Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling's American Dream (25 page)

BOOK: Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling's American Dream
8.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

I remember a little while after we did that, Vince had Hogan and Macho up in the WWF do the “Mega Powers.” Someone asked me if I was pissed at that, and no I wasn’t, not at the time, because I was taking home some big checks. One week I made $80,000 with Crockett and that’s pretty good fucking money. I was doing a lot of shit though, so they didn’t really piss me off that much. Magnum going down and being told he was going to be paralyzed for life and all that—the real-life angle, the shoot angle, the fans knew it was real and that’s why it drew so much money.

Which brings me to “The Dusty Finish.” Holy dippity dogshit, did that phrase really come out of my mouth? “The Dusty Finish” is without a doubt the biggest scam in our industry, because it doesn’t exist. Just exactly what is the “Dusty Finish?” The phrase was created by sheet writers and picked up by the guys in the business who read them. They say it’s where the referee is knocked out, the babyface gets the pin on the heel but it doesn’t count, because there’s nobody there to count one, two, three, so the babyface helps the ref and in the aftermath somehow gets fucked by the heel with a swerve of some sort. And this is
my
finish?

Sure, I may have brought it to prominence by showing it on TV back in the ‘80s, but
my
finish? That fucking finish was around a hell of a lot longer than before I was booking. I actually remember seeing a finish like that when I was a kid. And if the swerve is what makes it the “Dusty Finish,” well then I guess the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a “Dusty Finish.” George Washington crossing the Delaware to surprise the Hessians, that was a “Dusty Finish.” The army hiding inside the wooden horse at Troy, that was a “Dusty Finish.” Hell, even the snake convincing Eve to bite the apple in the Garden of Eden, that was a “Dusty Finish,” Give me a fucking break … there’s only one and original “Dusty Finish” and you’re just going to have to read the whole book to find out exactly what that is.

The “Dusty Finish?” …
Puhleeease!

C
HAPTER
12

“Dusty is a man that’s more than his profession. He’s a very creative person who has lived an unconventional life. He’s a lot more than a wrestler.”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS
, W
IFE

P
ro wrestling is a funny business in the sense that anybody who is involved in it and has any kind of success has two families—their wrestling family and their flesh and blood family. While some in our business will argue that our wrestling families are more business acquaintances than anything else, anyone who has felt the wrath of one knows that the most important thing in our lives is the other.

There have been far too many of us in this unique industry who have allowed the business to fuck up a good thing, and I’m no exception. But I’ve learned from my mistakes and I know that before anything else in the world, it’s my family first. I will never let the business come between me and my family again.

So with that, let’s talk about my wife, Michelle, first. Chelle is the love of my life. I know I don’t say that often enough, but when we had this party where Henry Gonzalez, my attorney, and Monsignor Laurence Higgins of Tampa and all of our friends were there and in the toast I gave, it was to the woman who I said I love more than my life, everybody cried because it was not only so cool I said it, but that I meant it, and I still do.

I met Chelle in Tampa during my first big run, and there was something about her that was not like anybody else I had ever met. She just had a way about her. I loved Latin women and she not only had Latin blood in her, but
there was cracker blood in her as well; her mom was from Alabama and her dad was from Cuba. I can’t explain it, but in a strange way, she seemed like she was a lot like me inside. She was much younger than me—she was 19 and I was 30—but she had something about her that just made me feel good inside; just being around her.

We started dating, or actually I should say that I started coming by where she lived, because I was in that egotistical, big-Lincoln-driving stage, and I looked as if I were part of the Mafia or something. I would drive by to pick her up and she had a boyfriend at that time and they were learning how to scuba dive or some shit like that and she always had like this dark brown tan because she loved the sun, and she was just unbelievable to look at. She still is. Her grandmother, who could not speak English, Grandma Rubio, would call me
Virjilio
instead of Virgil, and she would say in Spanish, “
Virjilio
is coming to pick you up.”

“He was a lot of fun. He was interesting and he was the first person I dated who listened to country music. He was exotic. He was the also the first Texan I had dated and the people from Texas are … different. The wrestling thing was weird, but I liked it when I was a kid. Dusty was young and good looking.”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS
, W
IFE

While we had a rocky start, luckily it smoothed out and I eventually asked her to marry me on the banks of Lake Austin, not over the telephone like the legend goes. We had gone to Texas to visit Dustin and Kristin, my two oldest children from my previous marriage. When she said, “Yes,” man, I was on cloud nine.

Well, we had planned this wedding and Eddie Graham was out of town, so he had to fly back to Tampa for it. We actually had the wedding party the day before at the Columbia, a nightclub down in Ybor City, Tampa’s National Historic Landmark District; thrown for us by Henry Gonzalez. The wedding itself was small with just a few of our friends, Monsignor Higgins, who was Father Higgins at the time, presiding—and nobody else could have married us, not even the Pope, that’s how far up the pecking order Monsignor Higgins is with me. He overshadows the Pope because those guys come and go, but the Monsignor doesn’t. He doesn’t really know how special he is to me.

“Dusty is one of the nicest men I’ve ever known. He’s a man that’s very bright, smart, well informed, who has good values. He’s a good family man. He’s a fine gentleman and top of the line as a person.”
—M
ONSIGNOR
L
AURENCE
H
IGGINS

Anyway, we had the wedding and when we moved in to the little horse ranch I had in Lutz, a little community on the north side of Tampa. Chelle didn’t like it, I don’t think, because it wasn’t her house. I had an old girlfriend when I had bought the house, so Chelle picked out a new house off of Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, and that was kind of our first home together and that was really cool.

