During an appearance on AEW Unrestricted, Dustin Runnels spoke on the origins of his character. Here’s what he had to say:
Vince called me, and he presented this character to me. And he kept calling it androgynous. I’m just listening to him, and he’s explaining the character. And we hang up. I decided to go up to Stamford at the office and meet up, and we talked about the character. Soon as I hung up the phone, I looked up in the dictionary what androgynous meant because I didn’t know, and I was like, ‘what the f–k did I just agree to?’ I had no clue.
It is androgynous, but I just didn’t know what that meant like Adrian Street or Adrian Adonis type character but with paint because I wanted to do the paint. I was a big fan of Sting’s face paint and face paint in general.
The first six months with this character, I was very lost because I was trying to figure out how to be a heel for the first time in my short career and learning a character too, so it was two daunting things to try to figure out,” Dustin said. “And Vince gave me full reign with character. He was pushing it and you had The Clique, you had all these factions.
They got stuff done if they didn’t like you right, but Vince was going with me, and that’s the only thing that I had going for me was that he was not going to back down. And he was letting me experiment and let me find my way in this character, but I was not getting the reactions that I really was looking for in the ring.
It took a while and then I started working Savio Vega, and Savio would try so hard to get me to try this these couple of things that were just way over the line for me,” Dustin said. “I’m from Texas. I was raised kind of in the country, so I’m a country boy. I’m a redneck, and to do this I was just like scared to death to do that. But that’s when I realized when I finally did it that to make something successful, you have to step out of yourself, outside of the box, and you got to create some magic of your own. You can’t just be scared all the time. You got to take a chance.
“We were in Madison Square Garden. This was a special night. That’s why I’m telling the story. Savio finally talked me into doing this thing. Vince was in attendance because back then, he was like one of the boys still, and he would go to the matches and hang out at the curtain and ooh and ahh while the matches were going on. So he was like one of the boys you can talk to,” Dustin said. “So he finally talks me into this, and New York is a predominantly Puerto Rican area. Savio Vega is Puerto Rican so talks me into it. I’m nervous as s–t. We go out there. We start wrestling and having our match. I was the Intercontinental Champion at the time. He locks up with me, and he says, ‘OK, we’re going to do it now.’ So all it was was me locking up going behind him rubbing up and down his chest and kind of grazing over his privates down downstairs, and then he pushes away and chases me and I take a powder. That’s it. That was it.
I did it, and I took a powder. The f–king place for the first time in like six-seven months erupted with every kind of profane thing just thrown my way and it was like, holy s–t. And it was so simple, and I was so scared to try that. I couldn’t believe it just the reaction. If I would have been so close to the rail that there would have been swinging. It was bad. It was major heat because you did not do that back then. So I roll in, and Savio’s over in the corner. And he’s laughing his ass off. I walk up with him, and I’m like, ‘what the f–k you laughing at?’ He’s like, ‘I told you. I told you man. I told you we’re gonna do it again. We’re going to do this again.’ I’m like, ‘what are we doing?’ So I backed him up in the corner. He says, ‘I want you to spin me around and turn around and rub your ass in my crotch, and I’ll push you off you take a powder again.’ That’s all I did, and they were louder this time. Right then, in Madison Square Garden, I found Goldust, and from that point, it was a magical magical run for a couple years.
Credit: AEW Unrestricted. H/T WrestlingInc.