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[Remedial Wrestling] Dustin Rhodes

Matt D

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As we roll into the middle of 2019, it's obvious that not everyone has been here since 1999. Some people who come across the board might not even have been born in 1999. As such, we don't all come from the same background and same experience and same history of watching wrestling. Some of us have a lot of expertise. Others are curious. Let's bridge that gap as we're all more likely to do things together. 

A few years back we did a fairly broad Four Pillars [Remedial Wrestling]. 

It sort of fell off but not before a number of people really did delve into the matches and, I think, learned a lot. This will be a smaller, tighter project, though maybe one with more individual matches.

The focus is Dustin Rhodes. Obviously with his match a couple of weeks ago, a match where he portrayed himself as Dustin instead of being Goldust, he's on a lot of people's minds again and it's obvious some people haven't had a chance to go look at his earlier work, work that means quite a bit for some of us who were coming up or watching wrestling in the early-mid 90s.

The idea here is that we're going to present some matches, some history, and people will write up their thoughts and everyone can compare notes. We'll take it slow. I intend to present a good number of matches organized by different phases of his carer. Some will be available on the Network. Some will be available on youtube or elsewhere. I'll offer some additional matches as well, though they're more optional. At the very least, I'll write up my thoughts as we go. Hopefully everyone else will do the same.

We'll start with his pre-WCW work, which generally consists of his time teaming with Kendall Windham in 1988 WCW, his time in Florida after Dusty got fired, his USWA (Memphis and Texas) work, and his first WWF run. Plus a tiny bit of time in Japan. Mainly, we're looking at 1988-the very beginning of 1991. 

There's not a lot to say about him teaming with Kendall in WCW. There's a match with the original MX, some Cruel Connection matches, a share of jobber matches, including a Mike Jackson one, and this one vs Perez/Zbyszko (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f_9B3r746c), which is mainly only worth seeing for the ridiculous finish that makes Dustin and Kendall look like morons. He was young, he was green. Dusty was going to be careful in how much he pushed him.

With Florida, the match to check out is vs Terry Funk. Obviously, Terry is doing most of the heavy lifting, but it still holds up really well despite how green Dustin was:

I haven't seen every bit of USWA footage for Dustin. There are a decent amount of TV tags out there. I'd point you to a few things quickly. The first is this music video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SILMwFV9Vqo) which is a music video from Memphis because everyone got one. The second is Dustin teaming with Bill Dundee against Rough and Ready in a jobber match (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHzik6ps2As&t=9s). And third, what I'll look at too is a match vs Devastation Incorporated for USWA Texas. Everyone needs to see Hickerson as PY Chu Hi at least once.

That puts us into 90. We do have a little bit of Dustin in Japan but it's not essential. Here's a few minutes of Dustin vs Davey Boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG3ZGVhKYdQ


So that's Dustin pre-WWF. There are obviously other things out there. For instance, I'm pretty sure Dusty Rhodes Jr. & Harley Race vs Masanobu Fuchi & The Great Kabuki from 4/20/89 exists somewhere in the wild. There's a decent amount of Dustin vs Tony Anthony or Gary Young that might be out there too. I think you get the idea though.

For WWF, you have to know that he was brought in during Dibiase's feud with Dusty. His Dark Match Try Out was vs Black Bart on the 4/24/90 Challenge taping and maybe we'll get to see it someday. He started on the loop vs guys like Haku, Akeem, Hercules, Buddy Rose, and Bob Bradley, got on the MSG card in September against Paul Diamond (this made German TV and I want to see it since I'm not sure I ever have, so I'm putting it here):


And subsequently the great angle/TV match against Dibiase where Ted boasted Dustin couldn't survive ten minutes against him:


which set up the Dustin/Dusty vs Virgil/Dibiase feud for Royal Rumble 1991. After this, Dibiase pivoted to Piper and Virgil; Dusty's run was over and he was heading back to WCW. Dustin was coming with him. Apparently Vince told them that he'd have Dustin in his clutches (everybody has his price) someday once again on the way out. There's not a lot else truly important to see from the WWF run.

