Image via 25.media.tumblr.com
The two big recent Cageside Seats Tournaments have gotten me thinking recently about some of the underrated and under appreciated talents that have performed in the wrestling business; wrestlers whose impact, influence, and abilities have never gotten their due, or have been lost with the passage of time.
These musings have provided inspiration for me to start writing some retrospectives on these underrated performers in order to help raise their stock among some fans (even if just for a couple of people, it will go down as a success in my book). To start off my effort, I will be looking at the one and only Ravishing Rick Rude.
Cue the music!
It is a rare occasion in the wrestling business for a wrestler to come along who possesses both the charisma and magnetism of The Ravishing One. Rude used his limitless charisma to become one of the greatest heels of his era. There is not a single wrestler today who can generate the heat that Rude could merely with the gyration of his hips.
During his time, Rude was the best in the business at using interaction with the fans to create a compelling dynamic. Rude assaulted the masculinity and self-esteem of the men in attendance, while simultaneously making the women sitting around them swoon. Every little thing Rude did empowered and escalated the dynamic. Of course, there were large and bombastic actions as well, the most infamous being The Rude Awakening.
The Rude Awakening (also the name of his finisher) was a segment in which Rude would bestow upon one lucky female in the audience, the opportunity to be ravished by him. The Rude Awakening was also important because it led to one of the hottest feuds of the era with Jake the Snake Roberts. Rude's attempt to give Jake's wife Cheryl The Rude Awakening led to a long-standing rivalry between the two, one which would produce a great "finisher match", hilarious moments (Rude wearing tights with Cheryl's face on them), and a feud that was ahead of its time.
Rude's work with Roberts in this feud would help make Jake the Snake credible for his next feud (Andre the Giant). Some highlights from the feud:
Rude's character work is generally the focus of praise for him, but what often gets lost in the shuffle is the talent he possessed in the ring. Rude was an elite worker who could vary his style depending on the man across the ring from him, and there was also the way he would sell for them like his life depended on it. He excelled at creating matches that were both technically sound and psychologically compelling.
Rude's talent in the ring was demonstrated with a wide variety of wrestlers, from Steamboat to Flair, but his talent really shone in the matches he was able to get out of limited workers, such as the Ultimate Warrior and Sting. Everyone who stepped into the ring with Rude came out on the other side looking better -- win, lose, or draw.
Some of Rick Rude's greatest matches:
Unfortunately for the wrestling world, his in-ring career was ended due to a reckless spot by Sting in Japan. He would take a couple of years away from the business before returning as a color-commentator for ECW, and an enforcer for DX. Rude's anger over the Montreal Screwjob would lead him to become the only person to have the distinction of appearing on Raw and Nitro on the same day.
He would serve as Curt Hennig's manager during this second run with WCW while training for a return to the ring. This return would never occur, due to his death from heart failure on April 20, 1999.
Rick Rude was the consummate professional and by all accounts the consummate human being. He is remembered mostly as a the Lothario of the wrestling world when he was actually so much more. Ravishing Rick Rude is deserving of a place in the pantheon of greatest wrestlers of all time.
Editor's Note: This FanPost has been mildly edited to be promoted to the front page and various sections at Cageside Seats for your enjoyment, Cagesiders! We look forward to more in this series from our very own, Buckeye Brawler. Enjoy!