What I’d like right now is for all you pro wrestling post readers, to keep the noise down while I tell you the story of one of the greatest heels of all time. Ravishing Rick Rude was a heat magnet. Men bought tickets to see him get destroyed. Their wives bought tickets to see his finely tuned physique. He was instrumental in the making of the careers of Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, The Ultimate Warrior, and Sting. Rude was an integral member of the Heenan Family in the WWF. He was the cornerstone of the Dangerous Alliance in WCW.
He was a former WCW International Heavyweight Champion, WWE Intercontinental Champion, and the United States Champion multiple times. Who can forget his role as the “Insurance policy” in the original DX and NWO? He is also a WWE Hall of Famer. An inspiration to the cocky, over-the-top heels in today’s business, The Ravishing one Rick Rude will never be forgotten
Heels Since High School
Rick was born in St Peters Minnesota. He attended Robbinsdale High School. Ironically his best friend in high school was another pro wrestling legend, Curt Henning. Hening and Roode were Perfectly Rude before they even stepped foot in a wrestling ring. It’s not a surprise that these two future heels gravitated toward each other. The AWA was big business in Minnesota. Curts father was a local wrestling legend. Rick Rude was a world champion arm-wrestling champion.
Rick Steiner told a story about Curt Hennig and Rick Rude. The two were in a bar when a big burly cop challenged Curt to an arm-wrestling competition. The winner gets 500.00. Curt Henning had a plan. He said I will make it 1000.00 if you can beat my friend. Rude slowly walked over to the table pretending like he did not want to be there. He locks up with the cop. As soon as they were told to go rude smashed the cop’s hand to the table. Rude didn’t even flinch. Perfectly Rude were great Hustlers.
Birth of Ravishing Rick Rude
Rick Rude was trained by the Legendary Eddie Sharkey. His big break happened with World Championship Wrestling on May 28, 1983. He won his first match with a dropkick. From there he went to NWA and was defeated by The Ugandan Giant Kamala. He also spent some time challenging the Road Warriors. Even though Rude was jobbing out his 6’3 statuesque physique turned heads. Rood was a champion waiting to be discovered. However, he needed something. Rick Rood became Ravishing Rick Rude and the wrestling world met its ultimate arrogant heel. He recruited Jimmy Hart as his manager and invaded the Memphis wrestling scene attacking Jerry Lawler.
He’s a Smooth Operator
In 1984 Rude came to CWF with a new manager Percy Pringle III aka Bill Moody aka Paul Bearer. He immediately won the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship on Jan 23, 1984. It was during this time that he introduced the world to his finishing move The Rude Awakening. Even though Rude lost the title a few weeks later, he remained a threat. He regained the title on July 20, 1985, defeating Mike Grahm. Rude ended up dropping the title to Native American Legend Wahoo Macdaniel. He also became the NWA Florida US Tag Team Champion with partner Jesse Bar.
In October 1985 Rude and Pringle set their sights on WCCW in Dallas Texas. Immediately they began a feud with the Von Erichs. Being the “Smooth Operator” that he was, On November 4, 1985, Rude won the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship. Shortly after that, the Championship has renamed the WCWA Heavyweight Championship. Rick Rude lost the title to Gentleman Chris Adams. In true heel fashion, he blamed Percy Pringle for the loss and fired him. It was after that, he first met the Dingo Warrior aka The Ultimate Warrior.
No WWF fan would ever believe that Rick Rude and the Warrior were tag partners but they were for a brief period. However, Warrior began to see that Rude was in it for himself. Little did the two superstars know that years later their rivalry would take place on a much bigger scale. Yes on camera Rick Rude fired Percy Pringle, but behind the scenes, the two were still very close. Years later after Rick Rude and Percy Pringle parted ways. Rick never forgot how much Pringle helped him. In an interview before his death, Bill Moody said it was actually Rick Rude who got Paul Bearer his job with the WWF.
While Rude was just that Rude, in the wrestling ring, he was just the opposite to those who helped him. That seems to be a common thread in his career as we will see more. After the feud with the Warrior. Rude returned to Jim Crockett Promotions with yet another manager Paul Jones. He formed a tag team with Manny Fernandez called the Awesome Twosome. The duo won the NWA Tag Team Title from the Rock N Roll Express Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. However, that was short-lived as Ravishing Rick Rude scored a deal with the World Wrestling Federation in 1987
Simply Ravishing in the World Wrestling Federation
Ravishing Rick Rude was introduced to the WWF by none other than Bobby The Brain Heenan. On the July 15, 1987, episode of WWF Superstars in a six-man tag team match Rude joined fellow Heenan Family Members King Harley Race and Hercules. Ravishing Rick Rude wasted no time angering the men in the audience by telling them to
“keep the noise down while I show your ladies what a real man looks like.”
