RoH Secrets of the Ring with Dusty Rhodes

This was filmed in 2004

The interview was conducted by Gabe Sapolsky

It runs at one hour and fifty minutes long

The interview starts with Dusty holding a book that he used as a diary while the booker of the NWA in 1987. Dusty also said he kept everything he did and joked that one day people will buy this like people bought Samuel Clements (Mark Twain).

Gabe starts this off by asking Dusty to start with January 1st of 1987. Dusty holds up his book of the people he booked that month and said they grossed $54,000 for that show with a main event of Ric Flair & Tully Blanchard vs. Nikita Koloff and himself. He runs down the show and Dusty jokes with Gabe and displays the charisma that made him famous. He said they started the year well and that the New Years Day show at the Omni were always big. The referee’s were Earl Hebner and Tommy Young.

Gabe now asks Dusty how he decides the order of the matches. Dusty said he wanted to build a “crescendo,” using an example of how if he wanted to see Elvis, he would not want to in the opening match. Dusty also said you have to keep in mind with everyone on the card that they mean something and that someone paid to see them. He talks about some of the feuds that were going on for a bit then said that he went with the $100,000 Bunkhouse Stampede math because he thought it was unique to see guys who were partners or allies possibly fight at the end. After that, Dusty jokes about he always won those matches. They toured with the Bunkhouse Stampede matches for a month.

Dusty talks about how the feud in which Koloff took Magnum’s place as Dusty’s partner was easy money as the story itself mirrored real-life and how it was so easy to write their feud against the Four Horsemen.

He then talks about how one or two matches draw the house while the rest of the card is “garnish” and led up to drawing the house, something that Eddie Graham taught him in Florida.

When asked if it was tougher to book two shows in one night, Dusty said it wasn’t with the talent they had at the time.

Dusty then said how they had two planes, with the private jet named “Stardust” after himself, something Dusty jokes that Flair was upset about and probably written about it in his book, which he will not read.

He talks about booking everything to lead into the Summer for the “Great American Bash” tour and how he kept the same core of guys (Horsemen, himself, Nikita) but also had other things going like Jimmy Garvin and Precious and the tag teams like the Rock & Roll Express and the Midnight Express. Even still, the core would always be at the top in different stages.

Dusty now talks about how their TV was very strong and they did good business during the week so as a result, they drew huge at weekend house shows. He talks about the War Games and how they drew a $180,000 advance for the show.

He then talks about “garnishing” again and goes back to the WWWF when they decided to make Bob Backlund the champion, regardless whether people liked it or not, but also decided to have a lot of big matches on the card, like the first bullrope match in the WWWF so people would still buy tickets to the show.

Gabe asks Dusty about the UWF guys and the criticism he received as booker for not pushing them more, Dusty laughs and says he is asked that all of the time. He said that the Crockett guys were his “posse” and describes the wrestling business like the mafia as he said while getting talent from the UWF, they did not want to replace their own talent with these guys and let them come into their area, noting how they were underneath when going to their territory. Dusty also adds that if guys cannot understand this then they should not be in the business to begin with. He also said he was selling out with what he had. He did say that Steve Williams fit right in then notes that selling out a “phone booth” in Oklahoma is different that filling the Charlotte Coliseum.

Dusty now talks about his favorite match from this era were the Ronnie Garvin vs. Ric Flair matches as you believed every chop they did. He also loved Fritz Von Erich coming out of retirement after his son David passed away and how when he tagged in, there was a roar that you have never heard and how the wrestling business captures that like no other can as moments like that is why he is a wrestler.

On to the Crockett Cup as Dusty lists off the Top 10 seeds after asking the guys to guess. Gabe said Nikita and Dusty, who laughs and said he wouldnt even to that. He said Rude & Fernandez were #1 because they were the champs. The 5th seed were the Japanese guys (because they were their top team) and the 9th guys were the Mod Squad (Mac & Jim Jeffers) who Dusty said if anyone watching knows the names of the guys they can write into Ring of Honor and he will give them an autographed photo. He said that he wanted every fan in attendance to like someone in the match so they built them all up.

Dusty said Crockett told him when he came in that he wanted four events that he could build to yearly. Dusty said he came up with Starrcade first then the Jim Crockett Memorial Cup Second. The Great American Bash was 3rd and Halloween Havoc was the fourth.

He talks about the War Games match drawing $150,000 Sunday afternoon in August of 1987 in Chicago as he had to do something big because UWF TV was really over in that market.

Dusty goes over how they’d have four shows in one night and how many people he had to use to make sure they sold out.

On Ronnie Garvin as the champion, Dusty said no matter what people say, Garvin deserved to be the champ. He said that house shows were down but everything was after the “Great American Bash” tour and that compared to that time of year, the shows were up as he made sure to “garnish” the shows in which Garvin vs. Flair was the main event.

He talks briefly about being fired by Jim Herd in 1988, calling him the most “unintelligent and uncreative” person he has met besides Gary Jester.

Dusty talks about companies today that are running (Ring of Honor, TNA, NWA Wildside) and how they need to take 5 companies and have them put their resources together and get TV because that is where we will find our next big star. He also tells Gabe that they have a great product in RoH but without TV you cant push anyone then hypes TNA on Fox Sports Net is helping them out.

He jokes about Dave Meltzer, who he congratulates for working hard on being the best booker today and making millions of dollars (Dave was critical of Dusty’s booking in the Observer at the end of 1987). He does say that he likes him today and talks to him once in a while.

On Crockett selling, Dusty said they were losing money and their business was in disarray to corporate came in and took over.

He talks about wanting Sting and Lex Luger to be involved at the top by the end of 1988 and how he booked them to get to that point.

Dusty talks about how devastating Magnum TA’s career-ending injuries were as Dusty saw him as the future world champion with “movie-star” charisma who was the guy. He said he loudest he heard the crowd in TV was when he walked into the Charlotte Coliseum with Nikita Koloff to face Flair & Ole in a cage as Koloff was Magnum’s replacement. Dusty said he was in mourning when Crockett asked him what to do. Dusty also said Koloff always wanted to be a babyface but the fans bought him as the baddest man on the planet. Dusty then asked Koloff to not think or anything when he walked out to the ring as his parnter as Dusty said that today he still gets chills when he thinks about the crowd that night.

He talks about loving interviews like this and just having a passion about the industry before closing by thanking the fans.

Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. It wasnt all that structured and came across as a less organized version of a “Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline” shoot but Dusty’s charisma and intelligence were on full display here. There were no crazy stories here but his shared some of his booking insights and you could tell just how much he loved wrestling. He loved talking about wrestling as well.

Gabe only asked several questions throughout the interview so Dusty kept talking and sometimes when he got off track it was tough to decipher what he was referring to when it came to they year at hand. Regardless, its an easy listen and Dusty can draw you in when he speaks. Easy to see how he drew a lot of money during his career.

Overall, I recommend this shoot but its tough to find. RoH had a sale on these a few years ago and you’re best bet is eBay or Amazon at this point because I do not see them anymore on the RoH website.

RIP Dusty.