Dustin Rhodes: Unveiling the Wrestler’s Iconic Career

Photo of author

By David

Real Name:Dustin Patrick Runnels
Birthday:April 11, 1969
Net Worth$3 million
Height:198 cm
Occupation:American Professional Wrestler, Son of Dusty Rhodes

Dustin Patrick Runnels, known by his ring name Dustin Rhodes, is an American professional wrestler with an extensive career spanning over three decades. Born on April 11, 1969, Dustin is a second-generation wrestler—the son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and the half-brother of Cody Rhodes. He has made a name for himself in multiple wrestling promotions, most notably WWE, where he performed as the enigmatic character Goldust, and presently at All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Initially starting his career in 1988, Dustin has showcased his wrestling prowess and versatility in various promotions throughout the years. In WWE, his character Goldust, with its unique and controversial demeanor, turned heads and played a significant role in the company’s iconic Attitude Era. Currently signed with AEW, he continues to entertain fans and participate in high-profile matches, solidifying his legacy as a skilled in-ring performer and contributing to the promotion’s growing success.

Early Life and Career Beginnings


Texas Roots and Family Legacy

Dustin Rhodes, born Dustin Patrick Runnels on April 11, 1969, hails from a legendary wrestling family in Texas. His father, Dusty Rhodes, was a celebrated professional wrestler, and Dustin’s passion for the sport was ignited early in his life. Growing up around the wrestling business, Dustin was exposed to its challenges and excitement, which would eventually carve a path for his own career.

Training and Early Promotions

Dustin’s wrestling journey began when he trained under Mike Graham, polishing his skills as a wrestler. In 1988, Rhodes made his wrestling debut and soon after found himself competing in various promotions. One notable promotion where he started to make a name for himself was the United States Wrestling Association (USWA).

During his time in the USWA, Dustin encountered and wrestled against both established stars and upcoming talents. This experience allowed him to grow as a professional wrestler and expanded his reach in wrestling circles. As Dustin continued to develop both his skills and persona in the wrestling world, it was clear that he was following in his father’s footsteps and making a name for himself in his own right.

Wrestling Persona Development

The Natural

Dustin Rhodes started his wrestling career as “The Natural,” a character influenced by his father, Dusty Rhodes, and his “common man” image. He displayed a unique charisma and a connection with the fans, while honing his wrestling skills.

Goldust Character Evolution

In 1995, Dustin Runnels introduced the world to Goldust, a controversial and cutting-edge character in WWE. With an androgynous appearance and sexually suggestive mannerisms, Goldust was a far cry from Dustin’s previous persona. Utilizing vignettes to build anticipation, the character quickly gained attention and became a prominent figure in WWE’s mid-90s programming.

Goldust initially appeared with a manager named Marlena, who added to the character’s mystique. As the character evolved, he became known as The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust, taking on even more bizarre and provocative traits. Despite setbacks, such as the infamous “Curtain Call” incident, Goldust remained a fixture on WWE television.

Throughout his career, Dustin underwent several variations of the Goldust persona, sometimes returning to a more traditional wrestling role, only to revert or reinvent the character again. The evolution of Goldust allowed Dustin to explore different aspects of his performance, consistently garnering attention from fans and critics alike.

Black Reign and Other Gimmicks

In 2007, Dustin introduced a new gimmick called Black Reign, a dark and emotional character that was a stark departure from Goldust. This transformation allowed Dustin to further reinvent himself and showcase a diverse range of personas in his wrestling repertoire.

Throughout his career, Dustin has experimented with various gimmicks and evolved his characters to keep fans engaged and showcase his versatility as a performer. From “The Natural” to Goldust, and beyond, Dustin Rhodes has consistently pushed boundaries and left a lasting impact on the world of professional wrestling.

Prominent Wrestling Championships

WWE Tenures and Titles

Dustin Rhodes, also known by his ring name “Goldust,” has had an impressive career in WWE. During his tenure, he captured several championships and formed successful tag teams. One of his most significant accomplishments was winning the Intercontinental Championship. Goldust defeated Razor Ramon at the 1996 Royal Rumble for his first reign and would later hold the prestigious title two more times.

In addition to the Intercontinental Championship, Dustin also captured the WWE Hardcore Championship on multiple occasions. He became a nine-time Hardcore Champion during WWE’s Attitude Era when the title was heavily contested under the 24/7 Rule, leading to chaotic and entertaining matches.

Teaming with various partners, Dustin Rhodes has tasted tag team gold in WWE, including winning the World Tag Team Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championship. Forming “The Rhodes Brothers” with his real-life half-brother, Cody Rhodes, they captured the WWE Tag Team Championship in an emotional victory. Together, they had an impressive and memorable stint as a tag team in WWE.

