One of the top wrestlers ever to grace the profession. A legend nationally, but back
when the sport was broken up by territories, Dusty Rhodes was a headliner in each.
From Florida to Texas, Mid-Atlantic and Minnesota. He is a three-time former NWA World
Heavyweight Champion, with defeats over Harley Race and Ric Flair.
Originally from Austin, Texas, Dusty is the father of Dustin Rhodes, also a top-notch
grappler and champion. Before making his professional debut in 1969, Rhodes played
football with the Boston Patriots. Early on, he teamed with Dick Murdoch as the Texas
Outlaws. The brutal and hated tag team captured a version of the NWA World Tag Team
Title in Detroit, the American Tag Team Title in Texas and the Florida Tag Team Title out
of Tampa. Rhodes and Murdoch shared the same eagerness for blood. The two won
over Bob Roop and Danny Miller on Tuesday, September 15, 1970 in Tampa. A week
later, they beat Miller and Louie Tillett at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
On September 29th, Rhodes and Murdoch wrestled the popular duo of Dory Funk Sr.
and Jose Lothario in Tampa. Rhodes pinned Lothario for the victory. They continued
their roll towards the top of the wrestling tag team scene. Dory Sr. enlisted his son Terry
to wrestle Rhodes and Murdoch on October 6th in Tampa. The match was not just a
normal bout, but a special Texas Death Match. The Funks won. On Tuesday, October
13th, Rhodes and Murdoch beat Dale Lewis and Thunderbolt Patterson in Tampa. They
captured the NWA Florida Tag Team Title and retained over Lewis and Art Thomas in
Tampa on the 20th of October. Rhodes and Murdoch tried their luck in the six-man tag
world in Tampa, teaming with Tarzan Tyler against Jake Smith, Ron Fuller and Jose
Lothario on October 27th. They lost. Rhodes and Murdoch beat Smith and Lothario on
November 3rd in a match they nearly lost. Tyler and Jack Brisco were also locked up in
the brawl. Brisco wanted to enter the war as he teamed up with Lothario and the Missouri
Mauler on November 10th in Tampa against Rhodes, Murdoch and Tyler. The “bad guys”
lost in 15-minutes. They lost by disqualification to Bobo Brazil and Louie Tillet on
November 17th in Tampa. The Outlaws eventually went their own ways.
All through the ’70s, Rhodes traveled throughout the world and became one of the
most popular athletes on the NWA Trail. Promoters brought him in every time they had
the opportunity because they knew Rhodes would put bodies in the seats. The road was
hard, but Rhodes eventually put himself in the spot every wrestler in the sport wanted to
be in. On August 21, 1979, he beat Harley Race at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in
Tampa and captured the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title. He won the
most prestigious belt in wrestling.
On the 26th, Rhodes was in Jacksonville to defend his title in a matinee against Don
Muraco. He retained. After the match, he drove west on I-10 to I-75 south to Orlando for
an evening defense against Race at the Sports Stadium. Rhodes was attacked by Terry
Funk prior to the match and suffered a broken right wrist. Instead of backing out and
rushing to the hospital, Rhodes went on to defend his title with the handicap and lost.
Race had regained the belt. During the “Last Tangle in Tampa” on Sunday, August 3,
1980, Rhodes challenged Race for the NWA Belt at the Tampa Stadium. The bout was a
special two-of-three-falls match. He won the initial fall by pinfall. The time-limit expired
before another fall could be counted by special referee, Fritz Von Erich. In late 1980, he
was advised by Sir Oliver Humperdink in Florida, a man who was a bitter rival just weeks
and months earlier.
At the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta on June 21, 1981, Rhodes won his second NWA World
Title from Race. He assumed Race’s universal schedule and went on the tour.
On September 17th, Rhodes met a young talent named Ric Flair in Kansas City ,
Missouri. NWA Legend Lou Thesz was the special referee for the match. Flair beat him
and captured his first title. In 1982, Rhodes entered a violent war with Kevin Sullivan in
the Florida Territory. He lost a loser-leaves-town match on December 25, 1982 to
Sullivan when the latter received some outside help from Santa Claus. The reindeer
leader turned out to be Jake Roberts. Rhodes returned as the Midnight Rider, a masked
fan favorite. For someone to claim that they didn’t know who the Rider was would be
preposterous. No one had the same charisma as the “American Dream” had.
Over 6,000 fans packed the Miami Beach Convention Center on February 9, 1983 to
see the Midnight Rider challenge Flair for the World Title. Rider beat the champion and
captured the belt. When NWA President, Bob Geigel asked the man to remove his mask,
Rider refused. The official stripped him of his claim and returned the belt to Flair. He was
reinstated by Florida Promoters later in the year. In ’84, Rhodes settled into the Mid-
Atlantic Region with frequent trips to Florida.
