Dusty


Hey Scott,

Like most – I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip down memory lane with the Observer reviews. My question is given how much of a self-promoter, nepotist, and bomb as a booker he comes across in the reviews, how is it we all seem to have nothing but fondness for Big Dust? And I’m talking before he died. It’s a given that people are generally kinder to the departed. My theory is that the number of years passed has allowed people to focus solely on the fact that he was over with the fans and was a hell of a promo and basically ignore the behind the scenes stuff (that the younger crowd may not have really been aware of). Also, I’m sure Cody’s introduction/ascension (?) and Goldust’s resurrection didn’t hurt either. Curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

​I think that obviously time heals a lot of wounds, but also Dusty being given the opportunity to be in charge of a section of the promotion without really having any significant power allowed him to let the creative portion shine. Really, having creative ideas was never his problem, it was balancing those ideas with the desire to put himself over and terrible business instincts that he had. Once you eliminate the second two factors, he becomes a much better booker. And look at how quickly NXT went downhill from a weekly TV standpoint once he died and his protege Ryan Ward left. ​

  • Fester

    At this point I’d go so far to say that NXT sucks post Ward. There’s just nothing interesting happening and the same matches have clogged the main event scene for over a year now.

    But also, Dusty sucked as a promoter

    • PATRICKisLEGEND

      I still think a portion of that is Nakamura on top.

      • Philippe Tca

        Nakamura is great, but I agree that there’s not a lot for him to do. The tag team stuff has been pretty good mid card fodder.

      • Mr. P

        Nakamura’s inability to cut proper promos is becoming a problem. You can’t really do any elaborate storylines with him, because it requires him to talk, Everything out of the ring has to be kept very basic for him.

  • Kenola

    Dusty also generally had a pretty good eye for talent. He might have booked them in ways that worked to their detriment, but I don’t think it was ever in such a way to bury them.

  • Kanye Batista

    I think Dusty Rhodes is my favorite wrestler to impersonate …

    If you wheeeeelllll

    • Nick Saikley

      Macho Man for me. DIG IT?!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        If I could be serious for a moment.

        • martin forster

          What I’d like to have right now…..

          • JosephM

            Lemme tell ya somethin’ brutha…

    • Philippe Tca

      I like it when he says “Saboh-Tage”

  • White Thunder

    His announcing on WCW Saturday Night on the Mothership TBS was the stuff of legends.

    • Earl Chatterton

      One of the biggest WTF moments in wrestling commentary history is when Dusty referred to his daughter Cody….

    • thejob111

      I’ve come to appreciate Dusty commentating much more watching some of the old stuff. He was a riot sometimes.

  • Manjiimortal

    On the matter of Dusty booking development brands, he was also the guy booking WWECW around the time the show got really good.

  • Other Tall Guy

    That’s an interesting thought: Dusty’s booking became infinitely better once he could stop worrying about his own spot on the card.

    And yeah, his ability to generate ideas was never the problem.

    • Todd Wallace

      Did it really though? Dusty wasn’t really active when he came back to WCW and he still didn’t set the world on fire and its not like he was booking Dustin in the title picture or anything.

      • Jordan

        Dusty wanted to put the title on Dustin in 1993. In fact, he wanted him to be the guy to unify the NWA and WCW titles.

        • Jesse Ewiak

          I mean, that might’ve been pushing it, but in late ’93/early ’94, Dustin was probably the #2 or #3 face on the roster in WCW.

  • Nick Saikley

    It’s nearly impossible for ultra-competitive people to have power and not use it for their own benefit. I doubt it’s even intentional; they all think they’re the best (or at least have the potential to be “if someone would just give them a chance”) so of course they’re going to run with it.

    • Stan Ford

      This. It’s always a giggle when the Internet calls/called a guy out for booking himself as the A+ #1 talent in the promotion he booked for.

      That’s such a unique sin that every wrestler who was also a booker in history did the same thing. YOU would do the same thing.

  • zbinks

    In fairness to Dusty’s nepotism, Dustin wasn’t dissimilar to a young Barry Windham, and probably could have gotten over in a big way had he been allowed to be himself and not “Dusty Jr. / Dusty Lite.”

  • HartKiller_09

    I don’t know why Flair doesn’t get more shit. Taking the belt to the WWF and allowing it to literally be spit on was a dick move and really, how long was everything supposed to be about Ric Flair before it was acceptable to go in another direction? 20 years?

    • White Thunder

      The IWC turned violently on Ric Flair after the Grantland piece, he gets tons of shit.

    • wnyxmcneal

      I think people have turned on Flair for the most part.