We'll give everyone a little time to watch, comment, and potentially suggest anything else from this period, and we'll start on 1991 WCW next.

Edited by Matt D
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I'm jumping ahead here, but I'll maintain until I did that Dustin vs Bunkhouse Buck, Bunkhouse Match at Spring Stampede was the best WCW match ever.

(I also just watched Goldust vs Hunter from RR 97 last night, age it was really good)

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I’m hindsight, one of my favorite small things about Dustin (and I’m just going off memory) is when he’d be on WCWSN in like ‘92 and Ventura would talk about how Dustin had an advantage when locking up in a collar and elbow due to his height. As a kid who still wanted to believe, that added a lot of realism to me.

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8 hours ago, Matt D said:

[...]this one vs Perez/Zbyszko (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f_9B3r746c), which is mainly only worth seeing for the ridiculous finish that makes Dustin and Kendall look like morons.

I actually really enjoyed that up to the hilarious finish (which I also really enjoyed on a different level). That's probably more to do with my missing that style than this being a particularly noteworthy example of it.

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10 hours ago, Brian Fowler said:

That Dibiase angle/match was the first time I saw Dustin.

He's pretty much been a favorite of mine ever since.

It always struck me as odd that he was brought in on such a hot angle and then left almost immediately with his dad. I mean, it worked out as his WCW career was premiere and his team with Windham is pooooossibly my favourite of all time but still.

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I also remember a training video featuring I think Ricky Steamboat where he was running through guys in a ring and one of them was a really young Dustin Rhodes. 

He was extremely green. 

I also have to second that Bunkhouse Buck vs Dustin Rhodes Bunkhouse Match. That was so much fun. I just watched that again last year and it was brilliant 25 years later.

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4 hours ago, Wyld Samurai said:

I also remember a training video featuring I think Ricky Steamboat where he was running through guys in a ring and one of them was a really young Dustin Rhodes. 


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OK, I'm in on this. I was thinking of doing a small summer personal project focused on comedy matches, but maybe I'll do this instead, at least for now. 

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4 minutes ago, Control said:

It’s super weird that Vince wanted an Exotic Adrian Street-type character and thought “Let’s get that giant cowboy dude to play him.”

"That incredibly recognizable giant cowboy who is the son of a legit legend in the business, and looks almost exactly like his dad, except taller and in better shape" 

It's actually really amazing Dustin made it work.  Although it did take him a long time to get his feet under him, and I don't think his work really got back up to his previous level until he turned face.

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Ok, everyone at your own speed. Once we make some progress (or I at least get through the matches), I'll put up a post for 1991 WCW.

I rewatched the Funk vs Dustin match and as a Dustin Rhodes match, boy is it ever a great Terry Funk performance. That's certainly a side effect of this. For those who follow along, you will see some great Terry Funk performances, Dibiase as a ring general, Steve Austin coming up alongside Dustin, the glory of the Dangerous Alliance, etc.

I was watching with a pretty fine eye of what Dustin was or wasn't doing well here, and it's obvious he's super green and that Funk is leading him around. This match really is just constant movement, constantly entertaining. Terry was so good at that, always being in the moment and always giving the crowd something to look at or engage with. There are flashes though. In general, I think his selling was very good, especially post headbutt and at the end with the chair attack. One of Dustin's best skills as he gets older is working from underneath. Being able to work out of a chinlock, for instance, was so essential in the 80s and 90s and eventually Dustin will be one of the very best in the world at doing this and drawing the crowd in. He didn't have much opportunity for that here, with the tape choking the best chance. That was so over the top, including the Humperdink distraction that we don't learn a ton from it. It does get good heat though and sets up perfectly the rope shake spot that brings things towards the finish. Dustin's elbow smash looked great, which is good because he'd be relying on that for the next few years. Both his elbow drop (which he'd move away from as a finisher as he came into his own) and his jumping back elbow were both pretty rough. While he engaged with the crowd a few times after big moves or moments a lot of the time you really got the sense he was just trying to figure out what he was going to next. 

