Rick Rude Once Demanded The Top Spot In WCW

Despite a body of work that earned him several high-profile feuds against top babyfaces and a few brief main event runs, "Ravishing" Rick Rude was never the "top guy" in either WWF or WCW, a fact that apparently irked him enough to confront WCW executive Eric Bischoff on one occasion.

Rude has often been praised as one the best heels in pro wrestling history. Renowned as a phenomenal in-ring talent, a charismatic heel, and a legitimate tough guy, Rude also earned a reputation backstage for his intensity. Recalling their legendary feud in the late '80s, Jake "The Snake" Roberts said in a 2016 interview that Rude was "wound pretty tight" and "dangerous."

Despite his talents, Rude is one of the most notable wrestling legends to never hold a national promotion's world championship. He challenged for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions — first against Hulk Hogan in 1988, and then against The Ultimate Warrior in 1990. But he never won the gold and in fact only ever held one title in the WWF: the Intercontinental Championship.

Rude joined WCW in 1991 and was immediately slotted into one of the promotion's top heel factions, The Dangerous Alliance. Like the WWF, WCW used Rude in high-profile feuds against major babyfaces, this time Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Sting. But once again, he mostly feuded over secondary titles like the U.S. Heavyweight Championship and the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship, only challenging for the World Title briefly as part of a feud to help build up WCW World Champion Ron Simmons.

As the story goes, Rude felt he was deserving of more, and once took drastic measures to prove it.

Rick Rude resented his position on the card in WCW

The details remain sketchy, but several wrestling figures agree that at some point in time, Rick Rude somehow managed to take physical possession of the WCW Championship — even though he wasn't the champion.

On a 2018 episode of Ric Flair's podcast, Eric Bischoff and Flair discussed the rising tensions that led to Rude effectively holding the title hostage. Flair explained that Rude had become increasingly ill-tempered backstage, engaging in shouting matches and even threatening to kill Flair at a show in Philadelphia. "He thought everyone was against him," Flair said of Rude. Flair speculated that Rude's sour mood could have resulted from frustrations with his mounting injuries and his position on the card. Rude knew that Hulk Hogan would not agree to work with him because of a backstage incident between Rude and The Ultimate Warrior in WWF. 

"Apparently the Warrior had made some remark, probably in passing," Flair said. "It was one of those things like 'Rude's not good enough to get a shot at the title.' So Rude got to Savannah that night, and he walked in the dressing room and beat up the Warrior pretty good." Derisively calling Rude the "Tasmanian Devil," Hogan added his name to a short list of talent he refused to work with, which at the time also included Vader.

Despite his issues with WCW's upper echelon, Rude still resented his booking, and Flair said he demanded to have Sting's spot as the face of WCW.

Rick Rude confronted Eric Bischoff in a parking lot

The tensions reached a boiling point at a WCW show in Orlando, where Eric Bischoff finally decided to ask Rick Rude to return the WCW title belt that he had somehow come to possess. Bischoff and Rude had a long personal connection, having gone to the same high school in Minnesota, and shared many mutual friends and acquaintances outside of the business.

"Once we started working together, I always got along really, really well with Rick, probably because of the Minnesota connection," Bischoff said in the podcast conversation with Ric Flair. "In fact, he and I rode together right after I first got hired by WCW ... we started becoming really close friends."

So Bischoff felt relatively safe meeting Rude in the venue's parking lot. That changed when Rude opened the trunk of his car to reveal a gun. "I walked out to his car, he opens up the trunk, and there's the belt sitting there right next to a .357," Bischoff said. "And he just kinda looked in the trunk, and he looked at me, and he reached, and I thought 'Well, here it goes.' And he got the belt, and he handed it to me. I think he made his statement."

Nothing came from the incident, and Rude's career was cut short when a bad bump in a match against Sting led to his early retirement. He would only ever appear as a non-wrestling character after that, but had a few more legendary moments left under his belt.