Thursday, June 9, 2016
Life Without The Dream...One Year On
It was not a hoax.
We've now had a year to accept the death of one of the most colorful and brightest stars in wrestling history. In that time we lost other wrestling icons such as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Bockwinkel, not to mention many other huge names in entertainment, sports, and pop culture. The death of Dusty still hits me, personally, just a tad more. I never imagined a time when Big Dust wouldn't be part of the wrestling business. Appearing at a convention, coaching young talent, or breaking out that legendary combination of lisp and drawl for one more cameo on WWE television.
Speaking of his coaching, it may be that aspect of his career that he was most connected with at the end of his life. As the promo/interview coach at the WWE Performance Center, so many of the stars who have come through NXT and are now debuting in the WWE's "New Era" spent time under the learning tree of The Dream. That NXT show which I attended the night of his death turned out to be the first true public memorial for Dusty. Many of the young stars who he had likely coached just days earlier were on the card. Their love for him was evident only by their emotions and personal showings of respect. Their abilities to perform were in no way hindered, exactly as The Dream would have wanted it.
The wrestling business itself continues to feel the Rhodes "bootprint." NXT has the "Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic" tournament. Wrestlers ranging from Cody Rhodes to Tommy Dreamer to Bailey to Kevin Owens have integrated tributes to the dream into their respective attires. In his last major WWE moment, Stardust paid several tributes to the original Stardust (an early moniker of Rhodes) at WrestleMania 32. A statue of The Dream was also unveiled by WWE that same weekend.
Recently departing WWE, son Cody has set his sights on tearing up the independent wrestling scene as soon as possible. Thanks to his natural in-ring gifts, this new phase in Cody's career will likely remind many of his father's time as a traveling attraction similar to Andre the Giant. Dusty's other son, Goldust, is coming up on the thirtieth anniversary of his own storied wrestling career, with no signs of slowing down. And as far as Dusty's aforementioned wrestling "kids" such as the current and former stars of NXT? I think we've been seeing his impact in many of them already.
Now that's what I call "livin' on the end of a lightnin' bolt..."