Dustin Rhodes on his escape from WWE ‘prison’ and the quick rise of AEW

Dustin Rhodes, formally Goldust, tries his hand at a Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski ahead of his match with Jake Hager (formerly Jack Swagger) at All Elite Wrestling’s Revolution pay-per-view (8 p.m, BR Live) on Feb. 29.

(Edited for brevity)

Q: AEW has prided itself on trying to tell long-term stories. With your story with Jake Hager, do you feel like you’re delivering that since this goes back to November?

A: Definitely. Me and Jake aren’t strangers to each other and he came in and he made an impact and he broke my arm, and now I’m just out for revenge. It’s taken me awhile to get there because I went through Sammy (Guevara) first. It’s slowly building and brewing, and last (Wednesday) I got my hands on him a little bit and the crowd, I could feel the energy in the crowd start to rise because I think they’re ready to see it and that’s a good thing.

Q: How rewarding is it for you to be working an angle similar to the one your dad, Dusty Rhodes, had with The Horsemen breaking his arm in 1986?

A: Watching those times when dad got his leg broken or his arm broken, just going back with The Four Horsemen and stuff like that, those are special times and I remember them like they are yesterday. It’s really cool that we have this little old-school feel to certain elements of our show with new school.

The stuff with Jake, when you can sink your teeth into something and plan for it and make these small elements and bits and pieces and plug them in and they’re there and you finally get your hands on him, you will see it.

Q: You spoke out on Twitter after some of the negative comments on social media about Nyla Rose winning the AEW women’s title. Rose being a champion, Dwyane Wade’s daughter identifying as transgender, how much does that type of representation help toward tolerance toward the trans community?

A: It’s there. It’s not going away, and I didn’t understand that for the longest time. Then I got married to my wonderful third wife, and my son is trans. So I started to learn a little bit about it and I started to see all the stuff these men and women go through and it’s so ridiculous and stupid.

This is 2020, man. Let somebody live their life like they want to. I don’t care what the Bible says. I don’t care what anybody else says. Live your life and be happy. That’s all I care about for my son is to be happy, and nobody picks on him because if they do they got to deal with me.

And I see that in Nyla. I treat her like she’s my child. I love Nyla to death, and I don’t think of any of that when I’m at work with her and I watch her perform — and she’s a great performer. This is not the Olympics, OK? This is pro wrestling, this is entertainment. This is scripted stuff that we do, and you’re gonna have Nyla Rose wrestle Riho and everybody get all bent out of shape about it and just really give her hell, I don’t like that at all. I take offense to that and I let them know it because it’s wrong.

Q: Luke Harper and Matt Hardy are two of the names rumored to be joining AEW. You were around them in WWE. What do you think those two guys would bring to a company that doesn’t have some of the creative restraints there are in WWE?

A: I think they’d bring creativity. Harper, man, is incredible. I’ve worked with him many times with the Wyatt Family, me and Cody did, and he knows his stuff and he’s not a greenhorn in the business. He can help people. He can take them to new highs and he can get them there and at the same time get himself over in a company that will allow him to do so.

Matt Hardy, if he comes in here, my God, he’s been through so many different variations on YouTube and things like that with WWE. He’s so creative in all the things that he does that when we do it with him, it’s gonna touch gold.

Q: How has it been for you to step away from the Goldust character?

A: Piece of cake. That’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done. But it was the hardest thing to leave a company where they made you a household name in Goldust. I became a star there with something other than the Rhodes name with the full-on Goldust character. And to take it to the levels that I did.

But the last couple years where you’re just sitting and you have so many talents and they just keep giving you the “We don’t have anything for ya” and this and that, and I know I’ve got so much more to give. So much more, and they’re not allowing me to do that. I lost my passion for those last couple of years in WWE.

Getting out of WWE is a very tall order once you’re in there. It’s tough. It’s like a prison. I compare it to a prison, getting out of prison, breaking out of prison. I’m very thankful for all the things they’ve done for me and my career, but when I got out of there, my head lifted and I got the phone call from Cody and we went to “Double or Nothing” and after that night, my passion reignited. It was a very special time, and since that night, I’ve had probably the funniest time that I’ve had in my 32 years in the business, every single week here doing this with my brother, with my family, with these passionate kids.

I don’t want to go nowhere. I like this place. I’d like to retire here. I’m not ready to retire, but somewhere down the line, you know, and just continuing to help these kids.

