Magnum’s best friend during those amazing Crockett years, the incomparable “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, will be inducted posthumously into the NWALegends.com Hall of Heroes “Class of 2016” during Fanfest weekend in Charlotte on August 4-7, 2016. The Mid-Atlantic Gateway was fortunate to catch up with “The Boss” recently, and we discussed Magnum being the presenter for Dusty’s Hall of Heroes honor and his close relationship with the “Dream,” his relatively short in-ring career that was tall on superlatives and assorted other tidbits that make Magnum T.A. an inspiration to anyone he crosses paths with.
David Chappell: Magnum, it’s so good to finally have you here on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. You mean so much to so many wrestling fans all over the world, but probably no place more than the Carolinas. You now call Charlotte home, and you’re going to be “home” for the NWALegends.com Fanfest event in about a week, and you will be presenting your mentor, the late Dusty Rhodes, for induction into the Hall of Heroes, Class of 2016. First off, please tell us about Dusty.
Magnum T.A.: Sure, well, I mean, Dusty was more than a mentor, he was my best friend. He was a comrade in the business, we were partners, I was involved with so many elements, and so many things because of his and my relationship. And his involvement, of course, in all the creative things that took place in our relationship…it started back in like, 1982.
Magnum: Yeah, goes back that far. I met him when I came to work for Eddie Graham, for Championship Wrestling from Florida. When I came in Eddie was the booker, and he was a booker for the first six months that I was there, and then Dusty came in to cover the book. We met, and Barry Windham had come in about a couple of months before Dusty did, and so Barry and I had formed this real strong friendship. Dusty, Barry, Blackjack and I soon became very close.
Chappell: How did Dusty size you up in the beginning?
Magnum: When I first came in I was kind of a fish out of water, because he didn't know me, I was new. I had been in the business about a year, and it was Barry that actually kind of broke the ice, got he and I together, and we traveled on a trip together and just had so many things in common. So many of the same desires, and dreams, and goals, and things that were just mind-boggling even though he was, you know, over ten years older than me. He became more like a big brother, and you know, was the best friend in my career.
Chappell: That’s very insightful. I didn’t realize your friendship with Dusty started that early.
Magnum: Well, it's really way more in depth than I'll ever be able to go into during his induction, but when I got the call to come to Mid-South, and when the Magnum T.A. character launched, Dusty gave me his blessing to go do it, because he had been really grooming me there in Florida to help me learn as much as I possibly could. He had me booked in tag matches with Brad Armstrong, and Scott McGee, and we were going out there for forty-five minute broadways every night with the Royal Kangaroos, and it was education I was getting, and of course I was around Eddie Graham.
Chappell: I’m sure just hanging around Eddie Graham was an education unto itself.
Magnum: Eddie was Dusty's mentor, so it was just this big old educational thing going on, and these strong, strong bonds being formed. I had only been in Mid-South for about six months, and back then Ernie Ladd was kind of booking things, and Ernie wasn't the most insightful guy as far as new creative things…he recognized talent, but didn't know what he was going to do with them. He was kind of like in a lull, not knowing exactly what to do with me, and I wasn't really happy with the direction things were going, so I was getting ready to come back to Florida with Dusty, with the Magnum character, in a whole different genre, and Bill [Watts] saw me and said, "You're not going anywhere! I've got plans for you."
Magnum: Bill hadn't been really involved to that point, either. Bill came in and the rest is history. But when Dusty then made his move to the Carolina's, and worked for the Crockett's, he always had these big dreams of this superstar. He was dreaming about what became WrestleMania way before that ever happened, and that of course being the Starrcades were the beginning of all that. But when I was getting ready to come into Mid-Atlantic, they didn't have any injection of new blood. Barry Windham had come in with him as his top baby face, and it was…
Chappell: Barry left about as soon as he came, didn’t he?
Magnum: Well, he did because he was getting three, four hundred dollar paychecks, and he couldn't live on it.
Chappell: Whew, the territory was down that much then?
Magnum: He couldn't afford to eat, and so I was at a place that was on fire, and I was making over two grand a week in Mid-South, in 1984, that was big money. Dusty and Jimmy Crockett called me in the middle of the night, and Jimmy gets on the phone with me and said, "Look, I can't match what you're making there, but I promise if you come you won't make less than x amount of dollars that was respectable, and I would give you the biggest push anybody could ever get."