Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr., better known as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes currently works for WWE as the Commissioner of NXT. He makes occasional on-air appearances on other WWE television and pay-per-views and works as a backstage booker and producer in the NXT Wrestling developmental territory. Billed as "the son of a plumber", Rhodes' character was that of the working man.
Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and has also won the NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship once, the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship ten times, the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) seven times and the NWA National Heavyweight Championship one time. He has also won many other championships during his wrestling career. He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. He is the father of professional wrestlers Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes, both currently working for WWE.
Rhodes started his career as a rule-breaking heel, tagging with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch to form the tag team The Texas Outlaws in the American Wrestling Association. In 1974, Rhodes turned face after turning on tag team partner Pak Song and manager Gary Hart during a match in Florida against Eddie and Mike Graham. This led him to break out as a solo face superstar, primarily in Florida, referring to himself as "Stardust", the "White Soul King", and the "American Dream", a working class hero. Rhodes ascended to the top of several National Wrestling Alliance promotions, including those in Florida (where he also wrestled wearing a mask as "The Midnight Rider") and in Georgia.
On November 25, 1978, Rhodes won a single-night tournament to capture the vacant Florida Heavyweight Championship, with injured champion Steve Keirn presenting him with the title in an emotional moment. Rhodes vowed that both of them would be seen as champions in the eyes of the people.
He eventually began working with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) in the Mid-Atlantic, which eventually purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW), formerly Georgia Championship Wrestling. While there, he formed a team with Manny Fernandez. He also teamed with Magnum T.A. as "America's Team". The tandem began teaming up to oppose the Four Horsemen and the Russian Team in 1985. They were one of the more dominant tag teams in the promotion until 1986, when Magnum's career was ended in a car wreck. Subsequently, he teamed with Nikita Koloff as The Super Powers. Rhodes was also a World Six-Man Tag Team Champion with the Road Warriors.
Rhodes had feuds with stars such as Abdullah the Butcher, Pak Song, Terry Funk, Kevin Sullivan, Blackjack Mulligan, Nikita Koloff, Harley Race, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Crippler" Ray Stevens and, most notably, The Four Horsemen (especially Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard). Rhodes, Flair and Race each fought each other many times over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rhodes won the NWA World Title three times; twice by defeating Race and once by defeating Flair.
Rhodes began taking independent circuit bookings in 2003, after the closure of Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling and during his run with TNA.
Rhodes made his first indy circuit appearance on April 12, 2003 for Ring of Honor, when he participated in the "I Quit Bunkhouse Riot" as a member of Homicide's team. On December 12, Rhodes defeated Jerry Lawler at an International Wrestling Cartel show that also featured Mick Foley as the special guest referee. The next day, Rhodes appeared at NWA Bluegrass and defeated Slash.
Rhodes competed in a tag team match for Full Impact Pro on November 29, 2003, teaming with Bubba the Love Sponge to defeat the team of Kevin Sullivan and Ralph Mosca.
Rhodes returned to ROH on March 13, 2004, where he competed alongside The Carnage Crew in a Scramble Cage match against Special K, which the Carnage Crew won. On July 24, Rhodes made an appearance for ROH's sister promotion, Full Impact Pro, and defeated Gangrel. Rhodes would briefly disappear from the independent scene before resurfacing in October, appearing for Northeast Wrestling in a victory over Kamala. Later in the month, he appeared for IWA Mid-South in a tag team match with Ian Rotten in a victory over Chris Candido and Steve Stone.
Rhodes made three appearances for the Japanese promotion HUSTLE in 2004, the first being on January 4 in a six-man tag team match with Steve Corino and Tom Howard against Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and Sicodelico, Jr., which Rhodes' team lost. The second was on March 7, where he teamed with his son Dustin against Shinjiro Otani and Satoshi Kojima, which he also lost. The third was on May 8, where he defeated Steve Corino.
Starting in December 2004, Rhodes made regular appearances for Carolina Championship Wrestling, where his first match for the promotion saw him team up with The Rock 'n' Roll Express to take on Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, and Stan Lane, all three of the best-known members of the Midnight Express. He also briefly resurrected his feud with Tully Blanchard in CCW, earning two consecutive victories over him, the second being in a Bunkhouse Brawl.
On February 5, Rhodes defeated The Illustrious Jonnie Stewart, in front of a near sell-out arena in Tuscon, AZ.
On March 12, Rhodes defeated Abdullah the Butcher where Mick Foley served as referee. On April 9, 2005, Rhodes challenged Jeff Jarrett (who was still contracted to TNA, but due to TNA's then-affiliation with the NWA, he was allowed to appear for other affiliated promotions) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In a match that featured Jimmy Valiant as the special guest referee, Jarrett retained the title after Terry Funk made a surprise appearance and interfered. This led to Rhodes challenging Funk to a Falls-Count-Anywhere Bunkhouse match, which Rhodes won. This would be Rhodes' final appearance with CCW until August, where he would team with his son Dustin against Phi Delta Slam.
