RECAP AND REVIEW: Ron Fuller’s Studcast with Bill Watts on the babyface turn of Dusty Rhodes in 1974, how it went down, why it was the perfect situation, the live interview that was lost and what was said

Ron Fuller’s Studcast – A Star Is Born

Release Date: 01/16/19

Running time: 58 minutes

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo


Studcast – A Star Is Born

  • On today’s podcast Ron welcomes Bill Watts to talk about the Dusty Rhodes turn from 1974 in the Florida territory.
  • Ron calls Bill one of the best minds in the business.
  • Bill remembers the emotion of the matches.
  • Eddie Graham was one of the most brilliant men in wrestling but he had a lot of demons. At the time Bill worked with him Eddie had them under control. Bill spent a lot of time with Eddie and got an ownership position in the territory.
  • Bill came to Florida to get his PhD in wrestling from Eddie. Eddie turned the entire operation to Bill including booking, payoffs and handling talent.
  • Dusty and Jos LeDuc were working together but they had beaten their story to death having done a number of gimmick matches.
  • Both guys were similar powerhouse tough guys and they were limited in what they could do. When Bill came in he felt he had to change it up. Bill had already identified Dusty as having charisma and decided to push Dusty over Leduc.
  • Gary Hart was there and he had Pak Song Nam who was also a good guy.
  • When Bill watched the match it took him back to 1974 and in the ring the only two people alive are Bill and the referee Stu Schwartz.
  • Gordon Solie’s son was the videographer and most likely taped the match so Gordon and Dusty Rhodes could do the commentary. Bill calls Solie the greatest announcer and had Jim Ross study Solie.
  • Bill says it was a perfect situation. You had a ring General in Eddie, Gary Hart outside the ring, the hottest star in Dusty and a great athlete in Pak Song and they popped it.
  • When they came in to do the interviews for TV, Dusty did a promo about being the son of a plumber. Bill got goosebumps hearing that interview and knew they had hit it.

  • This was the biggest year the Florida territory ever had. They used to put billboards up around Tampa to promote wrestling angles which had never been done before.
  • There was a lot of great talent in the territory including a young Dick Slater, Dick Murdoch, Bobby Duncan, Danny Hodge, Tony Charles, Ron and Hiro Matsuda.
  • The cards at that time were stacked and any match after the second match would have been a main event in any other territory.
  • Bill says the key thing as a booker was to put your energy into every single angle which was a tough thing for other bookers to learn, especially if they were also wrestling or owned the territory.
  • Eddie taught Bill to go ahead and book himself in main events but make sure he wasn’t the only main event.
  • Bill remembers building Dick Murdoch as the main event star in Oklahoma and initially being bothered when Dick got over because Bill was the big star. He realized this was a good thing and also needed to continue building more stars beyond Murdoch
  • Ron thanks Bill for being on the show and they sign off.

Click here to see the Dusty face turn.

  • Ron was in the arena the night of the turn and watching this match. He knew it was coming but didn’t know it was this match.
  • When they showed the match with Dusty and Gordon Solie on commentary you can hear Dusty getting excited while watching and how he was accepted by the crowd.
  • Ron says sometimes turns can be concerning to a wrestler because you never know how the audience is going to react.
  • When you watch this match, you can see the ‘new’ Dusty. His image, body movements changed when the crowd responded to him.
  • Ron doesn’t know if it would be possible to get that kind of crowd reaction today compared to the ’70s and ’80s.

The Promo After

  • The babyface promo after the turn is lost, however, Ron remembers the promo.
  • Dusty was asked to do a live interview which is something they didn’t do often.
  • During the live interview he tells the Virgil Riley Runnels story. He called himself the lowly son of a plumber and grew up in poverty. He was lucky to be strong and was always a bully. He never cared what the wrestling fans thought of him until last night. It was the first time he felt accepted in the ring and was humbled by the reaction. He always called himself the American Dream but for the first time felt he was the American Dream. The crowd started clapping and gave him a standing ovation. He talked about Gary Hart’s goons and it was his job to get rid of them. Chill bumps went up Ron’s spine.
  • Ron felt it was the greatest interview ever done. Dusty had the audience in the palm of his hand.
  • Sometimes turns don’t get the proper reaction and if that happens you can be in trouble. If this turn hadn’t worked you might as well let Dusty go somewhere else.
  • This is where a good booker comes in. You have to put a lot of thought into how to do a turn like this. What happens that night was that a star was born not just in Florida but across all of wrestling.
  • Dusty had so many things going for him. He was a great seller and could build sympathy before making his comeback. Dusty had his own style and was maybe the most entertaining babyface. Ron also considers Dusty the best interview ever.
  • Dusty bled a lot and his blond hair accentuated the bleeding which made him a better seller. He had great timing and didn’t always do the same thing in matches.

Dusty is a superstar and after the turn, they start turning away people from arenas. It’s an amazing time frame. Even more talent like Bobby Duncan, Greg Valentine and Chavo Guerrero continue coming into the territory. The story continues next week.

Rating – 7.5/10

Another solid podcast from Ron Fuller. Historically, this was a huge angle not only in Florida but potentially across all of wrestling given how big Dusty became and his legacy in the sport. It was interesting to hear Bill Watts’ take on the what was going on during that time as he was the booker at the time. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ron doing absolutely the worst Dusty impression I’ve ever heard. But despite that, a definite recommend from me…especially as a wrestling history nerd.

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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