Dustin Patrick Runnels, otherwise known as “the artist formerly known as Goldust”, has been in the professional wrestling industry since 1988. To put that into perspective, come next year, this flashy, flamboyant, and rather freaky wrestler will have been in the business for thirty years!
Perhaps that does go to show just how useful Runnels has been throughout the years, helping to rear the young pups up through the ranks of the varying wrestling federations. Varying only because Runnels was seemingly tossed back and forth from federation to federation. And perhaps that goes to show something a little more telling.
After near thirty years in the business, Goldust has become little more than a joke, and has been so since before the end of the famed “Attitude Era” of the World Wrestling Federation. Flitting between low and mid card spots, with an occasional flirt with the high cards, Goldust should follow the example of his betters (like The Undertaker), and take a trip to retirement.
15. Character Study
Ok, to be totally fair to Goldust right at the outset, he is by no means the worst, or most bizarre wrestler to have entered a professional wrestling ring. And he clearly has some staying power. But one need only take a look at his shtick to know that he belongs sometime back in the eighties…maybe partway into the nineties at best. The above video was his second return to what was then the World Wrestling Federation in 2002 (over a decade too late for this sort of thing). It’s almost akin to having Vader still out there in the ring. While it is probably a good thing for some wrestlers to be out there, pushing the boundaries of sexuality in the ring, so as to dispel this whole meat-headed, testosterone-driven veil that is professional wrestling…strutting to the ring like a dolled up version of the gimp from Pulp Fiction is probably not the best way to achieve that goal.
There was a time in Goldust’s career when he felt some sort of intense need to play dress up. But not dress up in the way he clearly did normally (or abnormally…whatever one wants to call his gimmick). No, no. He had the inclination to dress up as other wrestlers, and celebrities. This is when he started his Prince façade, becoming “the artist formerly known as Goldust”. If only he was merely formerly known as Goldust now, but alas. His role-playing ranged from Chynadust to Marilyn Mansondust, and from Vaderdust to the above shown Sabledust. Sure, this isn’t as bad as silly marriage angles, or blubbering to the owners to keep employed, but this was all the way back in 1997, and he already should have been out the door. Sure, professional wrestling is nothing more than a soap opera in spandex, but even Days of Our Lives has better story arcs than this sort of silliness.
13. Shattered Dreams
So Goldust’s father, Dusty Rhodes, was also a wrestler back in his day, and was known as the “American Dream”. So it made all manner of sense for Goldust (so far removed from anything his father had done), to have a move called “shattered dreams”. Almost a slap in the face to his father’s career, it was still at least a good play on the family connection. However, the move itself, as apt as the title is for it, is not something that should make for a final move. It sort of goes completely against the excessive sexuality of the Goldust character. Sure, he uses sexuality to lure in opponents, before attacking, but he always still seems to want to have his way with them…and that certainly won’t happen if a big soccer kick to the groin happens. Given the “low blows” were “illegal” moves in the ring, it seems pretty odd that a hefty kick to the nuts was totally fine, so long as the man receiving the vasectomy is hung up in the ropes…How is anyone supposed to keep it straight?
12. Golden Truth
First of all…the above photo itself should be enough to make anyone wish for Goldust’s retirement. But it gets so much worse. Coming a little closer to present day for a bit, just last year Goldust and R-Truth (no idea why that’s his name) formed a tag team – after way too much bickering. The team was named Golden Truth, for obvious reasons. Besides the fact that this tag team is simply notorious for losing damn near all of its matches, the pairing is just atrocious. With very little charisma, no real mic skills to speak of, and absolutely ridiculous story arcs, it would have been far better to have saved the iconic part of Goldust’s career by letting him go before…before walking into the ring, interrupting a match, while playing Pokemon GO. I mean really. How the absolute f*ck can anyone take a wrestler serious when they’re playing Pokemon GO? Especially when that same wrestler is painted gold and black, in a skin-tight, vinyl suit…
11. Cry Baby
Alright, to be as fair as one can be with regards to blubbering wrestlers, Goldust does not cry near as much as “The Big Show” Paul Wight, but that doesn’t really excuse this once sexually deviant, and predatory character from giving up the whole game in naught but one brief segment. This segment happened shortly after Goldust’s fifth return to the now named World Wrestling Entertainment. His brother, Cody Rhodes, had “lost his job” in the WWE, but Goldust was determined to win it back by taking on Randy Orton. Well, he was not successful by any means, and he was also then “fired” by Stephanie McMahon…before he made yet another return to the WWE. But what happened to the character of Goldust? The one who would never accept no, and would simply seduce, and creep his way into getting what he wanted? Instead, he simply whimpers, takes the villainy from Stephanie, and disappears for a little while.
