|Intro||American professional wrestler|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||11 April 1969, Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA|
Dustin Patrick Runnels (born April 11, 1969) is an American professional wrestler He is currently signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) under the ring name Dustin Rhodes, or simply Dustin, serving as a coach and wrestler. He is best known for his multiple tenures with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, later WWE) from 1995 to 2019 as the character Goldust. The son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and the half-brother of fellow wrestler Cody Rhodes, he is also known for his appearances with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).
Between WWF/E and WCW, Runnels has won 23 total championships. In WCW, he was a two-time United States Heavyweight Champion, a one-time Six-Man Tag Team Champion, and a two-time World Tag Team Champion. In WWF/E, he is a three-time Intercontinental Champion, nine-time Hardcore Champion, one-time World Tag Team Champion, and two-time WWE Tag Team Champion. Runnels has also appeared in the second most Royal Rumble matches, at 13. Rhodes headlined multiple pay-per-view events for the WWF and WCW during the 1990s.
Professional wrestling career
Championship Wrestling from Florida (1988–1989)
Runnels made his professional wrestling debut on September 13, 1988 as "Dustin Rhodes", defeating Bob Cook in a match for the Tampa-based Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) promotion. The promotion was renamed the Professional Wrestling Federation in February 1989 after Runnels' father, Dusty Rhodes, began wrestling there. Runnels captured the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship from Al Perez on May 23, 1989, holding it for a month.
World Championship Wrestling (1988−1989)
In December 1988, Runnels debuted in World Championship Wrestling. Rhodes teamed with Kendall Windham in an undercard tag team called The Texas Broncos that saw success against The Cruel Connection and The Commandos. Their first defeat came against The Original Midnight Express at a house show on December 10, 1988 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dustin's first singles match came two days later at a television taping in Atlanta, Georgia when he defeated Trent Knight. Rhodes' initial WCW run lasted only a few months, as he exited the company two months after his father. After suffering a loss to Butch Reed during a dark match for an NWA Main Event taping in The Omni on February 12, 1989, Rhodes closed out his initial WCW run with a win over Trent Knight in Walterboro, South Carolina on February 24.
Japan and Memphis (1989–1990)
In March 1989, he toured Japan for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in its annual Champion Carnival, under the name Dusty Rhodes Jr. He returned to AJPW for a ten and a twenty-day tour in the spring and summer of 1990. Runnels began wrestling in United States Wrestling Association (USWA) in July 1989. There he feuded mainly with Tony Anthony for Anthony's CWA Heavyweight Championship but never won the belt. He left the USWA in the spring of 1990.
World Wrestling Federation (1990–1991)
Runnels debuted as a fan favorite in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in late 1990, wrestling as Dustin Rhodes. His first match in the WWF (now WWE) was against Paul Diamond on September 21, 1990. In December 1990, Rhodes defeated Ted DiBiase in a televised ten-minute challenge match. On January 19, 1991, at the Royal Rumble, Rhodes and his father Dusty lost to Ted DiBiase and Virgil in a tag team bout, and both left immediately after.
Return to WCW
Teaming with Barry Windham (1991–1992)
In February 1991, Runnels joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW), wrestling as "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes. He feuded with Larry Zbyszko until April 1991, when he refused to join Alexandra York's York Foundation, thus beginning a feud with Foundation member Terrence Taylor.
In late 1991, Rhodes formed a tag-team with Barry Windham and began pursuing WCW Tag Team champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Zbyszko). The pair received a title shot at Clash of the Champions XVII, but Windham was injured prior to the event. A returning Ricky Steamboat was chosen to partner Rhodes, and the makeshift duo won the WCW World Tag Team Championship. They lost the belts on January 16, 1992, to Arn Anderson and fellow Dangerous Alliance member Bobby Eaton.
On a taped edition of WCW Saturday Night on September 2, 1992, Rhodes teamed with Windham to defeat Steve Williams and Terry Gordy for the unified WCW World Tag Team Championship and NWA World Tag Team Championship (their NWA title reign is not recognized by NWA); the match would air on October 3. They held the belts for about two months before losing them to Steamboat and Shane Douglas in a memorable match on the November 18 edition of Clash of the Champions XXI. Windham turned on Rhodes after the match when Rhodes refused to pin Steamboat after an accidental low blow.
United States Heavyweight Champion (1993–1995)
In January 1993, Rhodes reached the final of a tournament to decide the number one contender for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. The champion Rick Rude was stripped of his title that same month, meaning the tournament final would be for the title. Rhodes faced his old partner Ricky Steamboat to win his first United States Heavyweight title. He successfully defended the title the following month at SuperBrawl III against Maxx Payne. Rude returned that April and quickly challenged Rhodes. Their first encounter resulted in a controversial double pin, with Rude initially being awarded the title. The championship was held up two weeks later. After a 30-minute Iron Man Match ended in a 1–1 draw at Beach Blast on July 18, a best-of-three series was set between the two on Saturday Night; Rhodes lost the first match on August 28, but defeated Rude twice on September 4 and 11 to claim his second United States Heavyweight Championship.
At Fall Brawl, Rhodes teamed with Sting, Davey Boy Smith and The Shockmaster to defeat Big Van Vader, Sid Vicious and Harlem Heat in a WarGames match. Rhodes lost the title to Steve Austin in a Two out of three falls match at Starrcade, after losing both falls.
In March 1994, Rhodes started feuding with Bunkhouse Buck and Col. Robert Parker. After Parker introduced Arn Anderson and Terry Funk as adversaries for Runnels, Runnels responded by bringing his father, a former enemy of Funk, back into the ring to team with him again against Parker's Stud Stable. In December 1994, Parker introduced another opponent for Rhodes, The Blacktop Bully. In March 1995, Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully both bladed during a King of the Road match at the 1995 Uncensored pay-per-view after being instructed to by one another, which was against corporate policy at the time in WCW. They were subsequently fired as a result, along with fellow talent Paul Roma.
