Dusty Rhodes Back In The Ring One Last Time With FCW
Even after four decades, he still loves the wrestling business even though his role has changed. Rather than juking and jiving in the middle of the ring, he's working behind the scenes with Florida Championship Wrestling – the developmental group for the WWE – helping find and shape future stars. Plus, he now has the pleasure of watching his sons Cody and Dustin (better known as Goldust) follow in his footsteps as current WWE stars.
On Friday night, Rhodes will get back in the ring one more time with FCW for a show in Kissimmee, FL when he teams with his boys as part of a six-man tag-team match in what will likely be the final match of his storied career. (Find out more about the group at FCWWrestling.com)
This past Tuesday, the WWE Hall of Famer was a guest on my Between The Ropes radio show where he spoke about the upcoming match, why he doesn't want to get back in the ring any more, his work with FCW, seeing his sons now in the wrestling business and more.
Brian Fritz: So you're getting back in the ring one more time.
Dusty Rhodes: Well, we'll see what I can do. I've got two young studs – the 'Dashing One' and Goldust. It's a great opportunity for everybody to come out and see all the young kids in developmental for WWE.
I was told it's been about three years since you were in the ring for a match.
Yeah, I guess it was against Randy Orton at the Great American Bash in 2007. And the bull rope, that was it. I don't make it a habit. It was an opportunity to be in there with my two sons. It would be like Peyton Manning's dad in there with his two boys, him playing half back and him playing quarterback. So it's pretty cool.
With your status and everything you have done in wrestling and now seeing your sons get into it, what that something you wanted to see or did you try to steer them away from the wrestling business?
I think Goldust had his own agenda. Dustin had a dream and he knew from the start that's what he wanted to do. Cody took another path. At 19 years old, he went out to Los Angeles to Howard Fine's acting studio and spent some time out there. And he broke the news to me one night on a road trip going back to Atlanta from hunting season. I had already tried to talk him out of it at the time. He had been so successful as an amateur and had an opportunity to go and wrestle in college. The acting thing was cool but it was something he wanted to do. So he went at it full bore and he's achieved so much in a very short period of time for a young guy. He's kind of proved me wrong. He gets better each and every time out.
Does he pick your brain a lot on different things?
Yeah. Goldust always did but he always had his own agenda where he was doing his own thing. He does a lot right now though because he's a great coach and a great teacher in the WWE for the young kids when they come up and get an opportunity to be in the ring with him like (Curt) Hawkins or (Trent) Barretta or (Caylen) Croft. Of the two, Cody is more of a student of the game; old-school, relates back to everything he's seen and every tape. Cody is just constant with picking my brain. He has his way of going about it where he'll pick my brain on certain things. I'm livin' la vida loca. To be in Kissimmee in one of the old buildings in the old territory and be with them and have some bobbleheads and sign some autographs then get in the ring and just try to stay out of harms way until it's time for the bionic elbow.
You've been wrestling now for over four decades. Can you put into words what this journey has been like for you?
Well, it's a journey that feels like it's never ending when I took the job and the opportunity with the WWE to go into the creative side and then when I sent here on his assignment with the developmental. When I arrived at Florida Championship Wrestling with Steve Keirn and these guys and help some of the young talent. I've seen so much in Sheamus right off from day one and then the current FCW champion Alex Riley. And I've seen from that moment that I needed to help build him towards being a main-eventer and almost pattered his whole early career for Hunter (Triple H). That's what I building you for, Hunter and to get you ready for this situation. And he's stepped up to the plate.
When you are looking at the younger talent and see someone for the first time, do you instantly know then if this guy has "it" or it is something you see after a while?
You know, that word is thrown around a lot whether it be in football or baseball or the World Cup and stuff going on right now. To me, there is no comparison with Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is the man. Period. Lebron James, to me, is not Kobe Bryant. So, in this thing, I can probably tell you in 30 minutes whether someone has the "it" factor. It's just like going to the minor leagues and being a scout. The guy throws 100 miles an hour but he can't throw a strike. It's up to us to teach him to throw a strike. We're not going to disregard him if he's throwing 100 miles an hour. I can tell you pretty quickly after 40 years, 42 years in this industry and still in it. Mr. Laurinaitis – Johnny, of course – and Stephanie McMahon and WWE and Vince (McMahon), they take a lot of stock in my opinion. So, I can pretty much say who we gotta work with. Sometimes I'm surprised at some of the guys and it's nice to be pleasantly surprised.
This might be your last match ever on Friday night. Do you ever have times when you miss being on the road?
Not at all because I'm around it so much and with the 'Dashing One' – young Cody – and then with Goldust still active and the grandkids and moving around and being with all of these kids. I call them my kids at developmental at FCW. They're our future to our industry. They're the future to the entertainment industry. There is no other place like it. When you come and see this building like in Kissimmee and it's dressed as a mini-WWE building. It's just amazing to see everything that's gone into it. Nah, I never did have an official retirement. I didn't do a walk away. I didn't get a watch with diamonds. I just kind of blended in after the career that I had and I never once looked back and said do I want to be doing this. It's pretty stupid for me or any of our audience – period – anyone to think that I could actually do anything towards what I used to be or was in the ring. It's kind of like batting practice for me coming up this Friday night. Maybe you wanna come out and see this old guy who used to hit a lot of home runs hit one more out. That's pretty cool. I will stay out of harms way because those other kids are so quick and fast.
