When you think back to the great Superstars over the last 25 years in the WWE, who are some of the names that come to mind? What are some of the characteristics that embody a great Superstar?
Being great inside the ring goes without saying, but being able to use a microphone and work a crowd to develop a certain persona is something that not every Superstar can pull off.
"Ravishing" Rick Rude could not only do it all—he excelled at it.
Rude's career started back in 1982, and soon after, he was involved with the National Wrestling Alliance. He worked in several territories but made his first big mark in Florida.
Managed by Percy Pringle (who would later become known as Paul Bearer), Rude was able to defeat Pez Whatley for the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship in January 1985.
Rude would go on to have many exciting matches with guys like Brian Blair and Eddie Graham before leaving for World Class Championship Wrestling later that same year.
In WCCW, Rude would have a feud with Kevin Von Erich and would later win the promotion's NWA American Heavyweight Championship, becoming the last man to hold it before the title was renamed when WCCW withdrew from the NWA.
In 1986, Rude made his way back to Jim Crockett Promotions and joined forces with Manny Fernandez. The duo went on to become very successful team during their time together.
In December 1986, Rude and "The Raging Bull" Fernandez were able to take the NWA Tag Team titles away from the Rock N' Roll Express.
Together, Rude and Fernandez held the titles for nearly six months before losing them back to Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. Interestingly enough, these same titles would be unified in the WWE 15 years later.
Rude and Fernandez may have gone on to be one of the best tag teams of their era, but Rude was given his opportunity in WWE.
First Run in WWE
Rude is probably most remembered from his time in WWE in the late 1980s, as this was arguably the peak of his career.
As a member of the infamous Heenan Family, Rude was best known for his pre-match promos in which he would generally insult the people in the crowd.
With Bobby Heenan in his corner, the two were able to create one of the most perfect pairings the WWE ever put together, the likes of which we've rarely seen.
Rude became one of the most disliked Superstars for his antics, which is why he was one of the better heels the company had at the time.
Feud With Jake Roberts
Rude would often pull a young female fan out of the crowd following a victory and plant a big kiss on her, portraying himself as a physical gift to women.
That all changed when Rude attempted to bring Cheryl Roberts in for his routine. Cheryl was the real-life wife of WWE Superstar Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
This led to one of the most personal feuds in WWE history, especially when Rude decided to have a portrait of Cheryl airbrushed on his tights.
At Survivor Series in 1988, Roberts and Rude were on opposing teams in a 5-on-5 elimination match. Though neither man was able to survive the match, Roberts did pin Rude following his vaunted DDT, the only measure of revenge he ever really got on him.
Feud with Ultimate Warrior
The most prominent feud Rude had in WWE was with the Ultimate Warrior. The feud went on for an extended period of time, and both men brought out the best in the other.
At the Royal Rumble in 1989, Ultimate Warrior and Rude were scheduled to have a pose off. But that went down about the same way it would today—with Rude attacking Warrior.
This led to what was easily Rude's best feud while he was in WWE. The two men would square off at WrestleMania 5 for the Intercontinental title.
The match wasn't exactly a classic, but with a big assist from Heenan, Rude won his first title in WWE while handing Warrior his first defeat at the same time.
Rude would hold the title until SummerSlam that year, losing it back to Warrior after Rowdy Roddy Piper interfered and cost Rude the title.
Rude and Piper would go into a feud but in 1990, the company decided to put Rude and Ultimate Warrior into a program again.
For the second year in a row, the two would battle at SummerSlam. But this time, it was for the WWE title that Warrior had won from Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6. Not only that, but the match would take place inside a steel cage.
Rude and Warrior closed out SummerSlam 1990 in the main event. The match was only given ten minutes, but it was another great chapter in this feud.
Warrior would go on to win the match and retain his belt. Not long after, Rude left WWE.
Rude surfaced in WCW in October 1991 at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view. Wearing a mask as the Halloween Phantom, Rude revealed himself that night.
He joined the Dangerous Alliance and quickly became the cornerstone of the group, led by Paul E. Dangerously, a.k.a. Paul Heyman.
Three weeks after his arrival in WCW, Rude took the United States title from Sting and went on a run that made him one of, if not the top Superstar the company had.
Still holding the U.S. title, Rude would break away from the Dangerous Alliance in 1992, bringing Madusa with him.
Nikita Koloff would be one of his main feuds, and that led to him challenging Ron Simmons for the World Heavyweight Championship. Though he came close, he was unable to take the title from Simmons.
Rude would sustain an injury later that year, forcing WCW to take the U.S. title off of him. In total, he held the belt for 14 months.
When he returned, Rude went into a feud with Dustin Rhodes over the U.S. title. The two men traded victories back and forth before Rude set his sights higher.
At WCW Fall Brawl in 1993, Rude had perhaps the greatest moment of his wrestling career, defeating Ric Flair to become World Heavyweight Champion.
Rude would defend the title several times in Japan in 1994, losing it to Hiroshi Hase, only to get it back eight days later.
In April 1994, Sting defeated Rude in Japan for the belt but was only able to keep it away from him for two weeks. Rude defeated Sting to become a three-time champion in Fukuoka, Japan.
However, Rude's success would be short-lived. He suffered a serious injury to his back in the win over Sting and was not able to get into the ring again.
WCW eventually stripped Rude of the title, and he announced his retirement.
Rude was out of the wrestling business for years, but Heyman, his friend from the Dangerous Alliance days, came calling.
Rude had a short career in ECW, aligning himself with Shane Douglas for a brief time. His appearance for a rival company may have led to WWE wanting him back, however.
Return to WWE
In 1997, D-Generation X was on top of WWE and the group—Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chyna—decided to get themselves some backup.
Rude was brought in to fill that role, serving as a manager of sorts for the member of the group. While he never wrestled a match, it was nice to see Rude on WWE television once again.
That feeling wouldn't last long.
Going Back to WCW
Rude was able to strike a deal with WCW's Eric Bischoff, and it led to a piece of wrestling history.
Since WWE Monday Night Raw was taped at the time and WCW Nitro was live, Rude actually became the first Superstar to ever appear on both shows in the same night.
WCW ended up using Rude in a similar role to what WWE was doing with him, placing him in their elite group at the time, the New World Order.
Rude mainly managed his long time friend Curt Hennig as his wrestling career wound down.
Tragically, Rude passed away on April 20, 1999 at the age of 40 years old. Though he may not be the first Superstar that comes to mind when you think of the greats, he certainly deserves to be there.
In a time when WWE was loaded with talent and multiple characters, Rude stood out as being a true professional. Still, his career seems underrated at times.
Though it would be a posthumous honor, WWE electing him to the Hall of Fame would not only be a good choice—but the right one.