Rick Rude Page 2

By January 1985, Rude had moved over to the Florida region.  This time, he was managed by Percy Pringle, who would later also manage Rude in the World Class region.  On January 16, 1985, Rick Rude became the NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion (Florida version) by beating Pistol Pez Whatley.  Rude lost the belt to Brian Blair three months later on April 10, 1985, then turned around six days later and won the U.S. Tag Team titles (Florida version) with partner Jesse Barr on April 16, 1985 by beating Jay and Mark Youngblood.  Rude and Barr lost the belts to the team of Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes the following month.  Two months later, Hercules Hernandez was stripped of the Southern Heavyweight belt for a dressing room fight with Wahoo McDaniel.  A tournament was set up and on July 5, 1985, Rude beat Mike Graham in the tournament final to become a two-time NWA Southern Heavyweight champion. He held it for another few months before losing the belt to Wahoo McDaniel in October, 1985.  Rude was a participant in the first Battle of the Belts on September 2, 1985, when he and Billy Jack Haynes fought to a double DQ against the Road Warriors.

Almost immediately after losing the Southern Heavyweight belt, Rude, along with manager Pringle, left the Florida area and headed for World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas.  Within days of his entry into this region, Rude beat Iceman King Parsons for the American Heavyweight title on November 4, 1985.  It was during this time that WCCW seceded from the NWA. It was decided that Rude’s American title would now serve as World Class’ World title with Rude having the honor of being the first WCWA World Heavyweight Champion, crowned as such on February 2, 1986.  He lost the belt five months later (his longest title reign to date) to Chris Adams at the Independence Day Star Wars card.  Rude fired Pringle as his manager at this point, due to Pringle’s repeated interference in this and other matches.  During Rude’s World title reign, he also managed to win the World Class TV belt when he defeated Lance Von Erich in May of 1986.  Rude ran into the wild Bruiser Brody on May 4, 1986 as they fought at the Third Annual David Von Erich Parade of Champions card.  Rude won the match by DQ.  However, Brody got his revenge, when eight days later, he beat Rude for the World Class TV.  Rude feuded with the Von Erichs (and what heel in WCCW didn’t?), and for the first time, came upon a man who would later help to get him huge heat in the WWF. Jim Hellwig, known in World Class as the Dingo Warrior, would eventually cross paths with Rude in the WWF when the two would become engaged in a feud… this time however, Hellwig would be going by The Ultimate Warrior.  While in the World Class area, Rude was a part of some other large cards.  He and Jos LeDuc battled Chris and Mark Youngblood, losing by DQ at the Labor Day Star Wars card in September 1986 as part of a tag team tournament to win the vacant WCCW Tag Titles.  Rude pulled double duty (and became a double loser) on this card and he fought and lost once more by DQ to Chris Adams for the WCWA Heavyweight Title.

Towards the end of 1986, Rude made the move over to Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA, where he was managed by Paul Jones.  Rude fought his old Florida foe, Wahoo McDaniel in an Indian Strap match at Starrcade 1986 in November of that year.  The following month, Rude and Manny Fernandez defeated the Rock ‘n Roll Express to become the new NWA World Tag Team Champions.  In April of 1987, Rude and Fernandez entered the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup ’87, an annual tag team tournament that promised the winning team $1,000,000.  They earned a bye in the first round, defeated The Thunderfoots in the second round, and lost to the team of Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff in the third round.  While still one of the Tag Team Champions, Rude was injured, and Ivan Koloff was allowed to take his place as a tag champ.  When the Rock ‘n Roll Express beat Fernandez and Koloff in May of 1987, it was Rude and Fernandez who went down in the official record books as being the losers even though Rude wasn’t involved in the match at all. 

By mid-late 1987, Rude was ready to enter the WWF.  Under the management of Bobby Heenan, Rude quickly became one of the prominent heels in the promotion.  Notching his natural cockiness up 100%, and going by The Ravishing One, Rude would come out to the ring, with great fanfare.  As he stepped to the center, he’d say, “Cut the music!” and launch into the diatribe up above and remove his robe, flexing for all to see.  The women would take pictures as the men would boo loudly.

Rude’s first major feud was with Jake “the Snake” Roberts.  It all started out normally, with Rude doing his pre-match striptease/flex.  He spotted a woman in the crowd, who ended up being the wife of Roberts.  Rude propositioned her, in his lewdest manner of course, the Snake took offense.  Rude continued to ride Jake about his wife, taunting her at ringside, wearing tights with her face on them… an instant and classic feud was born.