And that's one thing that really gripes me about guys who continue to hang on and hang on and hang on. It becomes a financial windfall for them. Outside of our organization where we look for other talent in other independent groups and places and you see these guys taking spots from younger guys. I've never been one to say ... I had my run, that was it. It was cool. So I'm helping them get their now. That's a really hate thing for me top see guys take young kids spots and kids that want to do it for the sake of their namesake. Well, hell, you gotta name but most of the time ... there's really only four or five or six guys that got a huge name from that era that are known wherever they go. Or if they walk in a restaurant and you go 'I know the name Dusty Rhodes but I don't know what he did'. But the video games – the Smackdown and Raw video games that THQ is coming out with the all-stars and the legends and everything – the kids see that and they re-live your career with you and it still makes you popular and keeps you in the public eye. Because you were a big enough star to have a video game or have a bobblehead. I think that's more important than getting back in the ring and embarrassing yourself. To me, it's a situation where I'm not going to do that. Even in '07 with Randy Orton, I told Vince it's a great story and he gave me a big hug before I went out and he said just go out and have fun. Right before I left gorilla, he got up and walked over to me and he smiled and said just go have fun. Well, he knew that I didn't want to embarrass my kids, I didn't want to embarrass his company and I didn't want to embarrass my legacy. I said that's more important to me than just for the sake of money, trying to pull in something. That physical part is gone. There's too many battles down the road, 287, 350 days a year for a good 30 years at least. That's enough. So for haven't saved that's shame on me.
When was the point where you decided that you had to take a step back and the spot I have needs to go to a younger guy and I'll take a different role?
I think in the '90's, probably the early '90s after I went back up (to the WWE). Not the run I had with Vince Sr. at the Garden at all them things with Superstar (Billy Graham). The run I had, the polka dot run I call it. (Hulk) Hogan's yellow finger thing was in effect and he was running rampant and changing our industry. I looked around and I'd seen some younger guys and I'd seen a change. That was a great time for me right there to feel my way through it. Then as the kids got bigger, they went up and here we are. But I'm still involved in something that I love to do. I get just as big a thrill at WrestleMania sitting next to Ted DiBiase. It would be a great reality show because we were sitting over there in a corner with a monitor right off of gorilla and we sat there and we watched our two kids walk out with Randy Orton at WrestleMania this year. I can't get any higher. There's nothing I've ever done that is higher than that. It's just amazing.
You were at the Hall of Fame and so was I. Did you get any of the money they dropped (for when 'The Million Dollar Man' was inducted)?
My daughter was standing next to me and my other daughter was behind me and she was sitting on my right side. She got a $50 bill man! She turned around was like I got a $50 bill. I think Dustin got a five or something like that. I got none of it. But that's pretty cool.
You went into the WWE Hall of Fame several years ago. Do you think there will be a time when the put Dick Murdoch (his former tag-team partner) in?
Yeah I hope so. Vince and the WWE Universe has opened it up for a lot of guys like Gorgeous George and Verne Gagne and guys you never thought would ever get in. His philosophy behind it is for guys that were so important. For me, I would love to see in Atlanta to see Ted Turner go in the Hall of Fame. We're in Atlanta and WrestleMania is coming up and I think that's a huge deal. I would love to see Dick in it because it's a big deal man. People make so much of it. People that are bitter about the industry and they'll turn it into this sideshow deal. It was a big deal when I got my ring. I was recognized by a group of people and a family of people and I had entertained so many people through the years. It was a big deal for me. It still is. I cherish that moment. I would like to see someday Goldust go in. I think that's a magical moment because of what he meant to WWE and that character he brought which was so far ahead of its time. It was an amazing thing to watch.
So how many pairs of boots do you still have?
I got the red and white pair, you know. I think the kids have a bunch of them. I know Cody went through the basement when he was in high school and he needed money. I kept seeing stuff missing and seeing stuff on eBay and people bringing me stuff to sign that used to be in my basement. I was like 'where the hell did they get all that stuff?'. Where did all this stuff come from? But it belongs to the kids. He would go down there and he'd find an old Mid-Atlantic belt, an original one, and then next thing I know he's walking around with $2500, $3,000 in his pocket and I asked him what are you doing, robbing banks?
You can't hock the original belt. That's priceless.
Well, he knows that now but back then he was just trying to get his first truck, messing around. I had almost 30 pairs of the cowboy boots at one time and I got one pair of red ones yet. That's cool.
It should be a fun night on Friday and I'm sure we're going to see you get funky like a monkey one more time.
Oh, you know I'm gonna get funky like a monkey man! You know my old saying is so true, I've wined and dined with kings and queens and slept in alleys, dined on pork and beans, that's true. It's going to be a king and queen night for us all. It's a big deal. They also will be so entertained by Florida Championship Wrestling and these kids. I think we have 18-25 up there right now. Last year, FCW was sending like 1-2 a year and I think the last guy to come out of the OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) developmental a few years ago was Cody. Then, they all moved to this one plant here which is a state-of-the-art facility in Tampa. It's unbelievable what you get to see with your Alex Riley's and NXT guys and Nexus guys. Look at Sheamus, look at Drew McIntyre. You can go through the list. Jack Swagger was the first FCW champion. It's important to go see them rock the house.
Brian Fritz hosts the Between The Ropes radio show which can be heard Tuesday nights from 6:00-8:00P ET on ESPN Radio 1080 in Orlando, FL.