Championships Outside WWE

Dustin Rhodes’ championship success goes beyond the WWE. Starting his career in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), he accomplished significant feats, including winning the WCW United States Championship and the WCW World Tag Team Championship on multiple occasions. Alongside Barry Windham, he won the vacant NWA World Tag Team Championship in a tournament in 1992, adding to his growing list of accomplishments.

After his time in WCW, Rhodes ventured into other promotions such as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and All Elite Wrestling (AEW). During his tenure in TNA, he held the NWA World Tag Team Championship once more, showcasing his ability to work well in various tag teams. In AEW, Dustin continues to compete at a high level, further cementing his legacy in professional wrestling.

Rivalries and Tag Teams

Memorable Feuds

Dustin Rhodes’ career has seen its fair share of memorable feuds, contributing to his storied legacy in wrestling. Early in his career, he faced off against the likes of Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, solidifying his status as a contender in the world of professional wrestling. Later, he developed an iconic rivalry with Ted DiBiase and Virgil, which resulted in numerous confrontations and heated promos.

Other fan-favorite feuds include those against Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, two powerful competitors who challenged Dustin’s resilience and ability in the ring. Rhodes’ rivalry with Billy Gunn also showcased both wrestlers’ immense talent.

Notable Tag Team Partnerships

Throughout his career, Dustin Rhodes has been a part of several notable tag teams. One of his most successful partnerships was with Booker T, forming a unique and entertaining dynamic that resonated with fans. The duo achieved multiple title reigns together, demonstrating their chemistry in the ring.

Rhodes also had a great pairing with Barry Windham, as both second-generation wrestlers worked toward making a name for themselves. They possessed innate wrestling prowess from birth, propelling them to remarkable success during their time together. Additionally, Dustin formed a brief but successful team with Yoshi Tatsu during their time in WWE’s version of ECW, showcasing their charisma and chemistry.

Rhodes Family Dynamics

The Rhodes family has always played a vital role in the wrestling industry, and Dustin Rhodes is no exception. As the son of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes, he made a significant impact on the industry by teaming up with none other than his own brother, Cody Rhodes. They competed together as the “Rhodes Brothers” and later formed their faction, “The Brotherhood.”

Cody and Dustin’s relationship has been a central theme in their careers, with the brothers often facing personal and professional conflicts. Their family dynamics have fueled compelling storytelling on screen, capturing the hearts of wrestling fans across the globe. The Rhodes Brothers’ distinct encounters with the likes of Sting and other wrestling greats only further cemented their legacy in the world of professional wrestling.

Appearances in All Elite Wrestling

AEW Matches and Storylines

Dustin Rhodes, also known as “The Natural,” has been an important figure in All Elite Wrestling (AEW) since its inception. He first made his presence known at AEW’s inaugural pay-per-view event, Double or Nothing, in a highly emotional match against his brother, Cody Rhodes, aka “The American Nightmare”. The Rhodes brothers have teamed up multiple times as “The Brotherhood” in AEW, delivering memorable performances for fans.

Notable storylines in AEW have seen Dustin Rhodes engaged in various rivalries, one of which is with MJF. At the AEW Dynamite event, Dustin faced off against MJF in a competitive match that showcased their talents and further developed the storyline.

In addition to his partnership with Cody, Dustin has also teamed with other AEW talents, such as Q.T. Marshall and Keith Lee, displaying his versatility and ability to work with a wide range of wrestlers.

Roles Beyond the Ring

While Dustin Rhodes’ in-ring appearances are captivating, he also plays an important role in AEW outside of the ring. Dustin serves as a mentor and advisor to younger talent in the promotion, helping them refine their skills and grow as performers.

Furthermore, Dustin has consistently been involved in segments on AEW Dynamite, sometimes in support of his brother Cody or his sister-in-law, Brandi Rhodes. Occasionally, Dustin has also accompanied other AEW wrestlers to the ring, reinforcing alliances or friendships within the promotion.

To summarize, Dustin Rhodes has made significant contributions to All Elite Wrestling, both in the ring through his matches and storylines, as well as behind the scenes in various roles. His presence in AEW has undeniably made an impact on both the promotion and its fans.


Influence on Professional Wrestling

Dustin Rhodes, better known as his ring persona Goldust, has left a lasting impact on professional wrestling. His innovative and often controversial character helped redefine and push the boundaries of storytelling within the industry. Goldust combined elements of risqué behavior, androgyny, and mind games to create one of the most memorable characters in wrestling history. Many wrestlers and wrestling fans alike cite Goldust as a major influence in their appreciation for the art of storytelling in professional wrestling.

