Dustin Rhodes Talks WWE Creative, AEW, And Why ’90s Goldust Wouldn’t Work Today


Dustin Rhodes has been wrestling for more than 30 years, and while he wants to do other things, he’s not really ready to stop yet. Since 1995, he’s been best known to WWE fans as Goldust, the bizarre one. He’s also part of a famous wrestling family, of course. His father was the legendary American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and his brother is the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes, who’s recently become a promoter himself.

Thanks to our friends at Astronomicon, a Detroit-based pop culture convention, With Spandex had the chance to sit down and talk with Dustin Rhodes about what he’s up to now, how he feels about his past, and his reaction to his brother’s latest venture. If you’re in the area, you can see him at Astronomicon on February 8th and 9th.

With Spandex: It’s been a while since we’ve really seen you in WWE. Do you have any sense of when you’ll be back?

Goldust: Well right now I’m just coming off a double knee surgery, and I gotta go to the PC Center next week, and get them looked at to see where we’re at and where we stand on that, and then we’ll go from there, but that’s all I can do right now as far as giving you any information about the future.

Depending on when you’re able to get back in the ring, would you have any interest in playing Goldust as a manager?

Well, you know, we talked about that at one point when I was with Mandy Rose, and it looked like it had some legs, but I don’t know what happened, you know? They went in a different direction, and then she went over to Smackdown and I’m still at Raw, so it kind of makes things difficult. And the timing of things. They’ve got to be at the right time to them. Because you’re going to oversaturate managers, because somebody wants to have managers for every single person, it’s going to become oversaturated and it’s going to lose its mystique. It’s a funny thing to watch a manager who’s very good, like a Bobby Heenan or a Jim Cornette, but there’s very few of those. Because right now you just go out there… You’ve got Lio Rush, right? You’ve got… I don’t know, who else is a manager?

Paul Heyman’s still around quite a bit.

Well Heyman, yeah, but he comes in with Brock. He’s just with Brock. But like, Lio, he’s a good mouthpiece, and you can’t stand him because he talks so much, you know, and he’s just this little wiry person, and that’s good. But in the future, I just think they could be so oversaturated with managers, and it’s not good. There should be 2 or 3 at most to get anything significant done well. So yes, to answer your question, I’m open to a manager spot, but I don’t know where we’re at right now with my knees. My shoulders are still bad. I’ve had so many surgeries, and I’m getting up there in age, although I can still hang with the best of them right now. It’s just, what do I want to do? I want to act. There’s other options in my life besides wrestling, and wrestling has been my world and my life for 30 years. I mean straight out of my mother’s womb I wanted to be a pro wrestler, and I’ve done that and been one of the best in the world at it, and I’m very very proud of myself for my accomplishments and all WWE has given me over the years, and taking good care of me. I don’t know, I just kind of take it day by day. See what happens, and see what pops into my brain, what pops into their brain, as far as ideas, and we go from there.

When you look at WWE and NXT now, what superstars make you feel excited about the future of the company?

I’m really high right now on Velveteen Dream. I think he has something special, and if they do right by him, he’s going to be a megastar. I really believe that. You know, there’s a lot of great talent at NXT, but that one, he really stands out to me.

He’s got some of that Goldust energy. The flamboyance, and the way he gets in people’s faces.

And I also like — and I know a lot of people, when Aleister Black came in they got behind him but then they weren’t behind him or something — but I really like Aleister Black. He’s got a great look, he’s different than a lot of our main roster characters, and I think he could do well too.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Goldust character, but looking back now on the beginnings of Goldust in the 1990s, do you ever think about how much the world has changed, even in wrestling, and how different it would be to try and do a character like the original incarnation of Goldust now?

Back in the ‘90s it was a different time. I mean it wasn’t… people just didn’t want to talk about it back then. I think they weren’t accepting of the idea of the LGBT community. It was a taboo type of subject. And these days with it getting so much news and notoriety and things, for me to go out there and try to do now what I did in the 90s, I don’t think it would work. I really do not think it would work. It was before its time, and we kind of shocked the world with it, and then it grew from there.

Now it’s like, you can’t go back to that. It’s a slap in the face to the community, for one, and the wrestling fans know Goldust, and know that the character is a TV character. I just don’t think it would be accepted — not that it was accepted back then, because it wasn’t — but I don’t it would get the same notoriety, and it wouldn’t get over like it did back then. And I could try my hardest but what’s done is done, you know what I mean?

