Ricky Havlik/All Elite Wrestling

“Shawn Spears is going to find out in the ring that my brother Cody is a tough little son of a b----.”

By Justin Barrasso
August 28, 2019

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Dustin Rhodes Has a Warning for Shawn Spears

Dustin Rhodes will be watching closely this Saturday as his brother Cody takes on Shawn Spears in a marquee matchup at All Elite Wrestling’s “All Out” pay-per-view.

The Rhodes brothers stole the show at AEW’s debut “Double or Nothing” show, providing wrestling with an epic story filled with blood, love, and hate. He also teamed with Cody at July’s Fight for the Fallen show in the main event against the Young Bucks.

“I’ll be watching this one from afar, and I’ll be looking to see if Shawn Spears can make a statement in this match,” said Rhodes, who will be in Atlanta this weekend at Dragon Con. “Cody has nothing to prove and Shawn has everything to prove.

“Shawn Spears is going to find out in the ring that my brother Cody is a tough little son of a b----. He’s proven himself since Legacy, and I’ve watched his career blossom and grow beyond anything I ever hoped for my brother.”

This September will mark Rhodes 31st year in the business, and his in-ring psychology and ability to read the crowd is unparalleled. He has also been involved in wrestling long enough to understand how doubt cripples ability, which happened to himself when WWE wasn’t using him, and also happened to Spears, who became a forgotten part of the roster as Tye Dillinger.

“Shawn must feel like he’s uncaged, and I certainly know that feeling,” said Rhodes. “You feel bitter when you’re not utilized the right way. Shawn has that freedom now, so I want to see if he can make a statement against my brother Cody. A match of this caliber needs to stand out, and I know Cody’s ready—he beat me like a dog and put an end to the ‘Attitude Era.’ I think Cody is legitimately going to whoop the dog s--- out of him.”

All Out is AEW’s final broadcast before the company debuts its television product on TNT on Oct. 2. The new promotion won’t have Wednesdays to itself, though, as WWE recently announced it was moving NXT to the USA Network on that night

“It’s all about us putting on a damn good product and giving another option,” said Rhodes. “I don’t consider us going to war with anybody. I know there will be talk about the ratings, but the focus should be on putting out the best talent we can put out on TNT. It’s going to be a lot of fun and, if you’re not coming along for the ride, I feel for you.”

In his time away from the ring, Rhodes is adding to his acting reel. His latest role is in the upcoming film Cutter Bill, which is set to be released through video on-demand this December.

“I’m very, very hungry to succeed in acting,” said Rhodes. “Wrestling will always be my first love, but this is also a passion of mine. I want to be known as a great actor.”

Cutter Bill was shot in Texas and directed by Brett Bentman, who wrestling fans may remember as the director of 90 Feet From Home starring Shawn Michaels.

Rhodes wrapped up filming earlier this month, working assiduously to capture the role of Mitchell White, a thief attempting to cash in on $80 million of hidden Texas drug money that belonged to a dead member of the Cowboy Mafia.

B22 Films

“I really worked to get into the character and make everything I do believable,” said Rhodes. You’ll see some range from me in this role. I visualized how my character walked, how he talked, and from there, the process started to organically grow.”

The 50-year-old Rhodes is also set to star in Thunderclap, another film directed by Bentman, which is scheduled to film in either late 2019 or early 2020, and will also feature R-Truth and Kevin Nash.

“Dustin carries himself so well,” said Bentman. “He is a performer, a storyteller. In Cutter Bill, Dustin plays a soldier of time, a vet, a man spending his life running the books for criminals. I am thrilled to work with him and see him play out these ideas. He’s humble and talented, the kind of actor any director would dream to work with.”

One of wrestling’s most memorable moments since the dawn of the WrestleMania era took place in WCW in 1994 when Dustin reunited in the ring with his father Dusty Rhodes.

At the time, Rhodes was only 25, far from stardom and living in the shadow of a man with whom he shared a complicated relationship.

In heartbreaking fashion, Dusty intertwines a wrestling storyline with the real-life angst between himself and his oldest son. Dustin does not speak a word, but his nods of affirmation, removal of his cowboy hat—he wasn’t “The Natural” here, he was the son—and the tears are all genuine. The result is one of the greatest promos in wrestling history.

“I was a boy in that ring, looking up at a huge giant of a man, my hero,” said Rhodes. “That moment was real for me. His shadow was just so gigantic, and I was doing everything I could to make it in this business.

