The Great American Bash 1986. Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair is one of the greatest stories in wrestling history.
The ultimate hero vs the ultimate villain. Rhodes vs Flair. Both men are considered two of the best WWE wrestlers of all time, as well as some of the best in American history.
Famed as one of the best matches between the two men, this legendary feud comes to a head at Greensborough, one of the two Great American Bashes in 1986, according to Wikipedia (I think). The duo had many battles over the years, in cages and war games and however many match types, featuring the horsemen and many other wrestlers to add to the feud. However, this was recommended as one of Dusty’s best matches, and as a big fan of his sons Cody and Dustin, I feel I should start off with a classic match of the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes.
A Flair for the Eccentric
Dusty Rhodes is already in the ring, without entrance. Maybe to show his more man-of-the-people character, maybe because of a time issue or maybe just to fit in more adverts. I don’t like it. You can’t have your challenger look like a nobody, and not even have his entrance music. I don’t even know what his entrance music is (I assume its not his funky, totally not awful “He’s just a common man” theme from WWE) There’s no commentary on this to describe why he’s just stood in the ring without introduction, so that’s not something good in my opinion.
Then WOOOOOOOOOOOOO here comes Ric Flair. In his big fuck off robe and his strut and his blonde hair and his woo and a police escort. He’s already so much cooler than Dusty and I’m not afraid to admit it. The entrances are much shorter and less lavish than modern day wrestling, he literally just walked into the ring and into the cage. I have no strong feelings on the matter just thought it worthy of note. Flair poses in the ring as his theme song ends, which is “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30”. The crowd cheer as he poses.
A balding man announces that the match is a 60 minute time limit bout scheduled for one fall (One fall!). He announces the challenger, the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. There’s a smattering of boos when they start announcing him, but as the words “American Dream Dusty Rhodes” come out, so do the cheers for Rhodes. Then the man with little hair starts to announce Ric Flair and the boos rain out. Everyone except for a small number of women or small children are cheering for the Nature Boy, but the crowd is rousingly against him and for the hero of the hour, two time NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, Dusty “Goldust’s Dad” Rhodes.
The World title belt is an amazing looking belt.
The Match Begins
The bell rings and both men circle each other like sharks. Unlike sharks, they circle each other by going backwards, so they don’t lose sight of one another (Shark fact #1 Sharks can’t swim backwards, even when wrestling). Flair woos and the pair finally lock up.
BUT WAIT! NO! A TRAP! Flair pulls out and does his hair and woos. He’s definitely the coolest of the two, as he struts around the ring. Dusty then struts like a chicken and I am confused.
A series of punches and an atomic elbow from Dusty and this match is firmly under way. Dusty has this underlying cocky side to him which I like, he’s not just a boring good guy doing whats good he’s actually kind of fun. I dig it.
Dusty takes control
Flair looks out of it after the attack, looking around everywhere confused after those punches. He looks scared, like he underestimated Dusty, as he stands in his corner to recover. Then we get some chain wrestling were Flair gets the upper hand, but makes a mistake as he tries to throw Dusty into the cage, but the bigger man uses his foot to stop himself, as Flair backs away in show that the American Dream has countered him. Both men’s strengths and weaknesses have been established, Flair’s cunning and technical skills, and Dusty’s strength and size are his strengths, as well as using his previous bouts with Flair to figure out what he’s going to do.
The two engage is a test of strength, where Flair gets the upper hand with a kick to the gut, before Dusty reverses it and flips him onto his back, showcasing the power advantage he has over Flair. He also reverses an arm drag by Flair into one of his own. Repeatedly Dusty gets the better of Flair, who gets more and more desperate., and Dusty gets a 2 count with a big elbow drop to the champion.
Dusty continues to control until a cunning Flair hits a punch (illegal) to the large stomach of Rhodes, after a dropdown gives Flair a bit of a breather and begins to take control, by throwing Dusty into the steel cage head first, over and over, before hitting the patented Flair knee. These cause a fuckton of blood to bleed from Dusty’s head, his face is totally covered in it. And to top it off, Flair then grates his head on the steel cage, getting blood everywhere. Fingers crossed neither men have AIDS.
Flair wears down the leg some more with more of the Flair knees, then locks in the Figure 4 leglock with the least amount of showboating Flair can possibly do. He locks it in strongly, and has the American Dream writhing around in pain, as blood covers his face and drips down from it constantly. It’s a great visual. Dusty lays there, almost defeated, back flat on the mat. The ref counts to 2 but he gets up, showing Dusty Rhodes isn’t defeated yet.
You can see the pain on his face, and the frustration on the face of Flair, willing him to tap out as the arena wills him not to.
And he doesn’t! Dusty heroically reverses the pressure on the figure 4, and forces Flair to reach for the rope himself, breaking the hold. But has the damage been too much for Dream? He’s been in the hold for a long time and his legs must be, at the least, slightly aching.
The Match Continues
Dusty crawls to the corner in pain, but as he gets up Flair does not relent on attacking his leg again. Flair’s ruthless side is on full display, and he doesn’t just cheat to win but has a game plan and will follow it into victory. Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair brings exactly what you expected.
Dusty can barely stand. He’s flat on his back as The Nature Boy hits another knee, and then tries to lift up the American Dream. But alas, Dusty hits a huge diving clothesline and scurries over for the pin, but Flair cleverly puts his foot on the rope, breaking the hold. The duo trade blows, kicks and chops and punches. Flair, knowing he’s been matched, tries to escape the ring via climbing over the cage, like the coward he is (Like Cody Rhodes).
The American Dream
Dusty gets him down, and backs him into a corner. He is coming into his own here, showing why he should be the NWA champion instead of the coward that is the Nature Boy Ric Flair. The American Dream does what Flair did to him, shoving his face into the cage and making him bleed, and throwing him head first into the cage, adding a layer of symmetry to the match, and Dusty resorting to what Flair did to win. Flair tries to escape again, but Dusty throws him one more time into the Cage, and goes for a splash, crushing Flair between his large large body and the steel cage.
But Flair dodges oh no! The dastardly Flair has escaped by the skin of his teeth, and goes for the flying cross body, the one he used to win his first World Championship all those year ago. However, Dusty counters it into a Gorilla press and slams Flair to the floor. He then hits a big clothesline and big elbow to the delight of the fans, and pins Flair, only for him to kick out at 2.
Flair tries to escape the cage for a final time, but actually kicks Dusty in the face. Dusty is groggy, and finally Flair hits the flying press that won him the title, and pins Dusty, only for the crowd to erupt as he kicks out of it at the last second.
Flair avoids a big elbow drop from Dusty, and while Flair is groggy Dusty rolls him up in an inside cradle for the 1…2…3!
Dusty Rhodes is the new NWA champion!
Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair
A match that started out with me thinking Flair was the coolest thing since sliced bread, and convinced me that Dusty Rhodes is actually my faather and I want him to win all the time go Dusty WOO.
This match was a lot of what I expected but that is by no means a bad thing. Both men had clear characters in the fight and played them both beautifully. A classic match indeed and I can see why its so highly rated.
My rating id give it is 3 stars out of 5, an above average match I really enjoyed, but not necessarily one id go back to in a hurry.
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Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.