Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Make It Good: Dusty Rhodes channels his inner Marlon Brando

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On a recent episode of "The JJ Dillon Show" podcast (mlwradio.com), JJ and co-host Rich Bocchini discussed the infamous incident in October of 1986 where the Four Horsemen jumped Dusty Rhodes in the parking lot of Jim Crockett Promotions on Briarbend Drive in Charlotte. That ambush left the American Dream with a broken arm as he prepared for a big steel cage tag-team battle with the Horsemen that weekend in Charlotte.

Dusty got the inspiration for this scene where he is tied to Klondike Bill's ring truck
from Marlon Brando in the movie "One Eyed Jacks."

As it played out, the Horsemen, in two separate vehicles, followed an unsuspecting Rhodes in his little red convertible to the offices of Jim Crockett Promotions where they attacked Rhodes in the parking lot, beat him down, and tied him to a ring-truck, arms stretched out as if he were to be crucified.

One of the most often-discussed moments in that big angle was when Dusty cried out three famous words just before the Horsemen smashed his right hand with a baseball bat - -

"Make it good!"

There was much discussion by fans at the time suggesting this was Rhodes' exposed attempt to verbally direct the action in the skit taking place that he was a part of. But JJ maintains that wasn't the case.

"There were critics that didn't like Dusty," Dillon told Bocchini, "who said, 'Oh, there's Dusty, he had to let everyone know that he was orchestrating everything' - - which was not true."

JJ explained that it all had to do with Dusty's fondness for the cinema. Especially westerns.

"Dusty was somebody who loved the movies," Dillon said. "and he loved seeing moments in a movie and re-creating those moments. And one of those moments was in the movie 'One Eyed Jacks' where Marlon Brando was this gunslinger who was terrorizing this town."

In the movie, Marlon Brandon's character Rio had been betrayed by partner and fellow-outlaw "Dad" Longworth (portrayed by Karl Malden) following a bank robbery the two had committed together. Many years later, Longworth had become Sheriff, and when Rio returns to town to confront Longworth, Rio is captured, tied to a hitching post and whipped. But the worst blow of all was still yet to come.

Sheriff "Dad" Longworth (Karl Malden) taunts Rio (Marlon Brando) in the 1961 film "One Eyed Jacks."

Rio, barely able to speak, tells Longworth, "You better kill me." His meaning was that after all you've done to me - - you've betrayed me, you've whipped me - - you might as well kill me. Because if you don't, I'll be back to kill you.

But Longworth says killing him isn't necessary. He picks up his rifle and smashes it down on Rio's right hand, the hand this gunslinger used to draw and shoot his gun. Without the use of that right hand, he would be no threat to anyone.

JJ said it is this scene that Rhodes was channeling in the angle with the Horsemen. Rhodes was telling the Horsemen that if you are going to try and take me out, you better make it good. 

In Dusty's recreation of the scene from "One Eyed Jacks" with the Horsemen, the rifle became Ole's baseball bat, and the hitching post became one of Klondike Bill's ring trucks. The Horsemen tied him to the truck, and you could hear Ole telling JJ to make sure his paid cameraman zooms in close. Even though Rhodes was tied to the truck, Ole and Arn held him still as Tully Blanchard wielded the blow of the baseball bat on Rhodes' right hand.

Make it good.  You better kill me.

It was a bit of revenge for Blanchard in particular, who was on crutches due to an earlier injury from a match in Greensboro when Rhodes refused to release a figure-four leg lock.

At the very end of the video tape of the Horsemen angle, you hear JJ Dillon tell Dusty, "I want this to serve as a warning, Rhodes. We'll see you tomorrow night in Charlotte, you cripple!"

In the movie "One Eyed Jack," Marlon Brando warns Karl Malden he'd better kill him. But Malden chose not to do so and at the end of the movie, his drawing hand healed, Brando returns to kill Malden in a final showdown.

And even though Rhodes had warned the Horsemen to "make it good", they didn't make it good enough. The next night in Charlotte, Ole and JJ Dillon (substituting for the injured Blanchard) entered the cage in Charlotte. Rhodes, his right hand and arm in a cast, introduced his mystery partner - - - Nikita Koloff. The hated "Russian Nightmare" had joined the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes to battle the Four Horsemen in the wake of Magnum T.A.'s career-ending automobile accident. The huge crowd in Charlotte loved it. It wound up being the most dramatic and emotional moment of the year.

This post was republished in edited form on Friday, February 27, 2021.