Return to WWF
Debut of Goldust (1995–1996)
In August 1995, Runnels returned to the WWF, wrestling as a then villain Goldust, nicknamed "the bizarre one" because of his somewhat spooky, mysterious and sexually suggestive mannerisms and presence. Using in-ring psychology to his advantage, Goldust often used lewd and flirtatious mind games to anger, confuse, and distract his opponents. He utilized such tactics as groping and excessive affection towards his opponent in the midst of delivering his onslaught. To that end, one of Goldust's trademarks is his exaggerated, suggestively breathy inhalation whilst caressing his own body; this all ends in him exhaling through a vicious biting sound at his adversary, intended to startle. The character was portrayed as a drag queen obsessed with films and everything gold, which is a parody of the Oscars statuette. Under the gimmick, Runnels wears a predominately gold jumpsuit (with tidbits of other colors, such as white and black); black and gold face paint; and during entrances and promos, a glittery gold robe and a platinum blonde wig over his short platinum blonde hair. Years later, Runnels stated that Vince McMahon called him and offered him the gimmick and mentioned "androgynous" several times; Runnels, wanting a separate identity from his father at the time, promptly accepted without knowing what the word "androgynous" meant, then promptly looked it up in the dictionary after getting off the phone with McMahon and shocked to see what it meant said to himself "What did I get myself in to?" Runnels himself admitted that the first few months of the gimmick were uncomfortable for him as it didn't match his personality at all, but decided to work with what was given to him and "run with it".
Goldust won his debut match on October 22, 1995, against Marty Jannetty at the In Your House 4 pay-per-view. He defeated the departing Bam Bam Bigelow in Bigelow's last WWF match at the Survivor Series. He then feuded with Razor Ramon, whom he stalked and sent messages to throughout late 1995. The feud culminated at the Royal Rumble on January 21, 1996, where Goldust defeated Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship due to interference from the 1–2–3 Kid. This match also marked the debut of Goldust's valet, Marlena, portrayed by his then wife Terri. With her seductive, coolly unconcerned and mysterious character, Marlena complemented Goldust. Her gimmick consisted of sitting at ringside in a director's chair during Goldust's matches, advising him while smoking large brown cigars. A rematch between Goldust and Ramon at WrestleMania XII was canceled after Ramon was suspended, with Goldust instead fighting Roddy Piper in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl. At the end of the fight, Piper stripped Goldust of his ring attire to reveal him wearing women's lingerie; Runnels revealed in 2018 (while making jokes at his own butt) that it was his idea just three days before WrestleMania XII to wear a slip and thong underneath his ring attire and to have Piper strip him down, getting the approval from McMahon.
Goldust defended his Intercontinental Championship in bouts against Savio Vega and The Ultimate Warrior before losing to Ahmed Johnson at King of the Ring on June 23, 1996. In August 1996, Goldust briefly gained control over Mankind and feuded with The Undertaker. His attention soon turned to Marc Mero and his then wife Sable. Goldust and Marlena attempted to get Sable to join their team, but Mero won the feud and kept her by his side. He also had a Ladder match with Shawn Michaels at internet pay-per-view (iPPV) Xperience for the WWF Championship but lost the match.
In December 1996 Goldust entered a feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, when Helmsley began flirting with Goldust's valet: Marlena. This feud lead to the debut of Chyna as Helmsley's new bodyguard, who would manhandle Marlena and cause sympathy for Marlena & Goldust. This marked the first time Goldust changed into a fan favorite rather than the villainous character he was prior.
Various gimmicks (1997–1999)
In May 1997, Goldust revealed his identity as Dustin Runnels, the son of Dusty Rhodes. In the summer and fall of that year, he joined other wrestlers in their conflict with The Hart Foundation, feuding in particular with Brian Pillman, to whom he lost the services of Marlena for thirty days. Just before the thirty days were up, Pillman died of heart disease hours before the Badd Blood event on October 5, 1997. In November 1997, Goldust split with Marlena and refused to cooperate with his Survivor Series teammates, which once again turned him into a heel. This led to a feud with Vader in December 1997 and the appearance of The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust (a reference to Prince), managed by Luna Vachon. He began mimicking celebrities and fellow wrestlers with characters such as "Chynadust", "Dust Lovedust", "Dustydust", "Hunterdust", "Flashdust", "Marilyn Mansondust", "Sabledust", and "Vaderdust" in early 1998.
By June 1998, Goldust feuded with Val Venis, who had been involved with Terri during their separation. Now going by his real name, Dustin Runnels began speaking out (mostly in taped vignettes) on the increasingly edgy WWF product and promoting alternatives to watching the show such as reading the Bible. These vignettes were sponsored by the fictional group, "Evangelists Against Television, Movies and Entertainment", the acronym for which reads "EATME" – a thinly veiled joke on the WWF's part. Runnels declared himself a born again Christian, alluding to "his" return, and walking through the crowd with signs reading "he's coming back!". While the return of Christ was clearly implied, Runnels was in fact referencing the return of the Goldust gimmick, which he reprised in October 1998 against Val Venis and then in November 1998, he began feuding with Jeff Jarrett over the attention of his manager, Debra.
