Something to Wrestle With – Episode 1: Dusty Rhodes in the WWF
Release Date: August 5, 2016 (recap published September 2, 2017)
Recap By: Andrew Soucek, PWPodcasts.com Editor
The first thing to note at this look back on the show is that Conrad Thompson has not yet developed his shtick of “Something to Wrestle With…(incredibly long pause) Bruce Prichard.” He also talks a bit faster than he does in later episodes.
Bruce and Conrad talk about how excited they are to start their new show. Another note is that Bruce doesn’t sound quite as clear as he does later on. Conrad informs us of the format of the show and how they’re going to only tackle one subject at a time per episode. The words “rumor” and “innuendo” are used within the first couple minutes, which would later become one of their trademark phrases.
2:25 – Commercial for ProWresltingTees: Bruce hasn’t yet busted out an impression of Vince McMahon, Macho Man, or another figure to do this plug in over-the-top fashion.
3:50 – Conrad asks “What happened When Dusty came to the WWF?” He sets up the scene: it’s 1989, Dusty is on the outs with WCW and finds himself in New York. Conrad said he believes Dusty’s run in the WWF was a rib. Was it? Bruce says it was not.
Bruce fills in some more details of the time. In 1982/83 Dusty Rhodes was the biggest babyface wrestler out there. He had wrestled a few shows for the WWWF and was flirting with working full-time for them.
At around 5:30, the show gets its first impression ever with Terry Funk calling Vince McMahon “Junior.” Bruce’s phone then rings.
Conrad asks if Vince is such a body guy, why was he infatuated with Dusty? Bruce claims it was the attraction of Dusty. Everywhere he went he drew money. He’d headlined everywhere. Dusty’s ego wasn’t quite in check, though, and thought he was a bigger star than Vince saw him. Hulk Hogan soon became the top guy and Dusty went to Florida.
Vince Sr. loved to have wrestlers for different ethnicities, so who was Dusty supposed to appeal to? The common man. Bruce then busts out his first Dusty impression, which also becomes a running character.
In 1989, Rhodes came in to the WWF as “The American Dream.” This was unique as Vince almost always changed the gimmick of other wrestlers. Bruce believes Dusty called Vince to see if there was interest in bringing him in. Vince had to put his own twist on the act, though. They ran a series of vignettes of Dusty working a variety of “common man” jobs.
Before those aired, Bruce traveled to Tampa with Bobby Heenan to meet with Dusty. He pitched the idea to Rhodes to shoot the spots. At that point, Dusty thought it might have been a rib. Vince then came down to help with the vignettes.
Bruce was adamant that the Common Man spots weren’t a joke on Dusty as that would be a waste of time. Conrad interrupts and brings up the Million Dollar Man, and that his “servant’s” name is Virgil, which was a dig at Dusty (excellent point).
Bruce says Virgil wasn’t a rib. It was a “What if?” Conrad didn’t buy it.
Dusty apparently liked the spots. Bruce said he did a great job at them, and that it was a good way to position him not as an “ass kicker,” but as an attraction. Most WWF fans at the time didn’t know who Dusty was. He had to be introduced to a whole new fanbase.
Conrad asks about the first time Dusty and Vince met in person during his full-time run. Dusty didn’t have a guaranteed contract. He had an “opportunity.” At 17:30, Bruce brings out his first Vince McMahon impression for how he sold Dusty on joining the company. It was far more low-key than the “G***mmit pal!” that it later became.
It was pointed out by Conrad didn’t have much leverage at this point. He had burned bridges at his prior employer. The WWF was a godsend for him.
They talk about shooting the butcher vignette. Bruce realized Dusty was too clean. He admits to taking a bunch of meat blood and dirtying him up to look like an actual butcher.
Back to the Vince/Dusty meeting. It was at Heenan’s house. Bruce said the two went for a walk and had a private conversation. Dusty returned with a great attitude and was ready to work.
Conrad asked if Dusty’s cockiness/confidence rubbed Vince the wrong way. Bruce said it might have, but Vince has that effect on people too. If you can back it up, it’s warranted. However, Dusty wasn’t welcomed with open-arms in the locker room. Wrestlers from the Crockett territory were leery of working with him due to some jealousy and perhaps some poor payouts in the past.
24:30 – Did any of the old-timers have mixed emotions about Dusty coming in? Gorilla Monsoon welcomed him with open arms. He knew Dusty from the past and had always been friendly with him.
25:35 – Polka Dots. At a TV taping, Dusty was in the ring. Vince is watching the monitor and suddenly exclaimed that he saw Dusty in polka dots. “Just polka dots! Giant, yellow polka dots!” Vince then told Dusty about it, who thought it was a rib. The next taping, the polka dots were on. It was apparently not a rib. It was a vision that Vince had.
27:25 – SummerSlam 1989, Dusty takes on The Honky Tonk Man. In the set up to it, they had a sing off. Dusty sang “Johnny B. Bad”, it didn’t go so hot. Dusty then sang “Dusty B. Bad.” This went over a bit better.
