Tuesday, July 26, 2016

30th Anniversary of Dusty's Final World Title Win

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

The list of men who have held the NWA World Championship during the territory era is relatively short. Few of wrestling's legends can claim the honor. Even fewer can claim to have held it more than once. Dusty Rhodes did it three times.

NWA World Champion Dusty Rhodes
It's hard to imagine that it has been 30 years, but this indeed is the 30th anniversary of Dusty Rhodes defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at the Great American Bash event in Greensboro, NC.

It was a hot Saturday night, July 26, 1986. The Greensboro Coliseum was packed and Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes met inside a steel cage with the NWA world title on the line. It was near the end of a string of Great American Bash shows that had stretched the month of July, and it was near the end of a series of NWA title defenses all during that famous Bash series.

Flair had successfully defended against Road Warrior Hawk, Ricky Morton, Wahoo McDaniel, Nikita Koloff, Ron Garvin and others. The Bash had played in places like Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, RFK Stadium in Washington, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, and Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.

Flair had even successfully defended against Rhodes twice already during the Bash - - in Washington, DC and in Jacksonville, FL.

But the third time proved to be the charm for the "American Dream", winning the prestigious championship for a third and final time, taking the Big Gold belt in "Crockett country" at the historic Greensboro Coliseum.

It was a jubilant scene as Rhodes stood on the second turnbuckle, hugging the Big Gold belt as tears streamed down his face. Wrestlers flooded the ring, along with Baby Doll and country singer David Allen Coe, as Tom Miller made the dramatic announcement...

"...the winner and new world heavyweight champion, the American Dream Dusty Rhodes!"

(See also: American Dreams Come True: for the first time since Dusty Rhodes won the Big Gold in 1986, the nameplate finally goes on the original belt.)



Dusty Rhodes with his daughter Teil around the same period as
when Dusty won the "Big Gold" belt in Greensboro. Teil
will be in Charlotte on July 5th to help honor her Dad
at the Hall of Heroes. (Eddie Cheslock Photo)
One of the men celebrating with Rhodes that night was his protege, Magnum T.A. Magnum was embroiled in a bitter series of matches of his own, a best-of-seven series for the vacant U.S. championship with Nikita Koloff. That same night, Magnum captured his first victory in that series, preventing Koloff from sweeping him. Magnum now trailed 1-3, and would go on to get wins #2 and #3 in Atlanta and Asheville before losing match #7 in Charlotte in mid-August.

Magnum's big victory that night in Greensboro, along with Dusty's historic 3rd NWA title win, made Greensboro the best night in that amazing string of shows that was the Great American Bash thirty years ago this month.

And now all these years later, Magnum T.A. will pay tribute to his mentor and friend Dusty Rhodes at the annual Hall of Heroes dinner banquet Friday, August 5, during the NWALegends.com Fanfest weekend in Charlotte. Dusty's wife Michelle and his daughter Teil will be there to see Dusty honored and inducted into the Hall of Heroes Class of 2016.

It is bound to be an emotional evening, and one you will want to be a part of. Complete details on Fanfest and the Hall of Heroes dinner banquet can be found at NWALegends.com.