Archive and tribute to dead wrestlers

Rick Rude Death

Rick Rude Death – Heart Failure

rick rude death

Rick Rude dead at age 40 from heart failure. photo:

1958-1999 (age 40)

Update 1/6/17 – The rumor mill is swirling that Rick Rude will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year! We’ll update this article as soon as it’s officially confirmed. 


If you looked up underrated wrestlers who should be in the WWE Hall of Fame, Rick Rude would be at the top of the list.

As a sports entertainer, Rude’s character was known for his arrogance and womanizing ways. A master of the mic, Rude was one of the most believable heels of his time. His persona and in-ring ability made him one of the most notable names in professional wrestling during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

rick rude dead

As skilled on the mic as he was in the ring. Rude cuts one of his classic promos at WrestleMania V. photo:

Outside of the ring, Rick was a much different man, devoted to his wife and three children. In fact, he was so committed to his family that he would cover his wedding ring up with tape while in the ring rather than remove it when playing his character.

Rude was also widely loved by his fellow wrestlers. It’s no surprise that Rick Rude’s death left the wrestling world and fans stunned. Today he is still remembered for his contributions to sports entertainment.

Rick Rude’s Early Life

Richard Rood, who would later become known by the wrestling name Rick Rude, was born in St. Peter, Minnesota, on December 7, 1958. Rick attended high school with a number of other guys who would go on to become professional wrestlers, including Curt Hennig. Prior to getting into wrestling, Rick attended college and earned a degree in physical education. He would end up a pro wrestler before he would ever set foot into a classroom.

10 years before his death: Rude makes short work of a jobber and then shows off his womanizing ways (Wrestling Challenge, 1990)

Early Career

Like many professional wrestlers from his era, Rick Rude began wrestling in territories, capturing a number of titles during the early 80s. These included the Mid-South Tag Team Championships, and Florida World Heavyweight Championship.

In 1986, Rude and Manny Fernandez won the World Class Wrestling Association World Tag Team Championships, defeating the Rock ‘n Roll Express.

Arguably one of Rude's most memorable feuds in the WWF was with the late Ultimate Warrior. photo:

Arguably one of Rude’s most memorable feuds in the WWF was with the late Ultimate Warrior. photo:

A Move to the WWF

Managed by Bobby Heenan, Rick Rude made his WWF debut in 1987.

From his very first appearance, Rick Rude captured fans’ attention by chasing the girlfriends and wives of his competitors and boasting about his skills.

Rude became a heat magnet – a perfect contrast to the babyfaced stars during the Hulkamania era.

On May 2, 1989, Rude won the WWF Intercontinental Champion belt by defeating The Ultimate Warrior. The story line continued through the summer with The Ultimate Warrior finally reclaiming his belt by the end of August.

Rude and the WCW

In 1991, Rick Rude moved from the WWF to the WCW, where he was a part of the Dangerous Alliance that included the likes of Stunning Steve Austin, Madusa, and Paul E. Dangerously. During his time at WCW, Rick Rude also helped his long-time friend Bret Hart make the move from the WWF.

6 years before his death: Rude wins the International Heavyweight title at Fall Brawl 1993, defeating Ric Flair. Rick Rude holds the record for most WCW International World Heavyweight Championships.

A Career Ending Injury

Although Rick Rude was considered a success in WCW, his career was cut short due to a neck injury. He ultimately had to forfeit his title in 1994 because he was unable to return to the ring. The story line had it that Rude was found to be cheating by using his championship belt as a weapon.

rick rude appears on nitro and raw on the same night

In a highly controversial move, Rude appears on (a previously taped) Raw and Nitro on the same night. WWE wasn’t aware of Rude’s signing to WCW. photo:

No longer able to wrestle, Rude was able to collect on a Lloyd’s of London insurance policy to pay for his expenses. In the late 90s, Rick made a number of WWF and WCW appearances, but he never wrestled again. He briefly joined Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna as a bodyguard for one of the original incarnations of Degeneration X.

At the time of Rick Rude’s death, his family did state that he had been training in hopes of returning to the action. Sadly, that goal would never come to fruition.

Rick Rude Death

Rick Rude’s death occurred on April 20, 1999. He was only 40 years old. He was living in Alpharetta, Georgia at the time.

An autopsy was done to determine caused Rick Rude’s death. The cause of death was listed as heart failure. Because there was empty prescription bottles found in his home, it’s widely discussed that Rude’s heart failure was due to a drug overdose, though this hasn’t been confirmed publicly.

Given the stories of Rick Rude’s past drug abuse, combined with the fact that he was battling injuries and hoping to make a comeback in the ring, sadly, a drug overdose is not far fetched. Whether it was a particularly heavy amount of drugs that was taken just prior to his death has been speculated, but many note that Rick’s lifestyle simply may have caught up to him.

rick rude grave

Rick Rude’s grave at Green Lawn Cemetery in Roswell, GA. photo: Kent Brown

Rick Rude Grave, Family

Rick Rude’s funeral services were held on April 24, 1999 at the Roswell Funeral Home in Roswell, GA.

His grave is located at Green Lawn Cemetery in Roswell, GA. A memorial bench is located next to his grave, dedicated by Rick’s three children.

Sadly, Rick’s son, Colton Rood, passed away in 2016. He was killed in a motorcycle accident on September 3rd in Armuchee, GA. He was only 19 years old.

Remembering Rick Rude After His Death

rick rude memorial

A memorial bench in Rick’s honor, located next to his grave. photo: Marietta Urton

After Rude’s death, a number of professional wrestlers spoke out about what a good person he was. His close friend Bret “Hitman” Hart spoke at length about him to the press. Hart even wrote about how much Rude had meant to him in his autobiography. Other wrestlers, including Rick Martel and “The Mountie” Jacques Rougeau, Jr also sang Rick’s praises, saying he was a fun person to have around in the locker room, and the total opposite of the arrogant man he portrayed in the ring.

The fact that Rude was so convincing in selling his persona in the ring is proof that he wasn’t just a skilled wrestler; he was a world class entertainer. It’s clear that despite how early Rick Rude’s death occurred, the wrestling world will never forget him.

Have a comment about Rick Rude? Sound off in the comments section below!

Fans also looked at

Search by ring name, real name, cause of death, organization, time period (2000s, etc) or specific year

Never Miss an Update!

No spam. No BS. Get the occasional email with the latest wrestling tributes and memorials
wrestler deaths

No thanks, I'm a jabroni

Please check your inbox (or spam/junk folder just in case)
to confirm your subscription.  Back to our website

Send this to friend