The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017 added another member Monday as the late Rick Rude, one of the most iconic and memorable personalities of wrestling in the 1980s, finally got the nod.
The induction ceremony will take place during the weekend festivities surrounding April 2's WrestleMania 33. Rude will be enshrined by onetime WCW rival Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
After making a name for himself in the early '80s during runs with various NWA territories, including Championship Wrestling from Florida, Jim Crockett Promotions and World Class Championship Wrestling, Rude made an immediate impact upon joining the then-WWF as part of the Bobby Heenan family.
As skilled an in-ring technician as he was, Rude's calling card was his presentation and character, which often include a prematch routine that consistently drew one of the loudest and angriest reactions from fans. He'd remove his ring robe, often revealing an airbrushed visage on the front of his tights, and Rude proceeded to berate the male members of the audience and seek out a female audience member to kiss postmatch.
It was this routine that placed him in what was the biggest rivalry his three-plus year run with the WWE, against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. After attempting to kiss Roberts' wife Cheryl, he was attacked and then embroiled in a long-term rivalry with Roberts that saw Rude wear tights with Cheryl's face on them. The end of this rivalry fed into a feud with The Ultimate Warrior and Rude's greatest success with the company -- a run with the WWE Intercontinental championship.
Rude beat The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania V, then lost the championship at SummerSlam 1989. He'd go on to resume a rivalry with The Ultimate Warrior the following year over the WWE championship, but he failed to win inside of a steel cage at SummerSlam 1990. He soon departed for WCW, where he became the leader of the Paul Heyman-led "Dangerous Alliance" -- a stable that also included Steve Austin, Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko.
In 1991, Rude beat Sting to become WCW United States champion -- a title he held for well over a year. After returning from injury and relinquishing that title, Rude defeated Ric Flair for WCW's world championship (then called the WCW International World Heavyweight championship). He'd go on to be a three-time holder of that title, but a back injury suffered in a match against Sting in Japan in early 1994 essentially ended his in-ring career.
The rest of his career in wrestling was spent in a managerial role. Rude made history by being the first and only person (until the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro) to appear on both Monday Night Raw and Nitro in the same evening. He ditched his role with D-Generation-X, during a week when Raw was pre-taped, and showed up on a live Monday Nitro to run down the WWE. Rude was also making appearances for ECW at that time.
Rude would ultimately join the nWo in a similar role, specifically managing Curt Hennig, but by late 1998 he was off of TV. He died on April 20, 1999, of heart failure. He was 40.