“I’m very excited to see them team up with Tony Khan. The less hands in the kitchen, the better it’s going to be. If you keep this circle small, it’s going to be great. I have nothing but positive thoughts for AEW and their future.”
For the first time in over four years, Dustin and Cody Rhodes will be teaming together this Saturday.
The Rhodes brothers wrestled the match of the night at All Elite Wrestling’s “Double or Nothing” pay-per-view, leaving a pool of blood, loads of scars, and a plethora of memories for one of wrestling’s most storied families.
Following an emotional reunion at the end of their Double or Nothing bloodbath, the two will team up together to take on the Young Bucks this Saturday in Jacksonville at AEW’s “Fight for the Fallen.”
Rhodes spoke with Sports Illustrated to discuss his past, present, and future, as well as his dog Brute.
Justin Barrasso: Your match against Cody at Double or Nothing was intense from the moment it started until the very end, when you embraced one another. Could you enjoy the match in the moment? Or is that not how the business works, and instead it took some time for the significance of your moment to sink in?
Dustin Rhodes: That match with Cody at Double or Nothing was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in 31 years.
The crowd started the ‘Dusty’ chant right at the beginning of the match, and I thought, ‘Holy s---, this is f---ing incredible.’ From that moment on, everyone in the arena disappeared. They were there, so I could see them, but I couldn’t see them. I could hear them, but I couldn’t hear them. Cody and I were so focused in the moment, and it was one of those nights where the stars aligned. We told a story with two interviews before the match, and we continued that story throughout the match. We built it up to where everybody was standing on their feet, wondering what was going to happen next.
There was a point where I was bleeding very, very heavily, and I asked myself, ‘Am I going to make it through this match? Or am I going to die here? Is this my last stand?’ But I trained so hard for this match and I was ready for it. We took our time and made everything mean something. We didn’t rush. A high-flying match can be good at times, but me, I’m old school. I like to get the people invested, tell stories with psychology. This match could not have been more perfect than it was.
To get a five-star rating from [The Wrestling Observer’s] Dave Meltzer, at my age, I was very proud of it. It’s one of the best storytelling matches in the past five years, and it did wonders for me at 50. I was honored to do it and honored to be in there.
JB: Can you compare the match against Cody with your WrestleMania XII backlot brawl against the legendary Roddy Piper?
DR: Here’s the deal, by the end of 2015, there were three matches that were my tops. As soon as we did The Shield vs. The Brotherhood in 2013, that took the first spot.
But before that, there was the War Games with Sting’s Squadron vs. the Dangerous Alliance in 1992 and the WrestleMania XII match against Roddy Piper. That match was number one with me for a long time because it put me on the map as Goldust. It was before its time and it was legendary, the Hollywood Backlot Brawl, and it did a lot for me. It was one of the key moments that skyrocketed my career, but personally, this match with Cody has topped them all. I could quit happy now if I wanted to. There is nothing I could do to top what I did with Cody at Double or Nothing.
Cody is a tremendous talent with an unbelievable mind, just like dad had, and he’s quite the performer. He’s quite the force to be reckoned with, and watching him and seeing the way he reminds me of dad, it’s amazing.
Along with Randy Orton, I always considered myself one of the smoothest workers in the business. But Cody is also so smooth. He can create magic, but you need a partner to dance with. I was his partner, and he was mine. We went to the dance, and we knocked their socks off. What a time to be a wrestling fan, to see that and go back in time and see how the old school way still gets people invested in their stories.
There weren’t 30 writers for this match, people who are just a bunch of ‘yes men’ scared to death of a man. There was a small group, and that’s all you need to create a magical environment. That environment was such a difference from where I came from, and it was a pleasure to be around them. AEW is going to skyrocket, and they already have their fan base. I’m glad they’re there.
JB: Your last match tagging with Cody took place in 2015. You are known as primarily a singles wrestler, but you did have five different runs in WWE as tag champion. You and Cody know each other extremely well. How does that chemistry help in a tag team match?
DR: It’s imperative. Who else do I know better than my brother? Cody and myself are both singles wrestlers. I’ve had some great runs in tag teams with colleagues, but none better than with Cody against The Shield.
Putting us together—a hungry kid in Cody and a character like Goldust—and giving The Shield their first loss, it made the building explode and it set us off on a rocket ship. So we can do this, we can beat the Young Bucks. I’ve watched and I’ve scouted a lot of their videos, and they’re impressive.
I’m expecting to be superkicked to death by the Young Bucks. Cody says it a lot, and he’s right that the Young Bucks might be the best tag team on the planet. The stuff they do in the ring is incredible. It might be a little fast-paced for me, but I’m training for it and I’m going to do my very best to be ready.
JB: What impresses you most about the Young Bucks? Are you surprised that they have accomplished so much without the help of the immensely powerful WWE machine behind them?
DR:It does not surprise me, and that’s because Nick and Matt have this passion for the business and it shows. They had their fan base, and they grew their fan base, and those fans have followed them. That’s so important.
