We all know the man is simply ravishing. Before he was ravishing though, he was a jobber just like where every other star in wrestling has to start. Before he began his wrestling career, Rick Rood attended Robbinsdale High School in Minnesota which is known for providing secondary education for some huge names in the industry. Curt Hennig, Nikita Koloff, Tom Zenk and others come to mind. He started in 1982 after being Eddie Sharkey and jobbed to the stars everywhere from the Carolinas to Vancouver. The man paid his dues. In 1983, Rick Rood had made his way to the territory Bill Watts made famous.
- Rick Rood vs. Rip Rogers – Mid-South Wrestling (9/2/83, Tulsa, OK)
This is Rood’s Mid-South TV debut. Rip Rogers looking like Lanny Poffo here. There is just television time remaining for this match, says JR. Some nice headlock-headscissors exchanges to start. JR puts over Minnesota as a great birthplace for wrestlers. He mentions Verne Gagne and Bob Backlund and how people in Oklahoma might have read about them in the wrestling magazines. Watts puts over One Man Gang who they will show on the program if there is still time. I like how even though its fixed and predetermined, they’ll do everything possible to give you the illusion that a match could end at any moment and they must plan around that illusion even when they know a One Man Gang match isn’t going to happen on the program. He makes OMG sound OMG without even having to bring him out. The man was a genius. Rood lets go of the headlock and hits Rogers with a crossbody for two. Odd seeing Rick Rude utilize babyface offense. Next week’s main event matches: Junkyard Dog vs. King Kong Bundy and Ted DiBiase vs. Hacksaw Jim DOOGAN. Funny how on paper they would both suck in the WWF years later, but would be much more interesting in Mid-South. If Hacksaw wins, DiBiase is leaving the Mid-South territory. Sorry for talking less about Rood and more about what JR and Watts are talking about. He’s just working a headlock. Rogers breaks free with a back suplex. Rood tries a couple quick pinfall attempts, but Rogers kicks out. He delivers a monkey flip and then gets FIRED UP as Rogers cowers back into the corner. Boy does Rood look green. He starts the babyface comeback and hits Rogers with a swinging neckbreaker for the three-count. (4:51) Love some Mid-South. I wish I could review more of it sometime. ¾*
As you may or may not know, Rick Rood was traded to Memphis in early 1984 in an infamous deal where Bill Watts received Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, Jim Cornette, Terry Taylor, Superstar Bill Dundee, and the Rock N Roll Express in exchange for Rick Rude (who we just saw was still incredibly green), Hacksaw Higgins, and Masao Ito. Needless to say, 1984 was an amazing year for Mid-South wrestling.
- Rick Rude (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Randy Savage (w/Angelo Poffo) – Memphis Wrestling (9/3/84, Mid-South Coliseum)
This is where Rude really go to develop his arrogant character as he joins Jimmy Hart’s First Family stable. By September, he had won several titles and had become one of the hottest heels in Memphis battling the #2 hero Randy Savage in a one-night tournament to decide who would win a new Cadillac, which is something that happened quite often in wrestling back in those days. In typical Memphis fashion, Rude stalls out on the floor for a bit. Meanwhile, Savage runs Jimmy Hart through the crowd and backstage. They finally lock up for a test of strength. Savage picks up Rude for an airplane spin that sends Rude falling out to the floor. With that, Savage heads to the outside and dumps a cup on confetti on Rude and then plays to the crowd, which must be some sort of joke I don’t understand. Back inside, Hart distracts the ref while Rude grabs Savage and heaves him clean over the top rope. With Savage dazed, Rude sends him into the ringpost. Back in again, Rude puts a hurting on him as he really seems to have improved over the last year. After a suplex, Rude picks up both legs and teases a kick to the nuts, but settles on working the knee. He gets cocky as Savage fires up with a backdrop. After a series of punches, he delivers a whole bunch of turnbuckle smashes. Savage rakes the face and dumps Rude to hit him with the Flying Double Sledge. He grabs a chair, but Jimmy gets it away from him. In the ring, Savage launches himself with a flying bodypress. Apparently the ref is busy handling a situation between Poffo and Hart because King Kong Bundy (who can’t really sneak anywhere) comes inside and hits Savage with an international object. Savage is KO’d, so Rude elbow drops Savage and gets the 1-2-3. (9:22 shown) After a year of matches in Memphis, it’s amazing to see the improvement. He’s starting to get the attitude down and as far as the wrestling goes, you can’t go wrong with Randy Savage. Bundy would defeat Lawler later in the evening, which sets up the tag match for the following week. Bundy and Rude won that match by DQ, which means a no-DQ match is in order to settle this once and for all. **
