Getting the chance to meet and work with Dusty Rhodes is one thing, meeting him while he’s wearing nothing but a pair of cowboy boots is quite another.
At the peak of his powers Dusty Rhodes was one of the most popular stars in all of North American Wrestling. His feud with Ric Flair is the stuff of legend, and his ability to relate to the average wrestling fan and pull them into a storyline, is still studied to this very day.
Rhodes’ fame was such that it made its way to the United Kingdom, making an impression on a young William Regal. The American Dream was featured on the cover of The Ring Wrestling Magazine, which was purchased by wrestling obsessive.
This meant that by the time Regal began his own career and headed to the United States, meeting Rhodes in person would be quite the moment. As it transpired, it was a moment seared into his mind by nudity and silence.
Speaking on his Gentleman Villain podcast, Regal recalled that first meeting with the American Dream, who was wearing nothing but his cowboy boots.
“So I’ve got to meet Dusty Rhodes. Doug Dillinger doesn’t know me yet ,so he just looked at me [and says] ‘this way.’ So I followed Doug Dillinger down this, you have to go down this little ramp and then centre stage backstage is all these little rooms, like a little hallway and then little rooms off it. And I get led to the very end of this and there’s nobody there. There’s nobody there.
And Doug Dillinger points into this one room and I opened the door and I walk in. And in this little 12 by 12 room in the middle of it is sat in a chair with nothing else there, Dusty Rhodes completely naked except for a pair of cowboy boots on. And he’s just sat there.”
Regal continued on, recalling how Rhodes had been an important part of not only his wrestling fandom, but his education. Even if he didn’t hang around to see whether that education had been successful or not.
“Now, again, my wrestling education, this is where it all started tying together, was from the early 80s of getting Rings wrestling magazines. Well Dusty Rhodes was always in them. For my Art O Level, although I left school at 16 you start to do exams and there’s two types of exams at the time there’s CSE which is and then there’s O levels. O level was the highest. Some things I didn’t care about, but art was one of the things that I did.
My art O level. I had to do a couple of pictures. One of them I did because I was such a wrestling fan, One of them I did of Fit Finley and one of them I did have Dusty Rhodes off a cover of whichever American wrestling magazine it was, just bleeding. And I had to draw it in pencil and that was handed in as part of my art O level, right. And that got me, well, I don’t know, because I’d left home before my exam results came.
I’d already left home, moved to Blackpool and I haven’t, I’ve still to this day I have no idea whether I passed any them or not. And kids don’t pay attention to me on this, but it’s never it never mattered to me one bit.
I’ve got no idea what I did at school because I just did my exams and left home six weeks later work with my dad for six weeks saved enough money up to leave home and then left home in July of 84 and never went back and moved to Blackpool and that was it as I became an apprentice wrestler.”
While the introduction to one of wrestling’s all-time greats was undoubtedly a big deal, Regal left the room following a very awkward silence.
“So I’m stood and Dusty Rhodes is sat there now I’ve watched a lot of Dusty’s matches on tape at the time. I’m stood and Dusty sat there with nothing on he’s got a pair of these glasses on and a pair of cowboy boots.
And I’ve gone ‘Mr. Rhodes, Steve Regal, nice to meet you.’ And in this letter and this they had this, these papers. And he just looked up slowly like that. And he looked me up and down. Took this letter off me. He read it or he pretended to read it. I don’t know. And he just went ‘Stephen’ as is saying that Doug Dillinger walked behind him.
So now Dusty Rhodes is sat there naked with a pair of cowboy boots on. And Doug Dillinger was a big impressive fella. Big gruff looking fellow stood behind him cross arm just staring at me and I’m gonna 12 foot by 12 foot room.
And this man who I’ve watched a lot of and really you know, know that is one of the greatest wrestlers ever and character. Watched his promos, and you know, because I could get tapes and stuff by then I’ve seen all this stuff. Because the first wrestling I saw in 1985 was the NWA from Charlotte. My friend Peter that was the tapes that he got. So a good introduction to American wrestling, right? Sure. I didn’t see WrestleMania 1 till about six months after that. That’s when we got the so that’s how it weird right, I’m wrestling and but first thing was the NWA.
So Dusty Rhodes sat there with Doug Dillinger. And Dusty just took this letter and I don’t know what to do, because he sat there naked with this pair of cowboy boots on. And he just looked me up and down and he went, ‘Steven. I’m just like Whitney Houston, I got my own bodyguard.’ And he pointed at Doug Dillinger. And he handed me the letter back.
Then he just put his head back into his papers. And was either reading them or pretending to, and I just stood there for about 30 seconds, which felt like an hour. And I just went, Okay, thank you. And I just walked out the room. So that was my introduction to Dusty Rhodes complete and utter silence.”
Thankfully for him, William Regal got over this unexpected meeting to become one of the most respected figures in modern wrestling. The British legend currently appears in AEW, where he manages the Blackpool Combat Club.
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