    • Jordan

      In the late ’90s and early ’00s Flair could do no wrong in the eyes of the IWC as most of the smart fans in that era grew up idolizing him. However, that has shifted quickly and violently the other direction in the past half decade. At this point Flair is almost too criticized for the way he handled himself and his career.

      • Todd Wallace

        It also helps Flair’s image especially before the last half decade that Dave is his number one fan. Dave created the culture in which Flair could do no wrong.

        From Ric Flair’s first title win in September of 81 until he left for the WWF the title being vacated in July of 91. So in that decade from his first world title win to his depature he was World Champion 3,241 days out of a possible 3,787. So Ric Flair was champion for a decade EIGHTY FIVE percent of the time. He held the title for virtually nine of the ten years from his first world championship.

        Despite this nobody ever says “you know maybe Flair was champion for a bit too long”. Even stuff like “well Sting didn’t draw so they had to give it back to Flair”. Flair WILLINGLY gave it to Ron Garvin for two months and television ratings tanked. Sting held the title for just three months longer than this.

        Anyway its complete bullshit. Flair is as bad if not worse than Hogan in every way. The only difference is that Flair’s style of work and his character were more “grown up”. Everyone loves to talk about how T.A would have been the “next Hogan”. History shows he would have been no different than Luger, Sting, Steamboat and a ton of other guys. He would have gotten a run with Flair, beaten him for the title, maybe had a six month reign and then lost it right back to Flair for 400 days at at ime.

        • Jordan

          No one complains about Bruno holding the title for eight years, Backlund for almost six or Hogan for four. What about Lawler being champion of his territory on and off for decades? Title stability was still a thing in those days. I think with hindsight we can say that there were times they should have tried something different but he was the biggest star, best worker and most reliable draw in JCP/WCW when those things mattered a lot. They kept the belt on him because it worked in the past and it kept him happy.

          • HartKiller_09

            I think it just comes down to who’s been portrayed as the good guy/bad guy on the internet.

        • HartKiller_09

          I find it hard to believe that a guy who spent money the way Flair did didn’t have a vested interested in remaining in a position to keep making it.

          It was Flair’s book that opened my eyes to the possibility he wasn’t as selfless and easy to work with as he made himself out to be. The nWo comes along and has WCW hot, the #1 company for the first time in it’s existence, but he’s pissed off because everything’s not about Ric Flair and the Horsemen in 1997. And he really wasn’t misused and mistreated the way it was made out to be.

          • Derek Price

            An odd turning point for me was when he starting doing podcasts. He just oozed obnoxiousness and a backslapper/stabber persona(yeah yeah we know his history etc) in a way that completely turned me off as a fan.

          • HartKiller_09

            He did a radio interview around the time his book came out, where he was such a dick to the interviewer because he used “inside” terms and Flair didn’t think he earned the right to use those terms. He came off like such a dick and it seemed so unnecessary. I think his legacy holds up as much as it does because certain WWF lifers think so highly of him.

    • Daniel Swinney

      I liked it because I always liked WWF more than WCW but also Flair more than Hogan. It was best of both worlds for me.

      Also, a tv entertainer being a good loyal employee is possibly lower on the list of things I care about than tv ratings.

    • Jesse Ewiak

      Until there was somebody better than him.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    In an era in which we didn’t know a damn thing going on backstage, Dusty was fun to watch. That carries over, even after knowing the backstage stuff.

    I also don’t really think NXT’s gone that downhill.

    • Stan Ford

      It hasn’t. They’ve simply gone from being totally flush with talent to a rebuilding period where the men’s side is anchored by a visibly bored Nakamura and Asuka’s stuck in a weird limbo where they’re not ready to take the belt off her, they’re not ready to put it on Ember Moon and there’s no one else really ready to fill the in-between as challengers (I’m stunned they’re doing what they’re doing Rumble weekend. That’s such a load-blow when you don’t have much to blow in the first place).

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I only wish they didn’t play disappearing act with some of the up and coming acts. I feel like we only saw Moss/Sabitelli on TV once, and both Daria and Mandy Rose a couple of times, separated months apart. They may not be 100% ready, but I thought all four were interesting to watch.

        And will Dan Matha EVER get his revenge against Samoa Joe?

        • Stan Ford

          I’m puzzled by Ember Moon in this regard. She gets the PAY ATTENTION TO THIS SPECIAL PERSON intro with the vignettes and the Takeover debut, she has an instakill finish that pops the crowd every time and…

          She’s appeared in a few scattered midcard matches on TV and slummed it on house shows.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I’m fine with waiting a bit on her before putting her against Asuka. If anything, I’m enjoying the Aussies a bit more at the moment, and can believe them trying every dirty trick possible to get one over on someone they obviously wouldn’t have a chance against in a fair fight.

