Legendary Pro-Wrestler Dusty Rhodes Passes Away At Age 69

Horribly sad news to wake up to this morning if you’re a fan of professional wrestling, with word emerging that legendary grappler, multiple time World Heavyweight Champion, and WWE Hall of Famer, “The American DreamDusty Rhodes has sadly passed away. He was 69.

Emergency services were called to his Orlando home with reports Rhodes had taken a fall. After being transferred to hospital, Rhodes reportedly suffered multiple complications from the fall, which ultimately proved fatal.
Rhodes, born Virgil Runnels, was among the absolute upper pantheon of wrestling icons during the seventies and eighties – arguably only surpassed in the era by Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Bruno Sammartino.
Rhodes was presented as “The American Dream,” a blue collar everyman – a character that resonated with audiences, and lead to iconic moments in the industry; notably his famous “Hard Times” speech delivered during his time with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in 1985.

Rhodes was a three time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and held the United States Championship, Tag Team Championship, and Television Championship during his time working for Jim Crockett Promotions in the 80s – the company that later became World Championship Wrestling.
Rhodes is also credited with a number of industry innovations, including WCW’s War Games match, as well as the “Dusty Finish” – a match booking technique named after Rhodes, wherein the referee is knocked out during the match, leading to the babyface pinning his/her opponent, only for the decision to be reversed after the match due to the referee interference.
In recent years, Rhodes had been working as the head writer and lead creative director with NXT, the WWE‘s much celebrated developmental league. Following his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, Rhodes had been making sporadic appearances on WWE programming – more often than not alongside his sons Dustin and Cody, who both currently work for the WWE under the ring names Goldust and Stardust respectively.
The wrestling industry, understandably, is shattered.

The son of a plumber, who wined and dined with Kings & Queens (and slept in alleys and ate pork n’ beans). The man of the hour, the man with the power. The hit-maker, the record-breaker. With style and grace – and a pretty face – he’d make your back crack, and your liver quiver. If you weren’t a fan of his, you were at the wrong address. Because while the other wrestlers might’ve been smilin’ and jokin’, The Dream always – now, and forever – be cookin’ and smokin’.

Thanks for everything, Dream. Rest in peace.
Photo: Dave Kotinsky via Getty Images.