In early 1999, Goldust feuded with Al Snow, upon stealing Head, Snow's mascot, and The Blue Meanie, who had recently renamed himself "Bluedust" and adopted many of Goldust's mannerisms. After Goldust defeated Meanie at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Meanie became Goldust's apprentice. After Ryan Shamrock became Goldust's valet, Meanie and Shamrock began vying for Goldust's attention. In the same time period, Goldust won the Intercontinental Championship again from Road Dogg and then lost it to The Godfather two weeks later. He would team up with Blue Meanie having a few matches against the Hardy Boyz until Goldust left the company in June 1999.
Second return to WCW
Seven and "The American Nightmare" (1999–2001)
Runnels returned to World Championship Wrestling on the November 8, 1999 edition of WCW Monday Nitro, filming several vignettes for a fantastical, face-painted character named Seven. These vignettes contained ominous footage of Rhodes in full makeup standing outside a child's bedroom window. The gimmick was reported to have been based on "The Strangers" from the 1998 film noir Dark City. The character was dropped after Turner Standards and Practices expressed concern that this gimmick could be misinterpreted as a child abductor. Upon returning to WCW television, Rhodes removed his costume and delivered a worked shoot in which he mocked unrealistic gimmicks as well as his time as Goldust in the WWF. After turning heel upon his return, Runnels began wrestling as "The American Nightmare" Dustin Rhodes, with his nickname a reference to his father's nickname, "The American Dream".
Rhodes feuded with Jeff Jarrett before feuding with Terry Funk. He was (kayfabe) fired by Vince Russo at Spring Stampede in April 2000 for failing to prevent Terry Funk from winning the vacant Hardcore Championship, against Norman Smiley.
Various feuds (2001)
He returned to WCW television in January 2001, assisting his father in his feud with Jarrett and, eventually, Ric Flair. He wrestled on the final WCW pay-per-view, Greed on March 18, 2001. In March 2001, WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation, but the WWF did not acquire Runnels' contract.
Second return to WWF/E
Hardcore Champion (2001–2002)
In December 2001, Runnels accepted a buyout from his AOL Time Warner contract and was re-signed by the World Wrestling Federation to a two-year deal. Promos immediately began airing on WWF television advertising the return of Goldust. On January 20, 2002, he officially returned by taking part in the Royal Rumble, reprising his Goldust character. Shortly after returning, promos began airing for a few weeks of Goldust saying that there was a certain wrestler whose "star was shining brighter" than he would like. He eventually revealed the person he was talking about was Rob Van Dam by attacking him on Raw, turning heel in the process. Van Dam defeated him in a singles match at No Way Out. After the loss, he moved on to the hardcore division, where he won the Hardcore Championship on nine occasions.
Teaming with Booker T (2002–2003)
When the World Wrestling Federation was renamed World Wrestling Entertainment and the roster was divided into two brands, Raw and SmackDown!, Goldust was assigned to the Raw brand, where he formed a tag team with Booker T. The duo engaged in numerous comedic vignettes, on one occasion hosting a segment titled Booker T and Goldust at the Movies and delivering reviews of The Scorpion King, a film starring The Rock. In May 2002, Booker joined the New World Order (nWo), with Goldust's request to join the faction rejected. In June 2002, Booker was ejected from the nWo by Shawn Michaels, sparking a feud between the nWo and Booker and Goldust. Booker and Goldust went on to compete in the tag team division, winning the World Tag Team Championship at Armageddon before being forced to split up on the February 3, 2003, episode of Raw by Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff for failing to win back the World Tag Team Title.
Following the dissolution of the tag team, Goldust contracted a stutter and Tourette's-like symptoms, upon receiving a shock from a Round Tube during an attack at the hands of Batista and Randy Orton. Goldust appeared in character on the Howard Stern Show in March 2003. He appeared sporadically thereafter, forming a tag team with Lance Storm in August 2003. In fall 2003, Booker T began receiving mysterious, haunting messages for a few weeks from somebody. The messages only said "I remember". It was rumored that the messages would be from Goldust, which would have begun a feud between the two. Suddenly, the angle was never mentioned again on television and the company announced on their web site that they would not be renewing Rhodes' contract. WWE allowed his contract to expire in December 2003.
Independent circuit (2001–2008)
In July 2001, Runnels, while still under contract to AOL Time Warner, began wrestling for his father's newly created Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling promotion, winning the promotion's Heavyweight Championship.
In-between his various stints with WWE and TNA, Runnels competed on the independent circuit, first appearing for his father's promotion, Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling. Competing as Dustin Rhodes, he captured the TCW Heavyweight Championship from Scotty Riggs on January 26, but vacated the title immediately afterwards after it was confirmed that he would be returning to WWE. Following his return to the WWE at the 2002 Royal Rumble, he made two more appearances with TCW, the first in a six-man tag team match with his father Dusty and Ron Studd against Riggs, Fake Goldust, and Jason Sugarmann, and the second in a singles victory over Steve Corino.
Following his release from WWE in December 2003, Runnels returned to the independent circuit while concurrently competing in his first stint with TNA. He first appeared for the Japanese promotion WORLD-1, as Dusty Rhodes Jr., working three dates in early April, all singles matches and all victories. In July, Runnels returned to the United States and appeared for Full Impact Pro, tag teaming with Barry Windham and defeating the Cuban Assassin and Ryze.
Runnels did not appear on the independent circuit for the rest of 2004 and much of 2005, until the first WrestleReunion, teaming with his father and Mike Graham against Abdullah the Butcher, Kevin Sullivan, and CM Punk. After his departure from TNA, he made a few appearances with Dusty for CCW against Phi Delta Slam. Runnels also competed on the Tribute to Starrcade show on November 19 in a match against Terry Funk, which ended in a No-Contest.
After returning to his fourth stint with WWE, Runnels once again disappeared from the indies, but made a special appearance with Jerry Lawler's Memphis Wrestling on March 3, 2006, as Goldust, in a match against Lawler, which he lost after Lawler hit him with a steel chain.
