The wrestler discussed his character, teamwork and the future of the organization.
By JEREMY HARPER
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
World Wrestling Entertainment has lost its "Attitude."
The aptly-named era that gave wrestling fans such stars as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, The Rock and Triple H is over, and it's time for a new era to begin.
Every few years, fans grow tired of worn-out story lines and characters, main-event wrestlers grow too old for top spots, the creative team runs out of fresh angles and television ratings decline. That's when WWE is forced to reinvent itself by producing new talent and moving in a new direction.
Dustin Runnels, son of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes, is a ring veteran who has experienced both the ups and downs of professional wrestling while performing as Goldust. During a recent phone interview, he spoke about the state of WWE.
Q. Do you still enjoy doing the Goldust gimmick, or would you rather perform as Dustin Runnels?
A. Well, right now I enjoy doing the Goldust character because it's fun. It's enjoyable, and the people are starting to like it. It's not one of those characters that's been liked in the past, you know.
It's been a hated character and very outlandish, freaky weird personality, so it's a hard character to like, but the people are starting to pick up on the stuff that me and Booker (T) are doing. Right now I would not want to be doing anything else but Goldust.
Q. What are the benefits and drawbacks to having separate brands within WWE?
A. For those people who are in the business and haven't been on TV as much as The Rock or Triple H, they get a chance to be featured a little more than they used to be. And that's a positive thing.
The young guys get to learn a lot more. There's more time to work, and that's the only way they're going to learn is to get out there in front of people. I really don't see anything negative right now. There's stuff that needs to be done as far as picking up our ratings and stuff, but I'm sure it will all happen soon enough.
Q. With the ratings decline over the past year, is there a sense of urgency among the wrestlers or management?
A. Yeah, and in the past couple of months we've had meetings at ringside, you know, before the television shows, before we'd go live that, hey, we need to buckle down right now, you know what I mean? It's been tough talk and things like that. We need to start working together, and everybody has stepped up to the plate, and the work rate has gotten a lot better in the past, I would say, three weeks.
The work rate has improved, and it's showing. As far as the story lines and things go, that's up to the writers and bosses to get these story lines right and get them out there. But it's also up to the characters and wrestlers to put in our input and give them ideas. So it's up to everybody as a team, as a family, to make this thing work. It's not one person, it's not five people ... it's everyone.
Q. Do you think it makes sense to be pushing rookie wrestlers like Brock Lesnar when some veteran midcarders, who deserve a push, still haven't received one?
A. I think you need guys that have been on TV, you know, added with the new guys. If you're going to put new guys on TV, you better make sure they know what they're doing first. Just shoving them on TV and, really, having a (bad) match and not knowing what to do, you're not going to learn that way.
You've got to learn before you get into the ring. It takes a long time to learn the trade, and before you go on a TV match, I don't see putting a bunch of new guys on there and beating some of the older guys who have been there for years and years -- for what?
Just to try to get them over when they aren't worth it. I'm not going to say any names, but they shouldn't do that in my opinion. I think it's a great idea that they're pushing Brock.
Brock is one of those ones who has caught on to the wrestling business like nobody else has. Kurt Angle was another exception. A lot of the guys who are in to it never watched wrestling, never been fans, you know, and it's like they want to be wrestlers.
But I think Brock getting the push that he's getting, he deserves it. I think he does. He has a good head on his shoulders, and I think that he can carry the ball when given that ball.
Q. Do you think the fans are ready to accept Brock as the Next Big Thing?
A. Well, they're going to have to, because that's the way it's going to be. They can either accept it or not accept it. If it's wrong, it's wrong. Everybody makes mistakes, but I don't think it's going to be wrong.
Q. Do you think the lack of competition is hurting WWE?
A. I think it's completely the opposite of what you're saying. Everybody is concerned because there's one place to work now. Everybody needs to have that urgency of not being lackadaisical and go -- they need to keep going because there's no other place to go.
Where are you going to go? (NWA-)TNA or Japan? I mean, you can, but you're not going to make it in the independents.
Q. I agree from a wrestler's perspective, but what about management? Vince knows he's the only game in town, and I think most people would agree that the shows haven't been as compelling since he bought WCW.
A. Yes, I agree with that. The reason why -- I don't know, but I can't give you an answer on that one. I don't know.
Q. It seems McMahon is making a lot of the same mistakes that WCW made during its downfall.
A. Vince is a very smart man, and he has always been here and he's always going to be here. It's one of those times right now that might be a down time in the wrestling business.
There's a lot of stuff that's happened this year, you know, money's down with people. There's a whole bunch of different things that it could be. It might not just be the wrestling business.
And definitely, as smart as Vince is, he will get it back on track. He's a genius. He's kept it here and he's been the game in town forever. So I don't see him going in a spiral downfall anytime soon.