Rhodes beat Flair for the “Lord of the Ring” Championship on April 30th in Miami’s
Orange Bowl. With the win, he captured $100,000 in cash, the “Champion of Champions”
Title and a $25,000 ring. Rhodes beat out Stan Hansen and the Masked Superstar in a
round-robin tournament on September 9, 1984 in Atlanta to earn a shot at Flair’s
Championship at the next card at the Omni Coliseum. He beat Hansen in the finals by
reverse decision. Rhodes challenged Flair for the NWA World Title at Starrcade on
Thursday, November 22, 1984. There was more on the line than just the NWA Gold.
One-million dollars. That was a $1 with six zeros (000,000). Rhodes and Flair were going
to battle for $1 million dollars. A special referee in Joe Frazier was signed as well.
Rhodes lost the match when Frazier stopped the bout due to his excessive bleeding.
On March 16, 1985, Rhodes beat Tully Blanchard in Greensboro to capture the NWA
World Television Title. He battled The Missing Link in April 1985 in one of the bloodiest
matches in Florida History at Orlando. On April 28th in Charlotte, he lost the TV Title
back to Blanchard. Rhodes regained the Television Title on July 6th at the Charlotte
Coliseum. Arn Anderson stole the belt, but Rhodes eventually retrieved the strap. In
October ‘85, officials stripped him of the TV Belt for failure to defend.
Rhodes had his hands on the NWA World Heavyweight Title once again at Starrcade
1985 in November, having believed that he had defeated Ric Flair. NWA President, Bob
Geigel, the same man who had returned to the belt to Flair years before in Florida, took
the belt from Rhodes and handed it back to the “Nature Boy.” The sheer controversy of
the bout was cited. During the 13th card of the 1986 Great American Bash on July 26th
in Greensboro, Rhodes pinned Flair and captured his third NWA World Title. A special
steel cage surrounded the ring, allowing no escape and no Horsemen involvement. In the
23rd minute, Rhodes hit a several of his famed elbow-drops and took the win and the
NWA Belt. He became only the fifth man in history to have three or more NWA World Title
Flair regained the belt on August 9th at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. Rhodes was
caught in the figure-four and the referee counted a pin for Flair in the finals of their
bloody cage match. Exactly a month later, Rhodes beat Arn Anderson for the NWA World
Television Title in Columbia, South Carolina. It was his third. During this time, he was
also working behind the scenes in Jim Crockett Promotions.
In October 1986, Rhodes saw one of the organization’s most popular wrestlers injured
in an automobile accident. Magnum T.A.’s career ended in the incident, but Rhodes and
Nikita Koloff devoted their 1987 Crockett Cup Tournament Victory to their fallen friend.
They ousted Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger in the finals on April 11th in Baltimore. At the
Coliseum in Greensboro for Starrcade on November 27th, Rhodes defended his TV Title
against Tully Blanchard. He lost the belt in a first-blood match. Rhodes won the United
States Heavyweight Title in Chicago on November 26, 1987 at Starrcade from Lex Luger.
The NWA held it’s second pay-per-view event on January 24, 1988 in Uniondale, New
York. Rhodes won the annual Bunkhouse Stampede, eliminating the Barbarian at the 26:
20 mark. One of the most surprising events in Rhodes’ entire career came about in
March of ‘88. It began in Cincinnati on March 18th during a match between the NWA Tag
Team Champions, Horseman, Blanchard and Anderson, against Lex Luger and Barry
Windham. Magnum T.A. interjected with extension of his voice using a baseball bat and
the challengers were disqualified. When Arn and Tully attempted to get at the injured
wrestler, Luger and Windham protected him. On the 21st, during a television taping,
Magnum was interviewed by David Crockett and displayed his baseball tool once again.
He spoke about his past wars with The Horsemen, reminding everyone of his Starrcade ’
85 “I Quit” victory over Tully when Blanchard and James J. Dillon walked out. Windham,
the mediator, stepped out also.
In a series of events, Tully attacked Windham and Magnum, in turn, grabbed him by
the throat. Blanchard smashed T.A. in the head, opening a cut and blood began to ooze
out. Rhodes ran out and attacked Blanchard with the baseball bat until NWA Official Rob
Garner attempted to stop it. Rhodes pushed him away. NWA President Jim Crockett
came out and he was hit in the throat. Crockett hit the ground as Rhodes continued to
smash the co-holder of the World Tag Team Title. Sting, Lex Luger, Windham and The
Fantastics finally succeeded in pulling Dusty away. For his actions, Rhodes was stripped
of the NWA United States Title and suspended from the organization for 120 days. This
incident was aired on WTBS on March 26th. The dates of the suspension was from April
15-August 15, 1988.