Runnels was released from his fourth stint with WWE on June 14. Two weeks and six days later, on July 1, he returned to WORLD-1, defeating Tully Blanchard in the main event. On October 14, he appeared with the UK promotion One Pro Wrestling, under the name Gold Dustin (the name he would use in AJPW) with a victory over Curry Man.
While competing for AJPW in 2007, Runnels returned to CCW to feud with Phi Delta Slam, mainly in tag team matches with a variety of partners, including Kip James. In mid-2007, he made several appearances with Hermie Sadler's UWF promotion to hype his return to TNA, making his debut on March 2 with a victory over Steve Corino. He appeared with UWF throughout his second tenure with TNA, facing the likes of Scott Steiner, Sabu, David Flair, Andrew Martin, and D'Lo Brown. His tenure in UWF also saw him compete in the often-considered "cross-promotional" War Games match against Team JBL (managed by John Bradshaw Layfield, who was signed to WWE as a commentator at the time) consisting of Steve Corino, C.W. Anderson, the Latin American Xchange, and Elix Skipper. Runnels was a member of Sgt. Slaughter's Team Slaughter, along with the Steiner Brothers and the Mack Brothers. Team Slaughter won the bout. Runnels' final appearance with UWF was on September 22, 2007, where he and Abyss were on the losing end of a tag team bout against D'Lo Brown and a local football coach.
Following his release from TNA in early 2008, Runnels briefly returned to Coastal Championship Wrestling to face the members of Phi Delta Slam (Bruno Sassi and Big Tilly) before beginning his fifth stint in WWE in October 2008.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2004–2005)
On February 4, 2004, he debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as "The Lone Star" Dustin Rhodes, unsuccessfully challenging Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. On February 18, Runnels and El Leon defeated Kevin Northcutt and Legend in a tag team bout. In December 2004, he returned to TNA, once again wrestling as Dustin Rhodes. on the January 7, 2005, episode of Impact, Rhodes and Jeff Hardy defeated Kash and Dallas. On the January 14 episode of Impact, Rhodes defeated Chris Candido. At Final Resolution, Rhodes defeated Kid Kash. on the February 11 episode of Impact Wrestling, Rhodes and America's Most Wanted defeated Kid Kash, Dallas and Raven in a six-man tag team match. at Against All Odds, Rhodes lost to Raven but got payback at Destination X when he defeated Raven in a bullrope match. He then entered a feud with Bobby Roode and at Lockdown, Rhodes defeated Roode in a 2 out of 3 falls Prince of Darkness cage match. His TNA contract expired in April 2005 and he chose not to renew it, leaving TNA.
Third return to WWE (2005–2006)
Runnels returned to World Wrestling Entertainment on October 31, 2005, as a heel and back under the Goldust attire, as Jonathan Coachman enlisted him and Vader to attack Batista. Goldust and Vader unsuccessfully interfered in a Street Fight between Batista and Coachman on behalf of Coachman at Taboo Tuesday. Following the event, Goldust once again disappeared from television. In January 2006, Goldust took part in the Royal Rumble match and was assigned once again to the Raw brand until he was released from his WWE contract on June 14, 2006 for no-showing an appearance. Runnels made a short appearance at Wrestlemania 22 to give Booker T advice on his match against The Boogeyman where he insinuated that the only way he could beat The Boogeyman was to put worms in his anus.
Return to Japan (2007)
On January 28, 2007, it was announced that Rhodes would appear at the February 17, 2007, All Japan Pro Wrestling show in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. On February 15, Rhodes, identified as Gold Dustin, appeared at ringside during a match involving The Great Muta, resulting in a brawl between Rhodes and The Great Muta. On February 17, Rhodes and Jinsei Shinzaki were defeated by The Great Muta and Yoshihiro Tajiri in a tag team bout.
Return to TNA (2007–2008)
On July 15, 2007, Rhodes returned to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at Victory Road and aligned himself with Christian Cage by helping him defeat "Wildcat" Chris Harris. In an interview on TNA Impact! conducted by Mike Tenay, Rhodes discussed accusations of having a split personality and stated that he was going to embrace it and let it out. TNA presented the interview as being an emotional breakdown on the part of Rhodes. On August 12 at Hard Justice, Rhodes debuted his new ring name, Black Reign, and a "new, darker and bizarre look". At Hard Justice, Harris defeated Black Reign via DQ when Reign attacked several referees. The next week, the gimmick was explored even further, saying that Rhodes constantly switches between Rhodes and Reign. He was featured at Bound for Glory in a Monster's Ball match against Rhino, Abyss, and Raven, which he lost. Reign challenged Abyss to a "Shop of Horrors" match at Genesis and lost. At Genesis, Reign's new partner, Rellik (which is "Killer" spelled backwards), made his debut after attacking Abyss. At Turning Point, Abyss and Raven defeated Black Reign and Rellik in a Match of 10,000 Tacks. Originally, this match was signed to be Abyss and Rhino versus Rellik and Black Reign but, due to an injury, Rhino was replaced by Raven for this match.
On Impact!, he helped Rellik beat up Kaz. Later the same night, he appeared for an interview, as Dustin Rhodes, without his Black Reign make-up and stated that his "alter ego" has been scaring him since when he was a little kid. His interview was interrupted by the furious Kaz. This led to a match between the two at Final Resolution where Kaz won. Reign and his partner Rellik then began feuding with Eric Young and his new superhero gimmick Super Eric. At Destination X, Black Reign and Rellik faced Eric Young and Kaz in a losing effort. At Lockdown, Black Reign and Rellik competed in a Six Team Cuffed in the Cage match which was won by Kaz and Super Eric. After three months of not showing up on television, Black Reign's profile was removed from the TNA roster page and he was released from his TNA contract.
