The son of a plumber, Dusty Rhodes suffered from the crippling disease osteomyelitis, a bone affliction that prevented him from walking as a boy. As a man of the people, he possessed tremendous drive, courage and charisma that made him 275 pounds of blue-eyed soul who captivated an entire nation.
In September 1977, “The American Dream” came to WWE and waged war against then-WWE Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham. Their matches sold out Madison Square Garden and culminated in a Texas Bullrope Match. Dusty left and went on to great success in Florida and the Carolinas region, enjoying three reigns as NWA Champion. His epic struggle against the Four Horsemen in the mid-1980s is widely considered one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
In 1990, Rhodes returned to WWE as the blue-collar worker for the common man. In polka-dotted ring trunks with his valet Sapphire, his popularity reached its greatest heights as he engaged in bitter rivalries with the Big Boss Man, “Macho King” Randy Savage and “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. In the early 1990s, Dusty returned to WCW as a broadcaster. In 2000, he made a brief stop in ECW.
In 2005, he returned to WWE working behind the scenes. Even after five decades, he isn’t afraid to step in the ring and show today’s Superstars how to mix it up, as witnessed at WWE Homecoming, Survivor Series in 2006 when he teamed with Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter and Ron Simmons, and his match with Randy Orton at The Great American Bash in 2007. Rhodes continued to appear on WWE programming and even guest hosted Monday Night Raw in 2009, despite at times breaking up rules to help his son Cody.
Dusty Rhodes was the true working man’s champion. As Cody said as he inducted Dusty into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, “He didn’t need a ‘Pit’ or a ‘Parlor,’ all he needed was a mic.” Dusty has truly lived life at the end of a lightening bolt.