Photo: Pro Wrestling Illustrated
By Missy Hyatt, the 1st Lady of Wrestliing
I was so glad that I saw Dusty Rhodes in October 2013 at Legends Of The Ring -- the last time I would see Dusty and my longtime friend Scott Epstein. It was the ten minutes that I spent with Dusty, a culmination of a lifetime of memories as a fan, wrestling talent, and a fan to this day that made the trip worth it for me.
Dusty was a headline autograph guest. I went to say hi to Dusty. Keep in mind this is a man that that I watched as a fan of Georgia Championship Wrestling and Championship Wrestling From Florida as a teenager. I was around him when I worked the gimmick table for Championship Wrestling from Florida when they ran shows in Tallahassee. Dusty always had something for me to do as on air talent when he was a booker in WCW from 1991-1993.
Dusty stopped the line for ten minutes to give me a hug and to talk to me. I thanked him for everything he did for my career. A young fan griped about Dusty stopping to sign autographs to speak to me. Dusty -- in the manor that only Dusty could talk -- said something to the effect of “If Missy wants to talk to me, than everybody can wait”. I sent the photo of myself and Dusty to my good friend Rob Naylor. He emailed me that he loved the pic. I love how Dusty was very influential to my career and even mentored me. Fast forward twenty years later and he did the same for my friend Rob.
Dusty touched people’s lives as talent and made stars out of so many people. He influenced several generation of wrestlers, and still had an influence on the NXT crew. The wrestling business will forever be better off for having Dusty.
When I lived in Tampa, I was a few minutes from the old white-painted Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. I always had a smile when I passed by since Dusty used to pack the building and it will forever be known for it.
I will always love Dusty for allowing me to work for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987 after my failed WWE stint. I had zero confidence. Dusty rebuilt my self esteem and allowed me to conduct interviews for the TBS World Championship Wrestling Sunday Night show. Those interviews at Techwood Studio were in the same studio in which I attended Georgia Champiomship Wrestling TV tapings as a teenager on my wrestling road trips when I was in high school.
Dusty booked me against Paul Heyman for six months in 1991, probably more to amuse himself with Heyman verbally ripping me to shreds and my retaliation with potatoes during our matches. Regardless, he always had a segment, skit, or booking idea for me. Dusty had faith in me as talent and I will always love him for that.
I will always believe that most of Dusty’s 1984-1988 booking run was some of the greatest wrestling television that I ever seen. Even to this day, I still love watching Dusty’s booking from that era which focused heavily around The Four Horsemen, Magnum TA, Rock N Roll Express, Nikita Koloff, Midnight Express, and so many others.
Thank you Dusty for being an influential person in my life, entertaining me as a fan, and always having a place in the wrestling business for myself. My sympathy goes to Shelly, Dustin, Cody, and anybody that loved Dusty.