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The Dusty Finish is the nickname given to a specific ending to a wrestling match in which one wrestler appears to have scored a win only to have the decision reversed, often on some small technicality. Although Eddie Graham is usually credited with inventing the finish, it is named after Dusty Rhodes because Rhodes was famous for invoking the finish in his own matches when he was a wrestler/booker.
The finish has had multiple variations over the years, but the most common version centers around the referee being hit and knocked out and a substitute referee coming in and eventually declares a clean pinfall or submission win. At this point the original referee is revived and reverses the decision, declaring a disqualification from either the hit on himself or another incident, like an illegal wrestling move or toss out of the ring. A full version of the finish would take place in a championship match, in which the champion causes the infraction and the challenger scores the pinfall, only to have the original referee disqualify the champion, thus depriving the challenger of the title since it can't change hands that way.
Other versions have the match decision reversed in the days following the match. The reversal can also be declared by other authority figures in the wrestling organization.
Reasons for Use
The Dusty Finish is often used to help put a wrestler over as a sympathetic figure by having him win a hard-fought match only to see him screwed out of the win. It can also be used to build up the hype for a rematch between the two wrestlers. The finish can have a negative effect on fans, especially if used frequently, as they may begin believing that something like a title change might never happen.
The Dusty Finish worked in the territorial days of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), when the NWA champion travelled to various territories to face the local favorite, and the fans could only see the matches by either going to see them live or on local television. With the progress of cable television and wrestling matches being seen in larger portions of the country, more and more fans began to recognize the Dusty Finish when it occurred, thus another reason for it to be used less.