Dustin’s father, Dusty Rhodes, was a legendary wrestling figure known as “The American Dream”. Dusty’s influence in the wrestling world helped shape Dustin’s career, and the father-son duo left a lasting impact on WWE’s history. Both Dustin and Dusty have inspired countless wrestlers with their passion, dedication, and creativity.

Hall of Fame Inductions

Dustin Rhodes’ storied career has led to recognition and accolades for his many contributions to professional wrestling.

Though Dustin has not yet been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as an individual, the legacy he and his family have created in the wrestling world cannot be denied. In fact, his father, Dusty Rhodes, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, solidifying the family’s lasting legacy in the world of professional wrestling.

It is widely believed that Dustin’s career merits a future induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, given his innovation, dedication, and contributions to the industry over the span of his career. Dustin Rhodes’ legacy and impact on professional wrestling will be remembered and appreciated by fans, fellow wrestlers, and future generations within the industry.

Beyond Wrestling

Acting Career

Dustin Rhodes is not only known for his wrestling career, but he has also left his mark as an actor and producer. He has appeared in several films, most notably his roles in horror films such as Scare Package (2019) and Devil’s Lake Impaler (2016). As an actor, he has demonstrated his versatility, expanding beyond the wrestling ring and portraying intriguing characters on screen. His work as a producer further showcases his multifaceted talents in the entertainment industry.

Autobiography and Personal Reflections

In 2010, Rhodes released his autobiography, Cross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness, where he candidly shared the ups and downs of his wrestling journey and personal life. The book provides an intimate look into his battles with drug addiction and his relationships, particularly with his children and family. Through this autobiography, Rhodes shows strength and resilience in openly discussing his issues and using them as a way to inspire others facing similar struggles.

Controversies and Challenges

In-Ring Controversies

Dustin Rhodes, best known for his time in WWE as Goldust, has faced a few in-ring controversies throughout his career. One of the most significant controversies was his androgynous and sexually suggestive Goldust character that debuted in the mid-1990s. The character was known for pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable on television, with provocative gestures and mind games targeting his opponents. This portrayal shocked and infuriated many fans at the time.

Another noteworthy moment in Rhodes’ career was his involvement in the infamous “Curtain Call” incident in 1996. This event involved four wrestlers, including Rhodes, breaking character in the ring and embracing. The incident violated the unspoken rules in professional wrestling, exposing the scripted nature of the sport and resulted in significant backstage heat for the involved wrestlers.

Personal Life Challenges

Off the ring, Rhodes has faced various personal challenges. One of the most significant issues in his life was his struggle with drug abuse. He has been open about his battle with addiction, which had negatively impacted his personal and professional life. Early in his career, Dustin, like many wrestlers of his generation, relied on painkillers and other substances to cope with the physical demands of their profession.

Year Event Challenge
1990s Goldust debut In-ring controversy
May 19, 1996 “Curtain Call” incident In-ring controversy
Mid-career Struggle with drug abuse Personal life challenge

Dustin’s journey toward sobriety and personal growth has been a crucial turning point in his life and career. Despite the controversies and challenges, Dustin Rhodes has continuously evolved as a performer, showcasing an impressive dedication to his craft and personal improvement.

Current Endeavors and Future Plans

Dustin Rhodes, a veteran in the wrestling industry, has been a prominent figure in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). With a career spanning over five different decades, Dustin has contributed greatly to the world of wrestling, both inside and outside the ring.

As of now, Dustin continues to perform in AEW events, most recently showcasing his skills at AEW Collision. His passion for wrestling is evidently unabated, despite having discussed earlier the possibility of retirement. In December 2021, he announced that 2023 would mark his last year as a wrestler. However, retirement from the ring does not mean the end of his association with the wrestling world.

It is worth mentioning that Dustin’s AEW contract is set to expire in 2023, coinciding with his planned retirement as an in-ring competitor. Information revealed through various interviews and search results indicates that Dustin will take on a different role within the industry moving forward. Even as Dustin posts updates about his current endeavors on social media platforms, fans eagerly anticipate his next step.

Given Dustin’s extensive experience, it is speculated that he may transition into a mentoring or coaching capacity within AEW, sharing his vast knowledge and expertise with the next generation of wrestlers. Additionally, Dustin has shown interest in exploring non-wrestling roles such as writing, directing, and producing content related to wrestling. With his storied background in the industry and the upcoming end to his in-ring career, the possibility of Dustin taking on these diverse roles seems highly probable.

In conclusion, Dustin Rhodes’ future plans appear to significantly revolve around AEW, with a focus on mentoring up-and-coming talent and further enriching the world of professional wrestling from behind the scenes.