Although Dusty Rhodes was best known for his time in Championship Wrestling from Florida and Jim Crockett Promotions, he also enjoyed a spell working for Vince McMahon Sr’s WWWF in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
During this period the company was renamed the WWF and taken over by Vince McMahon. The younger McMahon had his eyes on taking the WWF national and breaking away from the NWA. While this angered many NWA members the change in policy completely reshaped the wrestling landscape in North America and helped the company become the biggest wrestling organisation in the world.
During this period Dusty Rhodes challenged “Superstar” Billy Graham for the WWWF World Championship twice in 1977 at Madison Square Garden. In their first match on September 26th, Rhodes actually won via count out but wasn’t awarded the World Championship.
Vince McMahon “Mad” When Dusty Rhodes Left
Speaking during a recent interview on Cheap Heat with Peter Rosenberg, Cody Rhodes recalled his father telling him about this period of his career when he was a child. The American Nightmare said that he had been told that McMahon wanted to put his father and Billy Graham at the head of his expansion, a position that was eventually filled by Hulk Hogan. While Rhodes initially thought this was his dad’s way of saving face, he added that McMahon later told him the same story.
“One of the things that I was told as a kid was that right after these Garden Shows with ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, is that Vince McMahon wanted to use Dusty and ‘Superstar’ for his expansion, the expansion that would become what we know and where we work and the biggest global sports entertainment wrestling entity on the planet, by far.
They booked recording studio time, they were going to make albums, this was before Rock N Wrestling where Vince had these ideas of reaching out beyond pro wrestling. As a kid, hearing that story from Dusty, I didn’t believe it. I’m watching VHS videos of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior and I thought it was his way of catching up, ‘I was really special too,’ he didn’t need to do that, but everyone has an ego.
Come to find out, one day I’m sitting by the ring, this is before I left, I’m still doing Stardust, Vince told me the exact story. How mad he was that Dad left and he was going to give him the whole world and he wanted him to be the Hogan and all this. I remember my dad telling me how Hogan used to come to Championship Wrestling from Florida and watched him and revered him. It just sounded like, ‘you’re just trying to chase that clout.’ Then I heard it from Vince and then I heard it from Hogan and Bruce Prichard.
I hope we cover this on the documentary. I consider Dusty Rhodes a Mount Rushmore guy, and not just because he’s my dad. If it’s a son Mount Rushmore, I’m putting four Dustys. I consider him from an industry perspective, closed circuit becoming pay-per-view, The Big Event, the idea of sizzle and matching substance, especially what him and ‘Superstar’ did in the Garden, that’s why the Garden is so dang special to me. It was great to get this part of the story out there and hear it from Bruce as well,”
Dusty Rhodes went on to sign with the WWF in 1989, famously sporting the polka-dots ring gear. The American Dream only remained with the company for two years before heading to WCW.
Later in life, Rhodes returned to WWE working as a consultant, eventually becoming one of the key figures in NXT. The legend was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.
Cody Rhodes is currently on his own mission to win the title that his father never did at WrestleMania when he takes on Roman Reigns.
H/t to Fightful