Fourth return to WWE
Various appearances (2008–2009)
On October 26, 2008, Runnels returned to the WWE at Cyber Sunday under his Goldust persona as part of the three choices (the other two being Roddy Piper and The Honky Tonk Man) that the fans could choose to face Santino Marella for the Intercontinental Championship. After Honky Tonk Man was chosen and won via disqualification, Goldust and Piper entered the ring and the three candidates fought Marella, afterwards celebrating together in the ring. The following night on Raw, Goldust appeared again with Piper and the Honky Tonk Man as guest commentators for Marella's match with Charlie Haas. The match ended when Goldust and Piper distracted Marella so that Honky Tonk Man could smash his guitar over Marella's head.
Goldust appeared on the celebration of the 800th episode of Raw on November 3, 2008, dancing alongside his father Dusty Rhodes, Lilian Garcia and several other wrestlers. A noticeably slimmer and quicker Goldust finally made a full-time return on the Raw roster once again on the November 24, 2008 episode of Raw, where he defeated Santino Marella. Goldust participated in the 2009 Royal Rumble match and stared down his real-life half-brother, Cody Rhodes, but was eliminated by him later. Goldust participated at WrestleMania XXV as a lumberjack during the tag team championship unification match between The Colóns and John Morrison and The Miz.
On the May 25 episode of Raw, Goldust teamed up with Hornswoggle in a tag team match, where they defeated Festus and The Brian Kendrick. Goldust then teamed with Hornswoggle on multiple occasions, mainly feuding with Kendrick, where they had many matches both on WWE Superstars and Raw.
Brand switches and NXT (2009–2010)
The team of Goldust and Hornswoggle came to an end on June 29, 2009, when Goldust was traded to the ECW brand via a 15-man trade,. His debut match for the brand came on the July 14 episode of ECW, in which he lost to Zack Ryder. In the upcoming weeks, he started a feud with Sheamus leading to his first televised singles win in several months on Superstars against Sheamus pinning him using an inside cradle. After several weeks of feuding, Sheamus defeated Goldust in a "No Disqualification" match on the September 1 episode of ECW on Syfy to end the feud.
Following this loss, he garnered his first number one contender's match for the ECW Championship on the September 15, 2009, episode of ECW on Syfy in a 10-Man Battle Royal where he was the seventh participant eliminated and Zack Ryder earning the title shot in the end. The September 29, 2009, episode of ECW on Syfy saw Goldust win his first match on ECW in an eight-man tag team match where Yoshi Tatsu pinned William Regal to score the win for their team. On the November 10 episode of ECW on Syfy, Goldust won his first televised singles match on the ECW brand by pinning Paul Burchill. Goldust participated in an "ECW Homecoming" Match on the December 22 episode of ECW on Syfy to determine who got an opportunity to challenge Christian for the ECW Championship, but was defeated by Vance Archer.
In early January, he teamed with Yoshi Tatsu and began a feud with ECW newcomers Trent Barreta and Caylen Croft. The duos exchanged victories in singles and tag team competition until the feud came to an end on the February 9 episode of ECW, when Goldust and Tatsu defeated Barreta and Croft in a match to determine the number one contenders to the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship. However, Goldust and Tatsu failed in capturing the titles on the final episode of ECW on Syfy. The team of Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu came to an end when Tatsu signed with the Raw brand after ECW on SyFy was canceled.
On March 3, 2010, Goldust joined the SmackDown brand, He made his debut for the brand on the March 4 episode of Superstars in a losing effort against Chris Jericho. The following week on Superstars, he won his first match as a SmackDown star after defeating Mike Knox using his finishing move, the Final Cut, as well as beating William Regal also using the Final Cut soon afterwards. He appeared in a dark 26-man battle royal match at WrestleMania XXVI, but failed to win, although his past ally Yoshi Tatsu won.
As part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft, Goldust was drafted back to the Raw brand. On the May 3 episode of Raw, Goldust made his re-debut for the brand in a backstage segment with the guest host for that week, Wayne Brady. In late September, a mysterious stalker was sending messages to Maryse and Ted DiBiase Jr., but it was unsure who they were aimed at. On the October 4 episode of Raw, Goldust was revealed as the mystery stalker, but the messages were not directed to Maryse, but at DiBiase's Million Dollar Championship, which he then took.
During the season 2 finale of NXT on August 31, 2010, it was announced that Goldust would take part in NXT's third season as a Pro with Aksana as his Rookie. On the October 12 episode of NXT Goldust proposed to Aksana, who was facing deportation from the country, so she could stay in America. On the October 18 episode of Raw, DiBiase tried to reclaim his Million Dollar Championship after Goldust's match with Zack Ryder by attacking him, but he was unsuccessful in retrieving his belt. At Bragging Rights, DiBiase defeated Goldust, but Goldust still left with the title after Aksana distracted DiBiase long enough for Goldust to hit his finisher on him. Goldust and Aksana were married on the November 2 episode of NXT with father Dusty Rhodes and real-life half-brother "Dashing" Cody Rhodes in attendance. Immediately afterwards Aksana slapped Goldust and walked out on him. The following Monday on Raw Aksana stole the Million Dollar Championship belt during Goldust's match with Ted DiBiase. The following week on Raw Goldust managed to steal the Million Dollar Championship belt back from Aksana and then returned it to Ted DiBiase Sr., and on NXT he asked Aksana for a divorce after she was eliminated.
