The Black Cloud Over Dustin Rhodes Career

Brian Damage

Dustin Rhodes has been known by many different nicknames and monikers. Whether it was the Natural, the American Nightmare, Goldust or the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust…heck you could even throw his brief appearance as Seven as well…Dustin always made the very best of any gimmick thrown his way. As great a career Dustin has had being a multiple Intercontinental champion, tag team champion etc…there is one period of his career he has desperately tried to forget. A period in his life where a big black cloud loomed over his head. As with any black cloud comes rain…in Dustin Rhodes’ case…Black Reign.

The year was 2007, Dustin had already been fired by WWE for missing some appearances. With wrestling gigs quickly drying up for the veteran…Rhodes found himself a job with TNA wrestling. According to Dustin, his father Dusty called in a favor to Dixie Carter and got him the job. Dustin was being paid $1,000 per appearance. While nowhere near the money he was making under the WWE umbrella…it was a decent paying job.

With Vince Russo as a part of TNA creative….Dustin simply couldn’t be Dustin. He had to be some sort of outlandish character. ore than likely, an off shoot of his once very popular Goldust gimmick. This time however, his new persona was going to be much more darker than bizarre. The character would be schizophrenic and have a split personality. One one hand, he would be Dustin Rhodes…on the other, he would be the evil character known as ‘Black Reign.’

Black Reign still wore a wig and had a full body suit and face paint…much like Goldust had. The difference between Goldust and Black Reign was Dustin had become way out of shape. He was really starting to resemble his father Dusty physically. Mentally, on the other hand, was a man who was completely out of it. Drugs and alcohol had taken over his life. Cocaine, painkillers and booze were a big part of his daily diet. Dustin admitted to taking roughly 40 pain pills a day. He simply couldn’t function without them.

When he was no longer able to get pills from a doctor’s prescription….Dustin turned to the streets and hooked up with drug dealers to get his fix. His life had gotten so bad, Dustin stopped visiting his only child…Dakota. Not only that, but his drug addiction began interfering with his wrestling. Dustin swore that he never would take any drug or alcohol before a match, but in TNA things were different. Dustin readily admitted to popping pills and snorting cocaine before he stepped in the ring.

The real life Dustin Runnels had become as dark as the character he was portraying in wrestling. His matches were reduced to hardcore matches, he was slow and lumbering and eventually was put in a tag team to cover up his weaknesses. Even then, Dustin wasn’t getting the job done and was taken off TV entirely. Dustin disappeared from TNA for over 30 days and was subsequently fired.

Thankfully, Dustin was able to reach out to WWE and have them place him in drug rehab. Dustin has been clean and sober ever since. That still hasn’t erased the dark days of TNA from his memory. When fans would ask him questions about his time in TNA as Black Reign…Dustin would block those fans from his social media sites. It is still that personal for Dustin Runnels not to reminisce about that part of his career.

9 thoughts on “The Black Cloud Over Dustin Rhodes Career

  1. I’m glad he’s doing well again and is providing some of the best work of his career and is in great shape. I don’t think anyone wants to remember him as Black Reign. I’d rather be Seven than Black Reign.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yeah, DEFINITELY not one of his better days. Glad he bucked the odds and got clean, rather than continue on the sad & very deadly path he was steadily going on. Now he’s an invaluable veteran talent presence & mentor to AEW, both wrestlers & staff.
    Looking forward to seeing the bright stars of tomorrow that come out of his new wrestling school.


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