Richard Erwin Rood (December 7, 1958 – April 20, 1999), better known by his ring name "Ravishing" Rick Rude, was an American professional wrestler who performed for many promotions, most notably World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation, in the 1980s and 1990s. Among other accolades, Rude was a four-time World Champion (a three-time WCW International World Heavyweight Champion and one-time WCWA World Heavyweight Champion), a one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion and one-time WCW United States Champion.
The self-proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive", Rude was noted for his chiseled physique as well as being one of the greatest talkers in the history of professional wrestling. He is also notable for being a member of the original incarnation of D-Generation X, alongside Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna.
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 later became professional wrestlers.
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 the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association. 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 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. He defeated Pez Whatley for the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship on January 16, 1985 and lost it to Brian Blair on April 10, 1985. He captured the championship again on July 20, 1985, when he defeated Mike Graham in the finals of a Southern title tournament. He held the belt until October 2 of that year when he dropped it to Wahoo McDaniel, who was booking Florida during this time. While teaming with Jesse Barr, he won the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship on April 16, 1985, and feuded with Billy Jack Haynes and McDaniel over the belts, losing the straps to McDaniel and Haynes on July 9, 1985. In late 1985, he jumped to World Class Championship Wrestling along with Pringle, where he feuded with Kevin Von Erich and Chris Adams. During his time in WCCW, Rude captured the NWA American Heavyweight Championship on November 4, 1985. However, WCCW withdrew from the NWA on February 20, 1986, and changed its name to the World Class Wrestling Association. The NWA American Championship was renamed the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship while Rude was still holding the title. As a result, Rude became the promotion's first World Champion. After losing the title to Chris 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, known collectively as the "Awesome Twosome", won the NWA World Tag Team Championship on December 6, 1986 from The Rock 'n' Roll Express, and they began a feud that ended only when Rude left the promotion for the World Wrestling Federation 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.
World Wrestling Federation (1987–1990)
In the WWF, Rude was managed by Jimmy Hart and later Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. He 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 insulting the males in the crowd and, after his victories, he would kiss a woman that Heenan picked from the fans. One of Rude's trademarks was his specially airbrushed tights that he wore during matches. In one storyline, he tried to get Roberts' real-life wife, Cheryl, to comply, aggravating Roberts. On another 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 television viewers to leave him naked, although the live audience saw him stripped to a thong instead.
Rude's next big feud was with The Ultimate Warrior and began in January at the 1989 Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a "Super Posedown" that ended with Rude attacking Warrior with a metal pose bar. With help from Heenan, Rude won the WWF 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 throughout the rest of '89 and into the Spring of '90, where in they had many matches including lumberjack and cage matches with Piper winning the majority. Rude then resumed his conflict with the Warrior in the spring throughout the summer of 1990 after the Warrior had won the WWF Championship. The two battled in a cage at SummerSlam 1990, however Rude failed to win the title and departed from WWF in October 1990 after being upset with his booking. This departure came 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 Boss Man's mother.
World Championship Wrestling (1991–1994)
Rude made his way to World Championship Wrestling, which had originally been Jim Crockett Promotions prior to being sold to Ted Turner in late 1988; he debuted as The WCW 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. On November 19, 1991, Rude defeated Sting for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship and engaged in a number of high-profile feudes, including one with Ricky Steamboat. At one point during their feud, Steamboat suffered a kayfabe broken nose in a gang attack.
In 1992, Rude and Medusa left The Dangerous Alliance and feuded with Nikita Koloff. Rude challenged reigning WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons on several occasions but did not defeat him. In December 1992, Rude suffered a legitimate injury and was forced to forfeit the United States Championship, thus ending his reign of nearly 14 months, a reign that still stands today as the second longest reign in the 33-year history of the title. 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, although Rhodes regained the title in a rematch.
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 defeated Flair for the title in September 1993 at Fall Brawl. As WCW had recently withdrawn from the NWA, WCW lost the rights to continue using the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. WCW created their own championship, dubbing it the WCW International World Heavyweight 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. Rude, however, 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 thereafter.
