The wrestling world took to social media to express their sadness for the shocking loss of legendary WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes who passed away at age 69 today.

Wrestling icon Ric ‘Nature Boy’ Flair, Rhodes’ long-time friend outside the ring and storied foe inside the squared circle on many an occasion, mourned the loss of his friend and colleague on Twitter.

“My mentor @WWEDustyRhodes. Much love to your family and more respect than can ever be measured. Love you Dream,” wrote Flair in his tribute.

Flair later told TMZ, he has lost one of his “greatest opponents and greatest friend”.

“He was the definition of heart and soul and I’m honored to have shared the ring with him countless times,” said Flair.

Rhodes’ former daughter-in-law, Terri Runnels, asked for prayers for the family.

“Dusty was many things to many people. My favorite was his role as “Pops” in my daughter’s life! Please pray for Dakota, Dust and the family,” she wrote. Terri, formerly known as manager Miss Alexandra York in WCW and later as Marlena in WWE, was married to Rhodes’ son Dustin (Goldust) Runnels until 1999. Their daughter Dakota was born in 1994.

Dusty Rhodes and his son Dustin, a.k.a. Goldust.

Former wrestler Terry Allen / Magnum TA, wrote on Facebook: “The most amazing friend anyone could ever have. Not only like a brother, but the man who believed in me and gave me the greatest opportunity of a lifetime to share a starring role with him in the wrestling game. He will be missed beyond words. There will never be another, quite like him. My prayers go out to Michelle and all the kids and family.”

Gerald Brisco wrote on Facebook: “Words can’t express my sadness and grief fly the loss of my lifelong friend Dusty Rhodes. This dusty selfie was taken last Thursday RIP Dream.”

Tommy Dreamer, who choose his ring name as a tribute to Rhodes, was heartbroken upon hearing the news.

“My hero, the man that made me believe, the reason I took my name @WWEDustyRhodes I love you & your family,” Tweeted Dreamer.

Triple H, Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events & Creative for WWE, Tweeted his admiration for the legend.

“Saddened to hear the passing of Dusty Rhodes. Legend, teacher, mentor, friend…Love you Dream #BookinAintEasyKid,” he stated.

“I’m in complete shock hearing about Dusty Rhodes. A hero of mine growing up & a bigger hero after we became friends. Thoughts & prayers RIPCanadian,” wrote Canadian wrestler Christian (Jason Reso).

Hard-core legend Mick Foley was devastated by the news.

“My children just called with the news that @WWEDustyRhodes had passed away. I’m crushed. He was a one-of-a-kind talent with an amazing mind,” he wrote.

For “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Dusty’s death was the passing of a personal hero.

“One of my all time heroes and one the all time greats has passed away. American Dream #DustyRhodes I will never forget you. #Legend.”

Jerry Lawler, long-time WWE announcer who tangled with Rhodes many times in the ring, was honored to have worked with him inside and outside the squared circle.

“There was only one “American Dream” There will never be another like Dusty Rhodes.”

On Twitter, Jimmy Hart wrote: “I was so honored to write Dusty Rhodes’ theme song “common man” – the American Dream and Dusty will live on forever – love ya Dream”

Blue Meanie honoured Rhodes on Facebook posting: “I had done a show in Florida and after the show I caught ride back with of the employees of the promotion and Dusty Rhodes. As we were going back to the hotel I asked from the back seat “Hey guys…..would be cool if we stopped at Burger King and got a burger to eat back at the hotel?” Dusty gave me the half eye glance from the passenger seat and said “*SIGH*…a burger? Meanie. You want a BURGER?! Here I thought you were going for say ‘hey guys! Can we stop somewhere and get some BEER!’….a BURGER he says.” ….to which Dusty follows up and uttered the sentence that would have me howling with laughter and forever be burned in my memory when he said….”Blue Meanie…..if Dicky Murdoch was in this car there would be a fist fight right now……..a burger………” needless to say I got my burger. Dusty got his beer……..and the next beer I have will be raised in your honor Dusty. I love you and your family. Godspeed my friend……”

As an instrumental and influential booker, trainer and producer in NXT, Rhodes acted as a mentor to many of the WWE’s emerging talent during his years there. Many of them posted their admiration and respect for the wrestling legend on Twitter.

Posting a picture of himself and Rhodes on Twitter, NXT World Heavyweight Champion, Kevin Owens, wrote a farewell message.

“There are no words that can express the sadness in our hearts. RIP Dusty Rhodes…You will be missed, Dream…We love you,” he stated.

Finn Balor, who Rhodes took under his wing when he signed with NXT late last year, also posted a photo of him and a smiling Rhodes saying: “See you at the next ‘town’ Dream! #RIPDustyRhodes.”

Aiden English, one half of the VaudVillians tag team in NXT, dedicated the NXT show tonight in Rhodes’ honour.

Sasha Banks, the NXT Women’s World Heavyweight Champion, who was trained by Rhodes, was grateful for all he had done for her.

“Without you, I wouldn’t have a voice. Simply… Thank you Dream,” she wrote.

In April, Rhodes praised Banks on Twitter saying…”Ms Banks be best for bedness ! #WWE she don’t let no one break bad on her teacher.”

Mojo Rawley wrote on Twitter: “@WWEDustyRhodes transformed us. He motivated, inspired us. He made us better people. Not just for the fans, but for ourselves & our families.”

<William Regal wrote: “Dusty, thanks for signing for my first U.S. work visa,mentoring,teaching and laughing with me for 22 years.Really going to miss you.”

Carmella also thanked Rhodes on Twitter for all he taught her.

“Learned more than I can say from Dusty Rhodes…because of him, I am who I am. A true legend who taught me how to be myself. #ThankYouDream,” she Tweeted.

Celebrities from all walks of life also took to social media to honour Rhodes.

Stand-up comedian April Richardson reminisced about Rhodes.

“Dusty Rhodes lived in my friend Jeremy’s neighborhood & he always gave us full-sized candy bars on Halloween. He ruled. RIP American Dream.”

Former Survivor contestant and wrestling personality Jonny Fairplay paid his respects on Twitter.

“Rest in Peace Dusty Rhodes, The Bull of the Woods!”

Stock car racing driver and team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., thanked Rhodes for the great memories.

“Watched him many a Saturday morning when I was a kid. Rest in peace and thank you #DustyRhodes”

Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit. Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.

Rhodes wore many hats in his 40 plus years in the business. Renowned for his charisma in the ring and on the microphone, Rhodes was best remembered for his time in Jim Crockett Promotions, where he was a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and head booker. Rhodes also had significant runs in the WWE, WCW, GCW, AWA, and Championship Wrestling from Florida.

Rhodes holds the claim to perhaps the most famous promo in professional wrestling, known as “Hard Times.”

– with files from Jon Waldman, Greg Oliver. Nolan Howell