Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream






There has been much said about Dusty Rhodes, the ‘American Dream’, over the years by both his fans and peers. Aside from the frequent fictional prose penned by wrestling magazine journalists and internet smart marks that run rumor-mill websites, however, there has not been much written about him. Until now.
With the exception of a select few, there has been no bigger name or personality in the annals of pro wrestling history than Dusty Rhodes. Of those few, none of them can claim the compelling back story Rhodes shares in Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream of an industry plagued with political loyalties and disloyalties, greedy promoters, manipulative bookers, destructive personalities, multi-millionaires, and great leaders. Behind the “million-dollar smile” and the million dollar gate receipts is a man with a story to tell – not just of tall tales, yarns, and fabrications, but of a life filled with aspirations, dreams, disappointments, challenges, controversies, angst, conflict, success, and reflection.
Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream is the story of a transformation from mediocrity to superstardom. It is the story of how the boy Virgil Runnels Jr. became the man Dusty Rhodes and truly lived the ‘American Dream’. This is his story.
©2005, 2006, 2012 Dusty Rhodes and Howard Brody (P)2012 Audible, Inc.


Dusty Rhodes is one of the most compelling figures in the history of professional wrestling. Consider the way he looked. If he came along today, I doubt he would make it out of a WWE tryout and would certainly never be considered world champion material. Yet he is one of the biggest stars in the history of the industry as evidenced by the news coverage that came after his passing.
There are really two types of honesty in the world. There is honesty of fact and honesty of belief. Honesty of fact is making a statement like: “There are 50 states in the United States”. Honesty of belief is what you find in ‘Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream’. There are a lot of things in this book that would be easily disproved on a factual level, and yet I have no doubt that Dusty himself honestly believed them to be true anyway. There is the way that Dusty conducted himself and conducted his business and then there is the way that he saw himself and the business he conducted particularly as the booker of several promotions. The reality and the beliefs don’t always go hand in hand.
Consider his comments on what is commonly known as a “Dusty finish” in pro wrestling. Dusty describes what the finish is and rightly points out that it was a finish that was done before he ever got control of the book. However, he glosses over the real reason it is known as a “Dusty finish”. Dusty used that type of finish so much that it became cliche and ended up doing permanent damage to the territories he booked.
‘Dusty’ contains some funny stories that may or may not be true. It also contains comments from those closest to Dusty including some of the biggest stars and historical figures in all of professional wrestling. There’s even a section where fans had their views on Dusty included in the book.
The moments that come across as the most genuine in the book are those that involve his children, the price he paid for being away from home all those years and his rocky relationship with his oldest son Dustin. Even as he is describing his failings as a parent, he is so likable that you find it easy enough to forgive him in the end.
If you are a casual wrestling fan and give this book a listen, it may be hard for you to distinguish fact from fiction and what is real from what Dusty really believed. However, there is a chance that it won’t matter to you. Part of the charm of Dusty Rhodes is his talent as a storyteller and if the story also happened to be true, that was just a bonus.


The book is written in such a way that it feels as though you are driving down the highway with Dusty Rhodes in the passenger seat, and he is giving you a lecture on the business of pro wrestling. There are a lot of trademark Dustyisms in this book including several uses of “if you will”. In a way, the way the book was written makes audio the best possible format to consume it. That would be very apparent if Dusty himself had read it.


Kerry Woodrow tries his best, but the undeniable fact is that he is not Dusty Rhodes. If ever a book was begging to be narrated by the author it is this one. It is written in Dusty’s conversational style, and when you hear those Dusty trademarks in the voice of someone else it never quite fits. I can honestly say that I felt sorry for Woodrow as I listened to him capture the words of Dusty well enough but come nowhere close to capturing his spirit. That’s not a reflection on Woodrow’s talents because there is nobody that can be Dusty Rhodes as well as Dusty Rhodes.
If the American Dream himself had narrated this book, I probably would have increased my grade by 2 full points.


The production values are fine. The narration comes through clean with no detectable glitches. The audio chapter stops match up to the actual book chapters, and there is no music or sound effects present on the track.


Dusty Rhodes’ book is a lot like a Dusty Rhodes interview. Listen to the “Hard Times” promo that I have embedded above. If you really listen to the words he is saying, they don’t actually make that much sense. Yet, through force of personality and charm and charisma Dusty was able to get audiences to believe in him and get behind him.
There are things in this book that just don’t make that much logical sense and that must have given the editor’s fits. If you know wrestling history well enough, you can clearly tell when Dusty is feeding you a pile of crap and calling it ice cream. However, you don’t really end up getting mad at him for it because he’s still Dusty Rhodes and he still possesses that charm.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Dusty: Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Howard Brody Kerry Woodrow Audible Studios Biography and Memoirs 02/23/2013 10 hours, 17 minutes 6.5/10


A copy of ‘DUSTY: REFLECTIONS OF WRESTLING’S AMERICAN DREAM’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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  1. Pingback: WCW Monday Nitrocap #2: September 11, 1995 | Random Catastrophe

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