There have been some interesting performers stepping through the ropes over the years, many of whom have cropped up in this series. Goldust has to be tangling with the best of them. Cryptic, twisted and spooky, every outing with Goldust promised something different.
In a mode that seems at odds with the eighties hangover that was the WWF of 1995, this Oscar-esque figure would take down foes not just inside the ring, but out of the ring also. Sneak attacks, secret messages and stalking were all textbook Goldust, but an apparent favourite was to mess with his opponent’s head via flirting. With their guard down, Goldust would pounce and, unleashing his enviable ring skills, seize victory.
Meddling with minds from the get-go, Goldust notched up victory after victory before coming unstuck (and undressed, for reasons I’m glad I can’t recall) against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania XII. Around this time, a smoking valet by the name of Marlena, she too dressed entirely in gold, had begun accompanying him to the ring. To complete the gimmick, she would not stand at ringside but sit in a specially commissioned director’s chair, smoking a golden cigar.
When the pair went their separate ways in late 1997, a new look was called for: enter The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust. Over this brief but colourful period, he would appear not in his trademark golden jumpsuits but in attire to mimic rival grapplers and various celebrities – we were gifted appearances from Chynadust, Hunterdust and MarilynMansondust, among many, many more. After a subsequent run under his real name of Dustin Rhodes, Goldust was revived in 1998.
Rhodes left the WWF in 1999 after a string of brisk and uninspiring storylines. All revolved around Goldust lusting after [wrestler]’s female valet, and him coming up short before moving on. It’s curious, with the WWF at the time really pushing the envelope as they were at that point, that Goldust, a character with perhaps the biggest scope for craziness in both deranged and comedic modes, wasn’t pushed and didn’t seem to much benefit. If there were any big plans for Goldust, as was continually rumoured, they simply didn’t materialise. It was almost as if he was lost in the mix, which seems a crazier prospect than anything the character ever did!
Goldust came and went several times throughout the 2000s, most notably for me providing comedy gold a-plenty as a tag team with Booker T in 2002-3. A decade later, he seems to have settled into the WWE full-time, still running with the gimmick and recently tagging with younger brother Cody Rhodes, who even adopted the name Stardust for the union.
Goldust is quite a ridiculous character. I understand the character was quite heavily ridiculed in its infancy, which in the context of the wrestling ring must take quite some doing. But I expect those critics are silenced somewhat by the sheer fact that, more than twenty years after his debut, Goldust is still going strong and continues to evolve. In fact, many of the comments I’ve read in research claim that Rhodes is putting on some of his strongest showings today, at nearing fifty years of age. It’s all testament to the man beneath the gold and his dedication to the performance, for there are generations of wrestling fans who will never forget the name, Goldust.