Runnels: Well, let's see, I went to WCW and had the infamous back-of-the-truck match [with The Blacktop Bully at WCW Uncensored in 1995, where both men bladed and subsequently got released] and got let go from there. I was sitting at home for about 6-8 months trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do. Because I was still pretty young at that point. Bruce Pritchard called me out of the blue one day and he said, 'Hey Dustin, I got Vince McMahon here. We'd like to run a character by you and see if you'd be interested in doing it. Are you sitting down?' I said, 'I guess so.'
So, I sat down and he kind of explained the character and he threw out that word 'androgynous' -- and I had no idea what the f-ck that meant. But I'm just agreeing with him -- yeah, yeah, yeah -- and at this point, me and my dad were having some trying times. We weren't talking and I was searching and kind of looking to do something on my own. I really wanted to step out, you know, at that point. Let's get this thing rolling.
So, he explained the character and I agreed to it and all that. So, he was going to fire me up and start putting it together. Getting off the phone, I had to go to the dictionary and look up androgynous because I had no idea what the hell that meant. And I laughed, I said, 'Well, let's do this. I'm going to put my 110% into it. Vince is backing it, he's behind it and he's pushing it. Great, let's do it.'
So, we kind of went from there and it just grew. It took a good six, seven months to figure out the character. Plus, I had been babyface for so long that I didn't know how to be a heel. So, I had to learn that and learn this new character. And all this WWE/WWF stuff was very new to me because I had been with WCW.
So, I had to learn the new way of how things work. But, I'm "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes, I can do anything. So, it took me about six or seven months to learn that heel way and learn this androgynous character. Then, once I finally agreed to step it forward to the edge and take it to the next level, it really snapped. It really worked. I didn't turn back, I just went straight ahead.
WrestlingINC: Were you apprehensive at all? Because, when I look back at that era, it's really Goldust and Sunny -- those were the two characters that kind of ushered in the Attitude Era. Everything was kind of G or PG rated before that. I felt those were really the first two characters that stood out that marked this new era in the beginning. Were you nervous about some of the things you were doing? Were you apprehensive about how far you could go?
Runnels: At that point, I was just so young, I was ready and willing to take this on. Vince would say, 'Hey Dustin, you're going to get a lot of flak from the boys and some fans and stuff like that. If you ever get discouraged, give me a call.' And I did more than a few times.
He was pushing the character, and it was just a matter of figuring it out. Yes, I was apprehensive about doing the over-the-line, really kind of gay stuff. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to make this character androgynous, but not in that way. And he would never come to me and say, 'It's gay. It's not, it's androgynous.' He would never say that. He let me figure this character out.
With some persuasion from Savio Vega, I tried it in the Garden. Man, the reaction I got, I was not expecting and I did not realize how easy it was. From that point, I was like, 'OK, I can do this sh-t.'