One final Dusty-related piece from me:
First here’s Dustin’s eulogy: https://twitter.com/Goldust/status/611569470147031040
And here’s Cody’s eulogy: https://twitter.com/StardustWWE/status/611332890568327168/photo/1
And here’s wonderful obit/feature on Dusty and his time in Tampa: http://tbo.com/Obituaries/private-funeral-in-tampa-today-for-wrestler-dusty-rhodes-20150617/
And here’s my piece on Legends of Wrestling Roundtable: Texas Wrestling
Your panelists are: Jim Ross, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes and “Cowboy” Bill Watts. With Mean Gene Okerlund moderating the conversation. Number of cowboy hats on the set are two but the “Cowboy” isn’t wearing one. Rhodes is the only actual Texas-born person on the panel.
— Ross starts out by saying Texas had five full-time territories and as an Oklahoma guy Ross says there’s no state that comes close to Texas for producing stars. He goes into the Dallas territory with the Von Erichs and from there with Paul Boesch in Houston, Gory Guerrero in El Paso, Joe Blanchard in San Antonio and Dory Funk Sr. in West Texas. Ross said guys could bounce from territory to territory in Texas and make a good living without leaving the state.
— Hayes talks about some guys could only draw in Texas and other guys could draw anywhere but Texas, making that area really unique.
— Dusty talks about the wrestling tradition on the West Texas State football team that included the Funk Brothers, Tito Santana, Ted DiBiase, Tully Blanchard, Bruiser Brody and of course Dusty himself. Dusty cracks a joke about Watts booking him nine times in a week.
— Hayes takes credit for making Dallas hot, which is somewhat true and somewhat of an embellishment. Hayes says the promoters in Texas weren’t often put over but the panel reminds him that Boesch was highly revered by the boys and promoters alive. Dusty says Boesch was the best payoff in the territory era.
— JR talks about the Von Erichs a little and how he came across them when Watts would book them for Mid-South TV. And then he talks about how strong the Von Erichs were because of their TV coverage. He makes the comparison of the old wrestling fan being like a NASCAR fan as they would watch all the different promotions they could on TV.
— Dusty puts over Texas as the greatest state in the union and the greatest football team in the union. And tries to talk about JBL but ends up telling a story about him hitting a home run against Abilene Christian. That’s Dusty for ya. Back to wrestling and Dusty says the Freebirds-Von Erichs encaptured the Dallas market and we see a long clip of a Freebirds vs. Von Erichs (Kevin, Fritz and Mike) in a street fight at Texas Stadium.
— JR says Dusty was the quintessential Texas wrestler because he went to every territory around and drew money everywhere. Ross said this is a bottom line business and Dusty proved his value. From a technical standpoint Ross said Dory Jr. was probably the best. And we saw a clip of the Funk Brothers absolutely destroying the faces in Florida, including breaking Dusty Rhodes’ arm. Fans were pelting them with trash. And more clips of Dory beating Thunderbolt Patterson in a NWA title defense in Florida.
— Hayes said Dusty was so good as drawing money he could get other wrestlers’ payoff…other wrestlers meaning Hayes himself of course.
— JR said for modern times Stone Cold is the man. Texas guy, born there, trained there and started in Dallas but in a bottom-line business no one sold more.
— Watts and Hayes put over the Guerrero family as a whole and then some of the great Latin talents that came from Gory Guerrero’s promotion in El Paso.
— Hayes and Watts talk about Dick Murdoch and how great the Dusty-Murdoch team was as the Texas Outlaws and how choatic their fights were. Dusty tells stories about Murdoch working for San Francisco and how he might have gotten into some weird stuff out there. We see clips of the Outlaws reuniting to take on Bob Roop and Harley Race in 1975 at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. Roop and Race did damage to Rhodes’ throat and Rhodes recruited Murdoch to help him and as legend goes the card sold out in a few minutes once the match was announced. When Dusty piledrives Roop on the concrete the place goes absolutely ape shit. And back in 1975 if you got piledriven on the concrete, it was pretty much instant death. Rhodes and Murdoch just continue to beat the shit out of Race and Roop, who the medics are trying to take out on a stretcher. Rhodes is narrating this with Gordon Solie and getting hyped up more by the second. Amazing, wild stuff and it was cool to see the Outlaws be total heels in their actions but they were the faces and had the crowd eating out of their hands.
