Without the conspicuous bodysuit and face paint, Dustin Runnels is “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes’ son, who was deemed to be one of the most diligent, skilled, and beguiling professional wrestlers of all-time. Brimming with passion, enthusiasm, and the right attitude, Dusty Rhodes stormed the scene and was featured in some of the greatest bouts inside the arena.
There is no doubt that wrestling runs also runs in Dustin Runnels’ veins. While it is a good deal having it in your DNA and being trained by one of history’s best, the pressure was undoubtedly on for Runnels to keep up the family tradition, and enjoy the same recognition.
On September 13, 1988, Runnels debuted as “Dustin Rhodes” in the Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF), which was then renamed to Professional Wrestling Federation, and where he earned his first title, the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship.
Runnels then continued his journey and honed his skills in different promotions until 1991, namely in the World Championship Wrestling (WCW), All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), United States Wrestling Association (USWA), and World Wrestling Federation (WWF). After his two-month stint in WWF, now WWE, he returned to WCW and stayed for four years as The Natural” Dustin Rhodes.
His career under WCW was outstanding, but it was only meager compared to what he experienced when he broke out of his father’s shadows. In 1995, he was introduced in the WWF arena as “Goldust,” and relished success most wrestlers in the industry can only aspire for.
Bringing in a ludicrous and vexed attitude, Goldust rampaged the wrestling industry, proving that well-thought stunts still do the magic. He was peculiar, spooky with face paint, a lengthy wig, and fledged robe, accompanied by sexually-suggestive body language and actions.
In the ring, he utilized psychology against his opponents, throwing provocative and vulgar mind games and words to elicit anger, confusion, and distraction. Goldust also used tactics as displaying affection and groping while bringing in his deadly strikes. In general, he was viewed as a take-off of the Oscars statuette, in a body of a drag queen enticed with anything gold.
Wrestling fans had varied reactions, with some laughing at Goldust’s antics, some booing, while others find the character distasteful. Despite that, attention from avid viewers fuels wrestlers. What’s worse in their career is getting inside the area without evoking any response from the spectators. So, regardless if it’s hate or love, Goldust undoubtedly relished all the recognition he got from the wrestling fanatics.
By embodying his own gimmick, Goldust has generated heat in both good and bad ways. While it was uncomfortable for him at first given that it didn’t match his personality, he soon ran with it and embodied the persona. It was so believable that some people think that he was gay. Through that, Dustin Runnels, who first tried to follow the path of his father, was able to make a name for himself and carve his own identity.
In the WWF/WWE, Goldust was a one-time World Tag Team Champion, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, three-time Intercontinental Champion, and nine-time Harcore Champion. He also ranked second in the most appearances in Royal Rumble bouts at 13. With his immense popularity, Goldust also headlined many pay-per-view matches at the height of the wrestling industry in the 1990s.
His impact and the striking recoil he got catapulted him to be one of the industry’s most renowned wrestlers. From a proud family tradition, Dustin Runnels continued the popularity by deviating and morphing into a character outside the image of a common wrestler. During the time of brawny supermen, Goldust outshined them all by being original.