Friday, June 12, 2015
Clubberin’ Time in Heaven
I have never been shy about letting anyone who asked (and not a few who didn’t) know, that I am a long time professional wrestling fan. My brother Chris and I cut our teeth on it when there were no mega organizations, only collections of affiliated regionals. We would live for Saturday airings of Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling brought to us with the commentary of Bob Cawdell, Jimmy Crocket, and the legendary Gordon Soley. From very early on, one of our favorite wrestlers was “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He died today, and I would like to remember him.
Even during the ‘70’s when chiseled bodies were the exception rather than the rule, Dusty stood out for a form that if taken at face value was not athletic in the least. He often made comment that he was not the ideal of an athlete in appearance. He knew what he looked like and was not ashamed, and through prowess, hard work, and unequalled mic skills no one ever judged him on form, but only on accomplishments.
Physically he could go toe-to-toe with anyone. Unlike today when a match is five-to-fifteen minutes long and an “Iron Man Match” goes an hour, he would routinely give all of himself for 60 minutes a night, multiple nights a week. His feuds were physical, sometimes bloody, and always legendary. I recall great bouts against Ernie “the Cat” Ladd, Abdullah the Butcher, the Anderson Brothers, Blackjack Mulligan, the Iron Sheik, Ivan Koloff, Harley Race and so many others. And nobody that has followed the sport as long as I have could forget the storied number of years that he and Ric Flair went at each other.
What made Dusty so great, so memorable? His charisma. It is as simple as that. His eyes were always shining, he could go from a smile that enveloped the world, to a scowl that would send lesser men to cower in the shadows, and he had a sing-song way of talking (with body language to match) that would draw you in, lift you up, and send you crashing to mat as if you were the victim of his famous bionic elbow. The English language had nothing on Dusty, and could do nothing to contain him. Whether he was talking about kickin’ someone’s “booty,” talking about giving a good “clubberin” to a foe, or setting the stage for the “slobber knocker” to come, with a sly wink he had us from hello.
Dusty started his career as one of the most hated villains alongside long time tag team partner Dirty Dick Murdoch, and sored to become one of the sport’s greatest heroes. In later years, he was touted as the son of a plumber, champion of the common man, but Dusty spoke for and wrestled for everyone. He was old school from start to finish brandishing a forehead deeply scarred from years of “blading,” and a body that still remembered how to boogie in the ring until the day he passed. Dusty, you never backed down from a challenge, or showed an ounce of fear, and until the end you entertained us as only you could. Farewell.
This was simply Dusty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GuPfpgr0c0