“I already knew most people didn’t have my father’s charisma, and I’d grown up listening to him speak. He was like Elvis Presley on the microphone, and the people in the crowd respected him so much. I’ll never forget the emotion I felt that night hugging my father when the crowd erupted.”

A transcendent run as Goldust forever cemented Rhodes as an unforgettable presence in wrestling, and Rhodes now pursues his journey in acting while still adding value to wrestling.

“I still have a respect, passion, and love for the business, and this time is all about me passing the torch to the younger talent,” said Rhodes. “But I’m not just going to hand it to anyone. They’ve got to get themselves over, and that takes time.

“If they want the help, I’m there to help. If not, get out of my way because I’m going to keep going until my wheels fall off, and I’m going to keep pursuing a career in acting. Cutter Bill is a really cool film, put together well, and I can’t wait for people to see it this December.”

“All Out” Setting the Stage for AEW’s Success

Excitement is in the air for All Elite Wrestling’s “All Out” pay-per-view this Saturday in Chicago.

This marks AEW’s last chance to highlight the product before their live television program premieres on October 2. By that point, of course, NXT will already be entering its third week of live television on Wednesday nights, raising the stakes for AEW considerably.

There is such great anticipation for this Saturday’s show, and it will be especially interesting to see how AEW presents its product—and if it introduces any new stars—following the show.

Jon Moxley was forced to pull out of his scheduled match against Kenny Omega due to a staph infection and has been replaced by PAC. Permitting that Moxley is healthy, this may work out as a positive for AEW.

Moxley’s matches are built more around storytelling, while Omega has a more action-based style. The postponement of their match allows for even more time to put together the best match possible, while Omega now works with PAC—known during his time in WWE as Neville—and will deliver some spectacular moves, spots, and sequences in a match that will connect more to that hard-hitting Japanese style than we would normally see in WWE.

This is also the last chance for AEW to introduce newer characters and develop their storylines to a loyal audience without any competition from NXT. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus are perfect examples. Yes, we have seen them wrestle at AEW shows, but we do not know much of their backstory. They’re featured in a six-man tag match, alongside Marko Stunt, against SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) on Saturday. We already know the backstory for stars like Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, and fans have already formed their opinion on Chris Jericho, but more camera time and story development are pivotal for the new talent to make an impression.

AEW is on the cusp of a major weekly competition against NXT, and All Out will help define the company through its champion. Personally, I would have “Hangman” Adam Page destroy Jericho, wiping out any and all doubts that he is world championship material. Regardless of the outcome, Jericho will remain a star. So instead of a back-and-forth 20-minute match, more can be accomplished in a shorter, one-sided affair.

Especially with people not expecting one, a surprise to end the show, like we saw with Moxley’s appearance at the end of Double or Nothing, could put AEW on an even playing field with NXT for its television debut on October 2.

Street Profits Positioning Themselves as One of the Best Teams in the Business

An integral part of NXT’s success in its move to a live, two-hour show starting September 18 are Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, better known as the Street Profits.

The reigning NXT champions put together a fantastic performance during SummerSlam weekend’s TakeOver: Toronto, defeating Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish in a match where they looked every bit as impressive as the two veterans.

The Profits are a Hart Foundation hybrid, with Angelo Dawkins serving as the muscle and Montez Ford delivering a combination of wrestling prowess and an aerial assault. And just like any successful tag team, they share an innate chemistry in the ring, despite only making their debut together three years ago.

“We have a similar background, and we bonded ever since ’Tez stepped foot in the Performance Center,” said the 6'5" Dawkins, whose background is amateur wrestling. “We have a great dynamic. I can jump, but not as high as ’Tez, and he’s strong, but not as strong as me. My background is in football and wrestling, he’s a track guy. We have an unbreakable bond and brotherhood.”

Ford, whose real name is Kenneth Crawford, is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and he is extremely grateful for his chance to make an impact in society as a WWE star.

“I give all my glory to my heavenly father, God,” said Ford. “Everything I’m doing is through Him and His blessing. My mom taught me well, my dad taught me well. No matter how you’re feeling, you are still a servant for your lord and savior, and that’s how I was raised.

“My mother gave me discipline in the household, and the military gave me even more discipline, and prepared me for the civilian side of the world. That helped groom and shape me into the man I am today.”

Dawkins and Ford made another backstage appearance this Monday on Raw, and there is also plenty of potential in the ring for them to continue to establish themselves in NXT, with rematches against O’Reilly and Fish as well as matches against the newly-reunited Tyler Breeze and Fandango.

