On one night in 1997, due to TV tapings, live events and broadcast schedules, wrestling fans saw ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude appear on three different wrestling promotion’s shows on the same night. Today we go back almost 20 years to see the events that led to that moment.
Throughout his active wrestling career, ‘the Ravishing one’ Rick Rude was considered by many to be a tough as nails man’s man both in the ring and outside of it. He respected the business and, more importantly, many said he was a loyal friend.
Rude’s career would turn upside down on May 1st, 1994 when he severely injured his neck and back during a match with Sting in Japan. Rick Rude was forced to retire and disappeared from the wrestling scene for three long years. In 1997, Rude would return to wrestling under a mask for Extreme Championship Wrestling and begin a somewhat feud with ‘The Franchise’ Shane Douglas. Considering the working relationship ECW had with the WWF at the time, it wasn’t long before Rude would return to that company as well.
Seeing as how Rude was still in no way medically cleared to wrestle, Rude was brought back to the WWF as a sort of valet/manager/bodyguard to Shawn Michaels and Degeneration X. The WWF at the time was still struggling to compete with WCW for ratings in the now famed ‘Monday Night Wars’ and only used Rick Rude on a pay per appearance schedule. This in a way allowed Rude to appear on both WWF and ECW television at the same time.
Many people within the industry have said that Rude was never happy with his new WWF stint. Rick Rude felt he was deserving of much more than just to be a lackey to Michaels, a man who Rude reportedly hated behind the scenes. Understandable considering the different types of people both Rude and Shawn Michaels were. Wrestlers said that despite constant appearances with DX on camera, it was much different backstage.
Rude hardly ever spent time with Michaels or Triple H backstage except when going over scripts, spots etc. It was an all business type of relationship between the DX members. Rude didn’t like them and Michaels and Triple H really didn’t get along with him. As a matter of fact, on an October edition of ‘Raw is War,’ Rick Rude was going down a list of monikers pertaining to HBK. It should have read, Shawn Michaels is THE SHOWSTOPPER, THE ICON, THE MAIN EVENT, THE HEARTBREAK KID. Instead, Rude called Michaels a “pecan” instead of “Icon” on WWF television.
You could see Shawn Michaels was visibly upset and yelling at Rude who was just brushing it off and blaming the script. Was it intentional or simply a flub? We may never know the answer.The strictly business relationship that Rude and DX had would get severely strained on November 9th, 1997. If that date doesn’t “ring a damn bell” it was the Survivor Series ’97 aka The Montreal Screwjob.
After the screwjob took place, many in the WWF locker room were divided on which side they were on whether it was Team Michaels or Team Bret. What we know for sure, Rude was 100% on Bret’s side as he and Bret Hart were good friends off camera. When Vince McMahon “screwed” Bret out of the WWF title, Rude was one who was visibly upset. So much so, he called McMahon’s arch rival Eric Bischoff and told him what had happened and how he wanted out of the WWF.
Since Rude did not have a guaranteed contract, nothing was holding him back from leaving the company. The next night after the Survivor Series, Rude did appear at the taping like nothing had happened. What it was, however, was a set up to give Vince, DX and the WWF a big “F You!”
You see, while Rude did appear on the November 10th TV taping of Raw, he knew it wouldn’t air until the following week. Rude had already made a deal to jump ship to WCW. On November 17th, 1997 Rick Rude would appear taped on Monday Night Raw with a full beard and also show up on WCW’s live broadcast of Monday Nitro. The dual appearances confused many fans as the internet and spoilers were not as prevalent as they are today.
It made WWF’s show look silly and at the same time made Eric Bischoff look like a mad genius. During his live Nitro appearance, Rude berated Vince McMahon, the WWF and DX. He called the WWF “Titanic, a sinking ship” referring to the WWF’s parent company name of Titan Sports. So in seemingly one day, Rude was on both Raw and Nitro. To add further historical context to this, Rude also appeared on ECW television as he still fulfilled his commitments to Paul Heyman. ECW was syndicated in many places the weekend before the Monday night shows, but some markets aired ECW on Mondays after both Raw and Nitro. So technically, Rude was on all three major wrestling promotions on the exact same day!