When people think of the last night of the Monday Night Wars, they typically think of the outdoor Nitro in Panama City, Florida that ended with Sting vs. Ric Flair and a simulcast featuring both Vince and Shane McMahon.
And yes, according to kayfabe, that would be the the last episode of the Monday Night Wars, as in story line, Vince planned to officially purchase WCW in a ceremony at Wrestlemania 17, only for Shane McMahon to swoop in and steal the company out from under him. In reality, though, Vince had already bought the company by the time the episode aired, meaning that the last episode of Nitro produced by WCW as a rival company to the WWF took place, in fact, one week earlier. And while WCW’s “Night of Champions” swan song may have been a valiant attempt to go out with dignity, the last independently-produced WCW Nitro was anything but. Or, more specifically, Dusty Rhodes’s butt.
Night of Champions may have seen the conclusion of the storied Flair/Sting rivalry (until TNA resurrected it a decade later), but the March 19th, 2001 Nitro saw what still stands as the last encounter between Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes. And yes, it all revolved around Dusty’s hairy white ass.
With Ric Flair as WCW’s most recent and, as fate would have it, last-ever authority figure, the Nature Boy had tried to sign Dustin Rhodes, son of the American Dream himself, to join his stable. Instead, Dustin refused, because the former cross-dresser had a little something called pride.
This set off a rivalry between Ric and Dustin which would soon become a family affair, with Dustin’s dad joining in to take on Ric Flair and Jeff Jarrett (who was not Flair’s son, but it was either him or David Flair, so yeah, why not Jeff Jarrett?)
How did the senior Rhodes get dragged into this mess? Through the always entertaining wrestling tradition of impersonation. In this case, the American Dream was impersonated not just by Jarrett, but later by Flair, until the real Dream showed up to clean house and challenge the Nature Boy and the Nature Boy wannabe to a match at the first-ever (and last-ever) WCW Greed pay-per-view. And, Dusty promised, he would make Flair kiss his “white ass.”
As Dusty’s theme music, a cheap Jimmy Hart knockoff of his WWF theme (also written by Jimmy Hart), played in the Greenville, SC arena, Ric Flair was irate at the prospect of puckering up to Dusty’s backside. He should have been more concerned about those third-degree burns on his face.
Come pay-per-view time, it was nothing but gas jokes by Dusty and the announcers. The Dream claimed backstage to have eaten “240 burritos,” which makes you wonder what Simon Dean was complaining about when Bobby Lashley made him eat that plate full of hamburgers. Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson noted that Dusty could “pass gas on call.” They also speculated as to the quality of those burritos and its implications for tonight’s stipulation, which the announcers explained thusly: the man who took the fall would have to kiss the rear end of the man who scored the fall. Of course, this was WCW, where the announcers were always the last to know the official rules, so they also speculated that perhaps the entire losing team had to kiss the entire winning team’s behinds. Or maybe they just had a brain fart.
Amidst all the talk of flatulence, this little factoid managed to squeak by: this was the first time that Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes had ever wrestled each other on pay-per-view. Starrcade ’84 never made it to pay-per-view, but WCW’s own “Kiss My Ass” match did. Since WCW would be bought out the following week, the night’s bout would also be the last time Flair and Rhodes would ever wrestle each other on PPV. Do you think that if WCW had known that going into this pay-per-view, they would have kept the butt-kissing stipulation, or would they have opted instead for a Viagra-on-a-pole match?
Flair, in an example of good judgment rarely seen in his recent belt-hocking days, tried to back out of the match, but was denied by “Little Naitch,” referee Charles Robinson (who also would have made a better Flair than David). As a result, Big Naitch had to wrestle in the kind of Hawaiian shirt that people his age typically wore on retirement cruises.
Throughout the match, Tony and Scott discussed the best strategy for taking on Dusty, such as beating the gas out of him ahead of time just in case you did end up having to plant one on his derriere. As the match wore on, the announcers became more and more sure that only the two men involved in the decision would partake in the ceremonial ass-smooching.
Here’s a piece of wrestling trivia that time forgot: Dustin Rhodes retained his signature corner kick to the groin during his last stint in WCW. The move that under his Goldust gimmick was called “Shattered Dreams” (with “dreams” as a euphemism for “testicles) was now dubbed the “Dust Buster” (with “dust” as a euphemism for “testicles”).