- Rick Rude & King Kong Bundy (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Jerry Lawler & Randy Savage – No-DQ Match (Memphis Wrestling, 9/17/84, Mid-South Coliseum)
Savage says he’s so unpredictable, even he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next! Savage and Rude pair off while Lawler battles Bundy. Lawler knocks Bundy to the floor so he and Savage can double-team Rude with a Double Sledge. Everybody heads to the outside as Lawler and Rude arm themselves with chairs. Savage grabs Rude from behind so Lawler can nail him with a chair. Bundy does little to help this situation. Savage nails Rude with a Flying Double Sledge to the floor and then brawls with Rude over to Lance Russell’s big blue commentary table. Once Lawler gets his hands on Rude, Savage nails Bundy with another Flying Double Sledge. Meanwhile, Lawler misses an elbow drop on Rude and takes an inverted atomic drop for his trouble. In comes Savage, but he gets tossed to the floor. Bundy smashes Lawler’s face on the commentary table, but Rude takes it a step further and smashes the TABLE on Savage’s face! Awesome. It looks like Rude wants to put Savage through the table, but Savage punches back and goes after Bundy. Rude then brings the table into the ring and lays it on top on Lawler so Bundy can stand on the table to squash Lawler! Savage punches Bundy away to stop all that. Lawler makes a comeback and wraps a chain around his fist to beat up Rude to set up a PILEDRIVER. Cover, 1-2-NO! Bundy squashes the ref, but here comes Savage with a Flying Double Sledge. He covers Bundy, but the ref is still out. Savage gets off of Bundy and punishes Rude with turnbuckle smashes. Lawler jumps on top of Bundy as another ref counts 1-2-NO! Hart grabs the ref and stops the count. Meanwhile, Savage delivers a back suplex with a bridge on Rude and the original ref starts to count, but Rude gets his right shoulder up at two and Savage gets pinned. (8:25) Quite the wild little encounter. At the next Mid-South Coliseum show, they would make this a SIX-MAN by adding Jimmy Valiant and Jimmy Hart into the mix. After a brief reign over the Southern tag titles with King Kong Bundy, Rude would split from the First Family and sent King Kong Bundy to the WWF in a ‘loser leaves town’ match in December. Rude went his own way as well as he headed for the warm evening breezes of Florida. **½
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Pez Whatley vs. Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) – Championship Wrestling from Florida (1/26/85, Tampa, FL)
Not to start this match review on a REAL downer, but this was five days after the passing of legendary Florida promoter Eddie Graham. On a lighter note, Buddy Colt tips his cap to Percy Pringle (better known to WWF fans as Paul Bearer) for getting his man Rick Rude a match for the top title in Florida so soon considering he’s only been in the area for a little more than a month. Whatley had defeated Jim Neidhart for the belt in late August and had pretty much been the champion ever since. Rude, channeling the spirit of Gorgeous George, worries about his hair and wants ref Bill Alfonso to back Whatley away from him. Eventually they hook up and Whatley controls the action with a headlock with Ricky Steamboat-like tenacity. Rude tries to corner Whatley, but he fires back with turnbuckle smashes and steps on his face. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Rude goes to the eyes. He still can’t truly capitalize on anything though. Now Whatley works the arm. Is Alfonso wearing LEATHER pants? Anyways, Rude thumbs Whatley in the eye making it look like just a punch to the referee. Even though that’s technically illegal. Whatley rallies back with forearms as we go to commercial. When we return, it looks like some shenanigans have transpired as Alfonso is getting back in the ring while Whatley is lying motionless on the concrete. Rude tries for the countout, but Whatley makes it onto the apron in time. As he sticks his head through the ropes, Rude kicks him and pins Whatley with a handful of tights for the win and the title. (11:35 shown) After the match, Rude and Pringle head over to Solie’s desk. Against Pringle’s wishes, Solie shows us what happened to Whatley during the break. As Whatley was destroying Rude around ringside, Pringle grabbed a wooden chair and while Whatley stopped Pringle, Rude picked up the chair and bashed Whatley over the back to knock him silly. PISTOL PEZ IS FINISHED. *½
