I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by what wrestling stars did when they were between gigs. For instance, as much as Jim Cornette has talked about lots of other things, his time between leaving WCW and starting SMW is pretty much unspoken for beyond his LPWA commentary gigs and independent shows for Bobby Fulton.
I became a wrestling fan in 1991 properly, so I was vaguely aware of Ravishing Rick Rude but he was out of the WWF by the time I properly knew him. My first exposure to him was really in the pages of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, where his bizarre for feud in IWCCW with fellow recent WWF departee the Honky Tonk Man was getting some coverage, as well as a short-lived Rude Awakening hotline was being advertised.
So, today I’m going to have a look at some of the things he was doing in his independent year between his big WWF run and his return to WCW as the Halloween Phantom.
(That picture says a thousand words.)
Rude in IWCCW
First up, the Rumble Seat, the interview segment for wrestler-turned-manager-turned-wrestler again Boston Bad Boy Tony Rumble. My understanding is he was a massive guy, but not a good wrestler, so they turned him into a manager, then realised he was too big to be a manager so had him wrestle again, which he did up until his death later in the nineties. He was still getting mentions during the ECW days.
He welcomes ace photographer George Napolitano, who gets lots of plaudits but no reaction, to opine who is the greatest intercontinental champeen and best user of the neckbreaker, the Honky Tonk Man or Ravishing Rick Rude. George rides the fence while Rumble tells off the kids who are too close to him, finally choosing Rude because he was world champion in World Class. Honky comes down to argue the point in his favour before Rude also arrives. He’s not totally a face, but he’s not playing heel strongly. His dialogue is almost like from a Street Fighter II cut scene:
“Honky Tonk Man – you are great. A great big FOOL! Let’s get it on right now!”
Rude hits the ring and takes his robe off, but Honky won’t take the bate and walks off.
Next up: Bill Apter hosts his Press Conference (and you wonder why this was getting coverage in PWI?) with Honky. There’s one version of this out where the colour is so bad that his blue and red gear looks green. Honky talks himself up as the greatest intercontinental champion of ALL TIME. Rude comes out to rebut, because the only person who’ll tell you that Honky’s the greatest IC champ is the guy in the jumpsuit. Honky starts flaring up as Rude starts disrobing, but a guy who looks to be about 5 foot tall and a octogenarian comes in to hold him back as they cut to one of their buffers.
The Middle Line: There’s been less inspired ideas by small promotions using big stars, but this was using history from outside their promotion across several other ones and even recycling old graphics and music from a dead one. The boys did wrestle, which would’ve been fun to see, but it’s not out there to view. No idea who won (I imagine the face-ish Rude on a DQ), but Honky got the final word in with his rumourmongering that Rude topped himself after a Viagra dosage gone wrong.
(A part of me wants to think that he had those tights, naming his version of the neckbreaker, just for this shitty promotion.)
Rude in Japan
Rick Rude, Steve Williams and Terry Gordy vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (July 11th, 1991)
A month later, Rude would be in Japan. I’m going to admit straight up that I am not a Japanese wrestling aficionado and welcome anyone who is to make any necessary corrections on move names and the like. I’ll just call this as I see it.
The faces are mobbed on the way to the ring, but looks pretty surly rather than happy and appreciative. Misawa and Kawada I know, but Kikuchi I don’t. Apparently he was inspired by the Dynamite Kid, although hopefully only inside the ring, not outside. The tights are certainly reminiscent of Dyno, with a Japanese theme instead of British. He reminds me at this point of Takayuki Iizuka, particularly with the good looks and hair. Rude and the Miracle Violence Connection rush the ring, but hold off on attacking. Rude looks vastly different to Doc and Gordy, with short hair, tights and the robe, but does tonally fit with them. He doesn’t do the stripper routine, but takes a moment to reveal the custom tights, which the camera does the Elvis job on and doesn’t show from below the waist, but they’re multicoloured and appear to have Japanese women swooning over Rude on them.
Cut to the action, with Tawada and Williams covered in sweat and Williams getting his arm worked over. Kikuchi gets a nice dropkick, but Steve presses him off into his corner and Rude stomps him and tags in and hits a piledriver for two. Nice one, too. Kikuchi gets a kick in and Misawa tags in and gets a LARIATO! Rude thumbs the eye and brings in Gordy, who boots Misawa right in the face in the corner. Feels weird to say it, seeing as he was the bigger guy, but he was the finesse guy on the Doc and Gordy team. Doc gets a spinebuster for two then holds Misawa down to the mat with a full nelson while Gordy puts the boots in. Misawa escape and brings Kawada in for a double kick, which Doc flies on. Spinning heel kick sends Doc out and Kawada follows, but he gets clotheslined over the railing after a reversed Irish whip. Williams lays it in with a chair on Kikuchi, who goes to rescue Kawada then tells the crowd “Fuck you!”.