Backstage producer and departure (2011–2012)
On December 7, 2010, it was reported that Runnels had suffered a shoulder injury. He underwent surgery to repair the injury on December 10 and, as a result, was expected to be out of action for five to six months. On the April 11, 2011, episode of Raw, he was seen (without makeup) hugging Edge after his retirement speech. On July 11, Runnels began working backstage as a producer. On the November 29 episode of the Smackdown Live Holiday Special Goldust made his surprise return on a backstage segment with his father Dusty Rhodes. On the December 12 episode of the WWE Slammy Awards he appeared to announce the Slammy for A-Lister of The Year with Vickie Guerrero. On the December 30, 2011, episode of SmackDown Rhodes appeared in his suit attire and no make up, to defend Booker T and confront his half brother, Cody Rhodes. Rhodes made an appearance on the April 9, 2012 edition of Raw where he, along with numerous other WWE officials and superstars, were attempting to break up a brawl between Brock Lesnar and John Cena. On May 6, 2012, WWE acknowledged Goldust's departure from the company.
Return to the independent circuit (2012–2013)
Runnels returned to professional wrestling on April 11, 2012, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, for Championship Wrestling Entertainment's event "WrestleFest", defeating JD Maverick in the main event. He then wrestled on July 14, 2012, in Hollywood, Florida, for the NWA Ring Warriors (part of NWA territories) promotion as Goldust, losing to Vordell Walker via disqualification when "Iceman" Buck Q interfered in the match. Runnels appeared for the Dreamwave Wrestling on September 15 in LaSalle, Illinois. Runnels continued to use the Goldust name outside WWE. Runnels appeared on Mr. Chainsaw Pro Wrestling's Battle Ground 5 event on May 18, 2013, in Kalkaska, Michigan, and billed as Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes.
Fifth return to WWE
Teaming with Cody Rhodes (2013–2015)
Runnels returned to WWE as Goldust at the Royal Rumble on January 27, 2013 as the eighth participant in the Rumble match. He was eliminated by his half-brother, Cody Rhodes, teasing a possible feud. but Goldust later confirmed that his return was a one night only deal.
When Cody was (kayfabe) fired for speaking out against chief operating officer Triple H and then losing to the WWE Champion Randy Orton, Goldust returned on the September 9 Raw to face Orton in a match to get his half-brother Cody Rhodes rehired, but was defeated. Following this, Goldust's father Dusty Rhodes returned to WWE to ask Stephanie McMahon for Cody to be rehired. After much dialogue in which The Shield and Big Show interrupted, Stephanie McMahon gave Dusty two choices, which were to get knocked out by an unwilling Big Show or get "mauled by The Shield." Big Show then knocked Dusty out and stayed with Dusty while the paramedics arrived. In return, the Rhodes brothers gatecrashed Raw by attacking the Shield. At Battleground, Cody and Goldust won their jobs back when they defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a non-title match. The Rhodes brothers heaped more misery on the Shield by winning a no disqualification match on the October 14 Raw (with the help of Big Show) to capture the tag titles, marking Goldust's first title in WWE in nearly 11 years. By this point, many longtime Goldust mannerisms such as wearing a robe and platinum blonde wig to the ring were dropped in exchange for wearing a jacket similar to his brother; additionally, Goldust would now speak with his normal Texan voice. At Hell in a Cell, the Rhodes brothers' first successful title defense came with winning a triple threat match against the Usos and Rollins and Reigns. At Survivor Series, Goldust alongside his half-brother Cody, participated in the traditional Survivor Series Tag Team match where Goldust survived till the final two alongside Rey Mysterio. However, he got eliminated by Roman Reigns and his team lost. At TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs, the Rhodes Brothers retained the title in a fatal-4-way elimination match against Curtis Axel and Ryback, The Real Americans and Big Show and Rey Mysterio, but they lost the title to The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) at the Royal Rumble. Later in the Royal Rumble match, he would accidentally eliminate Cody Rhodes. After continuing to team together for months, Goldust and Cody broke up in June, after mounting losses. Cody prompted Goldust to find a new partner to replace him.
On the June 16 episode of Raw, Cody debuted a new character, Stardust, wearing face paint and a bodysuit and adopting mannerisms similar to those of Goldust. At Money in the Bank, Goldust and Stardust defeated RybAxel (Curtis Axel and Ryback). Goldust and Stardust appeared in backstage segments, speaking of a "Cosmic Key". On the August 25 episode of Raw, Goldust and Stardust defeated The Usos in a title match via count-out, but, as a result, they did not win the title. The duo would then attack the Usos out of frustration, turning heel in the process. They confirmed their heel turn after attacking El Torito the following night on Main Event, having defeated Los Matadores in their tag team match. At Night of Champions they won the WWE Tag Team Championships once again by beating The Usos. At Hell in a Cell they retained their title by beating The Usos. At Survivor Series they lost the title to The Miz and Damien Mizdow. They had a rematch for the tag team titles the following night on Raw, but were unsuccessful.
On the February 2, 2015 episode of Raw, after being defeated by The Ascension, Stardust would start to show his frustrations toward Goldust. On the February 16 episode of Raw, following a loss to The New Day members Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, Stardust would turn on Goldust by using his old finisher, Cross Rhodes on him, marking the end of Gold and Stardust, turning Goldust face in the process. This led to a match at Fastlane, where Goldust defeated Stardust. Later that night, while speaking to their father, Dusty Rhodes, Goldust would be attacked by Stardust again. At WrestleMania 31, Goldust participated in the 2nd annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where he was eliminated by Ryback. On the March 30, 2015 episode of Raw, Goldust lost via submission to Rusev.
In May, Goldust announced that he would undergo surgery to address a shoulder injury and that he would be out of action for 2–4 months. Goldust made an appearance at NXT TakeOver: Respect without any facepaint to congratulate Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe after they won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament.
