Friday, March 23, 2007

WCW: "Ravishing" Rick Rude

Richard Erwin Rood (December 7, 1958 – April 20, 1999), better known by his ring name of "Ravishing" Rick Rude (which Rood would legally change his name to), was a pro wrestler who performed for many promotions, most notably WCW and the WWF, in the 1980s and 1990s.

Born in St. Peter, Minnesota, Rood attended Robbinsdale High School in Robbinsdale, Minnesota with Tom Zenk, Brady Boone, Nikita Koloff, Curt Hennig, John Nord and Barry Darsow, all of whom would become pro wrestlers of some repute.

After graduating from Anoka Ramsey Junior College with a degree in Physical Education, Rood began wrestling in 1983 as Ricky Rood, a babyface jobber. He started with Vancouver's NWA All Star Wrestling before moving on to compete for Georgia Championship Wrestling and later Memphis-based Mid-Southern Wrestling. He later left and joined the National Wrestling Alliance affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions where he and a variety of tag team partners feuded with The Road Warriors. He returned to Memphis Championship Wrestling in 1984, this time as "Ravishing" Rick Rude, an overconfident, arrogant heel managed by Jimmy Hart. Rude feuded with Jerry Lawler and later his former partner, King Kong Bundy.

Rude was hired by Championship Wrestling From Florida in December 1984 where he was managed by Percy Pringle and feuded with Billy Jack Haynes and Wahoo McDaniel, while teaming with Jesse Barr. After a year, he jumped to World Class Championship Wrestling along with Pringle, where he feuded with Kevin Von Erich and Chris Adams. After losing the WCCW Championship to Adams in July 1986, he fired Pringle and briefly replaced him with his sister, Raven. He formed a short-lived tag team with The Dingo Warrior, but the Warrior turned on him and became a face.

In September 1986, Rude returned to Jim Crockett Promotions and joined Manny Fernandez and his manager Paul Jones in their rivalry with Wahoo McDaniel. Rude and Fernandez won the NWA World Tag Team Championships on December 6, 1986 from the Rock 'N Roll Express, and began an epic feud that ended only when Rude left the promotion for the WWF in April 1987. To explain the sudden departure, Jim Crockett, Jr. aired a pre-taped non-title match where the Express defeated Rude and Fernandez and claimed that Rude had been injured as a result.

In the WWF, Rude was managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and feuded with "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff before starting one of his most famous feuds with Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Rude had a routine where before the match he would make a show of removing his robe while running down the males in the crowd and after the match he would kiss a girl (that Heenan picked from the fans) all the way down to the mat after a successful match. On one occasion, he tried to get Roberts' real-life wife, Cheryl, to comply, aggravating Roberts. On another memorable occasion during the Roberts/Rude feud, Rude came to the ring with a picture of Cheryl stenciled on the front of his tights. A furious Roberts charged the ring and stripped Rude, appearing (to the television viewer) to leave him naked (the live audience saw him stripped to a thong instead).

Rude's next big feud was with The Ultimate Warrior and began in January 1989 at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a "posing contest" that ended with Rude attacking Warrior with a metal pose bar. With a little help from Heenan, Rude won the Intercontinental Championship from the Warrior at WrestleMania V, before dropping it back to the Warrior at SummerSlam 1989 due in large part to interference from "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Rude then feuded with Piper, before resuming his conflict with the Warrior in the summer of 1990 after the Warrior had won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The two battled in a cage at SummerSlam 1990, in the only Pay-Per-View Rude would ever headline as a solo wrestler. Rude failed to win the title and departed the WWF in October 1990 right before he was scheduled to feud with the Big Boss Man (which had its potential start when Rude started to make degrading comments about the Bossman's mother).

Rude returned to Jim Crockett Promotions, now known as World Championship Wrestling, as The Halloween Phantom at Halloween Havoc on October 27, 1991, unmasking himself later that night. He founded and led The Dangerous Alliance, consisting of himself, Paul E. Dangerously, Madusa, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko and "Stunning" Steve Austin. Rude won the United States Championship from Sting and feuded with Ricky Steamboat, at one point breaking his nose in a gang attack.

In 1992, Rude and Madusa left The Dangerous Alliance and feuded with Nikita Koloff. Rude challenged reigning World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons on several occasions but did not defeat him. He was injured in December of that year and was forced to forfeit the United States Championship. Rude returned alone in April 1993 and tried to reclaim the title from Dustin Rhodes, who had won it while he was injured. The title was eventually held up after several controversial finishes to matches between the two.

Rude switched his sights to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, making his intentions clear on August 28, 1993, when he was the guest on then-champion Ric Flair's "A Flair For the Gold" talk segment. Rude went on to defeat Flair for the title in September 1993 at Fall Brawl. However, as WCW had recently withdrawn from the NWA, the title could no longer be called the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (WCW had purchased the belt itself, however). The title was renamed the WCW International Championship, which Rude lost to Hiroshi Hase on March 16, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan. Rude regained the title just eight days later in Kyoto, Japan. After dropping the title to Sting on April 17, Rude pinned Sting on May 1 in Fukuoka to become a three time champion. However, Rude injured his back during the match; unable to wrestle, he was stripped of the title (with the storyline excuse that he was found to have used the title belt as a weapon in the course of the match). Rude retired shortly after.

Rude collected on an insurance policy and did not compete in wrestling again until 1997, when he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling as a masked man who harassed Shane Douglas, at one point spanking Francine. He eventually unmasked and became a color commentator. He would later align himself, for a short time, with Shane Douglas and his Triple Threat. During the ECW versus USWA / WWF inter-company competition, Rude helped Jerry "The King" Lawler defeat ECW mainstays Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman.

Rude appeared on both RAW is WAR and WCW Monday Nitro on November 17, 1997. A more clean-shaven Rude appeared on Nitro, which was live, and proceeded to criticize the WWF, calling the company the "Titanic" (a reference to Titan Enterprises, as the WWF's parent company was then known as the "sinking ship"). An hour later on RAW (which had been taped six days earlier), Rude then appeared with a beard. Rude also appeared on ECW's Hardcore TV during that weekend (November 14-16 as the show was syndicated differently depending on the market). Rude was still making ECW appearances while in D-Generation X.

Rude became a member of the New World Order, managing his friend Curt Hennig. When the nWo split, Hennig and Rude joined the nWo Wolfpac and tried to motivate Konnan to defeat Goldberg, who was undefeated at the time. When Konnan was defeated by Goldberg, Rude and Hennig attacked him, later joining nWo Hollywood, the rivals of the Wolfpac. By late 1998, both Rude and Hennig were off WCW TV due to injuries. Hennig had an ongoing leg injury that year, and Rude had testicular cancer. However Rude's cancer was not life threatening. Curt Hennig returned to the nWo from his injury at Starrcade '98 without Rude, who was still unable to appear on WCW. Rude was rumored to be training for a full time comeback to active wrestling in early 1999.

Rude died on April 20, 1999 after suffering heart failure. The believed cause of death may have been an overdose of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and steroids. An autopsy report showed he died from an overdose of "mixed medications". In 1994 he testified that he had used anabolic steroids to build muscle mass and relieve joint pain.

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