Rick Rude, a beloved WWE superstar, passed away on April 20, 1999, at the age of 40. The cause of his death was heart failure, which was attributed to an overdose of mixed medication. There were empty prescription pill bottles found next to him at the time of his passing, suggesting potential drug use.
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It is speculated that he may have been taking gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a drug used to treat narcolepsy, which could have contributed to his heart failure. Despite his untimely death, Rick Rude left behind a lasting legacy and is remembered as one of the best wrestlers to never hold the WWE Championship.
Summary of Rick Rude Cause of Death
|Age at Death||40 years old|
|Date of Death||April 20, 1999|
|Cause of Death||Heart failure due to an overdose of mixed medication, potentially exacerbated by the use of gamma-hydroxybutyrate|
Understanding the Cause of Rick Rude’s Untimely Death
When discussing the best WWE superstars that never held the WWE Championship, “Ravishing” Rick Rude comes to many people’s minds. Despite lasting only a few years in the WWE, Rick Rude made a lasting impact. Making his debut in professional wrestling in the early 1980s, Rick Rude garnered a decorated career for himself before winding down his in-ring activity in 1994. Unfortunately, as Rick Rude was training for an in-ring return, he passed away in April 1999 at the age of 40 years old.
Beloved Wrestlers Passing Away At Young Age
One of the more depressing stories that sadden fans is when wrestlers die at a young age. Whether they had legendary careers or not, human beings dying at a young age is a sad phenomenon. Fans still remember the unfortunate death of Eddie Guerrero in November 2005, as he died of a heart attack at only 38 years old.
Many of the larger-than-life characters that fans grew up watching have dealt with great difficulties throughout their personal life. It showcases how much these wrestlers have sacrificed to succeed in the business, and it’s not just those that pass away at a young age. Rick Rude is no stranger to this sentiment.
Rick Rude is among the many larger-than-life characters that fans admired while growing up. With one of the most impressive physiques in wrestling and the charisma to portray the “ravishing” character, Rick Rude is one of the most beloved WWE superstars that broke out from the Rock n’ Wrestling Era. One of the best heel characters in the business, Rick Rude’s character may have been an obnoxious pretty boy but can be taken seriously in the ring, which is why fans adored him.
Rick Rude’s Final Years In Wrestling
The final years of Rick Rude’s wrestling career are quite the tale, considering his contributions despite transitioning out of the ring. After a three-year stint with WCW ended in 1994 and retiring due to injuries, Rick Rude stayed out of the spotlight until joining ECW in 1997. Rick Rude only wrestled one match since retiring from in-ring action, as it was a six-man tag match at the main event of the ECW Heat Wave 1997 PPV.
Rick Rude was mainly used for non-wrestling segments in ECW as he even took part in a commentary role. However, he was involved in a storyline where he wanted to be a nuisance to Shane Douglas, targeting him while wearing a mask when arriving at ECW. Rick Rude’s best remembered regarding his semi-retired run was returning to WWE in 1997.
Although he never wrestled a match during his short stint with the company, he was one of the original founding members of D-Generation X, along with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Chyna. Branded as the “insurance policy,” Rick Rude would wear a suit and stay at ringside supporting the rest of the members of D-Generation X.
Although Rick Rude was one of the D-Generation X originals, he left WWE after the Montreal Screwjob incident as he was only working on a pay-per-appearance deal. Rick Rude made his final WWE appearance on the first post-Survivor Series 1997 episode of Raw Is War. As he appeared on WCW Monday Nitro that same night, Rick Rude spent the rest of his career in WCW until departing in 1999.
Rick Rude’s Tragic Death And The Legacy He Leaves Behind
As Rick Rude was training to return to the ring, an unexpected yet sad turn of events changed everything. On April 20, 1999, an unconscious Rick Rude was discovered by his wife as he died that morning. His death resulted from heart failure, even at 40 years of age. According to the autopsy, Rick Rude passed away because of an overdose of mixed medication.
It’s speculated that Rick Rude suffered the effects of taking gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a drug that treats narcolepsy. It’s worth noting that when Rick Rude became unconscious and fell to his death, there were empty prescription pill bottles next to him. The news of him passing away at an early age sent shock waves to the entire wrestling industry, especially as he left behind a wife and three children.
Rick Rude’s legacy will never be forgotten, despite being passed away for over two decades. As he got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017, wrestling fans that aren’t familiar with Rick Rude’s work should check out just how good he was. Being one of a kind is how a superstar breaks out in WWE. Someone ravishing like Rick Rude is no doubt one of a kind.
Several Wrestlers Have Made Speculations About Rick Rude’s Death
When it comes to the details concerning Rick Rude’s death, it was said that a mixture of medications had led to his heart failure, and it may have been affecting his mentality too. Ken Patera spoke to Hannibal TV, explaining that one of Rude’s close friends, Jim Neidhart, revealed that preceding his death, Rude had “lost his mind” for several reasons. There has been little else to suggest this concretely, but it has been known for mixtures of drugs to have an adverse effect on health in more ways than one. Utilizing these medications to the extent that he did could have been due to him not thinking overly clearly.</
Rick Rude Was A Beloved Individual Amongst His Peers
Rick Rude is someone who had to leave a legacy far earlier than expected, but this has given many wrestlers a lot of time to discuss him as not just a professional wrestler, but as a person too. Someone who made a lot of positive comments on Rude following his death is Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who spoke about Rude in his autobiography.