In general, from the sign at the beginning and the dropkick on Humperdink to the final comeback this match was all about establishing Dustin against one of the most credible and dynamic opponents in the world and for the most part, I think it worked. He did most of what Terry needed him to in order to make the match work. Still, he gets a hell of a lot better from here. How good was Terry in 89 though?

Real time notes:

-Love the guy walking around with the sign. Just something you never see.

-Solie and Page as announcers. Imagine a lot of people haven't heard them together before.
-Speaking of flags, there's Humperdink with the Texas Flag and Funk, looking into the camera. Dory's with him. 
-Solie deadpan saying the PWF title is more important than the NWA title.
-Funk going after the crowd. Funk was 45 or so here. He does destroy the sign. The guy comes in and Funk stomps the hell out of him. It's a great piece of business. The crowd's jawing with him as Humperdink waves the flag.
-Dustin gets a pretty good pop. He immediately gets to dropkick Humperdink out. No anticipation. Just right to it. Solie's his defense lawyer "Gesticulating it like a weapon."
-Funk ambushes him in the ropes and stomps away. Tosses him. Funk's shouting and pointing. Dink's back on his feet. Stomps him out then shoves Mickey Jay. Funk keeps it moving, pulling Dustin back up, suplexing him in and pile driving him.
-Two count. The kickout is great as Funk bumps himself into the corner and falls out. This lets Page put over the kickout (which when a heel announcer does it means something).
-Funk's back in control in the corner, but Dustin reverses a whip and Funk Flair Flips to the floor. Terry's doing all the heavy lifting.
-Funk's right back on him. Dustin gets a small package out of nowhere. Terry's elbows to the skull are great. Page puts over Dustin's ability again.
-Funk tosses him again and slams him on the timekeeper's table. Mickey Jay tries to stop him. He's really young. Funk's back to the floor; there's that great elbow. Dustin reverses a table shot and tosses Funk into the raiil. 
-Back in the ring, Dustin fires off on him. He's got the atomic elbow down. His back elbow isn't quite there. Slam. Punches. Slam. Suplex. Good fistdrop. Funk sells big. Punches to the head. 
-Dustin's sucking wind but just a little and Funk gets out of there between the ropes as Dustin gets fired up.
-Dustin's got this labored look on his face sort of stuck there as he pounds on Funk on the apron. Funk bumps out again. 
-They trade blows on the floor with Funk getting the advantage. 
-Back in, Funk works the tape and chokes.
-Humperdink distracts. 
-Funk headbutts. Sells his own headbutt by tripping over Dustin. Hits a grounded one. Dustin's selling is pretty good here for a rookie.
-Funk tosses him again. There's a ton of motion/movement in this. Funk perches on the top rope, argues with ref; constantly entertaining. This sets up the big rope shake comeback spot by Dustin.
-Back body drop. Dustin swaggers a bit and calls to the crowd. Hits the atomic elbow off the ropes. Hits the elbow drop (not great). That brings Dink in. Dustin goes after him and pummels. This would have meant more if not for the early dropkick but it gets a pop. 
-Funk gets him from behind with a chain, hangs him up as the ref calls for the bell. Dink holds him over the rope with it as Funk elbows the leg. Nasty boys and Italian Stallion make the save. Dustin sells it well.


Edited by Matt D
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I’m not as big a fan of the guy as most people were from the old board but I respect him. Him and Steamboat beating the Enforcers was my favorite match of his.

Also I’m who put in the request for the Terry Funk thread in the old “Top 5 Matches You Need to See By” folder and enjoyed the heck out of that. I don’t remember if the Dustin match came up.