Back in, Gordy is tagged in for the double corner clotheslines. Rude comes in with a missile dropkick of all things (not his first time, but a rarity). Kawada kicks him from the mat, so Williams interferes and drags him back to their conrer. Gordy tags in with a single leg Boston, which he then turns into an STF. Williams comes back in with an elbowdrop after the inevitable escape, then gets a proper Boston crab, very much like the Walls of Jericho. Kawada gets the ropes to break. Rude returns with a side backbreaker and elbowdrop, then goes to the bearhug. I hate to play this game, but the announcer calls him “Lavishing”. Kawada gets a nice escape, but the sweat-drenched Rude manages to get him back to his corner and tags in Gordy. Williams joins up with him for a double clothesline for two. Williams bars the arms while trapping the feet until Kikuchi comes in and really lays them in to help. Rude returns with a fistdrop, but can’t avoid the Kawada grounded kicks. Williams cuts off a tag with a neat powerslam. Sadly for Rude, the custom tights are starting to wear out and his jockstrap starts showing.
Rude and Kawada bash heads, so Gordy comes in uninvited and knocks Misawa off the apron. He then rips up the padding around ringside and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Misawa blocks with upside-down kicks. In the ring, Rude gets dropkicked by Kikuchi, who has tagged in, and almost pinned with a German suplex. He gets a clothesline to cut off the volley and hits the Rude Awakening DDT for two with Misawa breaking up the pin. Doc comes in and tries for the Stampede, but Kikuchi slips off the shoulder and tags in Misawa, who hits the Tiger Driver for two, with both Rude and Gordy breaking it up. Williams tags in Gordy, who eats a forearm shot, then gets Tiger Driven himself for two. Rude DDTs Kikuchi on the outside while Doc tangles with Kawada.
Gordy gets one powerbomb for two on Misawa, then follows with an elbow smash, and finally finishes with the powerbomb for the victory. Kikuchi tends to him after the match in the ring, while Kawada is somewhere near backstage on the floor courtesy of Steve Williams. Pretty physically hot match, as the American boys were soaked by the end of it, and generally a good match, not outstanding, but fun enough to see Kikuchi in there with much bigger guys and the MVC just bulldozing whoever they had in with them, plus Rude keeping in his lane as the visiting attraction with lots of little things.
Rick Rude, Steve Williams and Terry Gordy vs. Akira Taue, Jumbo Tsuruta and Mighty Inoue (July 14th, 1991)
(Note: this match begins at the 16:38 point after a repeat of the last match with the after-match footage cut off).
Rude’s antagonistic tights this time are blue with a red dragon wrapped around his legs and a picture of himself on the front with a Japanese girl clinging onto him. Funny cut to Jumbo straight after, with his perpetual frown acting as a review.
Cut to the action, with Doc working a front facelock on Inoue, who of the three Japanese guys here is the one I know the least about. Gordy tags in to assist on a double clothesline for two. Big slam and elbow on the much smaller Inoue, who then rolls into a tag from Jumbo. My understanding is that his health had not yet deteriorated, so this is him still at full power. He gets a stiff forearm shot and applies a Boston crab, which he changes to a single leg, but Doc sneaks in with a shot off the top while Rude distracts the ref. Gordy goes the STF. Taue, with BIG hair, breaks it with stomp. Doc comes in with a grounded single leg grapevine, really playing it up with his snarling facial expressions. Taue tags in to some boos, and flails away, but Doc absolutely muscles him up and drops him on the back of his head with a backdrop driver. That looked totally legit. Rude comes in with his elbowdrops, which I should remark for the uninitiated are very much like Bret Hart’s, but with the arm curved out. He gets a STIFF clothesline and piledriver for two each. Gordy gets Taue up for a suplex for two, which again looked like hard work. His own side suplex, twice, for two. Gordy at least had the courtesy to not try and murder him with those.
Williams tags back in and gets a spinebuster (not on par with Arn’s), then taunts Jumbo to a great offended look from him. Taue gets a sunset flip out of nowhere, but gets clotheslined from hell when Doc gets back up. Gordy comes in and hits a pretty decent dropkick. Taue looks incredibly young here, although he was thirty. Gordy sets him up for a spike piledriver, but Jumbo knocks Doc off the top rope to block it and Taue backdrops out. Rude comes in to attack, with Gordy getting a knee from the outside, setting up the DDT for two. Taue blocks a suplex from Rude, with Jumbo getting the hot tag, then dishing out high knees for all the heels, which they all find impressive and unique ways to sell. Abdominal stretch attempted on Rude, which Steve breaks up with a clothesline. Backdrop suplex on Rude for two, broken up by Gordy. Gordy tags in and sets up the powerbomb, which is broken up by Taue. Inoue comes in, but eats two corner clotheslines for two. Doc comes back in but flies off a flying shoulderblock. One flip senton, but another is missed, allowing Williams to execute the Stampede. Jumbo breaks it up, so Steve just hits another slam and drops down for the final pinfall. A bit of an anticlimactic finish, to be honest, but the rest of the match was good, with the beatdown of Jumbo initially, then Taue, then Jumbo returning like Hulk Hogan to send the heels flying.
The Bottom Line: Interesting to see Rick Rude wrestling in a way completely different than he would for the American audience, which isn’t totally uncommon. Obviously he was just there for the short tour, not for a long run, so he played it safe a lot, but a good showing for him. I would’ve loved to have seen him wrestle Jumbo and Kikuchi in singles matches in America, so he could bump like a maniac for the legend and dominate the smaller guy with a lot of spirit respectively.
(If you get it, you get it.)