Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials

A week ago was the first day of the annual weeklong Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event, which is the biggest week in videogame news and announcements. I usually love indulging in the year’s biggest week for gaming news and headlines. However, for the better part of E3 week I did not really care or pay much attention to what all was being announced because my mind was still trying to come to terms of the sudden passing of WWE Hall of Famer, Dusty Rhodes a couple days prior. Instead of going gaga over the year’s biggest gaming announcements, I could not stop thinking of classic Dusty memories like his unforgettable Hall of Fame ceremony induction by his sons Dustin and Cody, his legendary ‘hard times’ promo, some of his classic Starrcade matches against Ric Flair, busting a groove with Sweet Sapphire to his awesome theme song, being too sweet in the nWo, and for the love of god I could not get them freaking polka dots out of my head all last week.

I will never forget my first memory of Dusty was renting a the newest Survivor Series tape when I was six or seven, and there was a montage of wrestlers saying what they were thankful for, and you guessed it, Dusty appeared all wild eyed boasting he was thankful for what else but his polka dots. Being a na├»ve six or seven year old goof at the time I loved his polka-dotted attire, his catchy theme song along with his funky dance he did along with it that to this day are an inspiration for a majority of my moves on the dance floor. Before I realized it though, Dusty was gone from the WWE. It was not until I started watching WCW in early 1996 that I saw him pop up there during the “Monday Night Wars” doing occasional commentary work, or being involved in an angle from time to time like being the umpteenth member of the nWo or teaming with his son Dustin to face Jeff Jarrett and Ric Flair in the final WCW PPV, Greed.

From there I remember Dusty being in TNA from 2004-2005, and I recall an awful angle between him and Vince Russo doing mock election campaign ads to run for commissioner/president of TNA during the FSN era of iMpact. I remember enjoying Dusty doing a bunch of sketches where he ran the company out of a pickup truck with TNA Knockouts Trinity and Tracy as his assistants. Dusty was actually part of the booking team of TNA from 2004-2005 during this time, and I recall his main contribution was the invention of the Lockdown PPV where all the matches on the show were a cage match. The PPV has somehow stuck around ever since, and usually winds up being one of TNA’s biggest shows of the year.

Shortly after leaving TNA Dusty joined WWE in 2005 as part of the creative team, and spent his last few years training talent at WWE’s developmental league NXT. It came as no shock to see the talent of NXT and stars on the WWE roster that came from NXT like Kevin Owens, Charlotee and Seth Rollins have nothing but love for Dusty since he passed. Even though I never grew up when Dusty was a big deal in his headlining years, through the Internet and many documentaries and match collections that WWE put out on DVD over the years I came to appreciate his entire body of work from the 70s through his many cameos in various WWE storylines in his final decade where he was consistently showing up a few times a year all the way up until a few months ago.

Dusty’s passing took me a few days to come to terms with. WWE did a tremendous tribute video of him they ran on all their programming in the week following his death. I highly recommend watching it if you have not already because in less than four minutes it does a masterful job detailing the legacy he left, and is a perfect capsule at quickly reflecting back on his career and why he meant so much to the business. If you need more than four minutes, then YouTube, countless WWE DVDs and the WWE Network has you covered.

WWE put out a fantastic documentary on Dusty Rhodes in 2006 titled, American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story. If you do not own the DVD, have no worries as the documentary portion is already part of the many past documentaries available for viewing in the ‘Beyond the Ring’ channel of the WWE Network. Several days ago WWE Network posted a new original network special titled, Celebrating the Dream (sneak peek). It is just under an hour long, and about two thirds of it is recycled portions of the 2006 documentary chronicling his career, but the final third has new narration segments by Jerry Lawler, a new intro from Vince McMahon and several newly recorded interviews interspersed throughout featuring Stephanie McMahon, John Cena, Triple H, Ric Flair and a majority of top NXT talent closing out the feature touching on how much Dusty’s tutelage has meant to them.

The new interviews are very heartwarming for the most part, minus Stephanie’s interview where she tries to twist and turn how she bigfooted Dusty in a angle they did on television a little over a year ago, and tried to convey Dusty was great for letting her do that when it could not have been further from the truth from her revisionist history. So minus Stephanie’s comments, I really dug the new interviews, especially from the NXT talent who were the closest to Dusty in his final years. WWE has released a bunch of themed WCW match collections in recent years where you can find a ton of his matches. Of course, now with WWE Network you can just search ‘Dusty Rhodes’ and a huge listing of all his matches he appeared in all the PPVs archived on WWE Network will appear and jump you right to his match on the PPV. I highly recommend just searching ‘Dusty Rhodes promo’ on YouTube and just getting lost in one of his many vintage promos he delivered throughout his career.

Another WWE Network special featuring Dusty Rhodes was released last fall and part of the WWE Rivalries mini-series on the WWE Network that chronicled the rivalry of Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. I just watched it yesterday and it is well worth going out of your way to watch. It highlights Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair both breaking into the business in the AWA and features some very old school Dusty and Ric Flair promos from the early-to-mid 70s I never saw before when both were obviously really early in their careers. It highlights both Dusty’s and Ric’s rise to the top of the NWA, with the two eventually clashing in the Starrcade ’84 and ’85 main events. This hour long special is comprised of new interviews from Dusty, Ric and many of their peers at the time like Arn Anderson, Terry Funk, Tully Blanchard, Jim Ross, Tony Schivane and the WWE even tracked down legendary wrestling ‘journalist’ Bill Apter who photographed many of these classic moments for his series of magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated. It does a great job revisiting this period in wrestling where this feud benefitting from a more intense sports-like atmosphere of the NWA at the time compared to the homogenized product the WWE was morphing into by the mid-80s.

So if you do not have all day to watch countless Dusty Rhodes matches and interviews, and only got about two hours to spare, then the best way to spend them is to watch the newly released Celebrating the Dream special on WWE Network, and follow it up with the Rivalries: Rhodes vs. Flair special on WWE Network. Then one last time, watch WWE’s amazing tribute video to him as you try your best not to shed some tears to it.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Primetime Specials

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