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The Funk match is super interesting as you see flashes of the Dustin to be as well as the parts of Dustin as Dusty Jr. pastiche that were to be discarded.  It seemed to me that as Dustin matured, he grabbed a lot of Barry Windham and Ricky Steamboat influence and eventually became a really good sum of all the parts.  His punches here are really solid baby face right hooks and the part where he had Funk on his seat and was punching down on him would make for a great 'I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore' moment.  The issue I have with this match (and its not a big one) is that Funk wants to do back-and-forth so he can do some of his more outrageous bumps and it didn't really feel earned. Taking a bump out of the ring off a kick out after a piledriver and Flair turnbuckle bump shortly thereafter off a reverse Irish whip seemed like he was doing it to do it rather than it coming from a more natural space.  That being said, Dustin has really sweet footwork on that reverse whip and it looks super smooth with his lanky yet pudgy frame.  Funk is a tremendous entertainer but I think he would have benefited from working the heat and be a bit more dominant so Dustin could explode from underneath.  I would say this is a popcorn match that will entertain you while you are watching it.

I want to talk about the prematch somewhat separately from the match itself as it is almost removed from the narrative.  Funk beating the crud out of normal people is always entertaining and this was great in the wildness of it.  Terry's final stomp to the sign guy is perfect in the 'OMG it feels real' kind of way.  Where I think this misses is that Dustin's move is to dropkick Humperdink as he gets into the ring rather than going at Funk who has been the aggressor from our perspective.  There is also no interaction between Dustin and the fan which could have been a better option.  Like pick the guy up, dust him off, point at Funk and jump to the go.


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Again, we're going to take our time going through this. I imagine this will take a good chunk of the summer. 

I (re)watched the USWA Texas match (PY Chu Hi/Buddy Landell vs Dustin/Jimmy Jack Funk). 

So, I admitted that I didn't have the perfect match from the USWA era. I think I tossed this in because I wanted people who had never seen PY Chu Hi (Phil Hickerson with a super racist fake Asian that everyone knows is still Phil Hickerson gimmick) or even Buddy Landell to see them. This is a Landell already past his prime and Hickerson's completely ridiculous in this gimmick, but they're both awesome here, still managing to come off as dangerous and compelling, despite being objects of scorn and ridicule. Obviously this isn't about them, but I love how they pepper little interesting things into almost every moment (like the stomach rake during the abdominal stretch, or Hickerson's double teaming punch to end it). 

While this is only eight minutes, I think you do get to see that Dustin had come along as a babyface. This is JIP and starts with him working from underneath. He's already selling bigger and broader, interacting with the ref, with his opponents, with the crowd. As others have noted, eventually Dustin was able almost turn his size off when he was selling and then back on when it was his time to take back over. You already get signs of that here and lo and behold, the fans were chanting his name already. Keep in mind that he's only about twenty here. I think this is a good snapshot of how far he'd come in a year or two.


-This is JIP. 

-For people who haven't seen this, it has to be sort of a shock. You have Togo out there screaming on the mic. 
-Hickerson's working the arm to start. We're into heat here obviously. 
-Dustin's showing some real emotiveness here, first in showing the ref what Hickerson's doing and then in firing back despite Buddy's awesome hair pull takedowns. He's fired up in a way that didn't quite feel possible even with the Funk match.
-I bet this could some people's first look at Buddy Landell too. They should watch more. He stooges a bit on the outside, heads in, and immediatley goes for an object in the tights. Memphis has arrived to Texas. Then he dances and gives a Punch Out style "Come on" move, before cheapshotting Dustin and tossing him out..
-Hickerson is the most confusing, racist thing ever as he begs off from Jimmy Jack while trying to attack Dustin on the outside. The level of selling seems so much better.
-We come back to a Landell cravat on Dustin. They are chanting for Dustin. He's got this constant little motion after getting smacked in the corner. Maybe he's throwing a bit too much of his body into his selling. His duck-the-clothesline-hit-the-elbow looked great, and he already had the hot tag dive down. 
-Babyface Jimmy Jack Funk is so weird. Anyway, Hickerson hits a low blow thanks to Buddy helping and they cut him off for the second heat. Buddy's stomach rakes in the abdominal stretch are awesome. We see Dustin "selling" on the apron instead of working it, and then he goes to menace Togo. Hickerson just whacking JJF's head while he's in the stretch was great too. I blinked and Funk took over with chops in a hope spot before he ran into a foot.
-Hickerson gets some fun little shots in before Funk gets a power slam out of nowhere and the hot tag.
-Dustin's not super fiery but he is using his size to mete out justice until he gets double teamed. It breaks down here with Gary Young coming in. Jeff Jarrett with his hypercolor pants makes the save.