10. Terri Runnels…And A Very Big Fan
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a wrestler can make in the business is falling in love with another staffer…or bringing a lover into the fold. This almost always ends in horror (which John Cena and Nikki Bella will likely soon find out). It was horrifying enough, watching Goldust do his thing in the ring, but adding wife Terri Runnels to the mix, really made for a bizarre, and ultimately awful pairing (apparently both in and out of the ring). Something about a woman who clearly wants to be treated like Liz Taylor, pulling a guy like Goldust out to the ring on a leash…while empowering, was just played horribly by both of these people. At least Terri wised up, and after leaving the industry and Runnels, got involved in philanthropy. But Goldust stuck around long enough to let things happen like the fan who can be seen at the bottom right of the above photo…what a horrible thing to do to someone.
9. If You Love Him So Much…
One does definitely not need to watch the entirety of the above video to get the gist of what’s going on. Nearer to the end of the video though, Goldust is straddling The Undertaker, and rubbing his body all over him. Now it took Undertaker a few years too many to finally decide to leave (and he did so by losing to one of the most boring wrestlers in history). Maybe it’s right to mention to Goldust this sentiment: if you love The Undertaker so much…why don’t you go and follow him into retirement? What’s sad about the above video is that this clip from 1996 is perhaps Goldust at his very best…and that’s not likely solely thanks to his work. The fact that he’s in the ring with the very best version of The Undertaker to have ever entered the ring also adds to it. Now I’m not sure if it’s to supply coke habits, or to pay alimony, or what, but certainly these wrestlers didn’t stick around so bloody long to beat the sh*t out of themselves some more, and make themselves nothing but big, flabby jokes. And hey, if they did, there’s yet another reason Goldust should take a page out of The Undertaker’s book.
8. Gold Dizzle
Ok…now it’s true that the whole Golden Truth thing has already been brought up, and how awful an idea it was (and technically still is, since neither of the team members have officially retired…though they haven’t appeared for months). But there are several aspects to this tag team that do need to be addressed. For example. When a wrestler who projects an image of being the world’s greatest actor, and an overwhelming sexual deviant, is called Gold Dizzle by his tag team partner…it makes one think that there’s a bit of a disconnect between the two members. At least when Sheamus and Cesaro teamed up, they started by hating each other, then bonded over beer, and a bar fight, and eventually worked out a way to be themselves, but a good team. R-Truth has got some sort of gangsta thing going on there, while Goldust’s muddle of whatever the hell he is these days is just exhausted, boring, and ultimately useless. And if there’s one thing Vince McMahon doesn’t like, it’s people he can’t use.
7. Brotherly Love
First of all, Cody Rhodes never wanted to do the absolutely ridiculous Stardust thing to begin with. He hated the idea right from the start. Secondly, it was the only way that the WWE would bring him back after he remained “fired” from Goldust’s loss to Orton. Thirdly, it was perhaps the best performance Goldust had engaged in since his flirtation with The Undertaker nine years earlier. Maybe Dustin Runnels should have taken a look at the year he was in, removed the makeup, and hammered out a tag team with his actually awesome, wrestling brother, Cody Rhodes. Instead, he had a fantastic, flash-in-the-pan tag team with his made up brother Stardust. Unfortunately, when it came time for Stardust to turn on his brother, Goldust did not come away from the betrayal as a better character. Cody dropped the make up, and became a grown up again, by telling the WWE to f*ck off, and Goldust played it safe, boring, and useless. Maybe the only reason Goldust was good in that era because of how good his brother was.
6. Aksana And Poor Management
Remember that casual remark about silly marriage angles in the second entry of this article? Well it turns out that Goldust of course had his own ridiculous marriage segment. And just as it ruined Kane (though he had also ruined his career plenty by that point), it also worked to aid the ruin that was becoming Goldust’s career. Goldust “married” the above Lithuanian “wrestler” Aksana. The idea was that Aksana was going to be deported, and since Goldust was Aksana’s mentor in NXT at the time, it made perfect sense for him to propose to her. So they got married. Aksana was Goldust’s manager for a time…which is not saying much. Goldust has had ten managers over his career! Including the likes of Fandango! If that many managers just don’t want him (and often turned on him villainously), then how can anyone think the fans want him? Oh and the result of the marriage? It ended in divorce just weeks later…following Aksana’s betrayal.