“Rick Rude was anything but rude. In any circle of friends and phonies, you take the good with the bad. And the bad makes you appreciate the good even more. At the height of my road days, when 300 flights in 300 towns a year was normal, strangers became family, and family became strangers. You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. Rick Rude was one of the best picks I ever made. He was a great family man. He loved his wife. He was one of those kind of guys who never took his wedding ring off. He put a white piece of tape around it when he went into the ring.” (h/t ProWrestlingStories.com)
Hart went on to talk about Rude was someone you could count on, and would always be by your side. Hart isn’t the only one who has sung the praises of Rude over the years after he passed away, with his legacy living on in the praises of former coworkers and close friends like Rick Martel and Bobby Eaton.
Hart isn’t the only one over time to have shared stories (good and bad) about Rude. Erik Watts told a story on the Insiders Edge podcast in which he engaged in a shoot backstage fight with Rude. Watts noted that he was at the back end of a tiresome tour, so wasn’t exactly in his best mindset, and he decided to take aim at some of those in the backstage area. He explained how he took a dig at Curt Hennig (Mr. Perfect’s) amateur wrestling ability, to which Rude replied in an explosive way, defending his pal. The pair agreed to an amateur wrestling match, with Sting as the referee.
“Rude did his thing. (He) took off his jacket, he went on all fours and I got behind him and Sting goes, ‘Go.’ I’m saying he said go and I don’t know what a nanosecond is. Rick Rude was back on his head. And everyone goes, ‘Oooh.’ (H/T Wrestling Inc)
Watts contends that he won the match and even though things went south there with Rude, a week later the pair made amends. Since that incident, Watts stated how Rude then became one of the best mentors of his life. Rude was someone who quite prone to fighting, with him being a part of the infamous bar fight involving The Steiners, Curt Hennig, and Haku, in which Rick Steiner described Rude as “taking a couples guys out”.
He noted on Hannibal TV, “It just kept going worst downhill, downhill, and finally a couple went over and started messing with Haku and it was freaking kick, kick, and up in the throat. Then four or five of them were laying and the rest of them were looking, it was me, Curt, and Rude, and Rude took a couple guys out and it was over before it even got started.” (H/T Fightful)
There are countless similar stories when it comes to Rude, who was very clearly both a badass inside and outside the ring.
Rick Rude’s Legacy In Professional Wrestling
When looking at a wrestler’s passing, it should be a cause for looking at their career in the business and the legacy they leave behind. For Rick Rude, he is someone who, despite a sometimes up and down time outside the ring, cemented his name in the history books. For many, he is often looked upon as one of the best wrestlers to not hold the WWE Championship, and when looking at just how charismatic he was, and some of the great feuds he had, it is easy to see why people say that.
In the late 1980s, Rude rose the ranks quickly in WWE to become a contender for Hulk Hogan’s WWE Title, and even in defeat this helped to establish him in the company. From there, he entered a legendary feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, which truly brought out the side of Rude that made him a legend. He was smarmy, arrogant, but also had a mean streak. This feud would infamously produce the moment in which Rude had Roberts’ wife airbrushed onto his tights in what was a highly personal feud.
Rude would also reign as the Intercontinental Champion and feud with The Ultimate Warrior in a story which helped to elevate Warrior to the next level as a babyface. Rude would go on to feud with the likes of Big Boss Man and Roddy Piper, constantly displaying his all-time great attitude and heel gimmick. Rude would also find some success in WCW, and notably appeared on both Raw and Nitro in the same night amidst the Monday Night Wars in an infamous moment. He had a career littered with great moments and he certainly left a lasting legacy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How did Rick Rude leave his mark on professional wrestling?
Rick Rude left his mark through his incredible charisma, memorable feuds, and captivating character. Despite never winning the WWE Championship, he is regarded as one of the best wrestlers to never hold the title.
2. What was Rick Rude’s most famous feud?
One of Rick Rude’s most famous feuds was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. It was a highly personal feud that showcased Rude’s smarmy and arrogant character, and it produced the iconic moment of Rude airbrushing Roberts’ wife onto his tights.
3. Did Rick Rude have success in WCW?
Yes, Rick Rude found success in WCW, where he had notable moments and appearances on both Raw and Nitro during the Monday Night Wars.
4. Was Rick Rude respected by his peers?
Yes, Rick Rude was highly respected by his peers. Wrestlers like Bret Hart and Rick Martel have spoken highly of Rude’s professionalism and dedication to his craft.
5. What is Rick Rude’s lasting legacy in professional wrestling?
Rick Rude’s lasting legacy in professional wrestling is that of a talented performer who captivated audiences with his charisma and in-ring skill. Despite his early passing, he is remembered as one of the greatest wrestlers to never win the WWE Championship and left an indelible mark on the industry.
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