Friday, April 16, 2010

The American Dream
Directors: Kevin Dunn
Distributor: WWE Home Video
Released: 6/06 

Featured Talent
Arn Anderson, Shelton Benjamin, Tully Blanchard, Jerry Brisco, John Cena, Simon Dean, Ted Dibiase, Ric Flair, Tony Garea, Mike Graham, Superstar Billy Graham, Michael Hayes, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, Chris Masters, Vince McMahon, Trevor Murdoch, Gene Okerland, Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Bruce Pritchard, Harley Race, William Regal, Dusty Rhodes, Michelle Rhodes, Dustin Runnels, Sgt. Slaughter, Joey Styles, Triple H

The Good
Dusty Rhodes is one of those once-in-a-lifetime personalities that comes along and despite hardships and limitations, they have that special something that makes them a legend. Dusty Rhodes story as the son of plumber in Austin, Texas is true, so telling it is very easy. There are great photographs and some fitting music that compliment the distinct voice and vernacular of the man. Like numerous other biographical documentaries by the WWE, the personality of the performer carries much of the quality of the piece. Although he's no Billy Graham, Dusty Rhodes can talk well and keep the viewer engaged with his storytelling. The legacy of the Texas Outlaws (Rhodes and Dick Murdoch) is appropriately explained, but there is definitely more to that story. The Florida territory is succinctly and accurately described in a way that helps the modern fan understand how it worked and why it worked. Eddie Graham is put over and it connects to Dusty's own promotional acumen. Luckily they address some of Dusty's faults as well because he certainly has some that cannot fairly be left unsaid. Ultimately though it explains how Dusty Rhodes simply had a gift for getting things over, namely himself. He got over as a bad ass heel, he got over as a flamboyant jive-talking average Joe babyface and he even got over in his yellow polka dots. The tales of that last part are particularly funny. While you can grasp some of his excellence on the mic, it does not come across as strongly as in the Superstar Graham DVD. The real highlight of this is the story of the Dusty and Dustin Rhodes. They genuinely try to explain the hardships that being a pro-wrestler have on a family and how difficult it is for a son to follow his father when that father is a huge star. Dustin Rhodes brings a lot of emotion and honesty to this and it makes this more than a run-of-the-mill documentary about a pro-wrestling legend. The extras are all good from okay matches to great promos and vignettes. 

The Bad
Dusty Rhodes' legacy within the WWF is very different than his time spent elsewhere. He had a great feud with Superstar Graham in the late 70s and a run in the late 80s that many believe ruined his legacy. Although he was moderately successful in that ridiculous role and it was fun for everybody, it did his career no favors. The character of Sapphire and the racial baggage that comes with it is not even addressed (no surprise there), but she stands out as an example of the underlying bigotry that existed in the WWF worldview at that time. The final sticking point is that Dusty Rhodes does not seem to really take much of the heat for the death of Jim Crockett Promotions. He admits he usually catches the blame, but by no means admits his guilt. He was not alone, but he was certainly complacent as JCP spent its way into the ground. 

The Rating: ****1/4

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