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Nothing delays something like this quite like four hours of the Crockett Cup. 

Here's the next match though. 

Dustin vs Diamond, first match on an August 1990 MSG card, from German TV:

I wish we had the Monsoon/Heenan Commentary on this. That said, while this match wasn't the most dynamic thing in the world, it was more than solid, and again shows how Dustin was on his way. 

I think he made, maybe, one too many mistakes for the fans to really get behind him. You put your head down once, they forgive you. You do it twice and miss two corner charges, etc., and that has a cost. The early armwork was good (they moved in and out of it well, Diamond's selling was great, his timing on eating Dustin's stuff was really good as was Dustin's timing in doing it) but just like everything in the match, went on a little too long. Look, for all intents and purposes, these were two (to the crowd) absolute nobodies curtain jerking a MSG card. In a situation like that, a heel that really plays to the crowd or a babyface with a lot of high spots can get over, and Diamond did react well to everything in the match and Dustin worked ok from underneath and had great punches that did seem to get some pops, but it wasn't quite enough. How many guys had this crowd seen come out to Crank it Up over the years?

Anyway, Diamond's choke takedown thing was great and I liked the stomach targeting as things got going (lots of logical underpinning in their spots, which always helps) and think they could have relied on that to cut off hope spots instead of Dustin slipping on a banana peel so many times. They went back to the chinlock maybe one too many times as well. I don't think Dustin wholly had the pulse of the crowd as he worked out of the chinlocks yet, but again, I do think he was on his way. His labored selling towards the ropes after he missed an elbow drop but before he hit a big punch was really good. That's the sort of thing that could draw the crowd in that he just absolutely excelled at as he got even just a little older. This was an ok thirteen minute match that would have been a quite good nine minute match. 

Notes (far too detailed notes):

-Ok. German commentary is distracting. 
-This was also on an American PTW episode with Gorilla and Heenan on Commentary. I had just figured it didn't air. 1990 PTW isn't on the network though, right? Let me check. Nope, just through mid-89. I don't see it on youtube either. Let me check DM just to be sure. Nope. German it is.
-Top wristlock to start. Dustin's got the height so he overpowers him. Diamond complains about the hair. On that same PTW is a Battle Kat/Koko vs Orient Express match too, but Sato was still in there. Pre-Kato. It wasn't from the MSG show which had a 12 minute Bob Bradley vs Ron Garvin match of all things, plus the Warrior/Roadies vs Demolition on top. 
-Anyway, they're doing the shtick with Dustin hanging on to the arm bar no matter what. This is solid stuff. Dustin's consistently in the right place. I love Diamond pulling the hair to get him down only to turn right back into another armdarg. 
-He finally hits a forearm but misses a corner charge and Dustin steps over with the armbar. Dustin's got a wrench to things. They're moving in and out of this well. Diamond's a great opponent for that. Good rope running sequence ending with a solid Dustin dropkick and right back to the arm.
-Diamond finally slams. His selling is really solid here. His stooging too. He misses an elbow drop with the bad elbow. What a maroon. Back to armbar.
- Finally they do a double block of a hiptoss off the rope and Diamond takes over with a sort of choke STO slam thing. I like his reaction. He's really happy he too over.
-Oops, spoke too soon, Dustin reversed a whip and stayed on the arm with a big sweeping takedown. Maybe this is a bit too much at this point? Dustin's laying on him with an armbar. Diamond hits this neat shot to the neck/face from behind in the armbar, then they do some rope running and Diamond sneaks a knee in, then jumps up on the second rope to celebrate, which I like. He earned it.
-He hits a couple of elbow drops (good elbow) for a two count. Diamond has a bunch of good stuff, so let's see what he does here. He starts with nonchalant gut shots and tosses Dustin Bret-Face-First into the corner. It's a good visual. Foot on ropes. Diamond does a rope assisted shot and a double stomp, and ha, the announcers call his Fargo strut a Brutus Beefcake on. Down to the chinlock. Here we go. Can Dustin work it form underneath.
-He's got the hand going. He starts pumping the hand and leg. We get some lukewarm chanting. He responds, which keeps it going. And he elbows out. Hits a slam. Misses an elbow. Solid hope spot. Then Diamond misses one too. Ok, I really like Dustin's selling towards the ropes here. He's struggling to get up. Once he does, he hits a really good punch for a good pop and sets up a quick-follow corner clothesline.
And then falls over. Checking the tape. Diamond got an elbow up at the point of impact. That was a split second thing. I think it confused the crowd. Back to chinlock. Dustin's starting with his hand. Less pumping this time, but that's because Diamond was going to hairpull him back down. Let's see if he gets the foot going again. You have to remember how thoroughly WWF fans were conditioned to respond to chinlocks. That said, we did get some boring shouts. I don't think they came back up for it.
-It leads to a few elbows and a pretty awkward double collision. It looked nasty, both guys putting their head down, but they've sort of lost the crowd here. Dustin hits a leapfrog and a dropkick and he misses his second one.
-Strutting by Diamond and another gut shot. I do like the subtle focus. Back to the chinlock. Probably not a good move here. Diamond had his feet right by the ropes and he should have used them. Dustin starts kicking the ground again and the crowd comes with him more. He ends up punching, but misses another corner charge. Now we get the ropes on a two count. The ref catches him. 
-That lets Dustin roll him up for two. Diamond's back to the stomach with a kick to the gut (mean reaction since Dustin almost got him). He follows it up with a punch and then a head charge in the corner. Another whip but he misses the charge. This stuff is really sound and logical. I think the fans had enough of it though. -Dustin's punches look great so far. He pulls Diamond out of the corner. Hits the close Corner Clothesline this time. Goes for ten punch, fans count along. Diamond stumbles to the ground.
-They're about to go home which is a good thing. Head down on BBD. Duck CL. Flying clothesline, flip sell. Big elbow, didn't set it up with the hands or anything. Pin. Mild pop. 

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On 6/27/2019 at 12:33 AM, BloodyChamp said:

Which Crockett Cup version do you have that’s 4 hours? If it’s the 1 with NBC footage added in I have that too.

Network, last week? No.

Anyway, I forgot we had this which was part of the massive handhelds dump from the last 18 months. I'll add it to the list. I'll start putting together the 91 matches next week. 


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I didn't know this was happening.

So let's talk about that tag match @Matt D just posted.

It's an awkward match for everyone involved. Lots of crossed wires on when to cut someone off and when to get hit. 

Dustin made his debut in September of 1988 and this is February of '90. so he's barely a 1 year and a half into his career and it's very clear.


He makes himself "big". He's billed as 6'6". I don't know how legit that is but it's probably not terribly far off. However, I've seen lots of legit 7 Footers who didn't look like a giant because they couldn't utilize their size to look larger than life. So that kind of skill is good for the performer but how is it used in storytelling, you may ask. 

Watch how he stretches his body on those arm wrenches. This is a big key when you need someone to work from under you. You have to look like a physically dominant person. Watch when Jumbo gets in the ring. Jumbo starts with a little control, and as soon as Dustin reverses it Jumbo starts moving downward so that Dustin can visually overpower him in the eyes of the audience, he even drops to his knees. Later in the match, Jumbo is more upright, he's jumping up with the knee, he's matching that size. It looks like he's over coming a mountain.

You wouldn't have guessed they were billed as the same height.


Dustin's focus at the stage of his career, as is probably the case for ANY wrestler in their first few years, is to NOT FUCK UP. Don't hurt the other guy, make it look "real", don't fuck up. And you can see that. He's not at that point where he can properly play to the crowd and do the work with out fucking it up. You can see it when he's working on the arm early. I'm not saying he needs to sneer at the audience and talk shit. But when he's dropping those knees on the arm it's a matter of allowing the audience the ability to know you're fucking their guy up. Fit Finlay is a master at this skill. 

I LOVE that Dustin's instinct to use a DDT felt like guys later in the decade not knowing what to do next so they'd just throw a Power bomb. He was human too once.

And his selling isn't connected to anything. He's just kind of getting up and getting ready for the next bump or spot. You didn't get a sense of any accumulative damage, which kinda hurts the finishing stretch. 

It's kind of amazing to look back and see him NOT be fucking amazing at nearly all the skills that he'll master later in his career. When we get to his Goldust years, go back and watch him work on top in this match and you'll see a massive gulf in ability. 

Quick note on the DiBiase match.

The time difference between the Jumbo tag match and the DiBiase draw is only 10 months. He's absolutely aided by getting to work babyface, and having one of the greatest heels in the history of wrestling making him shine like new money. It's one of my favorite angles in wrestling and maybe one of the greatest debuts for a territory or company ever. All the hyperbole all of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I watch GAB 1991 last week, and Dustin gave a Dusty rip-off promo prior to his match. Completely made up for it with the lariat he drilled Jimmy Garvin with to eliminate him from the match. 

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We're definitely going to do GAB 91 when we get there. I'm really fond of that match for a number of reasons.

Ok, the ten minute challenge. I'm sorry that I'm taking this so slow but we had two GAB shows to watch last week and life is just really busy. There's no rush. If we're still watching Dustin matches a year from now, then it'll have been a good year, right?

It's been at least five years since I saw the ten minute challenge and I forgot just how awesome it is. First and foremost, it's one of the best Dibiase performances ever. Having watched a lot of 80s Dibiase in the last few years, I really enjoy fiery, bloody babyface Ted more than rote ring general heel Ted. He's almost too good at the latter role so it all becomes too rote and predictable. That's not really his fault but there's a certain dynamism to him as a babyface which doesn't translate even if he's doing everything technically perfect as a heel. This, however, was something else entirely due to all of the character beats, the unique time limit, the fact it was a vet vs a rookie, Dusty on the outside, etc. 

The set up for this, if I remember correctly, was Ted assaulting Dustin with a chair during a Dusty vs Savage PTW match, with all of them in the crowd to further his feud with Dusty. I can't find that one right now though. 

Just like the Funk match, it's okay to watch this one for the heel. Dibiase is amazing at osscilating between stalling and taunting Dusty and being cocky and getting frustrated and cruelly aggressive. Dustin's pretty good in the early going expressing his own frustration at Dibiase's blase stalling. The early ambush was just picture perfect, the only thing missing being Monsoon calling it a pearl harbor job. That's not to say Vince didn't bring anything to the table. He laid out the story so well for people watching this thirty years after the fact. 

For the purpose of this project, what everyone should look at is the last third of the match. The structure here was typical 80s WWF. Chinlock city. It's the definition of how a chinlock isn't necessarily a rest hold. First of all, Dibiase was working it with the big kicks of the legs. It was this hugely visual (and audible) thing for the back row that took a lot of effort. What's really key is how Dustin was working from underneath. He'd cracked the code. Look at the way he was fighting and then transitioning that into pumping of the arms and then transitioning that to working up, only to get cut off and start the process again. After three rounds of this, when he finally powered free and hit the sunset flip, the place went nuts, absolutely nuts. He had everything working for him (Dusty at ringside, Dibiase's history with the crowd, Dibiase's heel antics, his previous offense, the story leading up to this), but he absolutely delivered in that moment in a way we just haven't seen him able to deliver in his career as of yet, in a way that would inspire the crowd to get behind him for the next three decades. 

