Often considered to be one of the best wrestlers to never capture the WWE world title, the late Rick Rude boasts a legendary career all his own. His accomplishments include, but aren’t limited to, the WWF Intercontinental Championship, NWA American Heavyweight Championship, and 3 WCW International World Heavyweight Championship reigns. This bouncer turned professional wrestler is remembered for his undeniable charisma, his “Ravishing” persona making him one of the most effective villains of his time. Historically, Rick Rude is also known for a significant moment in wrestling, when he appeared on WWF Raw is War and WCW Monday Nitro on the same night: November 17, 1997.
Rick Rude Appears on Raw and Nitro – The Same Night
The Ravishing One Retires from the Ring
Before getting into the historic moment in question, it’s important to set the stage. Having parted ways with the World Wrestling Federation in 1990 due to internal disputes, Rick Rude wrestled independently for a short period before making his way to World Championship Wrestling the year after. It was here where he captured the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship in addition to the aforementioned WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. Rude’s third world title victory took place at New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka Dome event in 1994, where he bested Sting.
During the course of the match, however, Rude sustained a career-ending back injury. Sting executed a suicide dive to Rude at ringside, resulting in the latter hitting the corner of a raised platform outside of the ring. Unable to wrestle, Rude was stripped of the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship and retired from in-ring competiton from there. Rude wouldn’t appear in wrestling again until January 1997, briefly working for Extreme Championship Wrestling as a color commentator and an in-ring personality. Later that summer, however, Rude found his way back to the WWF; this time there would prove brief yet eventful.
A Landmark Event in Professional Wrestling
In August of 1997, Rick Rude returned to WWF, aligning himself with D-Generation X members Chyna, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels. Suit and tie and all, Rude served as the faction’s “insurance policy,” supporting the group from a financial standpoint and at ringside during matches. When DX is discussed in a historical context, not often does Rude’s name come up, mainly because his involvement with the group was short-lived. Later that November, at Survivor Series, Bret Hart lost the WWF Championship in what has since been coined “The Montreal Screwjob.” This signaled the end of Hart’s time in WWF, for a time, but it also bred mistrust internally.
One of the individuals who lost trust in the company was Rude, who was upset with how the Survivor Series main event was handled. In fact, he was one of the few individuals who departed the company post-Montreal Screwjob and never returned. This posed an interesting scenario, however, especially after Rude reached an agreement with Eric Bischoff to return to WCW. Keep in mind that while WWF Raw is War was still a taped show at the time, WCW Monday Nitro aired on live TV. This led to the moment when Rick Rude appeared on WWF Raw and WCW Nitro, on the same night, on November 17, 1997.
Rick Rude Debuts on WCW Monday Nitro… and Appears on WWF Raw is War
On the evening of November 17, Rick Rude, sporting a mustache, appeared on WCW Nitro on TNT. He was welcomed to the ring by Eric Bischoff, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, and the rest of the New World Order. Microphone in hand, Rude uttered the phrase, “oh, what a difference a day makes.” From there, he discussed “the rights and the wrongs” of wrestling, homing his frustrations on the WWF. Rude wondered how Shawn Michaels could call himself a world champion when, in his mind, he never defeated Bret Hart. He also lambasted Vince McMahon for “robbing Bret Hart of his title,” blending real-life events into his storyline association with the nWo. While a wrestler or wrestling personality moving between companies and venting their frustration with their previous employer isn’t unheard of, especially during this time, what took place later that night was significant.
One hour later, on WWF Raw on the USA Network, Rude appeared on the program while sporting a full beard; as mentioned earlier, Raw was still taped. He stood by the side of D-Generation X, as he had months prior, assisting them in their assault on WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter. Admittedly, this was a less noteworthy showcase for “The Ravishing One” compared to his shocking Nitro debut. The point remains, however, that he was the only wrestling personality to appear on WWF and WCW’s rival shows on the same evening. The fact that he was also the first individual to be part of both the nWo and DX is worth mentioning, too.
Rick Rude Appears on Raw and Nitro, the Same Night – In Closing
As if this wasn’t momentous enough, Rick Rude also appeared on ECW’s Hardcore TV during the following weekend. This made sense as ECW and the WWF were known to exchange talent, not to mention the fact that Rude wasn’t signed to an exclusive contract with the latter, making his jump to WCW that much easier. Rude remained with WCW until April 1999, passing away at age 40 later that month. Prior to his death, Rude was training for a return to in-ring competition, leaving many potential matches unable to come to fruition.
The Monday Night Wars is remembered by many as one of the most exciting periods of professional wrestling. Many of the names associated with this era include “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, and Mick Foley. However, Rick Rude shouldn’t be left out of the discussion, as his appearance on WWF Raw and WCW Nitro on the same night served as a sizable shot of adrenaline during an already electric era. Moreover, it’s a notable event that belongs to an individual’s impressive body of work.
Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment
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