Name: Dusty Rhodes
Year Inducted: 2010

Dusty Rhodes

Dusty Rhodes believed in himself. Just ask Terry Funk. Before one match in their famous rivalry, "The American Dream" announced plans to send his 270 pounds airborne. "I'm flying off like an eagle off the top rope. I'm going to fly like a bird," he said with his famous lisp. "I'm flying like an eagle, Terry ... and when you go down, 1-2-3, they're going to shower me with flowers." Funk said he got in position to suffer the onslaught, only to see Rhodes stumble on the ropes coming down. Rhodes was undeterred. "Did you see me fly, Terry? Did you see me fly?" he asked after the match. That commitment to himself and to his sport made Rhodes one of the most charismatic and entertaining wrestlers of the 1970s and 1980s. A son of a plumber, Virgil Runnels grew up on the east side of Austin, Texas, where a man had it made if his car was up on blocks with all four wheels intact. He played football at West Texas State and got into wrestling after a run at minor league football fell through. From the start, his natural gifts set him apart from other young wrestlers. "I can't say I was blown away by his finesse, because he wasn't very good at the mechanics of wrestling and only knew how to do a clothesline and a hammerlock, but I was taken with his charisma and energy," Gary Hart said, recalling his first encounter with him in 1968. Rhodes formed a memorable hell-raising tag team with Dick Murdoch before embarking on a singles career, and he rose to hold the National Wrestling Alliance world title three times. Florida was his home base for most of his career, though he starred in the Mid-Atlantic, where he also was booker, and had two stints in the WWF. Superstar Billy Graham summed it up: "Oh, there was no one to equal Dusty. He was the most fun to work with, and we were close friends and laughed all the time. He was the ultimate."

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