But the two of us were really wild back then. We had this tremendous ability for drinking until we couldn’t walk anymore. And of course when you drink, you can get loud and you disagree, you can’t keep a hard on … a lot of things happen. So we had a pretty loud, ruckus time, and I used to become somewhat angry and violent at times, and she had that Latino temper that was unbelievable, man. It wasn’t like Ricky Ricardo and Lucy, believe me. We had some knockout, drag outs. But everything I had ever said bad to her or whatever, I regretted within hours, and really felt remorseful through the years, because to me she truly is an angel who was sent down to look over me.

She has said to me on numerous occasions, “It’s not my job to feed you or take care of you,” and that’s what she’s always said to me. It’s not her job. It’s not her job to be in the kitchen. But she’s unbelievable at helping other people. I truly believe she would pick up every stray dog and homeless person if she won the lottery and she would put them in a home or something; taking care of them. She’s got the biggest and kindest heart of anybody I’ve ever been around.

Chelle always liked to work. She loves that independence. She’ll gripe about it as the day is long like anybody would, but she would miss it if she didn’t work. I think she really loves being Dusty Rhodes’s wife, but not as much as she loves being Michelle. I think that’s the important thing.

“I get tired of having a lot of crises in our life and the constant moving around. By the time we moved here (Marietta, Georgia), the kids had been in different places every year. Either business or financially, there’s always a crisis in Dusty’s life. It’s ‘Crisis Central’ around here sometimes. But it’s his personality. The business and his personality go hand in hand.”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS

I can write for pages and pages about her. One day, it was the day after the Super Bowl 15 years ago I believe, she said, “That’s it! I’m not drinking anymore!” and we went from being total drunks to just the opposite. Well, she did, anyway. And it was hard for her, but she fought through it and it was amazing to see her overcome that and she never drank again. Cold turkey, buddy, she’s amazing.

“The Studio 54 crowd loved Dusty. We had met an old schoolmate of mine, Tommy Sullivan, who looked like Black Bart. His arm was badly burned from a plane crash where he was the pilot. He invited us to Studio 54 for the first time and we met Halston, Bianca Jagger and others. Dusty loved that celebrity shit, but they were the most self-absorbed, boring people you could be around. We later found out Tommy was a drug smuggler, one of the ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS

She liked to go around with me when I traveled. She went everywhere with me until she got tired of it. She even went to Japan with me. The guys nowadays would say, “I wouldn’t take my wife. I can’t take my wife on the road, I’m trying to get some pussy,” or something. Back then, I wouldn’t go anywhere without her. I did not want to be anywhere without her. I wanted her to be seen with me on the trip to Japan. I remember when she came to the Kyo Plaza in Tokyo for the first time, New Japan Pro Wrestling Chairman Antonio Inoki sent his limousine for her, not a bus or nothing, to pick her up at Narita Airport. I had just dropped the World Heavyweight title and it was very important for me to go over and wrestle for his company, because the NWA would never give him the time of day as they were wrapped up more with Giant Baba’s group, even though both were members of the organization. So he sent his limo to pick her up and they brought her into the lobby of the Kyo Plaza Hotel, and even with the time-change difference with it being at night, there were probably between 200 and 500 kids roped off, waiting to see her or just to get a picture of her. She just stayed
a week as she had come at the end of a tour, but Chelle went everywhere with me, including to the matches.

“We had no children for the first five years we were married, so we lived on the road. It was a lot of fun, but it’s not glamorous like a lot of people think it is. It’s pretty much the airport, the hotel, the arena, and a restaurant or a bar. There’s not a lot of time for sightseeing.”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS

Materialistically, we had every kind of car you can imagine. From Rolls to Bentleys to Fiats to different trucks—any kind of car you can imagine someone would want. Now of course the minute we drove them off the lot, we owed more than we had because we were always backlogged. But man, we had a great time. The same money I made to piss Miami away, she made with me to piss it away.

“I’ve often felt we were an oddity. My life was very separate from the business. I was a traditional homemaker. We had a very traditional family with him not being in a traditional business. Sometimes it would get on my nerves when others in the business would ask me about personal issues. I didn’t have a lot in common with the other wives. I didn’t feel I had anything in common with these people. I tried as much as possible to keep myself isolated away from the business. I hate it.”
—M
ICHELLE
R
UNNELS

When the kids came we moved from that home in Tampa and we went to Charlotte. Chelle always had everything packed up and ready to go, whether she wants to admit it or not. She was like that song, “Stand By Your Man.” She was always there. I could always depend on her. Even today, as mad as she gets at me … she starts ordering food for me nowadays like I’m an old man.

She had an uncle or a cousin or a grandfather or something named Cuspert, and Cuspert right away tells you this is a cracker redneck motherfucker, and Cuspert I guess was so old and ornery he would say shit like, "Hey, God damn it …” He was always screaming at the kids and everything. So, she treats me like Cuspert now. A perfect example is we were standing to get food the other day and before I could open my mouth to
order, she said, “He wants a hotdog and he can’t have any mustard and he wants a Diet Coke, and he only wants a medium.” And she looked at me like, “What do you want?”

I was getting ready to say, “Now you’re fucking Cusperting me, like the old man Cuspert.” She’s ordering for me now like I’m an old man. I can’t imagine four or five years from now. Is she going to go deer hunting with me and open my case and get my gun out and load it for me? So she treats me like I’m an old man already.

BOOK: Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling's American Dream
8.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Running in the Dark by Regan Summers
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
The Longer Bodies by Gladys Mitchell
Windmill Windup by Matt Christopher
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Hearts Afire by Rawden, J. D, Griffith, Patrick
A McKettrick Christmas by Linda Lael Miller