waiting out the rest of his contract with TNA, which expired soon after.

Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling

For several years, Rhodes operated Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, a small Georgia-based promotion, featuring wrestlers trained by himself alongside veterans such as Steve Corino.

WWE Legends and Hall of Fame

Rhodes at the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
In September 2005, Rhodes signed a WWE Legends deal and was brought onto the Creative Team as a creative consultant. He made an appearance on the October 3, 2005 WWE Homecoming in which he, along with other legends, beat down Rob Conway, to whom Rhodes delivered a signature Bionic elbow.

Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 by his two sons, Dustin and Cody. During his acceptance speech, Rhodes asked Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to hold up the "sign" and induct he and Harley Race into the Four Horsemen.

During an interview on WWE's The American Dream DVD set, Rhodes claims that his most popular promo of all time was his "Hard Times" interview during his feud with Ric Flair. The promo—which references out-of-work steel workers, factory runners and other blue collar individuals—apparently resonated with wrestling fans that people came to him in arenas in tears to thank him for "honoring their plight."

Sporadic appearance and Florida Championship Wrestling (2006-present)

A few weeks before Survivor Series 2006, Rhodes returned to WWE to be a part of Team WWE Legends, led by Ric Flair. The team, consisting of Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons, and Arn Anderson (acting as manager) competed against the Spirit Squad at Survivor Series. Rhodes, along with the other legends, was eliminated early on in the match before Flair managed to become the sole survivor.

A few weeks before WWE's 2007 broadcast of the Great American Bash, Dusty Rhodes returned to WWE television to feud with Randy Orton. At The Great American Bash, Orton defeated Rhodes in a Texas Bullrope match after Rhodes was nailed in the head with the cowbell. The following night on Raw, after Orton defeated Rhodes' son Cody Rhodes, Orton delivered a vicious kick to Dusty's head while "The American Dream" was trying to tend to his son.

On December 10, 2007, on the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode, Rhodes was at ringside to see Cody and Hardcore Holly defeat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Championship, and congratulated the two on their victory afterwards.

On March 29, 2008, Rhodes inducted his mentor Eddie Graham into the WWE Hall of Fame. Two nights later, on the March 31 edition of Raw, Rhodes was seen in the crowd of superstars paying their respects to Ric Flair during his farewell ceremony.

Rhodes made an appearance on the 800th episode of Raw, where he was involved in an in-ring segment, which saw superstars including Kung Funaki, Hornswoggle, The Boogeyman, Jesse, Festus, and the commentators Jerry "The King" Lawler and Michael Cole, dancing in the ring.

On April 4, 2009, Rhodes inducted The Funk Brothers (Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr.) into the WWE Hall of Fame.

On August 31, 2009, Rhodes was the special guest host of Raw and booked a match between his son, Cody and Randy Orton for Orton's WWE Championship with John Cena as the special guest referee. Before the match began, he turned on Cena as all three members of Legacy took him out along with DX. After the assault, Orton shook hands and praised Rhodes, but gave him an RKO.

Currently, Rhodes is a commentator on the weekly Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) television broadcast with Byron Saxton. He is also the head creative writer for FCW.

Personal life

Rhodes is divorced from his first wife Sandra and is now married to a woman named Michelle. He has two sons, Dustin and Cody, both of whom are also professional wrestlers in the WWE. He also has a daughter, Kristin Ditto, who used to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Rhodes is a grandfather to Kristin's two sons, Dalton Wayne and Dylan Wyatt. He also has a granddaughter, Dakota, who is the daughter of Dustin and his ex wife, Terri Runnels.

In wrestling

Rhodes performing his Bionic Elbow on Kid Kash.

  • Nicknames
    • "The American Dream"
    • "Dirty" Dusty Rhodes
    • "The Bull of the Woods"
    • "The Common Man"

Championships and accomplishments

  • International Wrestling Alliance (Australia)
    • IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Dick Murdoch

1This Mid-Atlantic promotion operates out of the same region as the original and has revived some of the championships that it once used. However, it is not to be confused with the promotion that was once owned by Jim Crockett, Jr. and sold to Ted Turner in 1988. That promotion went on to be renamed World Championship Wrestling.


  • Books
    • Autobiography: Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream 2005 ISBN 1-58261-907-7

  • DVDs
    • The American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story 2006 (World Wrestling Entertainment)

See also


External links

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