5. Wild Card
True, the above shot of Goldust does make it seem like he’s either about to hit a bank, or engage in some S&M. And also true that the promotion he’s on in the above shot is WCW (which has long since been out of business). Not many people will recall that he was a part of WCW…but he was a part of several federations…many, many times. He’s been a part of WWE six separate times, WCW three times, AJPW (Japan wrestling) twice, TNA twice, and the independent circuit twice. This guy has skipped back and forth between federations more than any wrestler I’ve ever seen! He must be so incredibly unwanted that he’s had to constantly fish for another story line, with another low-mid card wrestler (with the express purpose of helping the other wrestler build their career on the failures of his). it’s almost sad…but then again, if he was really a great wrestler, this article wouldn’t be about him needing to retire.
4. Promoting Violence
Alright. This entry might be a bit touchy, but is still important with regards to the topic of the article. In November of last year, Dustin Runnels’ transgendered step-son was attacked. Now this is horrible. It is an outrage, to be sure, and hate crimes should not be tolerated. Runnels tweeted out about this, urging people to “stop all this hateful crap”. Very good of him to say. But then he followed it up with a message to the three boys who beat is step-son up, “You boys are three lucky individuals that I wasn’t there or you would [be] on life support”. For a man who spent his time in wrestling industry cross-dressing, flirting with all manner of sexuality, and getting the piss beaten out of him, it seems a trifle ridiculous for him to threaten violence. Especially since he urged a stop to all the “hateful crap”. Never mind him taking retirement. Should not the WWE think to let someone go once they start threatening violence on those outside the melodrama of the company?
3. Move To Puerto Rico
There is an unfortunate tag team called The Shining Stars, who have a shtick regarding conning people to take a first class trip to Puerto Rico. Why this is a thing, I’ve absolutely no idea. However, this tag team spent a great deal of time pushing R-Truth to take this fantastic deal. The bit would continue with Goldust always interrupting them, and giving R-Truth sh*t for even thinking about it. Then, as the story progressed, R-Truth did take the con, in exchange for Golden Truth’s tag team title opportunity. This of course enraged Goldust. But what does it say of either of these wrestlers that their story arc has them screwed out of a title shot by way of such an obvious con? It just shows that fans, and writers alike already think their characters are dim (even dimmer than The Shining Stars). Oh, and yes, if ever there was a way to take from the somewhat creepy, and certainly extravagant appearance of the Goldust character, all one need do is put glasses on him.
2. On Conan O’Brien
So this was back in 1996, again at the height of Goldust’s rather pitiful career. Amazingly, he managed a spot on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. How did the segment go? Well, there was some atrocious acting from the self-proclaimed “greatest actor in the world”…there was Terri Runnels smoking a big cigar, and there was a great degree of uncomfortable sexual advances from Goldust to O’Brien. And not just O’Brien, but also his other guest, and two of his security guards. Now sure, a lot of this was in good fun, and mainly scripted to some extent, but…wow. It was known pretty early on that there weren’t very many more places for Goldust to go. Especially after he tries to go under the desk to blow O’Brien. The crowd seemed to love it then, but I think that had much more to do with O’Brien’s reactions, than anything Goldust did. Again, Goldust is kept afloat only by the talent around him. Now that all of the other greats of that bygone era of the WWF are gone…perhaps it’s his time too.
Ok, alright, just…no. This is the biggest indicator that a wrestler has gone too far. When someone is going out of their way to envision a character like Goldust as a sort of palette-swap for Darth Maul, that’s just too much. Maybe Goldust would make a great, though short-lived Sith, but that’s the main point: short-lived. Very much like how his wrestling career should have been. Maybe if he tried to come back to the ring as a villain again, and made some sort of mystical story lines happen, then things would be different, but this above work of art is simply a harbinger of both what is, and what can never be. It shows that Goldust has gone to the dark side, but in the uncertainty, and loss of his look, it also shows that he’ll never amount to what he used to be which…if any wrestling fan is honest…wasn’t all that much to begin with. Passed around the federations like the sexual deviant he portrayed himself to be, perhaps Goldust is not much more than a used up, old tart, fallen away to the dark side.