NWA Board Member, Paul Boesch suggested that Rhodes be reinstated and the other
members agreed. On April 29th, he made his return. On July 10th, Rhodes challenged
Barry Windham for the U.S. Title in Baltimore during the Great American Bash show. He
lost by pinfall after “Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin interfered. Not only did Garvin interfere,
he knocked Dusty out. Later in ’88, his son Dustin made his professional debut in
Tampa. At Starrcade on December 26, 1988, Rhodes teamed with Sting in Norfolk in a
match against the NWA World Tag Team Champions, Road Warriors. They won by
In early ’89, he left the promotion for Florida. After the Crocketts closed down the
Florida Booking Office, fans in the Sunshine State who had been used to seeing wrestling
were left out in the sun with nothing. Rhodes organized Florida Championship Wrestling
with Gordon Solie and several others, with the intent of bringing wrestling back to the
small towns of Florida. On March 11th, Rhodes beat U.S. Steel in Tampa for the initial
PWF Heavyweight Title. In the weeks that followed, Dusty signed with the World Wrestling
Rhodes made his debut on June 2, 1989, defeating Ted DiBiase at the Montreal Forum
in Quebec. The “son of a plummer” became widely known. Polka-dots, yellow and black.
He entered a short feud with the Big Bossman and on one televised show, walked off with
the nightstick and Bossman’s hat. Rhodes was immediately popular. He pinned former I-
C Champion, Honky Tonk Man on August 28th in East Rutherford, NJ during the
SummerSlam pay-per-view. Rhodes joined sides with Terry Taylor, Tito Santana and
Brutus Beefcake on Thanksgiving Night in Chicago for the Survivor Series. The four men
teamed to beat Rick Martel, Big Bossman, Bad News Brown and the Honky Tonk Man.
Rhodes pinned Bossman to win the match, as he and Beefcake survived in the end.
During a match against Akeem in late 1989, Slick verbally attacked a ringside woman.
Dusty ran to the rescue. The woman would soon be known as Sapphire. She would be
normally seen on WWF shows, ringside for Rhodes’ matches until he took her as his
second. Rhodes continued to battle off Slick and his mates until the Royal Rumble in
January 1990 at Orlando where he entered a feud with Randy Savage. With Sapphire on
his side, Rhodes faced off against Savage and his manager, Sherri Martel.
On April 1, 1990 in Toronto at the Skydome, Rhodes and Sapphire teamed in a mixed
match against Martel and Savage. Elizabeth joined Rhodes. In the end, Sapphire pinned
Martel. He continued to war with Savage throughout the summer. Rhodes lost to his
enemy at SummerSlam in Philadelphia on August 27th. He was pinned in less than three-
minutes. Rhodes captained the “Dream Team” on November 22nd at the Survivor Series
against the “Million Dollar Team” led by Ted DiBiase. The match was Rhodes, Koko B.
Ware and the Hart Foundation against DiBiase, newcomer Kane the Undertaker and
Rhythm and Blues. He was eliminated by the Undertaker. His team later lost.
Dusty’s son Dustin joined him in the WWF in early 1991. The father-son duo teamed
at the Royal Rumble in Miami on January 19, 1991. They met and lost to DiBiase and
Virgil. Dusty was pinned by DiBiase. After the event, Rhodes left the WWF and went into
retirement. He returned in ’93. Fans were reminded of old regional battles on November
10th in St. Petersburg when Rhodes squared off against the Assassin during the Clash of
the Champions. Both Rhodes and the Assassin were seconds for Dustin Rhodes and
Paul Orndorff, respectively. The WCW U.S. Heavyweight Title was on the line, and
successfully defended by Dustin. Afterwards, the four got into it and Dusty and the
Assassin brawled it out. Although, Orndorff hit Dusty with the U.S. Title Belt, the crowd
still looked upon the father and son duo as the victors.
Rhodes joined his son again in the summer of 1994 for Dustin’s war against Colonel
Robert Parker’s “Stud Stable.” During the Clash of the Champions XXVIII in Cedar Rapids
on August 24th, Dusty teamed with Dustin against Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck.
They won by disqualification after Arn Anderson interfered. Meng got involved as well. It
was like old times. Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk and Arn Anderson all in the mix of things.
Rhodes confronted his son during an edition of Saturday Night and asked to be his
partner during War Games at Fall Brawl. In an emotional scene, the two embraced.
The Rhodes’ were together, united for a huge double-cage match on September 18,
1994. Dusty went looking for another pair of athletes to round out the team and he found
them in the Nasty Boys, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs. The quartet went into the
Roanoke Civic Center prepared for war. Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson began the
contest and others followed. Dusty was the last man to enter the match and was triple
teamed upon entry. Rhodes battled through the attack and rampaged through every
member of Col. Parker’s stable, including the manager himself. He trapped Parker in the
middle of the ring and locked on a figure-four leglock. While the Nastys dropped elbows,
Rhodes garnished a submission from Parker. It was an important victory for the home
team as thousands of fans cheered.