Rude actually won the match for his team. Bobby Heenan’s newest family member was Simply Ravishing. The main goal of bringing Rude into the WWF was to start a feud with Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. Bobby Heenan used to manage Orndorff until Mr. Wonderful got tired of the “weasels” ways. Rude competed in several pose downs with Orndorff. Arguably Rick Rude’s most famous rivalry was ironically enough because of Rude’s advances towards another WWF Superstars’ wife. Cheryl Roberts was the wife of the Legendary Jake The Snake Roberts.
Since coming to the WWF Ravishing Rick Rudes’s pre-match routine consisted of insulting the male audience members. Some of his better one-liners included were ” Huntsville Heffers, Providence peons, Southern swampsows, to just name a few. No one was off-limits when Rude was on the mic. It really was no wonder that Rick had so many one-liners because his manager Bobby Heenan was a comedy genius. Rude also began to have a post-match ritual as well labeled the second act of the Rude Awakening where Heenan would pick a woman out of the audience to come into the ring and get a kiss from the Ravishing One.
According to Heenan at first most were paid actresses, but eventually, it caught on and fans started following suit. Fans could feel that one of these days Rick Rude would get more than he bargained for from one of these “lucky ladies.” After one match in particular on an episode of WWF Superstars, Bobby Heenan picked a woman out of the crowd that was not there to see the Ravishing One. When Rude invited her into the ring, she refused the invitation. Rude went out to ringside saying she was “playing hard to get”. He then asked her if she came here to see the sexiest man in the WWF.
Her answer was a resounding “No”. Then he asked her if you didn’t come here to see the Ravishing One, who did you come here to see? She answered “My husband”. This wasn’t Rudes first obstacle like that and he continued to harass the woman. He demanded to know who her husband was. She answered ” Jake The Snake Roberts.” Rude became irritated and began verbally abusing her. He got slapped for his troubles. In an interview with Jake Roberts years later, he said that Rude said his wife hits harder than he does.
Apparently, Cheryl Roberts busted his eardrum on impact. Rick Rude grabbed her by the wrists. Jake Roberts had heard enough and attacked Rick Rude. The locker room emptied trying to separate the two. The woman was in fact Cheryl Roberts the legit wife of Jake The Snake. A few days later Rude came to the ring wearing tights with Cheryl Robert’s face on the front. Jake was incensed ran to the ring and ripped off The Ravishing One’s tights. Arguably this was both Roberts and Rudes finest hour.
Through most of the summer, the two wanted to rip each other’s heads off. The Ravishing One also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jakes’s other family member, his pet python Damien a time or two. Their feud ended abruptly at Survivor Series 1988.
Rude vs The Ultimate Warrior
After Rick Rude’s rivalry with Jake Roberts, he found himself once again in the ring with the Dingo Warrior. Now called the Ultimate Warrior, he was handpicked to be Hulk Hogans successor. As a heel, Rude couldn’t be in a better position. Instead of an arm-wrestling challenge, the two legends found themselves in a Super Posedown challenge at the 1990 Royal Rumble. When Rude saw he wasn’t winning the contest he attacked The Warrior with a steel bar. He then gyrated over the warrior adding insult to injury. This led to Wrestlemania V where Ravishing Rick Rude defeated the Warrior with the help of Heenan.
As a result of this victory, Rude was now the intercontinental champion. Rude was the first family member to bring gold to the Heenan family. Unfortunately for Rude at SummerSlam 89 he dropped the title back to the Warrior after Rowdy Roddy Piper showed Rick Rude what a man wears under his kilt. According to several sources Rude and The Warrior never got along. There is a rumor that rude knocked out the warrior backstage with one punch. It was also reported that Rude did not like working with the Warrior because he was too stiff.
Even though the two didn’t get along, inside the ring they had chemistry. After the warrior won the WWF Heavyweight Championship his first challenger was Rick Rude in a Steel Cage at Summer Slam 90. On Bruce Prichards Something to Wrestle Podcast he dug more into why Rude was the best choice for this match despite his past history with Warrior.
“Rude had an unbelievable way to get a guy over and this being Warriors first major title defense, we knew he could do the job as well as put himself in that upper echelon where he felt he belonged and we did too.”
Rick Rude Shifted gears for this match both mentally and physically. He cut his hair and shaved his trademark mustache. He was in the best shape of his life. Despite a valiant effort Rude failed to win the WWF title. This would be Rick Rude’s final WWF PPV match. He parted ways with the company soon after. The WWF tried to say Rude’s absence was because he was suspended for making derogatory comments about Big Boss Mans’s mother.
