The death of Virgil Runnels, better known as Dusty Rhodes, has rocked the wrestling nation. The man, who called himself the “American Dream,” died at 69.

Dusty Rhodes Passes Away At 69

While there has been no confirmation on how he died, wrestling website f4wonline stated, “he had a fall at his house earlier Thursday, his kidneys were shutting down and he started to get dehydrated.”

Now, he may not have the physique of today’s wrestlers, but he knew how to put on a show. And that is why the 69-year-old was a beloved member of the wrestling community. Between his blood soaked face and boisterous personality, many adults grew up with the WWE hall of famer.

The athlete originally played football and baseball for West Texas State and he eventually got his start with wrestling after playing semi-pro ball. And after quickly rising through the ranks because of his insatiable personality and crazy moves — including his signature elbow drop — he became the face of the newly purchased WCW, which was formerly known as Georgia Championship Wrestling.  There he fought Terry Funk, Blackjack Mulligan, Superstar Billy Graham, Ray Stevens and The Four Horsemen, while also running things from behind the scenes for Jim Crockett Promotions.

But after several feuds with Turner Broadcasting, he would leave WCW for the WWF — now the WWE — and work on shaky grounds with Vince McMahon. Though nothing was ever confirmed, it was believed that the two did not get along: primarily because Rhodes was the face, on screen and behind the scenes, of Vince’s opposition. He would go on to wrestle there as the “Common Man,” until his eventual firing by the WWE owner.

Following this, he went back to the WCW, serving as an announcer, a booker and even surfaced to go in the ring every once in a while. He would eventually go to ECW, TNA and the independent circuit, but has worked with the WWE over the last decade as an entertainer and consultant.

Since the announcement, an outpouring of support has been sent via social media by fans, athletes and former competitors.

I first met Dusty Rhodes at 5yrs old when me and my family were spending time with him and his family on their ranch. This man would become not only a great inspiration and mentor to me, but more importantly inspire and entertain wrestling fans around the world by becoming one of the greatest of all time. Dusty’s epically entertaining “Bionic elbow” was my inspiration to create “The most electrifying move in sports entertainment – The People’s Elbow”. This Heavyweight World Champion personified the blue collar fighting spirit and his influence on the wrestling business is invaluable. I’ll be forever grateful for the tremendous influence he’s had on me and my career in our beloved squared circle. Miss and love you Dusty.. RIP brother. #HardTimesDaddy #SonOfAPlumber #BadDudeInTheGame #TheAmericanDream

A photo posted by therock (@therock) on

He will always be remembered for his crazy interviews and amazing quotes, which simply controlled the audience: “I have wined and dined with kings and queens, and I’ve slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans.”

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