Eric Bischoff Reflects on WCW’s Decision to Sign Rick Rude Following the Montreal Screwjob

Eric Bischoff Reflects on WCW’s Decision to Sign Rick Rude Following the Montreal Screwjob
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On a recent edition of his “83 Weeks” podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff discussed WCW signing Rick Rude following the Montreal Screwjob, booking Rude for a live WCW Monday Night Nitro on the same night as his appearance on a taped episode of WWE RAW, and more.

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:


On how signing Rick Rude came together: “There was no preliminary conversation. It wasn’t about Rick Rude and leverage. I hadn’t spoken to Rick Rude in I don’t know how long until the night all the things went down in Montreal. Here’s what happened. I was at home. I wasn’t even watching the pay-per-view from Montreal. Sunday night, I’m on my couch, I don’t know what I was watching. Just finished dinner, relaxing, thinking about what I’m going to do the next day. My phone rings. It’s like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. Sunday night. Who’s calling me?’ Didn’t recognize the number. Picked up the phone. It was Rick Rude. He preceded that — and this was like minutes after everything went down. Rick Rude called me. When I say pissed, he was that quiet pissed. He wasn’t like, ‘You’re not going to believe what just happened. They just screwed Bret.’ It wasn’t that. It was a much more deliberate but intense Rick Rude. And keep in mind, I had known Rick since a couple of years out of high school. It’s not like we didn’t know each other pretty well. We had a lot of mutual friends before I ever got into wrestling. We had a lot of mutual friends. I knew Rick before I got into the business, so we had a pretty good relationship already, at least the foundation for one. We didn’t hang out together or anything like that, but we had a good relationship.

“And Rick proceeded to tell me what he just saw. And he was livid with Vince McMahon, he was livid with the entire situation. And he just flat out asked me, ‘Have you got any room’? I said, ‘Sure, I’ll make room for you, Rick.’ Now, keep in mind that Rick couldn’t wrestle. Rick was under a Lloyd’s of London policy, which is why you saw him in the ring with the beard, but he didn’t get physical. He couldn’t. I worked with Rick in WCW. As I said, I’ve known Rick for a long time. I’ll find a way to make a guy like Rick Rude work into the system. We had that conversation; it was nothing more than a result of what happened in Montreal, and we cut the deal. We may have cut the deal over the phone. I don’t even recall. I think we cut the deal over the phone, and I just sent him a contract and had my attorneys send him a contract. But yeah, it was quick and easy, but there was no preliminary. It wasn’t planned months in advance.”

On Rude shaving his beard for Nitro: “Yeah, kind of like rubbing their nose in it. Yeah. You know, just remind everybody, ‘Yeah, they’re taped. I’m live.’

On whether that’s one of his proudest moments: “Oh, it’s on the list, but certainly not the greatest. I think — I mean, it’s tough to beat the Lex Luger moment, not only because it was so well executed, nobody found out. Everybody in WWE thought he was still under contract. And I just knew that that was going to be effective. So that, to me, is the highlight of the kind of stunts that I pulled. Rick Rude showing up on our show was definitely right up there, but just not the biggest moment. And the thing with Luger’s is to set the tone. It is subconsciously and probably consciously among some of the audience, just sent the message to everybody that you cannot afford to miss an episode of Nitro because you don’t know what’s going to happen. Yeah, you just don’t know. And you want to be there and experience it live. You don’t want to hear about it the next day and ‘Go, s**t, should have been watching it, damn it.’”

On Vince McMahon being laid back about Rude working for WWE without a deal: “WWE has always been buttoned up tight. And it’s not even so much about, ‘Well, we want to have this guy under contract before we put them on TV because God, we want to own them and control them and make money off them all.’ That’s part of it, and that part of it surprises me as well. But there’s also a legal exposure there. You know, you got somebody out there performing. And he or she gets hurt on your show, and there’s no agreement that covers certain situations and potential legal considerations. You’re kind of exposing yourself legally as a company to have somebody out there with absolutely no contract. That’s bizarre, and even more so because it’s WWE, because they had always, from day one, been buttoned up so tight. I find that pretty interesting.”

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In the world of professional wrestling, there have been many memorable moments and surprising signings throughout the years. One such signing that caught the attention of fans and industry insiders alike was when WCW (World Championship Wrestling) signed Rick Rude following the infamous Montreal Screwjob. WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff recently discussed this signing and shed some light on how it all came together.

Bischoff revealed that he hadn’t spoken to Rick Rude in a long time until the night of the Montreal Screwjob. He received a phone call from Rude, who was clearly upset with Vince McMahon and the entire situation. Rude asked Bischoff if there was any room for him in WCW, to which Bischoff replied, “Sure, I’ll make room for you, Rick.” This conversation led to a quick and easy deal being made, with Rude eventually signing a contract with WCW.

At the time of his signing, Rude was under a Lloyd’s of London policy, which prevented him from wrestling physically. However, Bischoff was determined to find a way to incorporate Rude into WCW’s programming. Despite not being able to compete in the ring, Rude’s presence alone was enough to make an impact.

One notable moment involving Rude during his time in WCW was when he appeared on a live episode of WCW Monday Nitro on the same night as his appearance on a taped episode of WWE RAW. This move was seen as a way for WCW to rub their success in WWE’s face, showcasing that their show was live while WWE’s was pre-recorded. It was a subtle but effective way to remind fans that WCW was the place to be for live and unpredictable action.

When asked if this moment was one of his proudest, Bischoff acknowledged that it was certainly on the list but not the greatest. He cited Lex Luger’s surprise debut on Nitro as one of his proudest moments, as it was executed flawlessly and kept a secret from everyone in WWE. However, Rude’s appearance on WCW was still a significant moment that added to the unpredictability and excitement of Nitro.

Interestingly, Bischoff also commented on WWE’s approach to Rude working for WCW without a contract. He found it surprising that WWE, known for being tightly controlled and buttoned up, would allow someone to perform without a contract. From a legal standpoint, this exposed WWE to potential liabilities if Rude were to get injured during his appearances. It was an unusual move for WWE, considering their history of strict contract policies.

Overall, the signing of Rick Rude by WCW following the Montreal Screwjob was a significant moment in wrestling history. It showcased the competitive nature between WCW and WWE and added another layer of excitement to the Monday Night Wars. Rude’s presence in WCW, even without physical competition, made an impact and solidified his status as one of the industry’s top talents.

As with any wrestling story, there are always twists and turns that keep fans engaged and guessing. The signing of Rick Rude by WCW is just one example of the many surprises that have occurred throughout the years, leaving a lasting impact on the industry and its fans.