— Watts talks about Rhodes’ wife being a tremendous Tex-Mex cook and then they get deeper into the Latin talent like Jose Lethario and El Santo and of course Mil Mascaras. And when the real Mexican superstars came into the Texas territory for spot shots they sold big tickets. Ross talks about how the Mexican fans knew the Mexican stars from the Puerto Rican stars and would punish the promoters that tried to pull one over on that fan base and bring in a Puero Rican star and push him to the Mexican fans.
— Watts tells a Terry Funk story about him getting drunk and ribbing his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, who were shacking up in the house he lost to her in the divorce.
— Dusty talks about Terry Funk shooting out the traffic lights in those one-horse towns around the canyons. Dusty tells a tremendous story about him and Nick Bockwinkle trying to rib Terry but Terry caught on to it and ribbed Bockwinkle instead.
— Watts talks about Dory Jr. ribbing Hansen and making him tear out his shoulder trying to knock down a street sign after Dory did it with one he gimmicked.
— More Watts this time talking about the Von Erichs and how big David’s funeral was. Watts said Fritz never really understood the problem his sons had with substance abuse. He talks about how Kerry was so huge but he was caught up in drugs as was his brother Chris. The only one who generally avoided the hard drugs was Kevin, who is the only surviving brother.
— Hayes said the tragic part of the Von Erich story was that the great memories they left for the people in Dallas are often just a footnote. He says Fritz got a lot of flack for taking care of his boys but when they had the right opposition, like the Freebirds, he let things escalate and get huge.
— Dusty talks about the super shows and how Vince rn the showdown at Shea and Florida did the Tampa show at Tampa Stadium and Fritz did the shows in Dallas. Hayes said the Texas Stadium shows were the largest houses in Texas until the WWE had the Royal Rumble in 1997 and the two Wrestlemanias in Houston.
— Ross talks about Wrestlemania 17 and how much he loved the Astrodome and puts over how great of a show that was….and wrestling fans agree as it’s widely considered the best Wrestlemania and arguably the best PPV of all time. We see clips of the Rock-Austin main event from the Wrestlemania 17 card.
— The panel gives praise Shawn Michaels and Ross says he’s the best “big match” perform to ever grace the ring. This was taped as a lead-in to Wrestlemania 25 too so once again Shawn was about to deliver another classic (depending on who you ask). Hayes says he continues to get better.
— Hayes mentions the other Texas guys that fell to substance abuse and brings up Gino Hernandez. Ross said Hernandez had the potential to be great and Watts said Gino’s attitude was that he wanted to work and he wanted the responsibility to be the man. And then somehow Watts goes back to putting Dusty over.
— Dusty tells a story about having to turn down a booking because his father died the same day Dustin was born. He barely had enough money to cover the funeral but Fritz gave him an envelope with money to cover the cost. Dusty said years later he was able to go back into Dallas and had the resources to give Fritz the money back and said he didn’t feel right until he did that.
— Hayes talks about Blackjack Mulligan and Dick Murdoch buying Amarillo territory from Dory Sr. Dusty said it included a “trunk factory” where they could make the wrestlers gear. He says the first trunks they sent him were too big and they misspelled “DR” on them. “I’m heavy, you know, but these would have fit Beulah the Cow.” Dusty said Blackjack and Dick were at gunpoint with each other from time to time and sold the territory within a year as only Dory knew how to make Amarillo work.
— Watts said he had Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen as a team but broke them up because he could see they were both going to be stars. Watts said Bruiser was a different type of talent as he would make a deal with a promoter and look at the house and then would hold up the promoter for more money. Watts speculates that was much of the reason he got murdered by Invader I in Puerto Rico.
— Dusty and Watts talk about Ernie Ladd and he was from Texas. Watts said when Ernie died he cried for four days. Ross said Ernie, like Dusty, outgrew Texas pretty quickly and became an international star.
— Watts tells a story about the time Brody didn’t want to sell for Danny Hodge because he didn’t think Hodge looked big and strong enough. Now Hodge, who’s badassedness is legendary, beats the fuck out of Brody and Brody starts screaming for mercy and Watts tells Brody to “show him your arms and big muscles!”.
— Okerlund puts over Watts for his Hall of Fame induction and the show closes.
The Bottom Line: The first 30-35 minutes were great and it slowed down a little after that. My main beef was that they spent very little time actually talking about the memorable angles run in the Texas promotions other than the Freebirds-Von Erichs from WCCW. Fun discussion though as Hayes tends not to be as overbearing with Dusty and JR on the same panel.