WCW’s Rude Awakening
Ravishing Rick Rude was far from done. After a year on the independent circuit, Rude made his way to World Championship Wrestling. He debuted at Halloween Havoc 1991 in a mask calling himself the WCW Phantom. He won using the Rude Awakening neck breaker on the Z man. Later that night Paul E Dangerously aka Paul Heyman and Madusea brought the Phantom back out and unmasked him.
“The man behind this mask is the only man that can crush the hopes of the little stingers. Ashes to Ashes dust to dust rest in peace Stinger your career is over. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next United States Heavyweight Champion Ravishing Rick Rude.”
Rick Rude made it clear he was there because he cared about “himself, his women, and his money.” That’s right before Tazz, Sabu, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, or Roman Reigns, Rick Rude was an original Paul Heyman Guy. More specifically he was the cornerstone of the Dangerous Alliance. The Dangerous Alliance consisted of Rude, Madusa, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Larry Zybysko, and someone else you may have heard of Stunning Steve Austin.
On November 19, 1991, Rick Rude did indeed defeat Sting for the United States Championship. After defeating the Stinger he turned his attention to none other than Ricky The Dragon Steamboat. This rivalry was a pro wrestling fans’ dream. In the WWF neither crossed each other’s paths. However in WCW Rude actually broke Steamboats nose with Paul E. Dangerously’s phone. They also competed in an Iron Man Match at Beach Blast 1992. In an amazing tag team match, Rude and Stunning Steve Austin squared off against Ricky Steamboat and Sting at WCW Clash of Champions XVIII. At Rick Rudes WWE Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Ricky Steamboat recounted his memories of The Ravishing One.
“In a cage match with ravishing rick I suplexed him up he hooked the top of the cage with his feet. When I let go he’s hanging upside down. I took off and hit the ropes, came back with a crossbody & I took off hit the ropes came back with another crossbody. I took off a third time for another crossbody. He did an inverted situp. I crashed and burned into the cage. I slid down the cage and while I was looking up at him, he was grinning and laughing at me doing 5 or 6 more inverted situps. That was something for Ricky Steamboat from Rick Rude.”
WCW International Heavyweight Champion
In December 1992 Rude suffered a neck injury and forfeited the WCW United States Title that he held for a total of 14 months. When Rude returned, The Natural Dustin Rhodes was the new champion. Rude wanted his title back. A best of three series was set for the two stars but Rude failed to win the United States Title back. Rick Rude decided to aim higher. He went after the NWA Heavyweight Title. In Ric Flairs’ talk segment, A Flair for the Gold, Rick Rude verbally abused FiFi the Maid. He said she wanted him. He grabbed Fi Fi and kissed her. Rude got slapped for his behavior. Flair turned his back on Rude. Rude attacked Flair.
On September 1993 at Fall Brawl Ravishing Rick Rude defeated Ric Flair for the Big Gold Belt. Rude was now the NWA Heavyweight Champion. During his title reign, WCW lost the right to use the NWA banner. They now called it the WCW International Heavyweight Title. Rude lost the title to Hiroshi Hase in Tokyo. Won the title again 8 days later.
Eventually, he lost to Sting on April 17, 1994, at WCW Spring Stampede. Rude regained the title on May 1, 1994. However, during the match, after a stinger splash to the floor, he injured his back severely on a raised platform. Rick Rude legitimately blew out his C4 and C5 vertebrae. Ravishing Rick Rude was stripped of the title by WCW. Due to the back injury, this would be Rick Rude’s final Match. The Ravishing One retired from the ring.
Rumors flew around that Rick Rude blamed Sting for his injury. However, according to Sting when Rick Rude returned back to the WCW later on in 1997, He walked right up to him and shook his hand. They were friends till the day he died.”
Rick Rude did not make an appearance until 1997 when as a favor to Paul Heyman signed with Extreme Championship Wrestling. Rick Rude made his ECW debut at House Party. He declared that he was in ECW for one reason to mess with the Franchise Shane Douglas. At one point he even spanked Francine Douglases valet. Ironically Rude actually joined Douglas Triple Threat. At ECW Heatwave 97 he made a surprise return to the ring in a six man tag with Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman against Jerry The King Lawler of the WWF, RVD, and Sabu. Rude actually helped Lawler pick up the victory.
