Words like “legend” get tossed around far too often in numerous different avenues of life, and that includes the world of professional wrestling. The line that separates all-time great World Wrestling Entertainment performers from those who are true legends may be fine, but it does indeed exist. With that pointed out, there can be no question that “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes was a true legend of the industry that he helped make better across multiple organizations for decades. From his days as an active competitor in the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wrestling Federation to the work that he did behind the scenes in World Championship Wrestling and the WWE, Rhodes was a one-of-a-kind personality who will be missed.
Rhodes did not, per his own words, look like a top-tier athlete “of his day” during his prime years as a wrestler. He was never noted for being the best in-ring worker in the industry. His skills on the microphone were unmatched by his peers as it pertained to selling cards and matches all around the country, and it was those memorable promos that have lived on thanks to the WWE Network and thanks to video websites that helped make Rhodes one of the top babyface wrestlers to ever perform in national organizations. While there is, among wrestling fans and insiders, one particular Dusty Rhodes promo that often comes to mind, any of the ten featured in this piece could realistically be atop the list.
10. Horsemen Beatdown
While not technically a Dusty Rhodes promo when compared with the other items focused in this piece, any list detailing phenomenal on-air segments involving “The American Dream” would be lacking without mentioning the famous Horsemen Beatdown. Rhodes, seemingly always thinking ahead to the next portion of a program, can be heard telling his attackers to “make it look good” for the segment, something that the microphone was not supposed to pick up. Who else could serve as an on-site director and also a victim for such a segment?
9. Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech
The cynical pro wrestling fan may consider pointing out that the WWE Hall of Fame is as much about performers having a good relationship with the company and about the WWE getting positive headlines than it is about recognizing the achievements of all-time great wrestlers. The honor does, as has been pointed out by multiple individuals over the years, mean quite a bit to the wrestlers who are inducted, and that was the case for Rhodes back in 2007. While there is a brief summary of his speech available via multiple websites, the entire segment is one that diehard wrestling fans need to watch.
8. Don’t take a deep breath!
Rhodes could be humorous at times during his pro wrestling promos, but there was nothing funny about the words that he had for Dick Murdoch on this particular day: “So Murdoch…Don’t take a deep breath! Don’t take a deep breath! ‘Cause I’ll grab it from ya, baby, and take it right out of your body! Nobody gonna pull my heart and soul outta my body, baby!” The promo then ends with Rhodes reminding Murdoch that “The American Dream” is coming for him, and that this master of words was going to “get funky with ya, real bad.”
7. Baby Doll turns on Dusty Rhodes
It is an old tale that has been told time and time again throughout pro wrestling organizations. Female valet parts with heel wrestler, links up with babyface wrestler and then, to the shock of those watching, turns on the babyface performer. After Baby Doll helped Ric Flair defeat Rhodes for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, Rhodes referred to the “Nature Boy” as the “lowest form of athlete in this country.” Rhodes then hit out at the woman he often referred to as “That Jezebel” before reminding Four Horsemen members Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson and Flair that the whipping that was coming for them was going to be “shameful.”
6. My name is the Midnight Rider
Babyface characters Magnum TA and Rhodes were feuding with the Four Horsemen when the Horsemen attacked Magnum during a television segment. Rhodes came out to make the save with baseball bat in hand, and he accidentally struck an official while attempting to aid his ally. This led to the NWA suspending Rhodes for a period of time. Magnum, not to be left hung out to dry for this feud, would ultimately receive help from a mysterious stranger known as “The Midnight Rider,” a performer who was oddly familiar to fans and also to members of the Horsemen.
5. The View Never Changes
Dusty’s son Dustin was in need of some help while working for the WCW promotion in 1994 when the two found themselves inside of the ring for one incredible segment. Rhodes began by apologizing to his son for not being there for Dustin over the years while “The American Dream” was off making his name and his fortune, and Rhodes then broke down the ongoing situation while explaining that Dustin needed partner for an upcoming brawl. The retired veteran brought the crowd to its feet by offering his services for one final match, and the two sealed the deal with an embrace.
4. Cold-Blooded Sausage Maker
Rhodes was serving as the World Television Champion and feuding with Tully Blanchard when he was brought onto the television set to discuss an upcoming match. Somewhat out of nowhere, Rhodes began recalling a story that he had once told her youngest child. In that story, the “Cold-Blooded Sausage Maker” grabbed some little pigs out of the woods to make the meal of his choice. Unlike in previous editions of that tale where Rhodes plays the hero role, he compares himself to the sausage maker in this situation: “I am risky business! I am the cold-blooded sausage maker!”
3. Pork N’ Beans
Along with the full promos that Rhodes cut which will live on for as long as the WWE exists as it does today, he also had single lines that have remained famous all on their own. “I have wined and dined with kings and queens, and slept in an alley eating pork n’ beans” may be the most famous sentence that he ever uttered during his career. The point of the promo, other than to get himself over among fans, was to put on display the highs and lows that he and so many fans and viewers who may spend money to watch Rhodes live and in person have experienced during their lives.
2. Hard Times
Some would call it pro wrestling blasphemy to not have “Hard Times” atop this list, as it is widely perceived as the prototype for any fiery babyface promo that could be cut. Rhodes, when making his return from an injury angle, explained that “Nature Boy” Ric Flair never, in his career or in his life, knew about the type of “Hard Times” that Rhodes experienced while being injured. “The American Dream” went one step further and compared himself to the blue collar workers in the United States who saw themselves in Rhodes. This legendary promo has been imitated, but never duplicated.
1. True Grit: “I’m Breathing!”
One of the negatives about the existence of the WWE Network is that certain promos and other memorable wrestling moments that were once viewable for free have since been blocked by the company. Those of you who can find access to the first few minutes of the original 1988 Starrcade broadcast can hear portions of the promo that Dusty Rhodes cut leading up the match involving Rhodes and Sting taking on the Road Warriors. Rhodes, who had one of his eyes “spiked” by the Road Warriors during the feud, had the following words for his opponents: “If Sting has to carry me on his back, damn it all…if he has to drag me in a wagon…I’m breathing! You understand what I’m saying?!? I’m breathing! You should have got it done. It’s violence for the sake of violence. But I will turn it around…to MY violence. To MY thunder. To MY lightening bolt.”