Dusty Rhodes

In the opening segment of Monday Night Raw, Kevin Owens stood on top of a ladder in the middle of the ring and said:

“I’ve been in two of these ladder matches and it’s hard times.”

Owens said this on the third anniversary of the death of Dusty Rhodes, and more than a few fans on Twitter took notice:

Owens dropped his “hard times” reference while bickering with other Raw competitors–WWE Superstars Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Bobby Roode and Ember Moon. The eight were also standing atop ladders–promoting this Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV.

“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes is considered not only one of the greatest performers and promos in the history of professional wrestling.

Rhodes’ famous 1985 “Hard Times” interview targeting Ric Flair is considered by many fans to be the Dream’s most magnificent mic work:

“I dont have to say a lot more about the way I feel about Ric Flair. No respect, no honor. There is no honor among thieves in the first place. He put hard times on Dusty Rhodes and his family. You don’t know what hard times are daddy. Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are outta work, they got 4 or 5 kids and they cant pay their wages, cant buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell them go home, and hard times are when a man has worked at a job 30 years, 30 years they give him a watch kick him in the butt and say hey, a computer took your place daddy. Thats hard times, that’s hard times, and Ric Flair, you put hard times on this country by takin’ Dusty Rhodes out, that’s hard time, and we all had hard times together.”

Many wrestlers and fans (including his sons Cody Rhodes and Goldust/Dustin Runnels) paid tribute to Rhodes on Monday. It is not surprising that Owens, in particular, would go out of his way to do so.

Dusty Rhodes’ Influence on Kevin Owens

Owens not only credits Rhodes with teaching him how to cut the best promos possible during their time together in NXT, but gave this heartfelt remembrance in the wake of Rhodes’ passing in 2015:

There are no words to express the sadness I feel, not only because I won’t get to see him or talk to him or laugh with him again, but because I didn’t get to tell him how special he was to me…

I can only hope that even though I didn’t get to tell him directly, Dusty knew how much I appreciated and valued his help, wisdom, support and friendship. He was unlike anybody I’ve ever met in this industry and to say that I will always remember him and be thankful for the honor of having known him is an understatement.

Owens was not alone among the NXT roster and alumni in praising Rhodes for his commitment to them as individuals and their brand, developing the next generation of WWE stars.

Perhaps HHH summed up everyone in the WWE’s feelings best with this tribute three years ago:

“The American Dream” will never be replaced. It will indeed be “hard times” for many years to come for those most touched by his influence and enduring legacy.

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