The Insurance Policy
On August 11, 1997, Rick Rude Shocked the world when he returned to the WWE. Due to The Undertaker wanting to rip Shawn Michaels apart he hired Rude as his “insurance policy”. Officially Rick Rude became a part of the Original Degeneration X with Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna. He made his return during Hbk’s match with Mankind. Rude grabbed a steel chair and cracked it against mankind’s skull. Michaels hit Mankind with the superkick for the win. Rude stood by Degeneration X until the Survivor Series 1997 the site of the Montreal Screwjob.
That night has gone down as the most controversial night in WWE history. It was Bret Hitman Hart’s last match with the company. Vince McMahon made sure Hart did not go out on top by ringing the bell and awarding the WWF Championship to HBK, even though the Hitman never submitted. Even though on tv Rude was aligned with Degeneration X behind the scenes he had nothing but respect for the Hart Family. Due to WWFs mistreatment of Bret Hart, Rude left for WCW. Rick Rude never had a full-time contract he was on a pay-per-appearance basis.
Ravishing Rick Rude makes history on RAW and Nitro the Same Night
On November 17, 1997, Rick Rude was the first and only performer to appear on both Raw and Nitro on the same night. How you ask? Well, That Monday Night Raw is War as tapped and Monday Nitro was live. WWF thought they reached an agreement with Rude. To their surprise, Rude showed up on Nitro and joined the New World Order. He also cut a promo directed right at the WWF.
“You know we all have our 15 minutes of fame. I’d like to take my 15 min to discuss the rights and the wrongs in the world of professional wrestling. What’s wrong is Shawn Michaels claiming to be World Champion when he never beat Bret Hart. What’s wrong with the world of professional wrestling is for Vince McMahon to instruct a referee to ring the bell in order to rob Bret Hart of his title. On the other hand, what’s right in the world of professional wrestling is for Bret Hart to abandon the Titanic and swim to the refuge of the nWo.”
Rude had to sing the praises of the NWO, but he solidly stood behind his friend Bret Hart. This is coming from a man who 24 hrs ago was in the corner of Shawn Michaels facing the Hart Foundation. Rude was a man of principle. In his book, My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, Bret Hart praised Rude and said his loyalty meant a lot to him.
“I’ll never forget how Rick stood by me after Montreal. Rick was the kind of guy who when you needed someone to back you up wouldn’t flinch at all. Not for money. Not for anything.”
A little known in fact is not only did Rick Rude appear on WWF Raw and WCW Nitro on the same night, but he also appeared on ECW Tv due to its syndication. The thing Rude loved about WCW was he got to manage his best friend Curt Hening. Perfectly Rude was together again as part of the NWO. Rick Rude also made history by being a part of both DX and the NWO. Eventually, both Minnesota natives became members of the nWo Wolfpack. However, that was short-lived as they joined nWo Hollywood a few weeks later.
Unfortunately for both best friends injuries sidelined them. Hening was having knee surgery while Rude was fighting what he thought was cancer. The funny thing is Rude was contemplating a return to the ring. WCW even played up the fact that it was Sting who caused Rude his injury back in 1996. Rude and Henning also entered a mini-feud with Bret Hart, Jim Neidhardt, and the British Bulldog. He also helped the NWO attack Kevin Nash and Lex Luger. However, it was not meant to be. Rude left WCW in the Spring of 1999 and never looked back.
On April 20, 1999, Richard Rood was found unconscious. He suffered an overdose. He was only 40 years old. The wrestling world lost a trailblazer. His best friend Curt Hening could barely hold back the tears.
“Rick was one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, and I lost my best friend. I think this should be a wake-up call, my condolences go out to his family . Rick knows the way I felt about him.”
Hall of Fame Heel
On March 6, 2017, in Orlando Florida at WrestleMania 33 Ravishing Rick Rude took his place in the WWE Hall of Fame. He was inducted by long-time rival and friend Ricky Steamboat. At the Ceremony, Rick Roods’ family paid tribute to the man they called dad and husband. His Son Richard Rood Jr. paid tribute to his legendary father the only way he knew how.
“What Id like right now is for all your fat out-of-shape central Florida sweat hogs to keep the noise down while I give the ladies what they came for tonight. I’d like to thank the WWE for giving my father the career he had and finally placing him among some of the greatest wrestlers of all time.”
In the ring Ravishing Rick Rude was the epitome of an arrogant over the top, chauvinistic, pro wrestling heel. He was the man people loved to hate. However, to his friends and family, he was a respectful, loyal, dedicated man. He believed in right and wrong. Rick never forgot those that helped him along the way. He is responsible for making several legendary stars look amazing. However, the fact remained only one pro wrestling superstar was simply ravishing. Thank you for the memories, Rick Rude.