29:20 – Dusty’s first WrestleMania. It’s No. 6 in Toronto against The Macho King (with Sapphire and Miss Elizabeth as their respective partners). It should have been a dream match, but one is now wearing a polka dots. The other is wearing a crown. Bruce defends the match. He then talks about travelling with Dusty during this time period. During a series of house show matches, Bruce, Sherri, and Randy all had to take Dusty’s elbows in the ring every night. After a few weeks of this, they did the match in front of Pat Patterson (no impression of him yet!). Pat asks them to travel with him, and he tells them it was one of the worst matches he’d ever seen in his life (the first Pat impression then comes out). He thought Savage looked like garbage because of how much he sold for Dusty. At 35:00, the first Savage impression is born.
Backstage, Randy talks with Bruce and Dusty in the shower. The Macho Man made Bruce relay the fact that Pat wanted the match changed. Dusty said it was like someone pulling Babe Ruth into the shower and telling him how to hit. Savage replied, “Well Babe, that’s what we’re doing tonight in the ring.” The “Babe” nickname stuck with Dusty for Savage and Bruce.
37:30 – How is Sapphire not a rib? Bruce says the common man would have a common woman by his side. Bruce flatly denies it was a rib. They didn’t do that sort of thing. Conrad asked if they needed a black woman for the role. Bruce stumbled. He just said they needed a common woman. He then ran down her background of how she got in the business. Terry Garvin was the one who recommended her.
Did Dusty like working with Sapphire? Bruce thinks he wasn’t thrilled as he believed he didn’t need any “enhancement.” He thought of her as more of a handicap.
40:58 – Was there any pressure for Dusty to get in better shape for the WWF? Bruce said there was and that Dusty was the one who brought it up. Dusty told Vince he was eating a lot of salad and chicken breast. Vince said he wanted him just as he was.
Bruce said that Dusty was an incredible athlete, even during this time period. In a shocking turn of events, Bruce said that Vince created the term “puppies” for breasts and not Jerry Lawler.
42:55 – Jimmy Hart wrote and performed Dusty’s theme song. Hart also did Boss Man’s song.
43:35 – Survivor Series 1990. Kane The Undertaker debuts. This was the beginning of the end of Dusty in the company. The match was designed to get ‘Taker over. Dusty had the opportunity to go back to Atlanta and take on a booking position. Vince wouldn’t stand in his way.
Why did Dusty want to go back? Power and the allure of more money.
46:17 – Royal Rumble ‘91. Conrad asks if it’s ironic that Dustin and Dusty Rhodes wrestling Ted DiBiase and Virgil in their last match. Bruce doesn’t think so. We also find out that Dusty recommended bringing in his son to the promotion, and then he wanted Dustin to come to WCW with him when he left. Vince was fine with this out of respect to Dusty.
49:00 – True or false:
Did Dusty wear only cowboy boots and “not much else” in the locker room? Yes. pretty much.
Why does Dusty hate pants? No one knows.
Any Dusty ribs? Dusty had a great sense of humor. He pulled up to a hotel in Cincinnati with Bruce, Sapphire, and Sherri. Only the guys stay there. It’s a new place, but Dusty claimed he stays there all the time. The receptionist says it’s their first weekend open.
Bruce later went to Dusty’s room and on the TV, the news said The Hilton welcomed him to the hotel onscreen. Dusty acted like he didn’t want them to do that. Bruce goes back to his room and sees on the TV that The Hilton has welcomed him to the area too. Bruce realizes it’s a rib and that they’ll put that on the TV in any room. Dusty said he asked the front desk to do it, because he thought Bruce felt bad that they only recognized him.
53:45: In another story, Bruce and Dusty traveled together in a small car for a few house shows. Bruce told him he was about to be recognized more than ever due to his exposure on WWF TV. Dusty said he was already the second most recognizable athlete in the world, next to Muhammad Ali. Bruce said Hulk Hogan and a few others were more recognizable.
After a few days of Dusty repeating this claim, Bruce was getting a little annoyed by it. Then at the end of their trip, they got pulled over. Bruce was a little worried because he had some pot in the trunk of his car and he was going over 100 mph.
The cop asks them if he knew how fast he was going. Dusty chimed in that Bruce was going at least 88 mph and that he had told him to slow down. After running the license plate, one of the cops comes back and asked them if they’re wrestlers. He recognizes Bruce as Brother Love. He then asks for his autograph. The cop had no idea who Dusty was. Dusty exclaimed he was The American Dream. The other cop asked if he was still in the AWA.
After driving away, Bruce does a Dusty impression and says, “second most recognizable athlete…only to Brother Love.”
Bruce then throws out a few plugs and the show wraps up.
Not a bad episode by any means, but you can tell that they still had a lot of room to grow. It was very low-key and lacked the energy and wacky humor of later editions. It’s a bit strange listening to Something to Wrestle With without a single, “Well…you know.” The great chemistry between the hosts hadn’t developed yet either. These things take time!
Still, the Dusty stories are fun and the last one is a classic. Overall, the entire episode is only an hour long, which means compared to later offerings, there was a ton of details left out. It’s nowhere near one of their best efforts, but it’s definitely worth checking out for fans of the show.
3:50 – Dusty leaves WCW
25:35 – The polka dots
27:25 – SummerSlam ’89
29:20 – WrestleMania 6
37:30 – Is Sapphire a rib?
43:35 – Dusty’s physique
49:00 – Dusty road stories and ribs
For more, check out all of our recaps so far of Something to Wrestle With.