Dusty Rhodes leaves a great many legacies behind, but perhaps the period of his career when he affected the most people on a deep, personal level were his last few years when he was running WWE’s developmental system. Look at the roster during Sunday’s 10-bell salute; nobody looks more distraught than the younger talent who have come up in the last five to 10 years.
One of the talents who came up under Big Dust’s watchful eye was CM Punk. You wouldn’t necessarily think the brash Punk would have been a favorite of an old-timer like Dusty, but he apparently very much was. Punk recently reminisced about Dusty on Jon Anik and Kenny Florian’s podcast…
“I loved Dusty and Dusty loved me. For some reason, early on in my career, I was branded an old soul, and I had a lot of older timers tell me, ‘You should have been born 20 years earlier, you would have been great in my time.’ I developed a rapport with guys like Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes. A lot of these guys like Dusty got hired with WWE, and he always went to bat for me. I wrestled Dusty in one of my last matches on the indies in 2005, and it was pretty bizarre. He was always super good to me.
He was one of the guys I’d still text after leaving, and it wasn’t about the business, it was, ‘Hey, kid. How you doing?’ Like you’d talk with friends. I think it sucks. I don’t think there’s a single person in the wrestling business he didn’t influence. He’s going to be missed.”
Punk also touched on a few other wrestling-related subjects in the same interview, including fans continuing to chant his name long after he’s left…
“I wouldn’t be able to lie to you and say that it doesn’t make me smile. I try to keep an even keel and not so much worry about what other people are doing. I’ve got a lot of fans, and I love my fans and appreciate the hell out of them, so if they’re still chanting my name, that just shows the mark I left on the wrestling industry, and I’m super appreciative.”
Guys, I don’t want to alarm you, but I think Punk may have actually been in a good mood for this interview. Remembering Dusty Rhodes can have that effect on a person.