Career longevity is not uncommon in pro wrestling as we all know. Superstars we grew up watching in the 80’s & 90’s stayed in active competition to varying degrees past the turn of the millennium and even occasionally have supporting roles on WWE TV to this day. Ric Flair obviously stands out from the pack; his run lasted nearly forty years despite a spell or two on the sidelines and he still puts in the odd cameo appearance. Hulk Hogan too, he successfully managed to juggle mainstream celebrity status with a run at the absolute top of the tree as the most recognisable personality in wrestling history for over three decades. Despite winding down in the last few years The Undertaker’s two decades of service is perhaps the most heavily hyped and storied career in recent times, whilst Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart also had decent runs coming in at around twenty years apiece and also occasionally still bask in the respect and adoration of their fans with infrequent TV appearances.
However plenty of other big names who you’d expect to have racked up around twenty years on the active roster seemingly fall short. Taking 1991 as the start of Steve Austin’s top-line run, he clocks in at around twelve years as a full-time wrestler until his last match at WrestleMania 19 against The Rock, who failed to even reach the ten year mark before he cast aside his part-timer duties in the same 2003 match with Stone Cold. Obviously, both are still very much a part of the wider wrestling landscape but neither could realistically say that their actual “career” in wrestling is ongoing. Meanwhile looking at today’s main players, Cena and Orton have both broken the ten year milestone and Triple H is obviously on course to reach the twenty year mark despite his in-ring appearances becoming more and more sporadic.
All these names have undoubtedly been major main event players at one time or another but for my money it’s sometimes more satisfying to see familiar faces still plying their trade on the active roster further down the card after so many years around the WWE. As I write, Chris Jericho has just returned to feather his own nest once again. Rob Van Dam is still flying high (pardon the pun) as an on/off mid-card attraction and despite costume changes, character tweaks and more face & heel turns than I care to remember, Kane also continues to be an entertaining upper-mid card act. Hell, even throw The Big Show into that category too. He’s on the verge of clocking up two decades in the business which in all fairness is no mean feat considering the number of other personalities to have come and gone in that time.
Every single name I’ve mentioned so far has been paid the compliment of having the DVD career retrospective treatment, with many having multiple WWE home video releases against their name. But for me, one of the most unsung heroes in my 25 years as a grapple fan is at present undergoing yet another Indian summer in a career filled with them and has proved once again what a versatile performer he is. Personally, I’d love to see WWE produce a DVD/Blu-Ray title which documents the highs and lows of one of their most enduring characters, surely behind only the Undertaker and Kane in the list of “great gimmicks” of our time. I’m of course talking about Goldust.
Call him what you will; Goldust, Dustin, Black Reign…The Natural, The Bizarre One or just Dusty’s kid. Living in the sizeable shadow of “Big Dust” was always going to be a hindrance as well as a help. Whilst being the son of such a genuine legend in wrestling circles would always afford Dustin a platform upon which to keep his name out there, he’d inevitably be compared to his old man and would obviously never be able to replicate Dusty’s achievements or reach “The Dream’s” popularity during his 70’s & 80’s peak. Part of Dustin’s career renaissance therefore has got to be attributed in no small part to his own talent, staying power and ability to keep himself fresh and relevant after all this time. It was seeing him perform at PCW’s Supershow 2 last June that Goldie made me think “Jeez, that guy can still go…” Looking slimmer, faster and more crisp in the ring than he had done at surely any point in the preceding fifteen years, seeing him up close in that kind of shape and obviously with a renewed passion for the biz was the highlight of the entire show and got me to thinking what an absolutely fantastic pro Goldust has been over the course of his career.
In my opinion, it’s about time the WWE put together a documentary, career history and match compilation of one of the most underrated talents of the last quarter-century. In addition to the obvious back-story of growing up in and around the wrestling business, the personal life trials and tribulations to Dustin’s story would also be an interesting watch. There’s also more than enough in-ring ammunition to construct a fantastic playlist of matches for such a release. From his stint in WCW alongside Sting, Vader, Flair, Steamboat, Rude, Austin etc to his controversial debut in the WWF in 1995 as Goldust and the many memorable moments that gimmick has presented us with: His IC title feud with Razor Ramon, the Hollywood Backlot Brawl against Piper, his face turn and feud against Brian Pillman as part of the Hart Foundation storyline, his stint as TAFKA Goldust, reverting back to classic Goldie after Val Venis bedded his wife…His return at the 2002 Royal Rumble, rebirth as Booker T’s comedy tag team partner and even right up the current alliance with his little brother, obviously taking in that fantastic match on Raw last November against Randy Orton for Cody’s reinstatement.
As evidenced by the names referenced at the start of this article, most of the superstars we tend to think of as the longest-serving superstars and therefore most deserving of our praise are just the same main eventers we always keep at the forefront of our minds. But looking back at the near 25-year career of Goldust it’s obvious that, to use a somewhat clichéd expression, here we’ve definitely got a sure-fire future Hall of Famer despite him never really breaking above the mid-card level.
I for one will never forget the name of…..(inhales suggestively)…..Goldust.
– By Dave Green