It’s in the past, and the Goldust character has grown so much over the years, with so many different variations, and I just keep trying to give him as much change as possible, and the people now just embrace the character, and have come to love the character. It’s like, I can go out there and try to be the heel of all heels, if they allow me to, and the people are not going to boo me, you know? They’re just, “That’s Goldust.” They’ve grown up with Goldust, and they love Goldust, and that’s great. “He’s kicking ass, he’s being a heel, and we love him anyway!”

It’s not like one of those Miz type heels. Because Miz, to me, is the heel of all heels. But now you can see that the Miz is starting to be loved and adored by fans now too, because he’s already done it, you know what I mean? So they accept him, and he’s learned how to really perfect his craft, and he’s doing such a wonderful job.

He really is. It also seems like that old version of Goldust wouldn’t work because people know you and that you’re a regular straight guy, and people just don’t believe in characters who are that different from the real people who play them anymore. People on Twitter would talk about how it’s not really you.

Kayfabe’s not dead with me, by god, I’ll fight you to the death on it. But it’s like, kayfabe to the wrestling business is kind of dead. And it sucks. A lot of that is social media. Social media’s great for the business, but it’s also, to be the devil’s advocate, it’s not always good. Because people want to dictate and things, and voice their opinions. And I get that. Everybody has opinions, about our business and what they would do, and how it should be done.

But, you know, Vince is the boss for a reason. He’s the owner for a reason. Despite the ups and downs that WWE goes through, he’s a genius. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and his daughter knows exactly what she’s doing, and so does Paul. We’re in good hands, I believe, with Paul and Stephanie and Shane. The kids are learning how to do this, and do it the right way. And yeah, Vince will step in if he doesn’t like something, and he’ll change it. And whether the world likes it or not, who gives a shit? You know what I mean? I don’t.

I see it on social media sometimes, where people just got torn up, because something goes a certain way and the fans think they could do it better, but you couldn’t. You can’t do it better, I promise you that. It’s not an easy job to have all these writers and write a television show every week — a live television show! Really, basically right off the cuff, because there are a few guys you can plan for months down the road — the Romans, Brocks, Seths, and Cenas — you can plan those top matches, you can plan those storylines at the top, but everything else is pretty much filler for a TV show. You have your commercial breaks and you have your sponsorships, and all your backstage segments and promos. That’s pretty much filler. We all have a job. If everybody knows to just go out there and do their job, this would be a better place, but everybody wants… of course they want that top spot. But not everybody can get that top spot. I don’t care who you are. Very few get a chance at that. All you can do is just keep working hard, do your job, like I’ve done, not complain, and not bitch.

Obviously your brother Cody is making a big splash in the wrestling world right now with the launch of AEW, making a space for himself and his guys to do whatever they want and create their own product. So I guess my question is, are you ever jealous?

No, absolutely not. I don’t know why somebody would even ask something like that. I’ve done everything there is to do. I’m very very proud of my legacy and what I’ve left this world, and just like the people that came before me. I see some of the old-timers getting jealous and bitter about things. That’s just the wrong way to look at it. It’s about passing it on. It’s about passing on your knowledge for the next generation to come in here and kick some ass in the wrestling ring.

Cody’s doing a phenomenal job. I couldn’t be more proud of him. I know my Dad upstairs right now is just going crazy. It’s unbelievable what Cody’s doing right now. A lot people may not agree with a lot of what Cody does or what he’s doing, but he’s my brother. He’s blood, he’s family, I love him, and that’s the furthest thing… I can’t believe anybody would think that I’d be jealous of my brother. That’s just dumb.

I know you’re on your way to Astronomicon 2 in Detroit soon. Do you enjoy doing conventions? And what else are you focused on lately?

Right now I’m doing a lot of other things. I’ve done wrestling for so long that it’s time for me to follow one of my other dreams, and that’s acting. And not everybody can be the top dog, but I’m going to give it a good go at it, you know what I’m saying? And really work hard to perfect my acting career, and to be in some films, and hopefully you’ll be able to see me on the silver screen sometime.

And right now I’m doing some comic cons and having some fun. That to me is what it’s all about. That’s me giving back to the fans. It’s a more personal experience where I can actually talk to the fans while I’m signing autographs, and get to know them and thank them for watching me for so many years. That’s me giving back. It’s very important that anybody in this business right now, who’s been in this business for a while, gives back to the generation before them and to the fans. It’s very very important. Because without the fans, we are nothing. And without my elders in the business, I am nothing. Without my father, I would probably not be in this business, so I owe a lot to a lot of people, you know what I’m saying? And I think it’s very important to give back to the community, give back to the fans who have supported you and loved you for so so long. I love doing that, and it’s great.