Rick Rude’s in-ring persona was that of a muscle-bound, ego-centric ladies’ man. But his contemporaries remembered him as a good friend with a great sense of humour when they spoke to for SLAM! Wrestling.
In the WWF’s heyday of the late 1980s, when Rick Rude was a top heel, good guys and good guys didn’t mix like today.
Bad News Brown (Allen Coage) travelled the roads of North America with Rude.
“He was a really good guy. I liked him. He was a hell of a talent, a hell of a worker, and a good talker,” said Bad News Brown, before laughing and explaining his greatest memory of Rude.
“I didn’t like driving during the day. And so I said, ‘You drive during the day, I’ll drive at night.’ So he said okay. But I’d end up having to do all the driving anyway. … He was one of these guys that as soon as he got in the car, he’d fall asleep on you.”
Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart was shocked by the news, and said that Rude was one of “his closest handful of friends in the business” and they had been friends since Rude first entered the WWF.
“This one has come straight out of nowhere. With some wrestlers you can see it happening,” said Hart.
“He was a great family man. He loved his wife. He was one of those kind of guys who would never took his wedding ring off. He put a white piece of tape around it when he went into the ring. He was the kind of guy that when you need someone to back you up, he wouldn’t flinch at all. Not for money. Not for anything.”
Rick Martel, who now works as a French commentator for WCW, never wrestled Rick Rude. They were both heels, and often travelled together.
“What a great guy. He gave so much to wrestling. He was in there, and never held back nothing. He always was 100%,” Martel said. “I liked his sense of humour. It was always funny the way he looked at life. Being on the road, we always had frustrating situations with travelling and rental cars. He would always turn it around into a joke, put some humour into it. So that’s why I liked to be around him. He was a happy-go-lucky guy.”
‘The Mountie’ Jacques Rougeau Jr. also found Rude easy to get along with.
Rude was a “good guy in the dressing room. Never looked for trouble. Always did his own thing. I got along perfectly with him,” said Rougeau. “I can’t believe he passed away.”
Hart also told SLAM! Wrestling how Rude was one of the wrestlers who stood up for him after the Survivor Series incident when he knocked out Vince McMahon.
“[Rude] was one of the guys who refused to budge, refused to allow me to be put in a compromising position in the sense that he stayed in to make sure my back was watched. There are a lot of people who think that the whole thing between Vince and I was a hoax,” explained Hart. “Rick Rude was the one who called up Eric Bischoff and said ‘I was there. I was in the room and this is what happened’. I think his actions protected me. and saved me a lot of doubt down the road. Because even Eric Bischoff had to question whether this was a set-up or not. I was always grateful to Rick for making that call and for being with me in the room that day.”
Billy Red Lyons was the Toronto-based host of WWF Maple Leaf Wrestling in the late 1980s. He interviewed Rude on many occasions.
To Lyons, Rude was a “very good” interview. “I liked him. He had a nice personality,” said Lyons. “He has very friendly, polite … I really enjoyed being around him.”
— with files from John Powell