Editor's Note: The photo here isn't the best (via WikiMedia) but it showcases Dusty Rhodes getting choked, which is what a lot of fans likely want to do to him after so many 'Dusty Finishes.' | This fanpost proofed and promoted to the front page by cagesideseats.com.
At the most recent WWE pay-per-view (PPV) offering, Night of Champions (aka Unforgiven Vengeance: Night of Champions-that's just my name for it), John Cena and CM Punk fought to a draw. The finish saw Cena bridging a German suplex and CM Punk's shoulders pinned for three. After 302 days, John Cena's a conquering hero and the new WWE Champion.
Except he wasn't.
John Cena's shoulders were pinned too, match is a double pin. It's a draw. CM Punk is still WWE Champion, because obviously, titles can't change hands on draws.
Congratulations, home viewer, you just paid $50 for a "Dusty Finish." (Probably a lot more if you were actually at the show.)
What's a "Dusty Finish," you ask? The general consensus is that one wrestler, usually a babyface, defeats another, usually a heel (usually for a championship), following a hard-fought match, only to have said babyface's win taken from him post-match on a technicality (usually caused by the heel). It's used to build sympathy for the babyface to prolong major feuds, though it has also caused major contention among wrestling fans. Though Eddie Graham is credited with inventing the finish, it became commonplace when Dusty Rhodes used the finish in his own matches and during his time as a booker for NWA/Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), thus calling it the "Dusty Finish," and not the Eddie Finish or (your favorite booker here) Finish.
One of the earliest incidents of the common Dusty Finish occurred at NWA Starrcade 1985 when Dusty Rhodes was thought to have won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair, when a second referee counted the fall with original referee Tommy Young incapacitated. Except Dusty didn't win the title. Tommy Young, the original referee, reversed the decision and disqualified Ric Flair due to interference by Ole and Arn Anderson, and home viewers went unaware of that FOR NEARLY TWO WEEKS. If reading (and viewing) that wasn't enough to make you rage-quit wrestling, after the jump I've got 12 "Dusty Finishes" that probably will (in no particular order).
WARNING (not that you need it): THEY DO CONTAIN SPOILERS APLENTY.
- 2008: Nigel McGuinness vs. Adam Pearce for the ROH and NWA World Heavyweight Championships. The man that would be briefly known as Desmond Wolfe in TNA was thought to have defeated the NWA's modern golden boy to claim the NWA World Heavyweight Championship...except NWA has a rule that intentionally throwing someone over the top rope is a disqualification. The 550 people in attendance at Montgomery County Fairgrounds were NOT AMUSED, chanting "Dusty Finish" and "bullshit" after the decision got reversed.
- 2000: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho for the WWF Championship. Probably the first one that came to mind for many wrestling fans. Y2J goaded Triple H to an impromptu title match; the champ accepts thinking it's in the bag. Except it's not, as Jericho's got the Acolytes watching his back. The McMahon-Helmsley Faction is no match for the beer-drinking ass-kickers, and Jericho beats the champ to end Triple H's reign of terror. Except he didn't, as it was a second referee that counted...pretty fast. Triple H used his power, negated the match altogether and took the belt back. Even worse, Triple H got his win back in a six-man tag at the end of the night.
- 1997-1998: Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.This Dusty Finish stretched out twelve days. It started with a botched fast count (i.e. it was a fair count) at Starrcade 1997, leading to Bret Hart to take over referring duties and Hogan tapping out to Sting's Scorpion Deathlock. The rematch the following night was just as schmozzy as Nick Patrick got sandwiched in a Stinger Splash. Seemed like Sting kept the WCW title. Except he didn't. It would be the following Tuesday (aired January 8) when it all got sorted out: the title is held up. It would be almost two months before Sting beat Hogan in the rematch to win back the WCW title.
- 1991: Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinami for the IWGP and NWA World Heavyweight Championships. Not even international borders and oceans can contain the Dusty Finish. At Starrcade at the Tokyo Dome, Fujinami (the innovator of the dragon sleeper and dragon suplex) appeared to have defeated Ric Flair to become the first man to hold both the IWGP and NWA titles. Except he hadn't. Original referee Bill Alfonso got bumped, Fujinami sent Flair over the top (again, illegal in NWA matches-but not in Japan), Tiger Hattori counted the fall. In the post-match press conference, Flair stole the NWA title belt from Fujinami, claiming it was still his. It would set up the first ever Superbrawl event, where Flair (with a handful of tights) beat Fujinami to reunite the NWA and WCW world titles. It was one of Flair's last major title defenses before leaving for the WWF that summer.
- 1987: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard vs. The Road Warriors for the NWA Tag Team Championship. There's a theme warning here, isn't it? Tommy Young bumped, Animal sends Arn over the top rope, Earl Hebner runs in and counts the fall. The crowd in Chicago goes bananas. The Road Warriors in their home city just won the tag titles. Except they didn't. Young reverses the decision and disqualify the Warriors (guess why?). Chicago breaks out into a near riot. Chicago and Jim Crockett Promotions weren't on the best of terms for the rest of JCP's existence. And by not being on the best of terms, I mean the next time JCP went to Chicago, it was already bought out by Ted Turner and operating under the WCW banner.