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin RhodesAll Elite Wrestling

Q: Cody recently tweeted that you and Dean Malenko held classes for the roster. How often are those being done, and is that something that’s going to be done more often?

A: Everybody flew in (to Atlanta) and Dean had a little 3-4 hour seminar on just working and just transitions and holds and things like that. Everybody loved it. I flew in the next day and we had a great turnout. They came over to DDP’s (Diamond Dallas Page) studio and sat them down and I talked to them a little bit about the art of promos, how to tell stories with it just like they do in their matches, and they were all taking their notes. I’ve never seen a more hungry, passionate group of kids.

I’m suggesting and the kids came to me after the seminar and they loved it and they wanted to do it again. Logistically, it is tough to get everyone together for more than one day. So “Double or Nothing” is our next pay-per-view (in May). Maybe there, since we are in Vegas the whole week basically and we can do another one there and slowly fit them in more often because it was a hit.

Q: What’s it been like for you to work in that more athletic style that we see from the likes of The Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers?

A: It’s fun. When we first worked The Young Bucks, me and Cody, I was so nervous because they do so much and I’m not used to that. I’m used to more of an old-school-type wrestling and approach. I started doing some things I’ve never done before and I did it well and it was like, “Oh s–t, I can do this. This ain’t that bad.” It’s just sometimes you can get lost in what they do because they’re doing so much impressive stuff that you’re like, ‘Where do I plug myself in here?’ But they got me and they talked me through this and we do some cool stuff, and their timing is impeccable so they know and I fit right in there.

Q: What’s it been like to watch Cody evolve as a storyteller?

A: He is so creative and has so much of our father in him and just him taking the ball and running with it and hurdling over these little ant mounds. Everybody makes everything mountains, but he’s hurdling over these things and he’s handling it. He’s got so much now on his plate, doing so much in the back, running things day-to-day. He has the help of the other EVPs and [AEW president] Tony Khan of course, but Cody — now, I’m partial to my brother because he’s my brother — and I watch him and he’s just, it’s unbelievable the knowledge in such a short time that he’s picked up.

It’s incredible to watch him, and his performance has really stepped up to where he takes a beat and he feels the crowd and he can go off that now and he’s learned the element of telling a story and have them in the palm of your hand. He’s incredible. His promos have gotten phenomenal, man, because it’s repetition.

Not everybody has that gift of gab. MJF has a great gift of gab, but you have to give him structure. You have to give him a little structure, otherwise he might step over the line, and we don’t want that right now. We need to protect that.

Q: Was it tough to watch Cody get whipped by MJF with a belt? It’s part of the show, but he’s actually getting whipped.

A: Yeah, but it’s not gonna kill him. He’s a tough kid. He took a whipping, man. It’s like when we got whipped when we were little. He took a whipping and he kept getting up. He had some marks on his back to show for it, and I’m sure it stung like hell in the shower or tub the next day. But man, yeah, it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable when you are watching somebody whip somebody else. It is. It’s real. There is a real element to that. And me as his brother, I’m just looking at his eyes and focusing on him and what he’s going through and not really trying to pay attention to everything else, just trying to help him get through it.

Q: One of your other passions has been acting, and you have a new movie coming out, “Copper Bill.” What have you enjoyed the most about being able to get away from wrestling and use your creativity in a different area?

A: I was not allowed the freedom to do those things (in WWE), so I would have had to really keep it under wraps and not tell anybody, and that’s not the way I wanted to live. They wanted control of every single thing in your life. And then you get out and you continue, because during my stint there I had little-bitty, little low-budget independent films, and that was preparing me for more and more and that’s what I wanted.

One of these days, I’m going to be big. I really feel that because I’m gonna make it happen and I believe that it’s gonna happen. This movie I just did, “Copper Bill” … I did really well in it, man. I nailed the role to a T. It’s a different side that nobody’s ever seen of me. They’re gonna go, “Damn, Dustin can act.” That’s all I want. I want to be a good actor.

Q: You have a project, “Thunderclap,” with R-Truth and Kevin Nash?

A: I think the director and the producers and stuff are trying to get the proper financing for it. That is in the works. I’ll be starring as Van Thunderclap. I’ve already told the director I do not like the name because it sounds like an STD. Hopefully we’ll change the name, but the script I love.

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