In a recent episode of his podcast "ARN," wrestling legend Arn Anderson shed new light on why Rick Rude, one of the most talented yet underutilized wrestlers, never reached the pinnacle in WWE or WCW. Anderson pointed to the "Hogan Era" in WWE as a crucial period that may have stymied Rude's ascension to the World Championship.
Anderson said, "[WWE] deployed Rick Rude effectively. As Intercontinental Champion, he was poised to be the company's next big star. Unfortunately, he came along during Hulk Hogan's legendary reign, which effectively sidelined a generation of deserving contenders." Hogan's tenure as World Champion from 1984 to 1988 remains one of the longest in WWE history, clocking in at a staggering 1,474 days.
Rick Rude entered WWE in 1987, towards the twilight of Hogan's reign, and stayed until 1990. Despite their simultaneous presence, the two never had a significant televised feud. They did lock horns in a non-televised match at the Boston Garden in 1988, but it did not escalate into a title chase, leaving fans to ponder what could have been.
However, Arn Anderson's theory might just be part of the equation. Wrestling icon Ric Flair has often stated that Hogan viewed Rude as a potential liability in the ring. Hogan's skepticism purportedly originated from an incident where Rude severely manhandled The Ultimate Warrior during a match, raising questions about his championship material.
This notion gained more credibility when Rude's WCW aspirations also hit a snag. It is said that Rude confronted Eric Bischoff, WCW's then-executive producer, in a parking lot, demanding the top spot. The awkward exchange took a tense turn as Bischoff had to retrieve a championship belt from his car, all while a visible firearm lay on the backseat, emphasizing the stakes and tensions surrounding the wrestling world's top honors.
The tales of Rick Rude's career remain an intriguing study in timing, politics, and perhaps missed opportunities. Anderson's recent comments add another layer to the complexities surrounding why some talents soar while others remain grounded, even in the larger-than-life world of professional wrestling.