Magnum T.A. on the anniversary of Dusty Rhodes’s death, their final interaction, the effect that Rhodes had on the lives of WWE developmental wrestlers

wrestlingringThe Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast with Magnum TA
Hosts: John and Chad
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Looking back one full year since Dusty’s passing: You are never ready for something like that. For me, Dusty besides our friendship (he) was like a John Wayne figure to me and I just I never pictured him being gone in a nano-second like he was. I had just seen him a few months prior to his passing and I knew he had looked like he lost a lot of weight and I had thought maybe something was going on but I talked to Michelle (Dusty’s wife) and talked with him and he said that he had a little health scare but things were under control and it was actually good that he lost some weight because Dusty was always a big guy and seeing him trimmed down I figure was better on his heart but obviously that wasn’t the case and something deeper rooted was there and just taking him out systematically. It was just overwhelming for me that he actually died on my birthday. What a way to always memorialize and remember one of your best friends in life.

How was their last interaction a few months prior to his death: Dusty and I had this really unique relationship where we could talk one week and talk the next week and have the same kind of conversations. We could go six months without talking and pickup right where we left off. We always had such a bond and such a strong mutual respect for each other and had so many of the same passions in life that when we reconnected we always just picked up right where we left off. The time I got to spend with him was actually up in New York at a fanfest and I had my youngest son Tucker with me and he had always heard about Dusty and never got a chance to meet him and spend any time with him, so that was really cool that he got to sit with him for a couple of hours and Dusty was so big on family and those kinds of things made him so great with kids and he was certainly great with our son. It was special and I’m glad we got to have that kind of one on one time with him and I certainly had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see him.

Dusty advising Magnum to seize the opportunity to be on top of a territory and being brought in to JCP by Dusty and Jim Crocket: It was a unique situation because I had been in Florida for about a year and a half working for Florida Championship Wrestling and I actually got the break and the opportunity to work on top from Bill Watts in Mid South and that was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and it was hard to leave all my friends and leave Florida. Dusty was encouraging me to grow and to get that working on top experience that Bill could offer me and Bill was out of that Eddie Graham school of psychology and about the business and Dusty knew that would be a big step for me. So I went to work there and we blew that territory wide open. It was record business and Junkyard Dog was there, Jim Duggan was there, The Rock N’ Roll Express, The Midnight Express it was just an amazing territory at the time. Dusty had come to work for Jim Crocket as the booker in the old Mid-Atlantic and he brought Barry (Windham) with him and the territory was on it’s rear-end. The top guys were making four or five hundred dollars a week.

Barry couldn’t handle the financial stuff and the union so to speak so he took off and went to New York and I’ll never forget it, Dusty called me late one night while I was living in Alexander, Louisiana and was practically broken and couldn’t believe that Barry just up and left him in that situation and put Jim Crocket on the phone with me and Jim Crocket said if you will come I will give you as big an opportunity as you can handle. I was working on top and I was the North American Heavyweight Champion for Bill Watts and we were on fire, I had my first six figure year ever in the business but I believed in Dusty. He had this amazing ability to create magic in the ring and on television and I knew that if I had his support and learn under working for Bill that my career could just sky-rocket so I rolled the dice and took the chance.

Dusty’s role in Magnum’s recovery from his car accident: He was a man’s man. We never would sit there and have a pity party about it, he knew that no matter what I did I was going to give it all that I had and I was going to find a way to be the best that I could be in whatever it was I was capable of being. Whether that was working in some other capacity in the wrestling business or some other venture I don’t think there was anybody that I was associated with in that industry that believed in me and what I could do more than him. When I ended up out of the wrestling business completely, Dusty and I would talk and he would hear the things that I had done and he was just really proud of me and was always encouraging and always made me feel just as special about the things that I did that were not performed in front of millions of people and got all the accolades that we got in the business he made me feel just as good with the accomplishments that I overcame what I had to work with as he did in there when I was by his side in the greatest arenas of all time when we were wrestling together. He wasn’t a superficial guy.

What becoming a trainer at NXT meant for Dusty’s legacy: When he transitioned himself and was not the performer or the man in the ring anymore but the one behind the scenes grooming and nurturing and trying to find what all these people trying to find their path and helping them develop their skills and that is why he was so loved by all his kids in NXT. It was amazing the ones that I talked to at his funeral and hearing how he had impacted their lives and how much respect they had for him and just everything. It did me good to hear that because I wasn’t apart of that part of his life, never saw that and wasn’t working with him in it and it was good to hear those genuine feelings of love that those folks had for him and what he gave back made his legacy even greater.

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