I'm in the best shape of my frickin' career. It's a little late, but that's OK. The past is history and I've got to go with right now and what I've got. I can't look into the future, I've got to look at it as what I've got right now. I'm in good shape, I still want that match with Cody. It will happen I just don't know when.

I'm getting older. I'm 44-years-old, I'm having fun getting back to my roots as far as doing independents and things like that. Here we go, let's do this -- and I'm doing it clean and sober and it feels damn good. I'm damn proud of myself and I can be healthy for myself so then I can be healthy for my family and what they need.

WrestlingINC: Congratulations on your five years. Like you mentioned, there are a lot of people who haven't been able to come clean and beat their demons.

Runnels: Those demons are always there. They're right on my shoulder, all I've got to do is turn and divert back to them. But, I'm keeping them at bay and it's because I'm ready. I was done with the crap. They've got to want to be free of it. They have to feel like, OK, that's it, I've had enough.

WrestlingINC: So, you got clean before your last WWE run, right?

Runnels: Yeah.

WrestlingINC: What made you leave last year?

Runnels: Well, in 2010, I was fixing to make the run of my life with [Ted] DiBiase. I was in shape, feeling great. Then, I had a shoulder injury and I had to get surgery on it. Shoulder injuries are pretty tough. To me, it's the worst surgery I've been through, it was hard.

I really tore up my shoulder, my labrum was completely 360 torn, my rotator cuff was torn and my bicep. So, it was like three injuries in one where I got 13 [INAUDIBLE] in my shoulder. That took a little longer than expected with my rehabbing the shoulder and things like that.

Basically, that developed to John and he had been asking me to do this producing stuff. At that point, I said, 'OK, my shoulders hurt, I'm going to give it a shot.' I tried this producing stuff for about a year and a half and then I got released from that as everybody knows. That was the hardest job I've ever done in my life.

WrestlingINC: Do you prefer wrestling to being a backstage agent?

Runnels: The backstage stuff is not for everybody. I'm very hands on, I like to train and teach young guys now because there's so many of them. There are certain ways to do things, to get crowd reactions and sell your emotions and sell stories.

It was more than that. It was a lot of paper work, pushing pencils, typing, going to meetings and stuff. It was very, very stressful. It wasn't for me and I made a bad call live on TV and I got fired for it. It's all good.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of our interview, where Runnels discussed TNA, a potential match with brother Cody, his surprise appearance at The Royal Rumble last January, Cody's match getting bumped at WrestleMania, his upcoming projects and much more. You can follow Runnels on Twitter at @DUSTIN_RHODES1, and you can purchase his book Cross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness at this link.

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