WWE honored the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes tonight at their Money in the Bank pay-per-view event at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Rhodes passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this week at the age of 69.
As is tradition in the professional wrestling business, Rhodes, who was working with WWE in a backstage role as a producer and talent developer, was honored by the entire locker room who appeared on stage as the ring bell tolled ten times in memorial. A video package honoring Rhodes’ legacy was shown to the audience in the arena and at home, highlighting the astounding career of the man who touted himself as the “son of a plumber” and the “common man.”
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, who has not been seen on WWE television in months, stood at the front of the pack alongside his daughter Stephanie and son-in law Paul “Triple H” Levesque as the fans in the arena observed the moment of silence. Once the bell had been tolled 10 times, Rhodes’ iconic WWE theme music blared throughout the arena, prompting fans to dance in honor of Rhodes’ boogie down style of soul. McMahon could even be seen jiggling his leg to the music, albeit with tears in his eyes. The entire audience at the sold out arena filled the building with chants of “DUSTY! DUSTY!,” just as they had for decades whenever the “American Dream” performed.
More recently, Dusty Rhodes had taken a position as a creative producer for WWE, most notably helping to shape and mold young talent in WWE’s NXT developmental division. It is here that Dusty may have made his greatest legacy, as so many WWE main roster stars from the last decade, including the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, have credited the “American Dream” for his inspiration, guidance, influence, motivation, advice, and counsel as key factors in their own success. Long after Dusty stepped out of the ring, his fingerprints were all over the industry, and the direction of the professional wrestling business has been guided with Dusty Rhodes in the driver’s seat.
Dusty Rhodes became a WWE Hall of Famer in 2009. His legacy lives on in his sons Dustin, who rose to fame first as “The Natural” debuting in an angle during Dusty’s short-lived in-ring WWF stay, and Cody, who performs as a main WWE roster member today as Stardust, named after an old monicker of Dusty’s.
Neither Dustin nor Cody were in attendance at the event as they remain at home in Florida with family. Rhodes’ funeral is scheduled for next week, and in usual Dusty fashion, is sure to be a standing-room only sell out.
WWE will feature program in tribute to the “American Dream” all week long on the WWE Network, starting with a special documentary set to air tomorrow night following Monday Night Raw.