All Elite Wrestling is set to crown their tag team champions Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite, but a new tag team that wasn’t even in the championship tournament is lighting up the young company’s fan base. The latest edition of AEW Dark, All Elite Wrestling’s Tuesday YouTube show, opened with a match that united two generations of influential figures within LGBTQ wrestling circles: Sonny Kiss and Dustin Rhodes.
The Concrete Rose, dressed in Rhodes’ new signature black and red style, linked up with the legend to continue his rivalry with “The Librarian” Peter Avalon and the debuting QT Marshall. What began with Kiss using Avalon as a human chair to take in a good read ended in victory thanks to Kiss’s trademark athleticism and Rhodes’ in-ring mastery.
Getting the W was grand, what the partnership represented was something far more powerful. Many LGBTQ wrestling fans point to Rhodes’ former life as Goldust as one of the most influential queer-coded characters in the industry’s history.
The gold-clad flamboyant character wasn’t without its faults, utilizing characteristics and tactics made famous by other effeminate characters like Adrian Street, Adrian Adonis and Gorgeous George that exploited gay panic. But seeing a queer-coded character in a then-WWF ring in 1995 provided at least some form of representation for LGBTQ audiences when the pickings were super slim.
The 25-year-old Kiss was only two years old when Rhodes debuted as Goldust, and much of the character’s outlandish elements were sidelined by the time he was in elementary school. But that didn’t lessen the impact Goldust had on the burgeoning star. Kiss points to Goldust as an “amazing character” but posits himself as the real deal version of the flamboyant character Rhodes took on.
“I’m actually authentic version of these feminine characters. They do a great job at it and I love them all, but at the same time, Sonny Kiss is authentic. I’m just a guy who is feminine, obviously, it’s very apparent. But at the same time, I’m just a wrestler and I’m not a ‘gimmick,’” Kiss told Uproxx ahead of his AEW debut.
Rhodes quickly took to Kiss when he joined the company, offering him advice and encouragement ahead of Kiss’ first AEW singles match at Fight For The Fallen in July. Tuesday team-up solidified that relationship, and AEW fans responded with praise for the duo.
Kiss and Rhodes’ post-match comments pointed to the two continuing forward as team in some fashion as they heaped praise upon one another and called on the audience to submit names for their tag team. Pro wrestler RJ City might’ve already provided the best option: “Kiss from a Rhodes.”
Here’s hoping this cross-generational representation-providing wrestling machine continues lighting up AEW’s stacked tag team scene in the future.
For more on “Kiss from a Rhodes” and discussions about other LGBTQ pro wrestling topics, check out Outsports’ new pro wrestling podcast LGBT in the Ring. Download new episodes every Thursday on Apple, Spotify, Spreaker, Castbox and Player FM.