Dustin Rhodes clearly took a huge leap of faith when he left his comfortable position in WWE to wrestle his brother Cody at AEW’s first PPV Double or Nothing. Dustin signed on with AEW as a wrestler and he’s also a producer behind the scenes as a 50-year-old veteran with over 30 years of experience in the wrestling business. Rhodes sat down with TalkSPORT recently to discuss how the transition has been.
“When you’re sitting in another company for a period of time and they’re not utilising you, and you know you have so much more to give, and they’re just not doing anything with you, you sort of lose your passion for doing something you’ve loved your entire life. I’ve always loved wrestling, I was born to do this. You’re sitting there, you get your big release and then there’s this phone call and it’s your brother. He says ‘Hey, why don’t we do this match’. The match that the other place told us wasn’t good enough, year after year’.”
“So I thought, OK, this is never going to happen so you just move on, but then we talked about it and I was like ‘Hell yes, let’s go. Let’s do this thing.’ And when you’re sitting there with an injury, you’re 50 years old, wondering if you can still get in there and go in the ring and pull off a magical night, an upset, at your age against your brother. The big dream match that you’ve always wanted to have. It was set. So we did a couple of promos. That week was very nerve racking for me.”
“Got in there, man, and it was just one of those moments. The way I explain it is, if you’ve seen the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, Will Smith plays a caddie for Matt Damon. Matt Damon can’t find his way, so Will Smith is brought in to help him find his way. He gets him in the zone. So, you’re looking down the fairway waiting to tee off and you see all these people in the gallery on both sides and you just can’t focus. Well, this is kind of like The Legend of Bagger Vance.”
“I got in the ring, man and I wasn’t sure how the AEW crowd, being different from the WWE crowd, would take me. Coming in as a foreigner, in a sense, to an independent setting, I didn’t know how the fans were going to take me. I was nervous about that, I didn’t know. But, the music hit, I made my way to the ring, they loved me, I stood in the ring and they started the ‘Dusty’ chants. I pointed up and it still brings goosebumps to me to this day. They’re invested already and I hear it. But, all of a sudden, everyone in the audience, much like The Legend of Bagger Vance, I can see them, but I can’t see them. I can hear them, but I can’t hear them. I’m so laser focused on the job at hand.”
“We have our match, I could have missed a thousand things – we didn’t miss anything – but I could have and it wouldn’t have mattered. The night was perfect. This was our big chance and our big show and we nailed a home run. That reignited my passion and love for our business again. It never left me, it was just kind of idly on standby. I fell in love all over again. I wanted to be apart of this with my brother and the creative side and just creating magic for these kids now. I’m 50, right? I’m just hanging tough with these kids and I’m amazing myself! Sorry for the long story [laughs].”
— Dustin Rhodes (@dustinrhodes) April 21, 2019
One wrestler who is presently dealing with a similar situation that Rhodes was in WWE is Matt Hardy. Rhodes gave his perspective on what he believes Hardy is going through right now.
I see a lot of similarities because I know what goes on inside there [WWE]. I’ve been on both sides in production and as talent and I know exactly what goes on behind closed doors. It’s not a pretty picture there. Here? It’s unbelievable. I look forward to going to work every single week. It is that much fun. And I’m in the production meetings and on the production side here, too. And I have training sessions with the ladies every single week before we go live for a couple of hours.”
“I teach promos. I try to bring out their characters. Because that’s what I do, that’s what I’ve been known for for several years and if we can tap into their hidden characters and personalities, it’s going to be great TV for them. I really enjoy the backstage role and just teaching them what I know. We have a good group of kids. These are my kids, I love them.”
Dustin Rhodes has lived his career trying to live up to his famous father Dusty Rhodes’ legacy. Dustin explained how things are different now that Dusty has passed, and how himself and Cody have had to make their own legacies.
“It’s different now because I still talk to him, but I don’t get any answers. But, I know he’s there. Growing up, following in the footsteps of someone like Dusty Rhodes is daunting and I thought maybe I could fill his shoes, but I could not. There’s only one American Dream Dusty Rhodes. And there’s also only one Dustin Rhodes, one Cody Rhodes. We had to find our own way.”
“I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished as Dusty’s son and as the other characters. It’s great to have a legendary father, but, hell, I’m a legend too. Cody’s on his way to being a legend and we’re doing great things and doing it as a family. It feels like a unit and we work as a team. And if anyone falls down in the locker room, we’re there. We’re there to lend a hand and pick that person up. And that’s the most important thing about AEW to me, we work as a team.”
Recently on AEW: Dynamite Cody Rhodes took ten lashings with a leather belt from MJF. Dustin explained how uncomfortable that was to watch.
“Nobody was saying ‘Oh, I don’t know about this’ – this story was done really well. We talked about it. It was very uncomfortable. It’s like you get a whipping when you step out of line with your parents and they whip your butt, right? I remember the smackings I got when I was a kid from my mom when I stepped out of line.”
It was uncomfortable to watch. It was uncomfortable to look at my brother’s face and knowing he wanted to rip MJF’s head off but he could do nothing. So he went out there and took 10 lashings. And he really took them. You see it in the social media posts. But, hey man, this is pro wrestling. Ain’t no crying in wrestling – let’s go. Let’s draw them in for the next week.”
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 6, 2020
Matt’s Musings: Great to see Dustin Rhodes doing so well and seemingly being happy with his life.