Once his set of matches with Jake concluded, it was determined to give Rude the WWF Intercontinental title.  The stage was set for Wrestlemania 5 and on April 2, 1989, Rick Rude beat the Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Intercontinental belt.  The two criss-crossed the country, fighting over the belt until it came to a head at Summerslam 89.  Here, the Warrior regained the IC belt on August 28, 1989.  Warrior went on to defeat Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 6, and it was Rude who was chosen to be one of his earliest challenges.  The two were the main event at Summerslam 90 in a steel cage match that saw the Ultimate Warrior come out on top.

Soon after SS ’90, Rude and Vince McMahon had a falling out and Rude left the WWF, and eventually signed with WCW.  His debut was at Halloween Havoc ’91, as he came out in a hood, a mystery guest brought out by Paul E. Dangerously.  Rude, wrestling as the Hollywood Phantom, defeated Tom Zenk.  He was unmasked and Dangerously announced that Rude would be the cornerstone of Dangerously’s new Dangerous Alliance.  Rude immediately went on to win the United States title the following month on November 11, 1991.  This began a feud with Sting and a healthy US title reign that ended on January 1, 1993 when an injury prevented Rude from defending the belt, causing WCW to strip him of that title.

Rude finally returned from his injury in the Fall of ’93 and went on to beat Ric Flair for what was formerly the NWA Heavyweight title on September 19, 1993.  The title, now referred to as the WCW International Heavyweight title, was held by Rude until March 16, 1994, when he lost it to Hiroshi Hase.  Rude won the belt back from Hase on March 24, 1994, and then lost it for the final time almost a month later to Sting on April 17, 1994. Rude fought Sting in a rematch for the belt but it was during this match that Rude suffered a back/neck injury that effectively ended Rude’s career as a wrestler.

It wasn’t until 1996 that Rude was seen again in the national spotlight.  Paul E. Dangeroulsy, Rude’s former Dangerous Alliance manager, was now the man in charge of ECW.  Rude began showing up during Shane Douglas matches under a mask, taunting Douglas mercilessly.  For the first few times, it was unclear to fans who was really under the mask but that voice and the body language were a dead giveaway, and eventually Rude came out from under the mask.  He continued tormenting Douglas for a while, and then eventually ended up joining in as an advisor-type to Douglas’ Triple Threat stable.  While Rude didn’t actively wrestle, he was involved in several angles and did some commentating alongside Joey Styles.  Rude was in classic form with his cocky, swaggering attitude that added a nice opposition to Styles’ straightforward calling.

In 1997, Rude jumped from ECW suddenly and appeared on a WWF broadcast and Shawn Michaels “insurance policy.”  At the time, DeGeneration X had just started up and were engaged in a big feud with The Hart Foundation, with Michaels and Bret Hart being the two largest components of the feud.  Rude played a sort of bodyguard/enforcer role during this time, but not doing much more.  Rude was only working on a per-appearance deal rather than a contract, and after the debacle between McMahon, Hart, and Michaels (aka The Screwjob Heard Round the World), Rude decided to exit… but in a surprising fashion.

Little known to many, Rude had accepted an offer from WCW.  Rude participated in a WWF TV taping, performing as usual.  During this time, RAW was not live each and every Monday night, therefore, this RAW taping would appear a week later.  By then, Rude had already left the WWF and on the same night that this RAW taping was aired (with Rude appearing on the broadcast), he appeared live on WCW Nitro, and went on to join the nWo.

While with WCW, Rude continued his position as advisor, this time to his friend Curt Henning.  This went on for a short while until Rude once more left the national spotlight in 1998, this time for what ended up being the final time.

Rick Rude died on April 20, 1999, in his Georgia home.  The cause was ruled as heart failure.  Fans were shocked by his sudden death…. Rick Rude was a specimen of the human appearance.  In shape, muscular and cut like no one else, how could he have died of heart failure?  Some attributed his heart failure to steroid abuse, some to the hormone HGH… whatever the cause, Rude was taken way too soon.  While his active in-ring career may’ve been over, Rick Rude still had much to contribute to the world of professional wrestling and it’s a shame that his potential for this will never be explored.  

Back to KM Wrestlers