Goldust returned from injury at Survivor Series, competing in a 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match during the pre-show, teaming with The Dudley Boyz, Neville and Titus O'Neil, where they defeated the team of Stardust, The Ascension, The Miz and Bo Dallas. Goldust would continue feuding with his brother, Stardust, on Raw and SmackDown during the months of November and December. On the December 17 episode of SmackDown, Goldust would cost Tyler Breeze his match against O'Neil after distracting Breeze by appearing at ringside. On the December 31 episode of SmackDown, Goldust would be defeated by Breeze.
The Golden Truth (2016–2017)
In early 2016, during various episodes of Raw and SmackDown, Goldust approached R-Truth and proposed they form a tag team to no avail. At Fastlane, Goldust inadvertently cost R-Truth his match against Curtis Axel. Following Fastlane, R-Truth began to apologize and attempt to form a tag team with Goldust, with Goldust rejecting. On the March 21 episode of Raw, Goldust came to R-Truth's aid after Truth was defeated by Bubba Ray Dudley. At WrestleMania 32, Goldust took part in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in a losing effort. On the April 11 episode of Raw, Shane McMahon announced a number one contenders tournament for the WWE Tag Team Championship, which included Goldust and Truth teaming together. On the April 14 episode of SmackDown, Goldust would tell R-Truth before their match they would not team together, with Goldust instead teaming with Fandango, where they were defeated by The Vaudevillains in the first round. On the April 22 episode of Smackdown, Goldust was the special referee for the match of R-Truth and Fandango, which R-Truth won. On the May 2 episode of Raw, Goldust faced off against R-Truth's new partner, Tyler Breeze, in a losing effort following a distraction from R-Truth. On the May 12 episode of SmackDown, the two teams would face each other, with Goldust and Truth refusing to fight each other, resulting in Fandango and Breeze forming an alliance and attacking Goldust and R-Truth, with Fandango subsequently allowing Breeze to pin Goldust. On the May 16 episode of Raw, Goldust and Truth began teaming together, where they were defeated by the newly dubbed Breezango (Fandango and Breeze). The week after on SmackDown, Golden Truth started a losing streak, losing to the likes of Breezango and The Dudley Boyz. Golden Truth earned their first victory on the Money in the Bank pre-show after defeating Breezango.
In the 2016 WWE Draft, Goldust, along with R-Truth, was drafted to Raw. The Golden Truth later entered into a feud with The Shining Stars. On the July 25 episode of Raw, The Golden Truth would enter the ring during a tag team match between Enzo and Cass and The Shining Stars, playing Pokémon Go! Over a number of months The Shining Stars would attempt to persuade R-Truth into purchasing a one-way ticket to Puerto Rico which saw Goldust continually but in and save R-Truth from being conned. On the August 1 episode of Raw, The Golden Truth would be defeated by The Shining Stars. On the October 17 episode of Raw, The Golden Truth were joined by Mark Henry in their feud against the Shining Stars. They would go on to defeat The Shining Stars & Titus O'Neil in an 8-man tag team match on the same episode of Raw. On the October 31 episode of Raw, Goldust would compete in a battle royal with the winner being added to Team Raw at Survivor Series. Goldust was unsuccessful with Braun Strowman winning the battle royal and joining Team Raw in the process. The Golden Truth were later announced as members of the 10-man Survivor Series Raw Tag Team stable but later lost their spots a week later when it was revealed R-Truth had sold their spots on the team to the Shining Stars for tickets to Puerto Rico. On the November 7 episode of Raw, The Shining Stars defeated The Golden Truth to join Team Raw. On the November 28 episode of Raw, Goldust attacked Braun Strowman after his victory over R-Truth. Sami Zayn would then run into the ring and help in attacking Strowman. At WWE Tribute to the Troops on December 14, The Golden Truth competed in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match to determine the #1 contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Sheamus, Gallows and Anderson, and The Shining Stars, which was won by Cesaro and Sheamus.
On the March 27, 2017 episode of Raw, the Golden Truth was confirmed for the 4th annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, however neither one of them was successful in winning. On the April 17 episode of Raw, The Golden Truth were going to compete against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson but were attacked backstage by Braun Strowman, leaving Enzo Amore and Big Cass to take The Golden Truth's place in the match.
On the May 8 episode of Raw, The Golden Truth participated in the tag team turmoil match for the No. 1 Contenders spot against The Hardy Boyz, but lost to Cesaro and Sheamus. On the May 15 episode of Raw, R-Truth apologized to Goldust for "letting the team down". Goldust replied by saying they "win and lose as a team". However, later that night, Goldust attacked R-Truth before a match against Gallows and Anderson, turning heel for the first time since 2015, and breaking up The Golden Truth.
Heel turn and departure (2017–2019)
On the May 22 episode of Raw, a vignette was aired with Goldust, stating that he was in the director's chair and that "the Golden Age is back", starting a feud with R-Truth. On the July 10 episode of Raw, Goldust defeated R-Truth, concluding their feud. On the August 28 episode of Raw, Goldust participated in the 15-man battle royal for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. Goldust was unsuccessful though, as he was eliminated by Luke Gallows.
On the September 11 episode of Raw, Goldust faced Bray Wyatt in a losing effort. After the match, Wyatt used a towel to remove his facepaint, saying he was "just a man", as a shot towards the face and body paint Wyatt's rival Finn Bálor would use. The next week on Raw, under his real name and without his signature facepaint (although still using Goldust's theme and ring attire), Rhodes faced Wyatt once again in a losing effort. Bálor ran down to help Rhodes after the match, when Wyatt continued to attack him. Rhodes, however, resented the help and attacked Bálor during a confrontation backstage on the September 25 episode of Raw. He had a match against Bálor later that night, but was defeated. At Starrcade, he competed as "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes, defeating Dash Wilder with the bulldog.
