WWE News: Dusty Rhodes Remembered by Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and Many Others [Video]

WWE Hall of Fame inductee Dusty Rhodes (born Virgil Runnels) passed away one year ago on June 11, 2015, at 69-years-old from stomach cancer. Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and many others paid tribute to the superstar via social media.

Dusty Rhodes was known as “The American Dream,” taking pride in representing blue-collar workers and the common man, but there was nothing common about this innovative and accomplished legend. Rhodes was a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a United States Champion, and captured the Television Championship, World Tag Team Championship, and World Six-Man Tag Team Championship on several occasions.

He was known for his inimitable charismatic style, both in the ring and when cutting promos on the microphone. He modeled his technique after the late Muhammad Ali, whose promo style was influenced by professional wrestler Gorgeous George, as documented by the Inquisitr. His unique ability to connect with fans worldwide set him apart from his peers. His feud with Ric Flair is arguably one of the most prolific feuds in wrestling history; many of their matches would end in a draw when the time limit expired at the 60-minute mark. It was during this feud that Dusty Rhodes made one of the most famous promos in wrestling history now regarded as the “Hard Times Promo.”

Later in his career, Dusty would wrestle for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now known as the WWE, where he had a feud with co-WWE Hall of Fame inductee, the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. It was during this feud that his son, Dustin Runnels, A.K.A. Goldust, would join his father in the ring. Many years later, he had a chance to accompany both of his sons, Dustin and Cody Rhodes, at ringside during their tag team matches. Dustin and Cody had the honor of inducting their father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. The brothers tweeted out their tributes to the icon, commemorating their father.

It was at this time in the WWF when Dusty Rhodes started donning polka dots, and this style of his became legendary in the business. Current WWE superstar and former NXT champion, Kevin Owens, paid tribute to Rhodes by drawing polka dots on his own t-shirt and sharing a picture of it on his Twitter account, as well as tweeting a picture of him with Rhodes.

Paralleling his success as a wrestler was Rhodes’ success as a booker for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), ran by Crocket Promotions, which would eventually purchase World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where the legend would shape wrestling history. Rhodes was the creator of War Games, a ground-breaking match featuring two teams, and two rings placed next to each other, that was surrounded by a steel cage enclosure. Dusty gained inspiration for the appearance of War Games from the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The famous War Games matches are still watched and discussed by wrestlers and fans.

WWE News Dusty Rhodes created WCW War Games
Dusty Rhodes created War Games, which hosted many legendary matches [Photo via WWE]

Dusty Rhodes also helped create the first Starrcade and Clash of Champions. Starrcade would become the annual staple event of WCW, rivaling WWE’s Wrestlemania. Clash of Champions was an event aired on TBS that had the reputation for providing Pay-Per-View caliber matchups on television for free. Through the years, both of these events would promote matches that are legendary and still revered today, including the premier Starrcade that would skyrocket Sting’s career when he faced Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship. Later in his career, Rhodes would become the creative director and head writer for NXT, WWE’s developmental show for up-and-coming WWE superstars. His influence on NXT helped lay the platform for the success it has to date.

During his time with NXT, Dusty Rhodes would coach the talent, and many of them attributed their success to Rhodes. Among those is current WWE superstar and former NXT Champion, Sami Zayn. Paying tribute to Dusty Rhodes, Zayn tweeted out the letter that he wrote about Dusty one year ago.

“… I grew so much as a performer thanks to Dusty and my two and a half years spent with him learning to communicate. But for as much as he did for me professionally, the lessons I took from him as a person resonated with me even more …

“In my entire time with Dusty, I honestly don’t remember seeing him in a really bad mood. He was always very lighthearted around the Performance Center, and cracked jokes every single time he would see me. I laughed a lot around Dusty Rhodes. He was very funny, sometimes when he wanted to be, and sometimes just because he was …

“As I recount these little anecdotes, I can’t help but feel so lucky to have gotten the past two and a half years to work with Dusty. This man had seen it all, done it all, watched generations come and go, and had a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the business that literally no one else on earth possessed. I got to share in that and that’s just amazing to me …

“Thank you, Dream. They don’t make people like you anymore. I’m so glad I got to know you.

“You will never be forgotten.”

Dusty Rhodes’ influence on the industry has helped shape the popularity of what the sport has become today. He is held dear and remembered by both fans and peers, and social media was flooded by tributes to Dusty Rhodes on the anniversary of his passing, showing that he will never be forgotten. The words of Dusty Rhodes saying goodbye to his fans and loved ones, which is shown in the WWE tribute package for the icon, will forever touch the hearts of many as the legend quoted his hero, John Wayne.

“So—this is The American Dream— and I want to tell you one thing; happy trails to you, until we meet again.”

[Photo via WWE]

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