The finish of the match saw Flair and Dustin Rhodes as the legal men in the ring until both men’s partners ran in to get involved in the action. After the Rhodes clan thwarted an attempted stereo figure-four leglock, Dustin got the pin on Flair. According to the stipulation, that meant that the Nature Boy would have to plant one on The Natural’s posterior. That’s what the announcers said, anyhow.
The Dream, however, had other plans, as he demanded that Flair kiss his “big white ass,” then put Jarrett (who, like Dusty, was not even involved in the fall) into the corner to receive a stinkface from the underwear-clad elder Rhodes.
What’s most disappointing wasn’t the lack of adherence to the rules, but rather that Dusty wasn’t wearing polka-dot undies, but rather some red briefs out of the Scott Steiner collection.
“I never in my wildest dreams,” said Scott Hudson, “thought I would see something like this in WCW.” This, coming from a man who had seen David Arquette as world champion, the aforementioned Viagra-on-a-pole match, and a wrestler name Kwee Wee.
Here’s something else Scott should have seen coming in WCW: the abandonment of a stipulation. The next night on Nitro, “The Nature Boss” (and yes, that is what they actually called him. And you thought “The Macho King” was an awful moniker!) made it clear that he was not going to kiss anybody’s anything. Fortunately for the fans, a clearly despondent Eric Bischoff (who was still trying to buy WCW and keep it on the air) literally phoned in a promo telling Flair that, as a future Bischoff employee, it was in his “best interest to kiss Dusty Rhodes’s ass.” So, the stipulation about kissing Dustin‘s ass still wasn’t followed through on, but a Dusty ass-kissing was better than no ass-kissing at all, right?
At the end of the night, Flair came out with Jeff Jarrett to “make the right the decision” as CEO and told Dusty to bring his “big white ass” out so he could kiss it. Instead, Dustin Rhodes, whose ass Ric was in fact contractually obligated to kiss, came to ringside to introduce his daddy. Dusty, however, didn’t come alone, walking a white donkey to the ring. Get it, “Dusty’s white ass“? Well, just in case you didn’t, WCW spray-painted “Dusty’s ass” on the donkey’s hindquarters.
Flair went apoplectic. Here was a guy, who just a minute earlier was ready and willing to kiss a three-hundred-plus-pound man’s buttocks on live TV, going ballistic at the possibility of having to kiss an animal instead. I seriously don’t get what would be so bad about having to kiss a donkey. Who said Flair had to kiss the donkey’s butt and not, say, its forehead? After all, the stipulation (sort of) said that Flair had to kiss Dusty’s ass, not Dusty’s ass’s ass.
Instead, Naitch looked like he was going to puke, especially after Dusty made another fart joke about having fed his donkey 300 burritos. A burro eating burritos? Isn’t that cannibalism?
The Nature Boss and the Chosen One weren’t going to do this the easy way, fighting back and trying to make the Dream do the dirty deed. However, before the heel duo could give Dusty “a taste of his own medicine” (not FDA-approved, by the way), Dustin made the save, and the two Rhodeses shoved Flair and Jarrett into a part of the donkey kinda sorta near the butt cheeks.
Flair had at last kissed Dusty’s ass, leading Tony Schiavone to try in vain to explain the complex humor being presented. In fact, Tony was chuckling so uncontrollably that he forgot to declare that night the greatest in the history of our sport. Ric threw a tantrum, but at least he was going to be in good standing with his new boss, Eric Bischoff.
The following week on the last-ever Nitro, Ric Flair was the only one of the four to even appear on TV, and new WCW owner Vince McMahon spilled the beans about Dustin Rhodes once wanting to get breast implants for his Goldust persona. Neither Ric nor Dustin would be back on TV for months, while Dusty would return only as a “legend,” and Jeff Jarrett (whom Vince fired on air) would have to form his own company after having hustled Vince on his way out of the WWF in 1999.
If the fart jokes left a bad taste in your mouth, and you didn’t enjoy looking at Dusty where the sun don’t shine, look on the bright side: This angle was silly, was internally inconsistent, was dropped abruptly without notice, and did nothing to advance the careers of anyone involved. What more fitting end to WCW could there have been?