          • Stan Ford

            No doubt. Kay and Royce have definitely found their footing and NXT’s “Two Mean Girls” is always a fun time.

          • JosephM

            A LayCool from down under!

      • Daniel Swinney

        I think Nikki Cross is an excellent challenger in waiting. She shouldn’t win it but she’s crazy enough to be a challenger with an “x factor.”

        • Stan Ford

          The ONLY reason I would hesitate on Nikki is BECAUSE she and Sanity are still so new and ill-defined. She’s doing GREAT work for sure.

    • TheDDG

      “In an era in which we didn’t know a damn thing going on backstage, Dusty was fun to watch.”

      This is exactly why I think the criticisms of his self-booking are way overblown. He wasn’t like Big Steph, whom most people can’t stand, but writes herself as the central character of the show. Dusty was as/more over as anyone in the promotion for most of the 80’s. Even if he weren’t booking, he’d have been consistently at the top of the card.

      • Jordan

        It’s a chicken and egg thing. The only reason Dusty was booking in the first place was because he was a very talented, very over wrestler. It’s the same reason Flair, Hogan and Nash got the book later on. It’s a perk of the job when you’re a top guy. You don’t give that spot to Joe Gomez.

        • TheDDG

          If that were true, then Cena would’ve been booking the past few years. Also, I’m not sure how Kevin Sullivan and Ole Anderson fit into this theory. And when exactly was Hogan booking a promotion?

          • Jordan

            Ole was a big star and part owner of the Georgia territory when he got the book. Less sure about Sullivan’s path, but there are plenty of guys who ended booking because of their acumen and not their star power (e.g. Gilbert, Heyman, Cornette, etc.). Hogan sort of had creative control over most of what was happening in 1994 and 1995 even if there were others handling day to day stuff (not unlike Flair in 1989 and 1994).

            Business is different today and they employ a writing team under McMahon so it’s not really comparable to the era we’re discussing, but if Cena showed an interest in the creative side of things and wanted full control over his programs, he’d probably get it.

        • Diamond Jim Lowe

          You take that last bit back or I’ll wash your filthy mouth out with soap.

  • PATRICKisLEGEND

    When Dusty was with TNA and it was discovered he was going to be back with WWE, people were flipping out like Russo was returning. So, Dusty comes back and his first show working on is a PPV, and the PPV had 2 “Dusty Finishes”. I honestly forget which one it was, but people were asking for his head.

    Then it turns out he wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and really mellowed out in his old age.

  • Jordan

    We also have better access to information about and footage from the early to mid-’80s territories now. That has allowed many of us that grew up reviling late career Dusty and his “Dusty finishes” to have a better appreciation of what he accomplished earlier in his career both on camera and backstage.

  • Clark O’Brien

    I wouldn’t say NXT’s gone downhill, it’s still competently booked, just lost a lot of star power.

  • Kevlar Moneyclipz

    I mean the schizo nature of NXT is starting to catch up with it again. You have big names like Nakamura, Gargano, Hero, Joe, Asuka who can draw at live events and the Takeovers. And then you have a whole selection of talents who are def at Developmental level around them that need screen time again. Which now leaves you with about 10 minutes of potential good wrestling at best on what was the “wrestling show.” It’s kind of a bummer even if you like some of the new talents.

    • JosephM

      But I still like it in terms of a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” concept. Plus only being an hour (special recent events aside) makes it a breeze.

      And DIY vs Revival tomorrow? Yes, please!

  • MyronB

    The truth is that Dusty was not much different than every other booker/wrestler/promoter from the territorial era in terms of booking oneself as the top star. The only real difference is that we know more about his role as booker.

    • TheDDG

      And he had more charisma and legitimacy at the top of the card than all of them, along with Lawler.

  • justicegris

    I see that the original emailer has never dealt with anyone who has charisma and charm. 🙂

  • Aaron

    Sicilian elbow.

  • We’re also covering the tail end of Dusty as booker. At his creative peak, he was phenomenal, turning JCP into a national promotion rivaling only WWF.

  • RawisStoned

    People liked him because he was a common man who, if rumors are to be believed, also worked hard with his hands.

    • tzunset

      And elbows.

  • cultstatus

    The narrative that NXT isn’t good now is ridiculous.

  • Down Under Aussie (in Aus)

    Classic emailer. Asks question, goes on to answer it themselves to show how smart they are.

  • Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog

    Like everyone when they die, we remember the good parts

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