Dusty was honored by WCW in May 1995 by being inducted into it’s Hall of Fame in St.
Petersburg. Rhodes gave an emotional speech and announced the 7th inductee,
Gordon Solie. Rhodes continued to work for World Championship Wrestling in a “booker”
capacity, as well as performing announcer duties. He officially joined the NWO at Souled
Out on January 24, 1998 in Dayton when he helped Louie Spicolli and Scott Hall beat
upon Larry Zbyszko. Rhodes had gone to the ring with the former AWA Champion as his
second. He also revealed a New World Order T-Shirt and denounced the fans. Rhodes
sided with Hulk Hogan on May 11, 1998 in Kansas City. He later left WCW and
Rhodes sprung up in Extreme Championship Wrestling in Philadelphia, as if he had to
prove that he was a “Hardcore Legend.” Everyone already knew that he was. Rhodes
feuded with Steve Corino. He won a Texas Bullrope Match over Corino at Living
Dangerously ’00 on March 12th in Danbury, Connecticut. Rhodes brawled with a number
of wrestlers after Corino’s match with Tajiri at Hardcore Heaven in May at the Rave in
In 2001, Rhodes returned to WCW, his rightful home. He reformed a partnership with
his son in a war against Jeff Jarrett and Ric Flair. Jarrett had done several skits mocking
the former NWA Champion during Monday Nitro. On March 18, 2001, Dusty and Dustin
teamed to beat Jarrett and Flair. A “stink face” was the reward for the losing team.
Today, Rhodes runs Turnbuckle Entertainment, Inc., based out of Marietta, Georgia.
The business promotes Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, which has run wrestling
shows since mid-2000. Among the names wrestling for the organization are Barry
Windham, Ray Lloyd, the Public Enemy, Steve Corino and Dustin Rhodes. The
promotion has held shows in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee and at one point
had plans to possibly join the National Wrestling Alliance. A rift before Rhodes and
Howard Brody, the NWA President, seemed to send things in another direction.
During the fall of 2001, the NWA Champion Steve Corino was appearing for TCW and
had formed the “Xtreme Horsemen” with Windham and C.W. Anderson.
After patching up their relationship, Rhodes and Howard Brody organized two shows in
late December 2001, which saw the NWA World Tag Title change hands in Florida. In the
days following, Brody announced that he was leaving the Alliance.
News on Rhodes’ promotion and upcoming dates could be found at www.dustyrhodes.
Dusty Rhodes is, without question, one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the
sport. Not only was he one of the most popular, but fans could relate to him on a
personal level. He was a working man’s man, achieving all of what a hardworking person
in wrestling could…the NWA World Championship…three times.
-A two-time co-holder of the NWA American Tag Team Title
w/ Baron Von Raschke (1969)
w/ Dick Murdoch (1970)
-A two-time co-holder of the NWA World Tag Team Title
w/ Dick Murdoch (1970) (MI)
w/ Manny Fernandez (1984) Mid-Atlantic
-A four-time co-holder of the NWA Florida Tag Team Title
w/ Dick Murdoch (1970)
w/ Dick Slater (1973)
w/ Bobo Brazil (1980)
w/ Andre the Giant (1981)
-A seven-time NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion
-Defeated Bill Dromo (1973)
-Defeated Jos LeDuc (1973)
-Defeated Killer Karl Krupp (1975)
-Defeated Ox Baker (1977)
-Defeated Dick Slater (1978)
-Defeated Leroy Brown (1980)
-Defeated Jim Garvin (1982)
-A ten-time NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion
-Defeated Pak-Son (1974)
-Defeated Bob Roop (1975)
-Defeated Bob Orton Jr. (1976)
-Defeated Buddy Wolfe (1977)
-Defeated Ernie Ladd (1977)
-Defeated Lars Anderson (1977)
-Defeated The Spoiler (1978)
-Defeated Bob Roop (1978) tournament final
-Defeated King Curtis Iaukea (1979)
-Defeated Bobby Jaggers (1980)
-A three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion
-Defeated Harley Race (1979)
-Defeated Harley Race (1981)
-Defeated Ric Flair (1986)
-NWA United States (West Coast) Heavyweight Title (1981) defeated Dick Slater
-A two-time NWA World Television Champion
-Defeated Tully Blanchard (1985)
-Defeated Arn Anderson (1986)
-Co-holder of the NWA Six-Man Tag Team Title (1986) w/ The Road Warriors
-NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1987) defeated Lex Luger
-PWF Heavyweight Title (1989) defeated U.S. Steel
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Dusty Rhodes Wrestling History
|PPV Ring Record TV Ring Record Career Record
Legends of Pro Wrestling