Rhodes participated in the first WrestleReunion, competing in an eight-man tag team match with D'Lo Brown, The Blue Meanie, and Tom Prichard against Steve Corino, Andrew Martin, Evil Clown, and the Masked Superstar.
Rhodes faced Tully Blanchard at a Starrcade Tribute Show on November 19, where he was managed by Magnum T.A. and where Blanchard was managed by James J. Dillon. Rhodes ended up losing the match.
On December 3, 2005, Rhodes returned to Carolina Championship Wrestling for one night only to face Terry Funk in an "I Quit" match, which Rhodes won.
Rhodes made his final major appearances on the independent circuit before returning full-time to WWE in mid 2006, defeating Jerry Lawler by DQ at a Southern Championship Wrestling Show on March 4,and defeating Steve Corino in a Texas Bullrope match at a Big Time Wrestling show on April 15.
In September 2005, Rhodes signed a WWE Legends deal and was brought onto the Creative Team as a creative consultant. He made an appearance on the October 3, 2005 WWE Homecoming in which he, along with other legends, beat down Rob Conway, to whom Rhodes delivered a signature Bionic elbow.
Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 by his two sons, Dustin and Cody. During his acceptance speech, Rhodes asked Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to hold up the "sign" and induct him and Harley Race into the Four Horsemen.
During an interview on WWE's The American Dream DVD set, Rhodes claims that his most popular promo of all time was his "Hard Times" interview during his feud with Ric Flair. The promo—which references out-of-work steel workers, factory runners and other blue collar individuals—apparently resonated with wrestling fans that people came to him in arenas in tears to thank him for "honoring their plight."
A few weeks before Survivor Series 2006, Rhodes returned to WWE to be a part of Team WWE Legends, led by Ric Flair. The team, consisting of Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons, and Arn Anderson (acting as manager) competed against the Spirit Squad at Survivor Series. Rhodes, along with the other legends, was eliminated early on in the match before Flair managed to become the sole survivor.
A few weeks before WWE's 2007 broadcast of the Great American Bash, Dusty Rhodes returned to WWE television to feud with Randy Orton. At The Great American Bash, Orton defeated Rhodes in a Texas Bullrope match after Rhodes was nailed in the head with the cowbell.The following night on Raw, after Orton defeated Rhodes' son Cody Rhodes, Orton delivered a vicious kick to Dusty's head while "The American Dream" was trying to tend to his son. On December 10, 2007, on the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode, Rhodes was at ringside to see Cody and Hardcore Holly defeat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Championship, and congratulated the two on their victory afterwards.
On March 29, 2008, Rhodes inducted his mentor Eddie Graham into the WWE Hall of Fame. Two nights later, on the March 31 edition of Raw, Rhodes was seen in the crowd of superstars paying their respects to Ric Flair during his farewell ceremony. Rhodes made an appearance on the 800th episode of Raw, where he was involved in an in-ring segment, which saw superstars including Kung Funaki, Hornswoggle, The Boogeyman, Jesse, Festus, and the commentators Jerry "The King" Lawler and Michael Cole, dancing in the ring. On April 4, 2009, Rhodes inducted The Funk Brothers (Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr.) into the WWE Hall of Fame. On August 31, 2009, Rhodes was the special guest host of Raw and booked a match between his son, Cody and Randy Orton for Orton's WWE Championship with John Cena as the special guest referee. Before the match began, he turned on Cena as all three members of Legacy took him out along with DX. After the assault, Orton shook hands and praised Rhodes, but gave him an RKO. He reappeared on June 7, 2010, to help Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley defeat I.R.S., Ted DiBiase, Jr., Virgil, and Roddy Piper. He reappeared on the November 2 edition of WWE NXT, during his son, Goldust's wedding with his NXT rookie, Aksana. Rhodes showed up on the November 15, 2010 episode of Raw in a backstage segment with both of his sons Goldust and Cody Rhodes.
Currently, Rhodes is the head creative writer for the weekly NXT Wrestling television broadcast. On February 25, 2011 edition of Smackdown, Rhodes briefly turned heel when he helped his son Cody attack Rey Mysterio in a setup.Rhodes turned face again when he inducted the Road Warriors in the WWE Hall of Fame. He appeared on the November 29, 2011 special holiday edition of SmackDown backstage with Roddy Piper and the rest of SmackDown roster. On April 10, 2012, Rhodes made an appearance on WWE Smackdown: Blast from the Past, embarrassing his son Cody Rhodes.
Dusty Rhodes passed away on June 11th, 2015 at age 69