Remembering Ravishing Rick Rude

What I want all you fat, internet sweathogs to do right now is keep the noise down while I take off my robe…

Ravishing Rick Rude, one of the best heels in wrestling, died 16 years ago today. Rude was effective at his job of being a truly hateable character, and boy, did I hate the Ravishing One when I first got into wrestling as a youngster.

But it wasn’t until later in life upon rewatching his matches and hearing his promos again did I truly appreciate just how outstanding Rick Rude was.

At the time of his death, Rick Rude was a manager for the NWO, typically seconding his real-life friend, Curt Hennig. Rude was poorly used at the time, as was the case for much of the WCW roster.

His days in the ring ended in the mid-1990s, the result of a back injury suffered in a match in Japan against Sting. And yet, even without wrestling, Rick Rude continued to make indelible marks on the industry in other capacities.

Rude’s appearance on both Raw and Nitro the same night in November 1997 was one of the unforgettable moments of the Monday Night War.

Rude lent credibility to ECW with his appearances in the company. Rude and the late Brian Pillman had one of wrestling’s most engaging feuds in the mid-1990s with neither ever actually working in an ECW ring.

But before his injury, Rick Rude was an outlier: 6-foot-5 and nearly 270 pounds without an ounce of fat, yet moved with the nimbleness of a cruiserweight. For those with WWE Network subscriptions (or other means of obtaining old footage), watch Rick Rude’s series with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in 1992.

The two produced some of WCW’s best matches, at a time when the company routinely featured under-appreciated gems.

There are certain legends who never held the WWF/E championship or the Big Gold Belt: Roddy Piper, the aforementioned late Curt Hennig, Jake “The Snake” Roberts. But among them all, Rick Rude might be the best.