“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes died four days ago and since the news broke seemingly everyone has waxed poetic on the life of the legend.
Three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Hard Times. Him and The Nature Boy. Mentor. Innovator. Lots of other wonderful adjectives.
However, nowhere in this flowery mix of in memoriam and YouTube promos have I witnessed a proper articulation of Dusty’s most important contribution to wrestling canon: Bash at the Beach 1996 commentator.
Bash at the Beach 1996 either means something to you or it doesn’t. If you’re lucky, it’s the former. But for those like me in the latter? Bash at the Beach 1996 was the kind of life-altering event that there’s no coming back from.
I was 10 years-old and still trying to process the Major League Baseball strike and Jerry Garcia’s death. Hulk Hogan was the guy getting me through these hard times. I said my prayers and took my vitamins and I was never going wrong.
And then this happened:
It’s been nearly 20 years and I still can’t believe it.
Hulk Hogan was the third man.
Nevertheless, despite his own legitimate shock and disgust, Dusty explained the unexplainable:
On Hogan’s way to the ring:
“HULK HOGAN IS IN THE BUILDING! GO GET ‘EM, HULKSTER! WHO’S BAD NOW, BOYS!?”
After Hogan drops the leg on Savage:
“WHAT IS HE DOING!? IS HE THE THIRD MAN?! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!? LOOK AT THIS! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?”
And just in case you thought you were the only person seeing it:
“I tell you what…this is a…unbelievable situation right here at Bash at the Beach…Hulkamania…the third guy with The Outsiders…BETRAYED Dubah-SEE-Dubah…”
I began to doubt all that I once held as true, but Dusty let me know I wasn’t alone. The son of a plumber was the father of the interrobang. The man reached out and let me know that his hand was touching my hand.
I carry your heart, Dusty. I carry it in my heart.