Right outta’ the gate, thank you Brandi Runnels. Thank you for letting me utilize your groovy blog to share a few thoughts with followers of the Rhodes Family…our family, and thank you for the chance that somewhere & somehow my Father will be able to hear what I’m saying.
And secondly, there is such a thing as too much death…too much melancholy…too morbid of a discussion, and for those who don’t want to engage in that; I suggest you read this no further and enjoy the rest of your day or night. No offense taken.
So where do we begin?? Why did I even want to become a professional wrestler?? Here’s something I only ever shared with my employer, not even Dad…
It was a picture.
…a picture that used to adorn the mantle in my parents’ bedroom at our ol’ Marietta home. The bedroom with a “king” bed that was the size of a Manhattan apartment. It’s a picture of Dusty Rhodes holding up the then WWWF Title(world wide wrestling federation). The picture was taken on September 26 1977 in the world’s most famous arena Madison Square Garden. Dad had told me about Studio54, he and Mom hanging out with Warhol and other luminaries…he told me about the cops on horseback…the broadway nights, but as far as little seven year old me was concerned, I was confused…I was confused because my Dad never was the WWWF Champion.
So he told me…”champion’s advantage”…Daddy had won the contest by count-out, and the title cannot change hands on a count-out or disqualification. They took it from him.
So I knew, I knew at seven years old…I knew what my job was…what the mission was.
And of course, I became obsessed with pro-wrestling, I tried to be an insufferable know-it-all when it came to the history and the holds. But the mission didn’t change.
It was to win the title we now call The WWE World Heavyweight Championship. To put it on his shoulder while he sat in the front row with my Mother and Sisters, and I would tell him “we get to keep it this time and you were right…it is real”
So that dream, it dies with you Dream. I didn’t get it done.
As Tom Paris would say…”no hopes, no disappointments”
And if I am being honest, I had gotten farther away from that goal ever since Miami. And for the very first time in my career, I was beginning to doubt if I even could get it done. The audience was starting to associate less with the Jimmy Stewart/Gable types and instead connecting more with the Seth Rogen types. Some of the disciplines I thought would lead me to the gold to the rolex, their importance was diminishing and the areas that were becoming more important perhaps I wasn’t that good at. And I know you would have snapped at me for thinking that way, so angry that your voice sounds like a tree cracking apart in the wind…you would have told me that I could be or do anything. You are after all the same man that would play Garth Brooks “the river” every morning before you dropped me at school. The same man that a forty-something year old homeless man could walk up to and tell you he wanted to be an astronaut, and you would ask “where do we start?? I am sure you can accomplish that in just 3-5 years if you want it bad enough”…and you woulda’ meant that. So…when I dreamed up a potential match, a crossover affair if you will; it was my intention to sit you and Mommy in the front row surrounded by hopefully 19,000 strong…and you could see. You could see that I was special. That I could stand in your company, and stand outside of your giant shadow and not feel ashamed.
But that vision, it can’t happen exactly like that anymore. You had to go.
I am deeply influenced by comic books. I genuinely consider them my education since I forwent that whole wrestling-scholarship thing. I told the very talented current writer of DC Comics’ Batman, Scott Snyder, that to our family…you were Batman. Damn that sounds silly. Its true though…with all our extended mess(Godfathers, uncles, a cousin timekeeper, a gorgeous host/wife, two sons, several proteges, etc. all in the same business) we are the Batman family.
And you let me be your Robin.
So what do you want me to do now?? The head of the table is empty. I am not ready to let the sun go down on you. My compass just spinning madly.
A few days after we lost you, I was tasked with the unfortunate duty of going through your cellphone to find various numbers, so that we could invite them to the service. And there it was…
It was a picture.
It was Stardust in a heated stare-down with The CW’S most valuable player Stephen “The Green Arrow” Amell.
“…finish what you start Kid…”
And thats why I sent you know who Monday. And I’m sure when he drew that first line of paint down his face, his throat rised and his eyes might of watered a bit. Leave it all out in the ring, my gift to you. And I know the man who secretly wanted to pit himself against Joe Frazier after Starrcade 84’ would get a real kick out of this.
So Dad, I hope you like what happens next, and…I hope the fans do too. Like Paul told you, they’re not marks…they’re customers. You said about them in 1978(after you took those rose-tinted shades off to let them know you were serious…I know you) “making you happy, makes my dreams fulfilled”
When I “finish”…who knows?? Maybe Aubrey Sitterson and I will actually write a comic or two that people enjoy and feel something from. Maybe I will finally take your advice and “head West young man…” and get that manager you wanted me to get. Or maybe I will put a pair of wrestling boots and trunks in a bag(I promise to carry it on the plane, 1st rule) and ride the roads and pretend to be a cowboy like you.
That Stardust suit might end up in the closet next to that black&gold Midnight Rider mask(which you never told me why its even there to begin with…wait…you…no you weren’t him…were you??)
I think you told me it was an Apache or Cherokee custom, that giving a knife was giving “the bonds of friendship” and giving it back was to cut them. So I have given a few from your collection to those two studs you watched your last Mania’ with, your booking friend from NXT.
I don’t want to make empty promises to you, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share…that whatever area I’m weak in, I’ll improve it…or that I’ll do my best to bring “war games” back haha or that I will wrestle the 60 minute time-limit one day, but most importantly…
I’ll take care of Mom. You have my word. It’s the only guarantee I can make.
I have soooo many wild memories of being your sidekick…like when at a Waffle House off Canton Road and the chef asked you “is rasslin’ fake??” and you stood up quicker than a cat and slapped him so hard his signature WH toque hat was twisted sideways and you said “was that fake?? Now…I want my hashbrowns covered and smothered…” and you sat down(and you somehow became total buds with that same chef). Or the fact that almost every kid who went to Lassiter High School and played football got to witness pep-talks that would make a master orator or war-time general shiver, and they still call you coach because of the wonders you did with a simple junior program and the motto “what’s it gonna’ take?? All you got”. But the reason I have asked not to do the DVDs and cancelled any appearances for now that had me speaking, is because those are mine…and I want to hold onto them for a bit.
Take the coming month or so as my gift to him.
Thank you for reading.