You don’t need a big giant corporation. That’s not the only place you can go. The Bucks turned it down and wanted to create their own thing. But I don’t look at them as independent wrestlers, I look at them as top superstars.
Fight for the Fallen is going to be an incredible night, and I have my work cut out for me.
JB: What specifically can AEW learn from WWE?
DR: Cody’s been there and learned a lot over 10 years. Plus, the fact you have Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho and myself, we can show the young kids how it is to be on TV and how to do this on a television basis. That’s a lot different than live events. There are cameras, it’s live, there are commercial breaks, and you’ve got to learn the process. But they’ll learn quickly.
I’m very excited to see them team up with Tony Khan. The less hands in the kitchen, the better it’s going to be. If you keep this circle small, it’s going to be great. I have nothing but positive thoughts for AEW and their future.
JB: You spent a lifetime in WWE. Do you think people in the company are paying closer attention to AEW than any other company?
DR: Without a doubt. Double or Nothing, top to bottom, was a great show, and it put them on notice. I really believe that my match with Cody made them say, ‘They mean business.’
They’ve been around a long time, and Vince knows how to run a business. That’s what he’s done forever. They’re going to be around, they’re not going anywhere. AEW, we have to focus on growing our own brand. This is a brand to be reckoned with, and I want everyone to know it.
JB: I know that Goldust is a character you played, and not your actually true self, but wrestling is so complicated because the lines of fantasy and reality are so often blurred. Do you ever think like Goldust, or speak like Goldust, in your everyday life? Or have you distanced yourself from the character after an astonishing run of nearly 25 years?
DR: I’ve only been Goldust at work. That was completely a character at work and at work only. When I come home, I go back to my real life with my family as a country boy from Texas, back to the ranch with the dogs and the horses. That Goldust role was difficult at the beginning, but I learned how to make it successful. I kept changing the character and it kept evolving, and it’s amazing the longevity it had. I’m blessed to have had a hell of a career as Goldust, but now it’s time to come back to my roots.
JB: This is a personal question, but I chose to ask it because the memory of your father means so much to many. What do you miss most about “The American Dream”?
DR: Everybody misses him, the world misses him, but his family really misses him. He loved us deeply.
I miss his stories.
You’d sit around, and the young kids would be on top of chairs and tables listening. A couple of the old-timers would come in and spitball these stories back-and-forth, with the kids listening to these stories in awe.
I miss him calling us every day. He called all the kids and grandkids every day. I miss those talks, I miss us hunting. That’s what I miss, hunting every year with him. That was special, and that’s what brought us closest. Out in the woods, out on the farm, hunting and watching football together at lunch time, and later watching him turn into a grumpy man on the drive home when he was falling asleep in the car. Those little things to me are priceless, and I’ll never forget them.
When I got clean and sober from drugs and alcohol 11 years ago, he started this ‘Keep steppin’!’ thing for me. I could keep stepping every day through every day without substance abuse, and he’d always tell me that.
JB: I’d be remiss not to ask—the picture you posted on Twitter of yourself and your dog is incredible. You hold your own at 6'6", but that’s nothing in comparison to the friend sitting next to you. Who is Brute?
DR: Brute is my 225-pound English Mastiff.
He was on the circuit as far as dog shows, and we got him when his owner became highly allergic after she had a child. Knowing we already had a Mastiff and how we take good care of our dogs, she reached out to us. We brought him home, and we gave him a loving home.
Brute is my boy. He loves everybody, but he really loves me. He’s as big as a house and he’s heavy as hell. When he crawls into your lap, you know it. But Brute is just the friendliest dog.
Our other English Mastiff is Khaleesi, and we’ve had her since she was a puppy. She’s only 170 pounds. She goes crazy when she sees deer run across the yard, and that gets Brute going. When people come to our front door, they’re greeted by these two giant horses—most people take a step back. But they’re such lovable dogs.
JB: What do you have planned outside of wrestling for the next part of your career?
DR: Acting is giving me a new chance to sink my teeth into something and show that I have something to offer. I think people will get interested and invested in my roles.
Right now, I have two movies that are in pre-production and a third one we’re talking about that would have a very dramatic role.
I’ve been in the TV business for over 30 years, and that’s given me the opportunity to grow as a character and pull off comedic timing, dramatic situations, and facials. I am very excited about it, and it’s my newfound passion. Hopefully people will see what I can add to the cinematic way of life. I want to entertain and I want to act.
The next chapter in my career is to put 110% into becoming the best actor I can. That doesn’t happen overnight, and I love the challenge. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
JB: What can we expect from Dustin Rhodes this Saturday at Fight for the Fallen?
DR: At Fight for the Fallen, at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida, it’s going to be brothers versus brothers.
People love the Young Bucks, and I can see why. But they were making fun of Cody and me hugging in some of their videos. I’m not going to say anything bad about them, but I will powerslam them so hard their soul will leave their body. That’s how I feel about Nick and Matt Jackson.
I hope Nick and Matt see this. On Saturday, Young Bucks, be prepared. The Brotherhood is coming.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.