Dusty Rhodes died Thursday. He was, as he told us every time he opened his mouth, “The American Dream Duh-tee Rhodes.”
Label me as fortunate that I grew up in the era when Rhodes, who was the “sonava plummer,” was one of the most dynamic wrestlers in the industry. He was hilarious, and if you liked watching people beat up each other, he was pretty good at that, too.
How many of you smile when the three words “Georgia Championship Wrestling” are mentioned? For many years, it was as much a staple of this state as the Atlanta Braves and the Falcons. Whether you went and watched Georgia Championship Wrestling in person or watched it on Channel 17, it was part of our lives for many years.
Growing up in south Georgia, I was fortunate to have non-stop wrestling on TV every weekend. We got Florida Championship Wrestling from a Jacksonville station, and on the Savannah station late Saturday nights, we had Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. But there was nothing like Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTCG (and later on WTBS).
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The great Gordon Solie was the announcer, along with Freddie Miller. Then Tony Schiavone came along when it became WCW in the late-1980s. If you lived in Georgia in the 1980s, you likely watched TBS more than a network affiliate. It had three things on TV people loved around here -- “The Andy Griffith Show,” the Braves and wrestling.
Yeah, I know, it’s really rasslin’, but my editors won’t like that used in a column more than once or twice.
My favorite two wrestlers were Rhodes and Mr. Wrestling II. I’m probably not alone in loving those two. And as much as I loved those two, I hated Ole Anderson. You had to hate someone if you were a wrestling fan.
Rhodes and Anderson hated each other. It might have been an act, but I’d like to think it wasn’t. One time, Anderson tried to join forces with Rhodes, only to turn on him in a steel cage match. Back in those days, if you didn’t go to the Omni to watch the fights, they would show it on TBS the next week from a camera high above the rafters.
There are tons of videos on YouTube that will allow you to relive those days of real wrestling. It likely will bring back tons of memories, and you might be stuck there for a while as you will say, “Oh, yeah, I remember this ...”
Rhodes was a tremendous entertainer. You couldn’t hear him talk without laughing. He would say some outlandish things and say them in a way that just made you chuckle. He was what wrestling should be all about -- entertainment. If you weren’t entertained by Rhodes, you didn’t need to be watching.
There’s Ric Flair, who is one of a kind, and Hulk Hogan and others. But there’s only one Duh-tee Rhodes.
His bionic elbow was also pretty lethal. Plus, he had a flare for the dramatics in the ring, even if he was getting beat. I can’t imagine any other wrestler’s forehead looking like he had a map of the interstates on it, but his did.
I’ve heard stories the past couple of days about the matches Rhodes had in Macon, when wrestling happened once a week back in the day. Those guys went all over the state of Georgia entertaining us, and for that we should all be grateful.
But Dusty Rhodes, the American Dream, a sonava plummer, was the best.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.