After having a falling out with WWF owner Vince McMahon, Rick Rude made a jump to rival promotion World Championship Wrestling. It had a been a year since Rude had been seen on television for any wrestling promotion. He made his return to television at the 1991 Halloween Havoc disguised as the Phantom.
Rude wouldn’t waste any time quickly becoming one of the top heels for WCW. He aligned himself with the Dangerous Alliance, arguably one of the best stables in the history of professional wrestling. The group had Paul E. Dangerously as their manager and consisted of Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, and Arn Anderson. Rude was seen and presented as the top guy.
Within a month of his tenure in WCW, Rude won the WCW United States Championship from Sting at the November ’91 Clash of the Champions. On the same show, Ricky Steamboat returned to WCW and teamed with Dustin Rhodes to win the WCW Tag Team Championships from Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko. Their reign as champions ended in January ’92.
By December 1991, the top faces in WCW were fighting with the Dangerous Alliance. Seemingly every television show had the Dangerous Alliance members battling the top stars, which really made for some great TV wrestling.
On the December 14th, 1991 edition of World Championship Wrestling, Steamboat was battling Bobby Eaton and almost struck Madusa, Luckily, he was able to avoid doing so. Of course, this would be highlighted for several weeks. The next week, Steamboat seemingly won the WCW TV Championship from Steve Austin, but another referee noted that Austin had his foot under the ropes. This lead to another interaction between Steamboat and Madusa. Steamboat grabbed ahold of Madusa, but was attacked by other Dangerous Alliance members.
At Starrcade 1991, Steamboat was able to eliminate Rude in the Battlebowl main event, but then moments later Rude screwed Steamboat by pulling him to the floor. Over the course of the next several weeks, Steamboat was involved in various brawls and attacks with the Dangerous Alliance.
On the January 18th, 1992 edition of Worldwide, Steamboat fought Steve Austin for the WCW Television Championship, which ended in a draw. Steamboat scared Madusa during the match sending her to the floor. The following week on Worldwide, Steamboat was successful in defeating Larry Zbyszko. He was then attacked by the Dangerous Alliance and was almost whipped by Rick Rude with a belt. Luckily, Steamboat was saved by other WCW wrestlers.
A few days later, Steamboat reamed with Sting to defeat Rude and Austin at the January 21st Clash of the Champions event. After the match, Rude dropped Steamboat with a Rude Awakening and then whipped him with Paul E. Dangerously’s belt.
Steamboat officially made it clear that he was coming for Rude on the February 1st edition of Worldwide. It would be announce they’d wrestle at Superbrawl II on the WCW’s Saturday Night programming.
Steamboat wouldn’t waste much time getting his hands on Rude, in fact. On the same episode of Worldwide, Steamboat attacked Rude after Rude hit a second Rude Awakening on Brad Armstrong. During the attack, Madusa got on Steamboat’s back and was slammed to the mat. Rude used an award that Paul E. Dangerously had given to him to hit Steamboat in the ribs and back, causing an injury.
The following week on Worldwide, Rude was interviewed and mentioned that he’d have Steamboat’s wife cook him a steak dinner. On the same episode of Worldwide, Steamboat defeated Zbyszko in a singles match and was accompanied to the ring by a mysterious ninja. The ninja saved Steamboat from an attack from Zbyszko.
After an eight man tag team match on the February 22nd edition on Saturday Night, Rude attacked Steamboat and dropped him with another Rude Awakening. At Superbrawl II, Rude was able to retain the WCW United States Championship with help from the ninja. The ninja ended up being Paul E. Dangerously in disguise and he whacked Steamboat with a phone to help his client win the match. Backstage at the show, Missy Hyatt tried to talk to Rude and noticed the ninja outfit. The stipulation for the match was that Dangerously was barred from ringside.
Following Superbrawl, Steamboat and Rude continued to have a heated rivalry. Both men would attack each other. Rude ended up breaking Steamboat’s nose after hitting him with Paul E. Dangerously’s phone on the Main Event program. Shortly afterward, Steamboat was able to get revenge on Rude by hanging Rude over the ropes with his own belt.
On the April 11th edition of WCW Pro, footage of Ricky Steamboat accidentally striking Madusa was shown. He had thought it was the male Dangerous Alliance members trying to attack him and he had immediate signs of regret. Of course, the Dangerous Alliance played into this and insulted Steamboat for his actions against a woman.
Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa began to accuse Steamboat of stalking Madusa on the May 2nd edition of Power Hour. During an interview, Madusa left in tears when talking about Steamboat being a woman beater. The next week on Saturday Night, Rick Rude got in on the charade of Steamboat stalking Madusa. It led to Missy Hyatt interviewing women in the crowd and she came across three women who all claimed they were having an affair with Steamboat. Rude looked into the camera and apologized to Mrs. Steamboat.
At this point, Rude was also trying to get a restraining order against Steamboat for stalking Madusa. Steamboat called into the Main Event on May 10th to state that the claims were all lies and his family knows it, too.
The heated rivalry between Rude and Steamboat was part of the War Games match at WrestleWar on May 17th, 1992. It’s one of the best War Games to ever happen, and probably the last great true War Games match. Steamboat was on the winning team when Bobby Eaton of the Dangerous Alliance was forced to submit.
Throughout the entire feud, Rude and Steamboat were having brutal matches on house shows. Whether they be no disqualification, lumberjack or steel cage matches. Obviously, each time Rude was able to retain the championship. Rude did obtain some victories over Steamboat, but each time it was thanks to help from Madusa, or someone else in the Dangerous Alliance.
The issues between Steamboat and Rude would conclude at the 1992 Beach Blast pay per view. Steamboat won a 30-minute Iron Man match, but the WCW United States Championship wasn’t on the line. Steamboat was able to earn four falls while Rude finished with three falls. However, Rude was still the WCW United States Champion.
That was mostly all for the feud between Steamboat and Rude. I personally really enjoyed the feud between the two as it came across very personal and it felt like you could feel the hatred between them. It is kind of odd to see a babyface win the feud in the end, but not win the championship, which was the original goal. Rude was such a great heel and heat magnet that it was probably the right call to keep the championship on Rude for a while longer. Plus, the series of matches didn’t hurt Steamboat by any means.
Steamboat would feud with Cactus Jack and Steve Austin afterward while Rude was inserted into a feud with Nikita Koloff.
What are your memories on the feud and their matches in WCW during this era?
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.