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) vs. B. Brian Blair – Championship Wrestling from Florida (4/10/85, Tampa, FL)
This is B. Brian Blair during a short stint in Florida in between his WWF runs. We are JIP with Blair stretching Rude on the mat. Mike Graham is on color commentary with Gordon Solie. Once Rude reaches the ropes, he seeks the comfort of Pringle over a sore leg. Back in, Blair makes sure to capitalize and drop toeholds Rude down to work the ankle. Crowd is solidly behind Blair. As Rude escapes, Blair makes sure to kick at the leg tripping him up real good. Not quite as dramatic a bump as Hennig, but still effective. Blair grounds Rude again and punishes the knee and ankle. He changes over to a Boston crab in the middle of the ring, but Rude manages to power out. Before Rude can make a move, Blair has his legs tied up again. Rude rakes the face to break free, but goes to kick Blair in the gut which proves to be an obviously poor decision. Blair tries for a couple pins, but realizes he’s still got to do more work to win the title. Commercials! When we return, it’s more of the same as Blair continues to dismantle Rude’s legs. As Blair applies a spinning toe hold, Pringle sticks his cane in the ring so Rude can grab hold and get closer to the ropes. That distraction brings Blair off the hold. Rude rakes the face again and drops a couple elbows before nailing Blair with a jumping clothesline doing what he can to keep Blair away from his leg. Powerslam gets two. Rude grabs a chinlock and of course uses the ropes for leverage. Blair escapes the hold, but Rude dumps him on the floor. Back in, Rude hits a big suplex for 1-2-NO! Back to the chinlock, the crowd gets behind Blair. As Blair starts to stand up and push Rude into the ropes, Rude grabs hold of his hair to prevent the break. More commercials! AND WE’RE BACK! Rude still has Blair grounded with a chinlock. Blair eventually wakes up and powers out. Rude telegraphs a backdrop and pays with a kick to the chops. HERE COMES BLAIR! He’s got Rude staggered with an atomic drop followed by a clothesline. Rude goes to the eyes again and grabs another headlock, but Blair shoves him off into the ref. Whoops. Blair grabs the SLEEPER! Here comes Pringle with the cane, but Blair moves just in time and Rude gets walloped. Now Blair nails Pringle and covers Rude for the 1-2-3! (13:52 shown) Ladies and gents, we’ve got a NEW Southern heavyweight champ. Crowd goes nuts for a great match. Lots of holds, but I loved the psychology. Blair would lose the belt at the end of May to Hercules Hernandez. After Hercules was fired, Rude would win back the Southern heavyweight title in July. ***¼
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) vs. Billy Jack Haynes – NWA Battle of the Belts (9/2/85, Tampa, FL)
VINCE MCMAHON IS DANIEL BENOIT’S FATHER. THAT’S WHY CHRIS KILLED HIS FAMILY. HE FOUND OUT THE TRUTH. Sorry. Billy Jack Haynes is just very entertaining to me. Haynes is sporting quite the burly beard here too. If you’re wondering what belt Haynes is wearing, it’s the Florida version of the NWA U.S. tag titles of which he held with Wahoo McDaniel. Rude has himself a full beard as well. What is the deal here? Apparently Rude is getting paid a little bit better here as he’s got him some new black tights and has started to airbrush designs on them. He also looks much more “developed” IF YOU WEELLL. He looks like a taller Austin Aries here. Mike Graham mentions how Pringle has already had one crushing defeat at Battle of the Belts as his man Jack Hart (HOROWITZ WINS!) lost the Florida title to Kendall Windham. Big test of strength goes to an atomic drop and a dropkick from Haynes to send Rude to the floor. Back in, Haynes takes Rude down into a headlock. Rude breaks loose after a shoulderblock battle, he runs into a backdrop. As he gets to his feet, Haynes grabs the FULL NELSON! However, Rude hooks his foot on the ropes to get the break. Haynes grounds Rude with another headlock. Rude comes out and levels Haynes with a clothesline. He hammers the neck and kicks Haynes to the floor for some guardrail action. Rude heads back inside to try for the countout win. That doesn’t work as Rude gives Haynes a suplex back inside and starts to work the back and neck. He sits down on a rear