Ravishing Rick Rude was the man you loved to hate. He was a true heel in the classic tradition of wrestling heels. He was loud, arrogant and cocky. He would strut to the ring in his garrish costumes, flicking his hair and showing pure contempt for the fans. Showered with boos and cat calls from the crowd, he would sneer and taunt us. As if that weren't enough, he would get in the ring and get a mic in his hand for one of his legendary pre-match speeches, by then our blood would be boiling with hatred. He could make the crowd hate him like noone else at the time.
But at the same time, his athletic prowess in the ring was unmatched. And the fans truly appreciated him for this. I genuinely hated the character he played, but I never missed one of his matches. In his prime, he was one of the best workers in the business. His dedication to wrestling was evident in his chisled physique and astounding skill. He could switch between pure technical wrestling, showmanship and outright brawling seamlessly several times in the course of one match. During his four years with the WWF, there was none better. Why he never wore the Heavyweight belt is not a mystery, he wrestled in the era of Hogan, when the WWF only wanted face champs, so unfortunately he never won the big one. He had to settle for second best, the Intercontinental Championship.
My fondest memory of the Ravishing One, was his epic feud with Jake 'the Snake' Roberts. He would pull a young lady from the crowd and plant a kiss on her prior to each match. One night, Jake's wife was sitting in the front row, and Rick selected her for the 'thrill of her life'. As per the script, she of course took great offense to this. She explained that she couldn't kiss him because her husband wouldn't like that. When Rick asked her who her husband was she proudly said, "Jake 'the Snake' Roberts", of course he was unimpressed by this fact and kissed her anyways. She slapped him and Rude pushed her to the floor, and one of the greatest feuds in WWF history was on. Rude was able to carry the less talented Roberts for months, giving fans outstanding match after outstanding match. A truly classic wrestling feud that will be remembered by the older fans for a long long time.
Rude eventually left the WWF and joined the rival up and coming WCW promotion. He met with success in the WCW, continuing his track record of phenomenal matches. But a serious back injury ended his in ring career, and he was forced to retire from active wrestling. He moved to the ECW promotion , returning to the WWF briefly and finally the WCW as a manager. This kept him in the business he loved so much. Shortly before his death, he was working on a deal to become a broadcaster. But sadly, Rick suffered a massive heart attack at home and died en route to the hospital.
Rick dazzled us with his skills and charisma in the ring. It is amazing the impact he left on the wrestling world in only 11 years as an active wrestler. One of his biggest admirers, Val Venis, openly admits to paterning his character idea after Rude's. He was one of those rare wrestlers that could make a mediocre opponent look great in the ring. Most notably, Roberts and the Ultimate Warrior, no small feats in their own rights.
The Ravishing One was taken from us too soon. He left behind a legacy of professionalism, unmatched athleticism, great matches and unforgettable promos. Rick you will be missed, you left an empty space in our hearts that will never be filled. Godspeed to you sir.