Friday, February 03, 2017

Memorabilia: Collecting the "American Dream"

From time to time, we want to spotlight some of the great memorabilia that is out there related to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions. One of the biggest collectors of wrestling memorabilia in general that we know is Josh Watko, who shares his collection online at his website and on various social media platforms. Josh collects from all eras and territories, and included in that collection are a lot of things related to our primary area of interest - - Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions.

I recently asked Josh to share with us some of his memorabilia related to "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, as well as his stories related to collecting it.

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Dusty Rhodes JCP Memorabilia - Some of My Favorites
by Josh Watko
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
It's always an honor for me to write about "The American Dream," but it has a bit more meaning when those words appear on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. This site is the living history of Jim Crockett Promotions. To be invited to share my memories on here is a true pleasure.

I'll always have five all-time favorite wrestlers, but I think anyone who knows me knows that if I were forced to pick one, it would be Dusty Rhodes. As with so many fans worldwide, Dusty just resonated with me. He carried himself like a legend before he even earned the label. He was one of those individuals who took hold of a room and announced "I'm somebody" just by walking through the door.

I was lucky enough to meet Big Dust several times in the span of just over a decade. Each time was memorable as were the various items that he signed for me. The last time that I saw him, he even remembered me from the previous encounter, but we'll get to that.

The first time that I met The Dream, I brought along two items from the JCP era: the War Games VHS video and the 1987 Great American Bash program. I had found the program at a local library fundraiser book sale here in Western Pennsylvania in the mid-1990's. It was a "pay-by-the-pound" sale and, since the program didn't weigh very much, the kind ladies in charge didn't include it on the pile that we were purchasing and instead just gave it to me. I never imagined that I would load it up with autographs, but that's exactly what I ended up doing. Dusty was the first, and he signed it with a big bold signature.

Dusty made the cover of tons of magazines over the years, but some of the nicest feature the original "Stardust" in his signature robes. A publication featured on this site many times is the fabled "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine," and a 1984 issue proudly displayed "The Dream" in a silver and white robe that would rival anything ever worn by a guy named Flair.

One item that I never ended up getting signed but does feature a facsimile signature is the Dusty Rhodes Great American Bash souvenir cup from Fast Fare convenience stores. A number of JCP stars were featured, but who can beat the one featuring the star and creator of the event?

If you've read Dick Bourne's book chronicling Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship (and if you haven't, what are you waiting for?), you've already seen my all-time favorite wrestling collectible, Dusty or otherwise. It's a larger-than-lifesize cardboard stand-up of The American Dream. Originally part of an in-store display advertising Mello Yello, it's unknown how many still exist. I stumbled upon it years ago in an eBay auction that apparently not many people took note of. No one else bid, and the price was insanely low at around fifteen or twenty dollars.

It was always a "dream" to get it signed, and I actually lugged it around on several trips before Dusty got to see it. Since the Gateway is a family-friendly site, I will refrain from using his actual words when he saw it, but I think it's safe to say that he was blown away. Dusty gave it an incredible, large signature and posed for a great photo with it and myself. What a trio!

The next time that I saw Dusty was at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest. At that event I had him sign the Mello Yello can that "cardboard" Dusty is holding in the standee. He remembered the standee and said that he had actually found one. I have no idea where he found one, but if anyone could it would be The Dream. Little did any of us know that day that we were in the presence of a dying legend. That weekend would host my last encounters with the legend, in person.

That being said, I've often felt that I had one more experience with the spirit of "The Dream." As I was preparing to attend the debut of NXT here in Pittsburgh, PA, I was informed by a friend that Dusty had passed away. With nearly everyone involved in the show either a friend or student of The Dream, the event ending up being the first public memorial for Dusty Rhodes. Just as in the many times that I met him or saw him wrestle, I felt that Stardust magic looking down...with a million dollar smile.

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Josh's website is J.W.'s Wrestling Memorabilia at
You can follow him on Twitter at @JWsWrestlingMem and on Facebook at He updates all of those quite frequently.

Josh has written many posts about Dusty. One of our favorites is here:
That's Funky! That's The American Dream!

The book that Josh mentioned in his article is "Jim Crockett Promotions' United States Championship." It is full color, lavishly illustrated, and includes information never previously published elsewhere.  It can be found on and through the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website. (Thanks to Josh for his contribution to the book!)