Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Deadspin's Dead Wrestler of the Week: "Ravishing" Rick Rude

Most people who follow blogs closely have probably heard of Gawker media. They are the pinnacle of blog popularity. One of the websites under them is Deadspin, which claims to deliver sports "without access, favor or discretion." They absolutely come through on that claim as their targets have ranged from the likes of Tiger Woods, Brett Favre and Alex Rodriguez to Sean Salisbury and Steve Phillips. Anyway, I visit Deadspin for the sheer lulz and their often humorous take on sports. Plus, they have some excellent writers like Drew Margarey and Will Leitch. Anyway, a few weeks ago they started a weekly tribute to dead wrestlers or defunct companies. These columns have been absolutely great as they combine passion for wrestling, emotional attachment to the wrestlers along with some excellent writing.

Here is Deadspin's own description of it:
An occasional feature in which the Masked Man, Deadspin's pro wrestling correspondent, honors the sport's fallen and examines their legacies. Today: "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who died in 1999 of heart failure possibly caused by a drug overdose.
I will just do a teaser of sorts on here, if you want to read the rest of it, you should click right here:

The Super Posedown at Royal Rumble 1989 wasn't much of a bodybuilding expo, but it was probably close to the average person's idea of one: On one side stood "Ravishing" Rick Rude, flexing and diabolically gyrating his hips; across the ring loomed the Ultimate Warrior, the WWF's musclebound comer, grunting and shaking and nominally "posing" for the audience.

Warrior certainly had the crowd on his side, but then, so did anyone standing opposite Rude, arguably the most loathed bad guy of his era. It's not hard to hate a guy with his own face airbrushed on the crotch of his pants, after all. But Rude's act — the classic Lothario with the volume turned up to 11 – wasn't as simple as it seemed.

Rude was born Richard Erwin Rood in Minnesota at a time when the state was a fertile ground for wrestling talent. He went to high school with Tom Zenk and Nikita Koloff and trained with Eddie Sharkey, who also trained the Road Warriors, Curt Hennig, and Barry Darsow.

Rude worked early on in Canada, Georgia, and Memphis, mostly as an insignificant babyface, but his turn as an evildoer in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1983 determined his life's purpose. He made a return to the Memphis territory in '84, and it was there that Jerry Jarrett gave him the nickname "Ravishing" and helped define the role Rude would inhabit for much of the rest of his life.

Rude came along at a cultural moment when image — read: physical perfection — was at a premium. But he wasn't all mustache and muscle: Contra most of the statuesque brutes of his day, Rude was actually a considerable in-ring technician. His sojourn through the South saw him birth a new archetype for the pretty-boy bad guy. Early playboys of that sort were bleached, tanned jerks who projected their churlishness broadly, in the manner of the oversized masks of ancient Greek theater, so that they would be at least as detestable from the back row as from the front. Even into the first couple of decades of televised wrestling, wrestlers played exclusively to the live crowd; they were as likely to turn their backs to the TV cameras as address them directly.
Look who's back, it seems as if I'm not the only one who is returning to write on their blog this January. It appears as if Deadspin's Masked Man, a writer who has penned some extraordinary columns in tribute to dead wrestlers, has also come back. The last time we saw MM write one of his articles was back in September when he wrote an absolutely brilliant piece on Owen Hart's career. Though, it seems as if he has returned, there are are already signs that his articles will be even more sporadic than usual as evidenced by the amended description to MM's tributes now defining his columns as an "occasional feature". It's probably due to the fact that he is running out of dead wrestlers to write about. Sure, wrestlers drop dead like the WWE Title changes hands these days but there are so many good (read= wrestlers that people will actually want to read about) wrestlers that the man can write about before he has none left to write about. This is a good move since it gives MM more time to write out his columns and it insures that he will have something, or in this case a dead someone, to write about.

This week, the talented MM takes a look at the career of "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who was one of the most talented wrestlers of his generation. As mentioned in the column above, not only did Rude have the chiseled/muscular look that Vice McMahon desperately craved in his wrestlers, he could flat out wrestle which was a rarity. Rude was the complete package (To quote JR "no pun intended) and his wrestling career should have reached farther heights. The man absolutely owned his gimmick as his heelish tactics won him the hate of fans everywhere. As usual, the Masked Man does a wonderful job of capturing what Rude was about, why and where he succeeded , and just made the "Ravishing One" so special. I would highly suggest reading it if you were a Rick Rude fan, want to know more wrestling history, or just want to read something that will make you think.
Thanks for reading!

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