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Off the Field – Remember 'The American Dream' (June 17, 2015 issue)

Virgil Runnels exemplified what “The American Dream” is all about.
Runnels, better known as “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, passed away on Thursday, June 11, at the age of 69 in Florida. The shockwaves of his passing were felt throughout by wrestling fans across the world. News of his death even trended worldwide on Twitter and Facebook.
Whether you took in the NWA in the 1970s and 1980s, WCW, or WWF/WWE, Rhodes brought something special. From the work inside the ring, working with developing talent or cutting promos to build up a rivalry, it was special to see.
I remember growing up in the 1990s and 2000s loving the opportunity to sit back in the living room to catch the latest storylines of WCW and even take in some of the then-WWF during the “Monday Night Wars.” That time in the wrestling scene was much like picking Coke or Pepsi, but you had to admire the storytelling.
It was always a special sight, and still is to this day. I had the reality of wrestling being “fake” broke to me early on with different moments and matches being scripted. That never deterred from the fact the men and women went through their own sort of minor leagues – the independent wrestling scene or developmental systems – before taking their talents to a high-volume market.
Rhodes was a journeyman since his early days with the NWA territories and the WWF, the first of many different names of the WWE, rivalries with “Superstar” Billy Graham and “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant before competing with other promotions with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP).
Rhodes did it all, from booking matches, competing and worked on the mic, including the famous “Hard Times” promo “The American Dream” cut on then-Mid Atlantic Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, during his run in 1985.
Rhodes brought it all to the table. Talking about his hard times after being decommissioned by Flair and adding personality to the promo. Rhodes talked of hard times across the country, from someone losing their job of 30 years to a computer, to workers with four or five kids they had trouble feeding.
The amount of heart he brought to the mic was incredible and that impassioned promo from the 1980s still hits home with wrestlers and wrestling fans alike. He wasn’t the prototypically “strong man” with a body-builder physique.
Rhodes really did symbolize “The American Dream” and what hard work can accomplish and, in his own words, “being one of the baddest men around along with John Wayne.”
It was an honor to have the opportunity to at least see some of Rhodes during my younger years and then taking to Youtube and the WWE Network to see past performances.
The wrestling community mourns the loss during its own “Hard Times” but his mark on the profession will never be forgotten.
A common man. “The American Dream”. An icon. Rest in peace, Mr. Runnels.
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The TSSAA met on Thursday, June 11, to discuss the hot topic of public and private school separation and came out of the meeting with five different options.
Each of the options will be presented and voted on at the next scheduled meeting on July 16.
The five proposals gathered from the meeting include: keeping the system in place, just a postseason split, a complete split, success achievement and an urban/rural split.
Be sure to check out the June 24 issue of The Erwin Record for an in-depth look on each option and what it would bring to the athletic landscape in Tennessee for 2017-2018.
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Visit for a variety of photos of Unicoi County throught the years. Photos are available for purchase by download or print.
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