Thursday, February 19, 2015

From The Musty Yellowed Pages--Japanese Dusty Rhodes Album

There's just something about "The American Dream."  I may have five all-time favorite wrestlers, but I've often said that if I had to choose one, it would be Dusty Rhodes.  From the first time that I saw him, his charisma drew me in.  Looking at his drawing power over his long career, apparently I wasn't the only one!  Glittery robes, cowboy hats, or polka dots, it doesn't matter which incarnation of Rhodes you preferred.  Once "The Dream" had you drawn in via "hard times" or "Dusty B. Goode," he likely had you for life.  And despite being "The American Dream," it's fairly obviously that he was beloved elsewhere, too.

In the late 1970's-early 1980's, a publisher in Japan put out pro wrestling albums, each with a different top star featured.  From favorite gaijin such as Terry Funk, Mil Mascaras, and Stan Hansen to national heroes like Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, and Rikidozan, a number of these over-sized magazines were produced.  With the rabid enthusiasm towards anything wrestling by Japanese fans, it's no surprise that these glossy, well-produced publications were a big hit in the country. 

The 13th album in the series was on the topic of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.  One thing that stands out immediately when thumbing through one of these albums is the amazing photography.  Many of these decades-old photos look as if they could have been shot just yesterday.  The cover here is a great example.  Rhodes and his curly blonde afro jump from the glossy cover.  The "260 pounds of blue eyed soul" never looked better.  Listed on the cover are various points that will be visited inside including Dusty Fashion, Elbow Drop, Contemporary Rhodes, Crossover Rhodes, and Private Rhodes.

Although the inside is largely in Japanese, any fan would enjoy this publication.  The photos are seemingly endless, and most were likely never published in the United States.  Despite that, many of the matches shown are indeed from America, including one of Dusty's legendary Madison Square Garden battles with Superstar Billy Graham and a Bayfront Center brawl with Terry Funk.  The Funker is even clad in his famous "Dusty Sucks Eggs" t-shirt.  Now you can see the result of the talented Japanese photographers seen ringside at many old wrestling matches.

The magazine is a biography of Rhodes, complete with photos of even his earliest days in the sport as "Dirty" Dusty Rhodes and his "Outlaws" partnership with Dick Murdoch.  Dusty is also shown at home with his wife Michelle (mother of Cody), in a rare glimpse of the private side of "The Dream."  In one great picture, Rhodes is depicted serenading Michelle by guitar.  The couple is situated in front of a wall plastered with various photos of Dusty and even a movie poster from "The Wrestler."  I would expect no less a shrine to exist in the Rhodes home!

Most of the book is in color, but there is also a bit of black and white.  The latter includes some interesting cartoons of "The Dream" which most likely originally appeared in other Japanese publications.  In one of the cartoons, it looks like Dusty is passing gas, or at least wiggling his behind, onto a Japanese wrestler.  In another "The Dream" is shown showing off his "Stardust-studded" robes.  In yet another, "The Dream" has suddenly become a roly-poly superhero!  The Japanese flavor of this magazine is especially evident in these illustrated portions.

Throughout the book we are treated to various Dusty-themed magazine covers from here in the United States, likely to demonstrate how big of a superstar he was worldwide.  Perhaps my favorite photo is a shot in what is likely Dusty's office.  "The Dream," wearing his cowboy hat, photos of himself and Eddie Graham hang on the wall, can of Tab on the desk.  It's a great representation of the business side of Rhodes, who had a long and storied history on the business side of wrestling.

It's interesting to see how back in the territorial days of wrestling, stars were able to become as big abroad as they were in their home country.  Legends like Dusty Rhodes often have nothing but wonderful things to say about their tours of Japan.  It isn't hard to believe, from items like this, that these stars were treated like kings by the promotions and fans alike.  Simultaneously becoming a superstar on both sides of the pond, yet another bygone idea from a bygone era of professional wrestling.


Baltimore Jack said...

Great article on the Dusty Rhodes magazine from Japan. Like you, I am a big fan of the American Dream. But my relationship with the Dream has been one of alternating love and loathing over the many years. I was a big fan of Dusty in the 1970s when he was a semi-regular attraction in the Mid-Atlantic area, appearing on our TV 4 or 5 times a year. The big bleached blonde afro, the Ali-Thunderbolt rap, the great jackets and hats, and tie-dyed t-shirts. I learned much later that he was a regular on the Greensboro shows, while only making rare appearances at our other venues. But it was always a big deal when "Stardust" came to town!

Then in the 1980s, he morphed from Stardust to the truck-drivin' David Allen Coe hat wearin' son of a plumber and began shoving himself down our throats. I began to hate him! Welcomed any opportunity for the Four Horsemen to put the boots to him!

But even hating him in the 80s, he still made magic as a booker, and the 1985-1986 years for Crockett Promotions are two of my favorite years ever.

Plus, the Midnight Rider is one of my favorite charters/angles ever, especially the early 80s Florida incarnations. The 1988 version, not so much. But he pulled the plug on it before it ever had a chance to really get started that year.

Thanks for the post and thanks for stirring memories of the great American Dream!

"Baltimore Jack", Mid-Atlantic Gateway

J\/\/ said...

If this post was half as good as the many that I've lost hours reading at the Gateway, then I've done my job!