If there's a moment where Dustin really came into his own, it was fighting out of that chinlock. Because of that, they were able to just have him barely survive the Million-Dollar Dream in time. The feud here was between Dustin and Dibiase. Dustin was an accessory. You can't have him totally outshining Dibiase here and this finish was set up after the match to play the heat just right. If this was an eleven minute challenge, Dibiase would have won, and that's fine. It's how it should be.

It's really a perfect ten minutes of wrestling and Dustin was finally to a point in his development where he could start to carry his side of that equation.


- Dustin has the vest by now. Dusty's music was great. I mis-remembered it from being a kid as "Americaaaaaa. American Dream" which isn't right. To be honest, I started watching mid 90 and probably remember it from the opening of All American more than from Dusty. 

- I'm really curious what Dusty had to be thinking here. He was weeks from giving his notice.
- I should find where Dibiase hits him with the chair but that's a lot of work.
- Dibiase mocks Dusty on the outside, ducks lock up and laughs as he walks. Dibiase does it again. And a third. Dustin portrays frustration well. Dibiase is an all-timer here. Fourth duck away. When Dustin goes to ask Dusty about it, Dibiase attacks him from behind and pounds him in corner. Tosses him in, stomps. Back elbow. His stuff looks really good and he's working with more alactrity than usual. That lets him go mock Dusty saying Dustin won't last five minutes. Dusty's a great prop.
-Dustin reverse a whip. The crowd pops. Dustin hits a few dropkicks, a hip toss and gets fired up as Dusty gets fired up as well on the outside. This is really good stuff. Dibiase marches around on the outside and gets mocked by Dusty. Everyone's selling the emotion here so well.
-Dibiase takes right back over on the way in with a knee, but then puts his head down and gets backslide-d, followed by a slam, and another powder. Dibiase's frustration is so over the top and great. Dusty tosses him right back in as Virgil tries to warn him. Dustin rolls him up quickly but eats a cut off punch. 
-We get the Dibiase fist drops and chokes. The aggression. We're at the 6 minute left mark. Once Dibiase is firmly back in control, he slows back down and enjoys it again. Now he gets the back body drop. Struts around ring and keeps looking at Dusty. Vince is excellent at laying out the overarching story here but I would have rather have Monsoon play up the emotion.
-Five minute mark and Dusty makes a five minute sign for it even as Dibiase is slowly suplexing Dustin twice. We finally get a cover for two. Then Dibiase gets a chinlock.
-Oh man, look at Dustin! He's really working from underneath in the chinlock. This is the first time we've seen him really working his way up. It's a huge change from before. Dibiase cuts him off with a knee and a hairpull though. Then he starts working it with his legs pumping big.
-Dustin's calling to the crowd huge. This is night and day. Dustin gets cut off again off the ropes. That's two hope spots well done. Back to a chinlock, and in wrestling things work so well in three. Dibiase keeps working it with big visual leg pumps. You get the sense that Dibiase wants to beat him with a chinlock. 
-Dustin is working huge, kicking and waving his arms. We're at the two minute mark and Dustin's got everything going his way from a story perspective: the hatred of Dibiase, Dibiase's arrogance, Dusty working the apron as a second, the way he's working form underneath.
-Dibiase tries to cut him off but this time, Dustin fights through the knee and hits a sunset flip and the place comes UNGLUED. You can see the front few rows just go nuts. 
-Dibiase cuts him off with a clothesline though, taunts Dusty again. We get the one minute mark and the Million dollar dream. Vince is saying it's over. The crowd is chanting for Dustin. Dustin is fading. Vince and Roddy are cheering him on. The Fink is counting. And Dustin lasts. Maybe his fight at the end could have been a little bit better, but that wasn't quite the story and the match didn't need it since it had enough. Post match, Dibiase clobbers Dustin with the million dollar belt and Dusty lays over him.

BTW, here's a nice piece of business from December which serves three purposes. It furthers the Dusty/Dustin vs Virgil/Dibiase feud. It sets up the Virgil turn. It gives Dibiase a reason to screw Texas Tornado out of the IC title which would set up a house show feud between the two of them between the Rumble and Mania.


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