chinlock. Haynes stands up, but gets caught with a backdrop. Rude stops a slugfest as he rakes the face. Looks like Rude’s nose might be busted open. Haynes counters a suplex though with both men down. Rude is the first guy up and comes off the top with a fist drop, but Haynes moves to mount his comeback. He hits a series of power moves working the back. Haynes lifts Rude up for a press slam, but Pringle trips him up using his cane as Rude falls on top for 1-2-NO! Now Haynes grabs hold of Pringle, which allows Rude to whack Haynes in the back with the cane. Pringle drops to the floor as Rude covers Haynes for the win. (14:19) Rude and Pringle get the heck out of there before Haynes gets to his feet. Crowd chants bullcrap, but it’s too late to matter. *½
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) vs. Wahoo McDaniel – Championship Wrestling from Florida (10/2/85, Tampa, FL)
While McDaniel isn’t exactly a *fresh* champion, Rick Rude is on his way out and headed to World Class. Buddy Colt mentions Lex Luger and judges his physique to determine how good he’ll be as a wrestler, which is strange logic. Rude tries to work on Wahoo to start by zapping his energy with a headlock. Whenever Wahoo starts to power out, Rude grabs the hair and goes back to the hold. Wahoo backs him into the corner and chops his chest one good time just to screw with Rude. Now Wahoo works a headlock down on the mat. Rude escapes and delivers a bunch of forearm shots to put Wahoo down for a chinlock. He cheats a little using the bottom rope. Wahoo backs Rude into the ropes for the break. Rude won’t let go and that causes ref Bill Alfonso to separate the two, which allows Rude to catch Wahoo with a cheapshot forearm. Rude tries to just hold McDaniel down for a pinfall, but he can’t get the three-count. They trade strikes which Wahoo wins and grabs a front headlock. Wahoo grounds Rude and tries to pin Rude with a hammerlock and hooking the free arm to the mat, but Rude ends up in the ropes. Now McDaniel grabs a toehold down on the mat. All of a sudden, Bob Roop comes down and distracts the ref. Meanwhile, Kevin Sullivan shows up as well and nails Rude by accident. Wahoo jumps on top of Rude for the 1-2-3. (7:07) The match never really got out of first gear before it was over. A year later, these two would meet at Starrcade in an Indian Strap match. *
- WCWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) vs. Kerry Von Erich – World Class Wrestling Association (3/22/86, Dallas, TX)
Back in November, Rick Rude pinned Iceman King Parsons to become the last NWA American heavyweight champ and the first WCWA world heavyweight champ. That match was 2/3 falls and on YouTube, but I have no idea how much of the first fall is completely cut out including the finish, so you get this instead. Before the match, we see Pringle and Rude enjoying some wine together by the pool. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. While Rude teases the fans with deciding whether or not he’s going to take off his robe, Bill Mercer gives us an update on the condition of Chris Adams and his kayfabe vision problems. Of course, nothing is said about Gino Hernandez or Adams wanting to get any revenge since there is sadly no more Gino Hernandez for Chris Adams to get revenge on. Just another in a series of tragedies in World Class. They do a couple sit-outs to start with of course Von Erich looking like the better wrestler. Rude delivers a hiptoss and thinks the absolute man for it. Meanwhile, Percy berates Kerry and informs ref David Manning of tight pulling. Rude attempts another hiptoss, but Von Erich blocks into a backslide for two. That sends Rude out to figure things out with Pringle. Back in, Rude complains of hairpulling. Von Erich grabs a headlock which Rude just cannot escape. Once they do start running the ropes, Von Erich misses with a dropkick and Rude stomps him out to the floor. Rude tries to keep him on the floor for a while until Kerry pulls Rude out with him for a couple punches. Back inside, Kerry hits the Discus Punch for 1-2-NO! Rude counters a suplex and sits on Kerry with a rear chinlock. Von Erich stands up for an electric chair drop and a bridge for 1-2-NO! Somehow, Rude hits Von Erich with a suplex and Kerry gets the cover. Not sure how that works, but okay. They mess up a spot with Kerry covering Rude the wrong way, so they go for it again as Pringle jabs Von Erich with his cane. Von Erich grabs the CLAW anyways. Rude kicks him away and applies a sleeper. His arm drops once, twice, and Rude covers Von Erich for two. Looks like Rude is bleeding. Von Erich gets a sleeper of his own, but Rude escapes by flipping Kerry over the top rope to the floor to get DQ’ed. (12:37) This was okay. Nothing spectacular. Pringle is fantastic though. **
- WCWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude (w/Percy Pringle III) vs. Chris Adams – World Class Wrestling Association (6/14/86, Dallas, TX)
This is billed as a sneak peek for their Reunion Arena match on July 4. Adams has his left-eye patched selling the hair removal incident with Gino Hernandez. Even though the feud could never be blown off, he still had to sell the injury for another month. Adams immediately takes Rude to the floor for a beating. He even beats Rude in the eye with a MICROPHONE! Why not. Meanwhile, Percy Pringle is ducking low by the ring apron. In the ring, Adams misses a flying headbutt. Rude hits a suplex so he can stun Adams long enough to get a breather. Running clothesline gets two. Adams escapes a chinlock, but Rude catches him with a knee and drops a flying fist drop for two. Back to the chinlock. Pringle distracts the ref while Rude gets dastardly and rips at the eye patch. To the floor, Rude slams Adams on a ringside table. Back in, Rude delivers a suplex for two. Now to the chinlock. Then Rude tries one dropkick too many and Adams lets him crash and burn. SUPERKICK puts down Rude. Now the PILEDRIVER. Adams covers for 1-2-NO! Rude reaches the bottom rope. Suplex also gets two. Another SUPERKICK and Adams heads up top, but Pringle shakes the ropes with his cane to send Adams down hard to the mat. Rude crawls over onto Adams for the 1-2-3. (7:18) Ref and general do-gooder David Manning comes out and tells the official ref for this match what Pringle had done, so the ref reverses his decision and gives Adams the win via DQ. It doesn’t matter much to Rude as he beats Adams down and tears off the eye patch to do further damage to his eye. Nevertheless, Adams fires back and SUPERKICKS Rude out of the ring. So Rude would go on to LOSE the WCWA world title to Chris Adams on July 4 and as a result would fire Percy Pringle as his manager. Pringle would remain in the WCWA and later USWA until Vince McMahon called him up to the WWF in late 1990 to become Paul Bearer. As for Rude, he would return to the place where he had worked as a jobber just four years earlier: Jim Crockett Promotions. However this time around, it would be a very different experience. **½
- NWA World Tag Team Champions Rick Rude & Manny Fernandez (w/Paul Jones) vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) – Eddie Graham Memorial Show (5/9/87, St. Petersburg, FL)
The Awesome Twosome or the REAL RNR Express; whichever name you want to call them, they took the NWA world tag belts away from the Rock N Roll Express after only working together for a short time in December 1986. I wanted to recap their tag titles win instead, but the full match isn’t on YouTube. YET. Their tag title LOSS is on YouTube, but I figured it was about time for some Road Warriors. This is a main event ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, folks. Rude poses to the crowd to a chorus of JEALOUS boos. Hawk shoves Rude from behind and then NO-SELLS his cross-corner whip. That gets Fernandez fired up. Commercials! When we return, Hawk wins a test of strength. Fernandez is not all that cool with that decision and comes in as both tag champs take press slams and clotheslines before retreating over to Paul Jones. Awesome! Back inside, Fernandez tags in and goes after Animal. He NO-SELLS Bull’s chops and answers back with one of his own to send Fernandez to the floor. Back in, Bull runs into a backdrop and finds solace in his corner with Rude. Back to Hawk and Rude, Hawk grabs the top rope to avoid a DDT. As Rude slithers away looking scared, Hawk doesn’t see Fernandez coming off the top rope to lower the boom on him from behind. Now that’s awesome. As quickly as they took control, just as quickly Hawk levels Rude with a clothesline and hot tags Animal. Pier-six brawl erupts. While Hawk is stomping a mudhole in Rude in the corner, Animal catches Bull coming of the middle rope for a powerslam. With the ref busy with Hawk, Paul Jones tries to break up the pin. Paul Ellering gets in his way and since the ref sees what’s happening now, he calls for the bell and throws the whole match out. (5:06 shown) Always fun seeing the cowardly heels be cowardly heels and the Road Warriors looking untouchable. **
Within a few weeks, Rick Rude would jump ship to the WWF where he really started to become a legendary figure in wrestling history. That is where we will pick up in PART TWO of the Rick Rude YouTube Mixtape.