When wrestling fans think of wrestling from the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s, typically you would hear them think of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Von Erichs, Ric Flair, and others from the 1980s. In the 1990’s, wrestling fans typically think of Sting, Undertaker, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Tommy Dreamer as some wrestlers. However, there was one wrestler who wrestled in both decades was Richard Erwin Rood or as he went by as the “Ravishing Rick” Rude.
Rick Rude was born in St. Peter, Minnesota on December 7,1958. He would go on to attend Robbinsdale High School in Robbinsdale, Minnesota with many future WWF superstars and legends. They include Tom Zeink, Brady Boone, Nikita Koloff, Curt Hennig, John Nord, Road Warrior Animal, and Barry Darsow. Rick was very close with Curt “ Mr. Perfect” Hennig. He would begin his wrestling career in 1982 as Ricky Rood and was a babyface jobber.
He would wrestle on the territory scene from 1982 until 1983 when he would make his debut on World Championship Wrestling. He would later leave the WCW and join the NWA affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions. The biggest thing that Rick Rude was known for while he was in the JCP was he would have a variety of tag team partners and would feud with the Road Warriors. In 1984, he returned to Memphis as “Ravishing” Rick Rude. This character would be an overconfident arrogant heel who was managed by Jimmy Hart. He would feud with Jerry Lawler and his former partner, King Kong Bundy. He would continue to work for the smaller promotions until July 1987.
In July of 1987, Rick Rude made his debut in the WWF as the newest member of the Bobby Heenan Family. Right out of the gate, Rick Rude was put into a feud with Paul Orndorff. This would be prior to his legendary feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He would have a routine where, prior to his match, he would make a show of removing his robe as he would go on to insult the males in the crowd.
After a win, Rick Rude would then kiss a female audience member that Bobby Heenan would pick. He would end up leaving the WWF after he failed to win the WWF title from the Ultimate Warrior.
Rick Rude would end up leaving the WWF right before he was suppose to begin a program with the Big Boss Man. This feud could have had potential after Rude would start making degrading comments about Boss Man’s mother. After he left the WWF, he would wrestle on the independent scene as well as the All Japan Pro Wrestling 1991 tour. In 1991, Rick Rude would return to WCW, which was sold to CNN owner Ted Turner in late 1988.
He would return under a mask as the WCW Phantom at Halloween Havoc 1991 and would unmask himself to reveal that it was him. When he made his return to WCW in 1991, he would end up leading the faction known as the Dangerous Alliance. In this faction was Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, Madusa and they were managed by Paul E. Dangerously. This was where wrestling fans became known of the future Stone Cold Steve Austin. He retired in 1994 because during a match against Fukuoka, Rick would end be injuring his back during a suicide dive.
This would be the last time that wrestling fans would see Rick Rude on a wrestling program for roughly three years. In 1997, Rick Rude would make his return to wrestling for Extreme Championship Wrestling. Out of any of the runs that Rude had in any major wrestling promotion, it was his time in ECW that was the shortest. Later in 1997, he would return to WWF as the “insurance policy” for the DX Stable. In the beginning, DX was Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, and Rick Rude. There have been lists that have come out saying that DX has gone down as of the most legendary faction in both the world of WWF and the world of professional wrestling.
It was the fall of 1997 where Rick Rude had one of his most memorable moments. He left the WWF after the Montreal Screwjob that had happened at Survivor Series. Bret Hart did an interview later on about that night. According to Bret Hart, Rick Rude stayed in the locker room during the confrontation between Bret and Vince McMahon. Also in the fall of 1997 was when the Attiude Era would begin between WCW’s Monday Nitro and WWF’s Raw is War.
November 17,1997 was a legendary day for Rick Rude as he would end up appearing on both shows. At that point, Raw was taped and Nitro was live. Here is the clip of him appearing on both shows and some remarks from Jim Ross who was part of WWF’s Talent Relations at the time:
When Rick Rude came back to WCW, he would join the NWO which at the time was managed by his friend, Curt Henig. Rick Rude would go on to become the first wrestler to be part of both the NWO and DX. Rick Rude would end up leaving both the WCW and the wrestling world in early 1999.
He would end up passing away on April 20, 1999 at the age of 40 when he suffered from heart failure.
It was revealed after an autopsy was done that he died from an overdose of “mixed medications.” Also at the time of his passing, it was reveled that he was training to return to the ring. Rick has an interesting legacy as with the “Ravishing” gimmick that he would become one of the most successful heel superstars. He is not in the WWE Hall of Fame and after his blowup with Vince after the Montreal Screwjob, Vince never forgave him.