RECAP AND REVIEW: Ron Fuller’s Studcast on Fantastic February 1974 – the emergence of Dusty Rhodes as a major star, how he broke into the business, his incredible promos, and Ron reveals the wrestler who got knocked by a cage before a match

Ron Fuller’s Studcast – Fantastic February 1974

Release Date: 01/02/19

Running time: 1:08

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo



  • In Feb 1974 Florida things are starting to take shape which are a precursor to an unprecedented historic run of success in the Florida territory.
  • Ron’s father had joined the ownership team of the Florida territory with Eddie Graham. Bill Watts was hired as booker and he provides an angle that will bring Florida to unchartered waters.
  • During this time, Watts overhauls the crew by getting rid of the old crew and bringing in his guys.
  • In 1974 a star is going to emerge from this angle and carry the banner of Florida wrestling for years to come. He has worked in the territory but hasn’t been there since 1969. He was working as a heel but will be turned face and become the most prolific, loved and respected wrestler of all time in Florida. This person is Dusty Rhodes.
  • Ron says, when you turn a heel to a babyface, they can become your top babyface especially if done right.
  • The longer Dusty stayed in Florida, the more people began to like him even though he was a heel. Bill Watts saw this and felt Dusty was the perfect guy for the turn and plans for the territory were going to work around that. In the early days, Ron didn’t think Dusty would make a good babyface.

Dusty Rhodes

  • Dusty was born October 11th, 1945 in Austin, Texas. He was the son of a plumber.
  • Dusty graduated high school in Fort Worth playing baseball and football and attended W playing both sports again. This is where he met the Funks, Stan Hansen and Bobby Duncan who all went into the wrestling business.
  • Dusty tried out for the Boston Patriots, who were a football team in the AFL, but ends up making a Continental Football League team which folds in its first season.
  • He returns to Texas and meets Joe Blanchard who trained him in wrestling. 
  • After training, he spots an ad in a Boston paper looking for wrestlers. Dusty went to Boston and Dusty BS’d his way into the Boston wrestling crew beginning his career as Dusty Runnels.
  • He quickly gets a match against the Boston promotion’s world champion. While working in Boston, Dusty lived in his car. He spent his first Thanksgiving in Boston he spent in a soup kitchen with Rufus R Jones.
  • Dusty went back to Texas working for Big Time Wrestling which would later become WCCW. This is when he becomes Dusty Rhodes.
  • He meets Gary Hart who talks Fritz into teaming Dusty with Don ‘The Spoiler’ Jardine who taught Dusty a lot. Later Dusty goes to the Kansas territory where he meets Dick Murdoch and they form the Texas Outlaws.
  • The Outlaws worked in a bunch of territories such as Amarillo, Detroit, the AWA, IWE (Japan) and Australia under legendary promoter Jim Barnett.
  • The Outlaws arrive in Florida in 1969 and work as a team until 1973 when Murdoch leaves the territory. Dusty becomes a singles wrestler.

  • Ron says he was an unlikely babyface star especially when you look at his body. Despite that he was very athletic. In 1974 Dusty built his career around his charisma or ‘krisma’ as he called it.
  • Dusty developed a unique relationship and appeal to the common man. He endeared himself to blue collar America who loved him.
  • He made all that stick and made it important through his interview. Ron calls him one of the best ever on the mic and he made himself one of the brightest stars in American wrestling history.
  • Ron says Dusty was a grinder and a mover. He was driven to be somebody. Ron loved working with Dusty and Dick who were up and down and used lots of high spots.
  • When Florida switched from wrestlers like Jack Brisco to Dusty it ignited business. No one would have the guts to complain about Dusty and when he got over, everyone else’s paychecks got bigger.
  • Ron says in 1974 Dusty didn’t have any ego issues. He was probably blown away by what happened and had no big expectations. It surprised everyone in Florida how big Dusty became

Ron Working In Florida

  • Ron is working quite a bit in Florida. He’s working a number of tag matches being partners with Tex McKenzie, the Great Malenko, Mike Graham and Bill Watts and single matches with Harley Race.
  • Ron tells two stories about Tex McKenzie, one where he gets knocked out by a cage before a match and another where his wallet fell into an airplane toilet.
  • Ron says guys didn’t like working with Tex because he wasn’t good in the ring but got over because he was a nice guy and had an outgoing personality.
  • Tampa Feb 12 1974 card:
    • Paul Jones vs. the Jackal (Gary Hart)
    • Danny Hodge vs. Tony Romano
    • Mike Graham/Kevin Sullivan vs the Texan (Austin idol)/Rip Hawk
    • Harley Race vs. Ron
    • The LeDucs vs. Stan Vachon and Dick Slater
    • Buddy Colt vs. Tex McKenzie for the Florida title
    • Jack Brisco vs. Dusty for the NWA Title. At the time, Dusty was working heel.
  • This is the kind of card that Florida is booking. Great matches with great talent that is going to get better.
  • Ron is still working St. Louis but not as many times as he previously has. He’s only wrestled there twice because Watts wants Ron in Florida. Watts likes Ron and wants to team with him to turn on him later.

Listener questions

  • Dusty would have been a hit in Florida. His turn was done brilliantly. Involving Gary Hart was great because he had a stable of wrestlers Dusty could work with. This wasn’t a short term explosion of a territory it was a huge explosion that was going to last a long time.
  • Ron talks about some of the great referees in the company. Mac McMurray. Larry Brock, Nick Duckus and Tommy Weathers who he tells a great story about.
  • Ron isn’t sure if any other territories that reached the peak like Florida did. Maybe Southeastern in 1983 when Bob Armstrong heel turn on Ron during a match with Ric Flair.

Rating – 8.5/10

I love learning about wrestling history so I really dug this podcast. On top of that, I found this podcast much more interesting than his last two where he was going through the ten steps of building a championship territory. I’d rather hear Ron tell stories, which to me, is his strength. This podcast is the lead in to the famous Dusty Rhodes babyface turn which I hope he goes into more detail with in subsequent podcasts. This podcast (like many others) has great stories about the territories and some wrestlers who may not have been national stars but were big in their territories. Definitely recommend this one!

About Joe:

Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.


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