Damien Sandow is excellent at insulting the WWE fanbase, but he isn't as good as Rick Rude was in his prime, at least not yet.
Sandow's verbal mistreatment of fans continues a longstanding tradition, one that the late Rude carried on with precision. Rude spent the late '80s trashing WWE fans en route to becoming one of the better heels of his generation. He did the same to those who came to see him when he later wrestled for WCW.
Sandow, like Rude did before him, opens his matches armed with a microphone, laying a verbal smackdown to generate heat before he throws a single blow.
The self-proclaimed Duke of Decency has been a consistently entertaining mic worker. He digs into a deep stock of rich vocabulary to attack fans. His grating character has been convincing and compelling.
Both Sandow and Rude have employed their self-righteous suaveness to excellent effect. While Cody Rhodes' tag team partner has a better, more varied supply of insults, Rude's taunts cut deeper.
The Case for The Ravishing One
Rude's routine hit a nerve. He was harsh, direct and sleazy.
After strutting down to the ring wearing a smug look and a glittery robe, Rude would shout, "Cut the music." He wanted the audience to hear every biting word he had for them.
His routine seemed to follow a template.
He would start start with "What I'd like to have right now" and then proceed to toss in a number of jabs about the crowd's physical appearance. More often than not, Rude insulted their city as well.
Fans were called everything from pork-sucking peons to some variation on sweathogs. Watching Rude wrestle educated one on just how many sweathogs resided across the country.
Rude almost always included the words "fat" and "ugly" in his speech.
He'd then say he wanted to show the women in that particular town what a real man looked like. He shimmied his chiseled physique for them to see.
Implying that the men in the audience weren't manly enough for their women, that they were physically underwhelming is far more powerful than saying that the local sports team sucks. Even though folks knew it was entertainment, it was difficult to stomach his attacks at times.
Rude was also more mean than Sandow.
While Sandow believes your opinion is irrelevant, at least he thanks you for it. He ends his tirades with "You're welcome." There’s a giving, almost nurturing nature about Sandow. It's as if he pities everyone and wants to take care of them.
Rude, on the other hand, seemed to despise anyone who wasn't an attractive female.
Fans didn't need to consult a dictionary to understand what Rude was calling them, either. Rude's words weren't as dressed up as Sandow's, but they were plenty effective.
The Case for The Intellectual Savior of the Masses
Sandow has made his mark on WWE in a short time, thanks largely to his smooth talking and supreme disdain for fans and foes alike. Like Nick Bockwinkel, Chris Jericho and many others before him, Sandow approaches villainy with an intellectual slant.
After Sandow begs our indulgence, he proceeds to refer to the crowd as "the unwashed masses" or "ignoramuses." He speaks of the audience falling into the bowels of their own inadequacies and shortcomings, among other similar put-downs.
His approach has less of a set routine than Rude's. He is playful with the role, seemingly delighting in sneering at the WWE Universe. Sandow’s slights are packed with underused words and slam on our collective intelligence.
Sandow is sweepingly dismissive while Rude generally only insulted the male portion of the crowd. While some folks may have been non-sweathog enough to have Rude not attack them, it's hard to imagine anyone other than his tag partner who Sandow wouldn't believe below him.
The question of whether Sandow's or Rude’s insults are worse is a question of whether it's worse to have one's appearance and virility or one's brains called into question.
Sandow's is a fun act. He's a deeper overall character than Rude but has some work to do in catching up to that legend in terms of both ring work and stirring up hatred. Sandow should have plenty of years left in him and could add nuances to his work that elevates it past Rude and other heel icons.
The present doesn't always have to surpass the past, though; it just has to be good, and Sandow is certainly that.