Eric Bischoff on Relationship with Rick Rude & Being Asked to Leave His Funeral

Apr 24, 2019 - by James Walsh

During his most recent 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed his falling out with Rick Rude, which resulted in him being asked to leave Rude’s funeral. Bischoff recalled that the relationship soured because Rude wanted Bischoff and WCW to pay his Lloyd’s of London disability insurance policy payoff that Rude received following his back injury. This would have allowed Rude to return to the ring. As it was, since Rude had taken the insurance payoff, he was no longer allowed to wrestler. Highlights from the discussion are below:

On his relationship with Rick Rude: “You know, there were ups and downs. There were some challenging moments. For the most part we got along great. We came from kind of the same area, had a lot of mutual friends growing up, even before I got into wrestling and so forth. I’ve talked about him in the past. Rick was a really, really interesting dude. He was really intense. He unfortunately got tied up with a Lloyd’s of London policy, which prevented him from ever getting back in the ring again, because he took a big cash payout because of his disability, a back injury that he had sustained. And after the fact, after he got the money and saw where things were going in WCW, and even in WWE, he really desperately wanted to be back in the ring. And it just wasn’t in the cards for him, from a legal perspective in regards to his Lloyd’s of London policy. The only way that he could have gone back into the ring is if he would have paid Lloyd’s of London back the amount of money that they paid him based on cashing out his insurance policy. Rick couldn’t do that, he didn’t have the money. He really wanted me to do it for him as part of his compensation package. There was no way I could justify that. It just wasn’t possible for me to pull it off. That created a lot of tension between Rick and I. And it was unfortunate that he passed away under that kind of a cloud of desperately wanting to get back in the ring, being frustrated that I couldn’t come up with the money to pay off his Lloyd’s of London claim that would enable him to do so. I was really disappointed that our relationship kind of ended when it did, the way it did under those circumstances. It was a sad thing.”

On being asked to leave Rude’s funeral: “Yes, there was [an incident at the funeral]. I went to Rick’s funeral and probably five or ten minutes after I got to the service, I had visited Rick’s casket and said a prayer and had a few words, a moment with him. And his sister, and I don’t remember her name, came up to me and asked me to leave. And I felt, I was so embarrassed, number one, I certainly didn’t want to draw attention to myself. You know, it was a funeral. I was there to pay respects. Rick was a friend of mine, you know. We had our issue about me paying off his Lloyd’s of London policy, and it wasn’t a little amount of money, it was about, if I recall, I think it was $350,000 or $450,000.”

On how Lloyd’s of London policies worked: “And let me just spend a minute on that so people understand. Lloyd’s of London used to write policies for professional wrestlers. And they were expensive policies. But if you were to become disabled as a result of your work in the ring, you would get a sizable payoff. In Rick’s case, I think it was a $350,000 or $450,000 payoff. Somewhere in that area. But once you took that check, you couldn’t wrestle again. Getting that check means that you were permanently disabled. You had to get a doctor to examine you and sign an affidavit saying that due to your injuries you were no longer able to perform in the ring, and that was the end of your career. That would trigger the payout from Lloyd’s of London. And that’s exactly what happened to Rick.”

On his falling out with Rude: “Well, a couple years later, like I said a few moments ago, wrestling’s getting hot again. And so many wrestlers, especially — you know, Rick was relatively young at the time. They miss it, they miss being in the ring. They miss that connection to the audience, they’re naturally competitive people. They know, in Rick’s case, physically, he knew he could get in the ring and perform. That back injury that he had, whether he got over it or whether it was never really as serious as he made it out to be in order to collect on that insurance policy, whatever the case was, I don’t know. But Rick knew that he could get back in the ring to perform. And especially when the nWo started getting hot, he wanted back in that ring so badly. And he couldn’t understand, much to the — in some ways, he had the attitude that we were discussing earlier on, ‘Well if you can afford to pay Hogan this, why can’t you pay off my Lloyd’s of London policy?’ It’s irrational, it wasn’t realistic, but that was his frame of mind. And I’m sure Rick made that known to his family or friends, or whatever. And he put it on me. It was like, ‘God damned Bischoff won’t write a check, won’t give me an opportunity to get back in the ring.’ Kinda left out the part where I would have had to pay off his policy that he had collected on and probably spent by that point. But he was angry at me. Probably because we were friends and he thought I should be able to find a way given the amount of money that WCW was generating at the time, and given the amount of money that he was reading about and hearing about. Knowing that guys like Hogan and Savage were being compensated. He felt like I should have been able to find a way to get him back in the ring. And I couldn’t. If I would have gone to Harvey Schiller or whoever in Turner Broadcasting and said, ‘Okay, this is what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna take this guy Rick Rude over here, we’re gonna pay off his Lloyd’s of London policy for $350,000 or $400,000 and then we’re gonna pay him $250,000 or $300,000, $400,000 on top of that,’ they would have had my head on a stick. Despite the narrative that I could do whatever I wanted to do and I had Ted Turner’s money and I had the Turner broadcasting ATM and all that kind of crap. That wasn’t true. I couldn’t do it for Rick as badly as I wanted to.”

On the funeral incident and his reaction to it: “But I’m sure to Rick’s immediate family and friends, I was the bad guy. And I understood that. I knew that was the case prior to Rick’s passing. Didn’t change the fact that I still had a lot of affection for Rick and valued our friendship and our history together. But I didn’t think it would come up at a funeral. But obviously emotions were very raw, and when I showed up there, I think it was Rick’s sister came up to me and asked me to leave. And to this day, I’ve never been to another wrestling funeral because of that. I’ve wanted to, but the politics in wrestling, and the history and sometimes the misperceptions and misunderstandings that take place over the course of a business relationship, they’re there. We all have history with each other, or had, and I never thought that it was so raw that it would come up at a funeral, but I’ve probably never been so — embarrassed isn’t even the right word. I don’t know, I don’t even know how to describe the way I felt. Like I said, I haven’t been to a funeral of a wrestler that I’ve worked with since then, because I never want to be in a position where for whatever reason whether it’s fair, unfair, be the center of attention at something as emotional as someone’s funeral ever again.”

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