- 1988: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Here's an interesting remix to the Dusty Finish: Luger has a bloody Ric Flair in the Human Torture Rack and Flair gives up, making Lex Luger the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Wrestlers celebrate in the ring, Baltimore celebrates, a nation rejoices. Except Luger didn't win the title. It was discovered later that the Maryland State Athletic Commission stopped the match due to excessive blood, awarding the title back to Flair.
- 1996: Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog for the WWF Championship. If this finish sounds familiar, well, it should. Because it was played nearly note for note at Night of Champions. Bulldog bumps Earl Hebner (the original referee) out of the ring; Mike Chioda comes in and refs the remainder of the match. Michaels hits a bridging German suplex, except Michaels didn't finish the bridge. Chioda counted his shoulders down and British Bulldog was the new WWF Champion...except he wasn't. At the same time, Earl Hebner, having regained his senses, counted Bulldog's shoulders down, making Michaels the winner. After much discussion, on-screen WWF President Gorilla Monsoon declared the match a no contest, leaving Michaels with the WWF Championship. This was a near dark Dusty Finish as severe thunderstorms cut out power for most of the PPV broadcast, but was restored just before this match began. They would rematch the next month, with Michaels defeating Bulldog.
- 2007: Christian Cage vs. Sting vs. Kurt Angle for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.This can be called a "Dusty Finish" on the fly. Sting pinned Christian Cage, while Kurt Angle had the anklelock submission on Sting. Christian's shoulders were counted down, while Sting tapped out. One referee had Angle winning by submission, while another had Sting winning by pinfall. Well, we know who didn't win, but Angle was declared the winner and new champion...except he wasn't. His win was revoked and the title vacated. Why the "Dusty Finish" on the fly? It was to introduce the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, as earlier in the day, TNA had severed ties with the NWA.
- 1999: Chris Jericho vs. Chyna for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Jericho got the Dusty Finish twice in four months. This is the lesser known of the two. On an episode of Smackdown, Jericho had back suplexed Chyna onto a steel chair. Jericho had his arm over Chyna and the referee counted three, making it a successful title defense for Jericho...except he didn't really win. At the same time, Chyna had her arm over Jericho after that back suplex, and another referee counted three, making Chyna the winner and new Intercontinental Champion...except she wasn't. After much discussion, they were considered co-winners and co-champions...except they really weren't. WWE today does not recognize the co-championship run of Chyna and Chris Jericho and considers the title vacant from December 30, 1999 to January 23, 2000, when Jericho won the title outright in a triple threat match.
- 2000: The Rock vs. Chris Benoit for the WWF Championship. Also getting shafted by the Dusty Finish twice in 2000: Chris Benoit. The first occurred in July during the Fully Loaded PPV when The Rock had Chris Benoit tap to his own submission maneuver, the Crippler Crossface. Moments before, Shane McMahon hit the referee with a steel chair. The referee never saw the submission, nor who hit him with the chair. The Rock was disqualified and Chris Benoit was the new WWF Champion...except he wasn't. WWF Commissioner Mick Foley restarted the match since the referee couldn't determine who hit him with the chair, and The Rock went on to retain the title.
- 2000: The Rock vs. Kane vs. The Undertaker vs. Chris Benoit for the WWF Championship. As the old saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing again. Or something like that. In this match, the first person to score a pinfall or submission would win the match and the title. It appeared that Chris Benoit was first when he nailed The Undertaker with a steel chair and pinned "The Phenom"...except he wasn't. The Undertaker's foot was on the bottom rope, rendering the pinfall illegal, but the referee never saw it. WWF Commissioner Mick Foley restarted the match, and just like two months earlier, Benoit is beaten via Rock Bottom, as The Rock retains the WWF Championship.
- 2005: Triple H vs. Your In-Ring Character for the World Heavyweight Championship (or Shelton Benjamin vs. Your In-Ring Character for the WWF Intercontinental Championship).Would you believe it if I told you the Dusty Finish makes an appearance in a video game? It does.WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2006. After your character wins the match and the title, Eric Bischoff comes out and brings up an obscure rule known as the "Virgil Runnels Amendment", saying that championship steel cage matches cannot occur in September, thus negating your title win. Virgil Runnels, by the way, is the government name of Dusty Rhodes, the namesake for the Dusty Finish. Even in the virtual world, one does not simply escape bait-and-switch tactics. This rule, by the way, doesn't really exist.
There have been 'Dusty Finishes' aplenty in wrestling. Where do you come out on them? Good for wrestling? Bad for wrestling? Makes you grind your gears? Got one not on the list you remember? Discuss, people!