Extreme Championship Wrestling and return to the WWF (1997)
Rude collected on a Lloyd's of London insurance policy and did not compete in wrestling again until 1996, when he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) as a masked man who harassed Shane Douglas, at one point spanking Francine. He eventually unmasked and became a color commentator before later aligning himself, for a short time, with Douglas and his Triple Threat stable. During the ECW versus USWA / WWF inter-company competition, Rude helped Jerry Lawler defeat ECW mainstays Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman.
Rude later returned to WWF as the "insurance policy" of the D-Generation X (DX) stable (Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna). As a member of DX, Rude never wrestled, but would stay ringside during the group's matches. He once again left WWF after the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series. According to Bret Hart, Rude stayed in the locker room during Bret's confrontation with Vince McMahon, later calling Eric Bischoff and informing him what had happened was in fact real. As Rude was not signed to a full-time contract with WWF, and was instead performing on a "pay-per-appearance" basis, Rude was able to negotiate a deal with Bischoff and WCW, in part due to his anger over the Montreal Screwjob.
Return to WCW (1997–1998)
Rude appeared on both WWF Raw is War and WCW Monday Nitro on November 17, 1997. A mustached Rude appeared on Nitro, which was live, and proceeded to criticize Shawn Michaels, DX, and the WWF, calling the company the "Titanic" (a reference to Titan Sports, 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 the full beard he'd been sporting during his return to the WWF. Rude also appeared on ECW 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.
In WCW, Rude became a member of the nWo, managing his friend Curt Hennig. When the nWo split, Hennig and Rude joined the nWo Wolfpac, and they 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 was thought to have had testicular cancer which later turned out to be a cyst. Curt Hennig returned to the nWo from his injury at Starrcade 1998 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.
Rood married his wife Michelle in 1988 and the couple remained together until his death in 1999, having three children together. His youngest son, Colton, died on September 3, 2016, in a motorcycle accident in Rome, Georgia, at the age of 19.
Bret Hart has stated that Rood was a devoted family man who never took his wedding ring off even during matches; covering it up with tape. Hart also stated that Rude, along with Curt Hennig, was one of the greatest technical wrestlers of his era.
Rude died at the age of 40 on April 20, 1999 after suffering heart failure. He is survived by his wife Michelle and their three children. The 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." Rude testified in 1994 that he had used anabolic steroids to alleviate pain in his joints and increase muscle mass.
Despite entering superstar status toward the end of the decade, "Ravishing" Rick Rude became one of the most successful heel superstars of the WWF 1980's boom. With his raunchy pre-match entrance and opponent themed tights, Rude paved the way for male superstars adopting an adult film star type character. Managed by Bobby Heenan, Rude became a pivotal member of the infamous Heenan Family.
Rude was widely known as one of the toughest men in the business and legitimately feared. It is said that Hulk Hogan refused to wrestle Rude, who had a brutally strong grip, and was known to knock men out with a single open handed slap to the face. In 1988 Randy Savage, who was WWF Champion at the time, purposely chose Rick Rude and the Dynamite Kid to watch his back at a bar when they were in NWA territory. The bar was a well known hangout for NWA wrestlers and Savage knew someone in NWA could make a name for themselves by legitimately taking out the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. With Rude and Kid being Savage's bodyguards, there were no issues that night. Rude also was a noted arm wrestler, finishing sixth in the world championships in Las Vegas in the light heavyweight division in 1983.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "The Ravishing One"
- "Ravishing" Rick Rude
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers managed
- "Smooth Operator" by Sade (WCCW)
- The Stripper (WWF)
- "Arms Of Fire" by Jim Horn (AJPW)
- "Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565" by Johann Sebastian Bach (as The WCW Phantom) (WCW)
- "Big Brother" (WCW; production theme)
- "Simply Ravishing" from the WCW Slam Jam Vol. 1 album (WCW)
- "The Stripper" by David Rose (ECW)
- "Simply Ravishing" by Harry Slash (ECW)
- "Turn up the radio" by Autograph (ECW)
- "Break It Down (V1)" by The DX Band, used November 10, 1997 (WWF; as a member of the D-Generation X)
- "Rockhouse" from the Focus Music library (WCW; as a member of the nWo)
Championships and accomplishments
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Jim Crockett Promotions
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Class Championship Wrestling / World Class Wrestling Association
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter