Goldust, (or Dustin Runnells) burst onto the WWE scene back in 1995 with an impressive win over tag team specialist Marty Jannetty at 'In Your House 4'. In the same year he was crowned Intercontinental Champion after emerging victorious from a long feud with Razor Ramon. "Now Goldust is the man with all the Gold", as Mr Perfect quite aptly put it!
Goldust debut against Jannetty: Part 1
|::| Part 2
WWE stars hadn't seen anything like it before. Goldust was the master of mind games. His awkward demeanour in the ring baffled even some of the best opponents. His tongue in cheek antics and overly homoerotic behaviour enraged his adversaries, often distracting them away from the match. When in control, he was aggressive and ruthless, making short work of his opponents with his devastating finisher - the Curtain Call.
However, in 1996 he was finally dethroned by Ahmed Johnson at the King of the Ring. (he probably should have won the match after putting Johnson down with a sleeper) After that defeat he adopted a new aggressive streak and earned himself a World Title shot against Shawn Michaels winning a four man battle royale on Raw by overcoming Psycho Sid, Steve Austin and Savio Vega. This was arguably Goldust at his peak, and after losing to Michaels he began to embrace the 'good guy' status as he slowly emerged as a fan favourite.
Although the Goldust gimmick was a success, the new good guy status didn't bring him as much joy. Although he won the Intercontinental Title from the Road Dog in 1999 he quickly relinquished it to the Godfather two weeks later. He also came close against the British Bulldog for the European Championship, where he dominated throughout but missed out on the belt after the Bulldog was disqualified. He also endured an ill-fated feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, losing on several occasions.
Runnells abandoned the Goldust gimmick in 1999 only to bring it back in 2002 where he won the Hardcore Championship on nine occasions! He also teamed up with Booker T forming a successful tag team that won the tag team championship on one occasion. Runnells had managed to preserve the gimmick and bring it back after three years of non-activity. He was surely in love with it again.
Since 2002 however, Runnells has brought back Goldust in a variety of different forms - without much success. Yet despite his unsuccessful outings (not to name his Stutter or Black Reign persona), the Goldust gimmick has been remarkably durable. In the mid 90's, eccentric gimmicks and personalities were the norm and almost expected by the fans. Nowadays, McMahon has taken things in a completely new direction. Gone are the days of Mankind and the Godwins and other almost comic creations. These days all the top wrestlers look like your archetypal wrestling figures, lacking charisma or anything particularly unique.
But Goldust remains, and he is back in possibly his most successful form since 2002. He came out tops in a recent feud with Marella, and his typically eccentric mannerisms remain. I still think Goldust is at his best when employing the tactics he did in 1995 - 1996 where he brings opponents out of their comfort zone with stalling tactics and array of different taunts, but McMahon obviously still sees life in the Goldust gimmick yet, and you hope that he will continue to impress.
How has the Goldust gimmick survived for so long? In some ways, fans like continuity. On the face of it, Goldust has always been the same, and the fact he keeps coming back after so long in the wilderness, only adds to the intrigue. His wrestling skills are sound, but he can brawl when needed, and the fans love to see that. His Shattered Dreams finisher was the kind of comic edge which the game so badly needed.
But now it seems like there is an air of seriousness about this wrestling again. His new finishing move, The Final Cut (a modified suplex into a neckbreaker) is possibly his best to date, and for a big man he remains as quick and athletic as ever - even at the ripe age of 39. I for one will be closely following the progress of the latest Goldust, and hoping that it will be his most successful to date.