“Winning at TakeOver is huge for us,” said Dawkins. “O’Reilly and Fish have traveled all over the world, and we’re homegrown at the PC. We want to keep steppin’ and keep steppin’ and be the best in the world.”

The (Online) Week in Wrestling

• The storyline between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns closed out last night’s SmackDown with a new turn, as we were led to believe Erick Rowan attacked Reigns without Bryan’s knowledge. 

William Beltrán of Super Luchas posted an in-depth interview with Bryan, where he even discusses the fires in the Amazon Rainforest: “I hate to get in the politics, but there are people letting it burn so they can use the land for other things”

• As great as it was to see Chad Gable advance in the King of the Ring tournament (though I still can’t believe, following all of his momentum, Buddy Murphy lost), I wish WWE would continue to do more with Shelton Benjamin, who is high on the list of most underused stars in the company.

• With the help of The Revival, Randy Orton defeated Big E on last night’s SmackDown—but I would have gone a different direction and had Big E defeat Orton cleanly, planting a seed for the story that Big E is a better singles wrestler than Kofi Kingston. 

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11FyqdOrTbA]

• Following last week’s gruesome injury to Ronda Rousey’s finger, PCO made people squeamish this week by showing a video of him receiving 17 stitches right above his eye.

• Love was in the air this past weekend with Peyton Royce and Shawn Spears’s wedding, as well as Seth Rollins proposing to Becky Lynch.

• Cesaro making an appearance at this Saturday’s NXT UK show is a perfect chance for the “Swiss Superman” to face off against WALTER.

• Kenny Omega is returning to Japan, but it isn’t for a rematch with Kazuchika Okada in New Japan—it is a chance for him to reconnect with his wrestling roots in DDT.

• Does Shane Douglas get enough credit for the success of ECW?

Conrad Thompson Previews “Grilling JR” and “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard”

Conrad Thompson has new episodes of “Grilling JR” and “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” airing this Thursday and Friday.

Thompson and JR will examine the WWE career of CM Punk on Thursday, with an emphasis on the matches Ross called during Punk’s rise to stardom.

“We’re going to look at the run-through of Punk’s career from JR’s perspective,” said Thompson. “JR called a lot of the early formative moments of Punk’s career in WWE, and a lot of his big matches, too.”

Friday’s edition of “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” will dig into SummerSlam 1989, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. That card was headlined by Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake teaming together against the “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus.

“This was the first big show that Bruce helped put together, and Tony Schiavone called the play-by-play,” said Thompson. “It looked like, at this point, the build to WrestleMania VI could be Hogan against Zeus, who was the logical opponent, but obviously that didn’t happen. This was a match that was also designed to elevate Beefcake, but when this show was over, the Ultimate Warrior was a made man.”

The undercard was also bursting with quality matches: Hart Foundation-Brain Busters, the Ultimate Warrior-Rick Rude, Dusty Rhodes-Honky Tonk Man, and a six-man between Demolition and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan against Andre The Giant, Akeem, and the Big Boss Man.

“There is a mass exodus from Jim Crockett Promotions, which accounts for a feud like Greg Valentine-Ronnie Garvin,” said Thompson. “It’s a really interesting time in the company, and we’re going to break it down in a watch-along form.

“We’ll look at ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan looking like a walking merch stand during his time as ‘King,’ and there is lots of fun stuff in store for longtime listeners. Mr. Perfect wrestled the Red Rooster on this card, and famously, that’s what made us discuss the infamous ‘box of gimmicks’ when Terry Taylor once said, ‘They were passing out gimmicks—Hennig got Perfect, and I got the Red Rooster.’ So that discussion with Bruce is going to be phenomenal. Plus, Bruce loves talking about Dusty.”

Thompson’s Starrcast also takes place this weekend, running Thursday-Sunday. A highlight of the event will be Saturday afternoon’s session with CM Punk, which airs on FITE TV.

“I was a big fan of Punk, and I can’t wait to hear him speak, but I think it’s even more special because he doesn’t make too many appearances,” said Thompson. “He’s not on the convention circuit and he’s not doing shoot interviews. He’s shied away from the wrestling spotlight, so his session this Saturday afternoon is going to soak up a lot of the attention. I can’t wait.”

Tweet of the Week

Corey Graves is right—the wrestlers are certainly supportive of each other, but that doesn’t mean the competition won’t be sublime on Wednesday nights.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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