On January 1, 2018 episode of Raw, Rhodes, now back as Goldust, teamed with Cedric Alexander to defeat Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari. A rematch took place on the January 2 episode of 205 Live, a show usually reserved for competitors under 205 pounds. At Royal Rumble, Goldust entered the Royal Rumble match at number 29, but was eliminated by Dolph Ziggler. In January, Goldust was announced as a competitor in the WWE Mixed Match Challenge alongside Alicia Fox. Fox was replaced by Mandy Rose after an injury, and Goldust and Rose lost in the first round to Jimmy Uso and Naomi on February 6. On the March 5 episode of Raw, Goldust would confront and attack John Cena during a promo, stating he would "shatter his dreams", but was subsequently defeated by Cena that same night. On the April 2 episode of Raw, Goldust cut a backstage promo where he announced his participation in the upcoming André The Giant Memorial Battle Royal match at WrestleMania 34, and lost a match to "Woken" Matt Hardy that same night. At Wrestlemania 34, Goldust participated in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where he eliminated R-Truth. At the Greatest Royal Rumble Match, Goldust entered at number 18 and lasted 10 minutes before being eliminated by Bobby Roode. In July, Goldust underwent surgery on both knees. On March 28, 2019 it was reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet that Runnels left the WWE after his contract expired, thus ending his six-year tenure with the promotion. Runnels confirmed his departure on April 21, 2019, stating he asked for his release.
All Elite Wrestling (2019–present)
On April 20, 2019, it was revealed on "Road to Double or Nothing" that Runnels would face his real life half-brother, Cody, at All Elite Wrestling (AEW)'s Double or Nothing pay-per-view. At the event on May 25, Runnels, under his old gimmick as "The Natural", failed to win. Post-match, the brothers embraced after the announcement they would reunite to face The Young Bucks at the Fight for the Fallen event on July 13. On August 2, 2019, it was announced that Dustin Rhodes had signed a multi-year deal with All Elite Wrestling as wrestler and coach. On the October 22, 2019 episode of AEW Dark, Runnels picked up his first victory, by pinning Cima, in an 8-Man Tag Team Match. On the October 23, 2019 episode of Dynamite where he helped his brother Cody and MJF attack Chris Jericho and his stable The Inner Circle. Runnels' feud with The Inner Circle concluded when he lost to Jake Hager in Hager's AEW debut match at Revolution. On the Road to Double or Nothing special, Dustin Rhodes announced that if he were to lose to Kip Sabian in the first round of the TNT Championship tournament then he would retire. On the April 22, 2020 episode of Dynamite Dustin defeated Kip Sabian to win the quarterfinals match and advance to the second round of the TNT Championship Tournament. The second round saw him facing "The Murderhawk" Lance Archer, with Dustin losing the match. During the May 20th broadcast of Dynamite, Shawn Spears insulted Dustin and the Rhodes family during a segment, setting up a match between the two at the second edition of Double or Nothing on May 23, 2020. During his Double or Nothing return match, Dustin ripped Spears' clothes and won via pinfall after hitting the Final Reckoning (Curtain Call).
Runnels is the son of Virgil Runnels, better known as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (1945–2015). His half-brother is fellow wrestler Cody Rhodes. He has two sisters, Kristin Runnels Ditto, who is a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, and Teil Gergel.
Runnels was previously married to Terri Runnels. They have a daughter, Dakota Avery, who was born in 1994. The couple divorced after six years of marriage on October 18, 1999. Runnels also has a step son, who is transgender.
Runnels' autobiography, Cross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness, was released on December 14, 2010. In the book, Runnels mentioned that he was married a second time to an unnamed woman. "I also had a short-lived and highly volatile second marriage. We only dated for a few months, then, one day, we just went to the justice of the peace and did the deed." He was referring to Milena Martelloni, whom he married on December 18, 2002; they divorced in 2003. Runnels married his third wife, Ta-rel Marie Roche, on June 22, 2012.
Runnels made his feature film debut as Preacher Woodward in the 2014 film Meet Me There. He made a cameo appearance in the 2015 film The Murders of Brandywine Theater. He also appears in Black Moth Super Rainbow's video for "Hairspray Heart", from their album Cobra Juicy.
Runnels has appeared in the video games WCW: The Main Event, WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling, WWF in Your House, WWF War Zone, WWF Attitude, With Authority!, WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, WWE Raw 2, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, WWE '12, WWE '13, WWE 2K15, WWE 2K16, WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18, and WWE 2K19.
Championships and accomplishments
- American Combat Wrestling
- ACW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Mike Graham
- Coastal Championship Wrestling
- CCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Professional Wrestling Federation
- PWF Florida Championship (1 time)
- PWF Tag Team Championships (1 time) - with Mike Graham
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Comeback of the Year (2013)
- Match of the Year (2019) – vs. Cody at Double or Nothing
- Most Improved Wrestler of the Year (1991)
- Ranked No. 11 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1996
- Ranked No. 126 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling
- TCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE
- WWF Hardcore Championship (9 times)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship (3 times)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Cody Rhodes/Stardust
- World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Booker T
- Slammy Awards (4 times)
- Best Couple (1997) with Marlena
- Frequent Tweeter (2010)
- "You Still Got It" Best Superstar Return of the Year (2013)
- Tag Team of the Year (2013) – with Cody Rhodes
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Most Embarrassing Wrestler (1997)
- Most Improved (1991)
- Rookie of the Year (1989)
- Worst Gimmick (1995) as Goldust
- Worst Gimmick (1997) as The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust
- Worst Gimmick (2007) as Black Reign