Rick Rude was one of the legit badasses in pro wrestling, and not many men dared ribbing him. Jake Roberts is not many men. He delivered a rather grotesque rib on the Ravishing one back in the day, and somehow lived to tell about it.
Date: 1987-1989 (exact date unknown)
Source: Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard podcast, Title Match Wrestling interview from Tidewater Comicon, Hannibal TV
Rick Rude had one of the all-time great physiques in pro wrestling history, in particular his shredded abs. While his legs were relatively skinny, his upper body was most impressive, and his arm strength and grip were such that he was an arm-wrestling standout before he became a pro wrestler.
While he was a decent star in the territory days, and later as a tag team with Manny Fernandez in the NWA, it wasn’t until he went to the WWF in 1987 where he got a chance to shine as a main event talent. Quite frankly, Rick Rude’s natural arrogance made him one of the best heels of the modern era of pro wrestling. He was the classic definition of the wrestler who guys wanted to be, and who women wanted to sleep with.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts had already been with the WWF for awhile by this point, and was always one of their top stars. Jake was as good of an interview as Rude was a heel, and that’s a serious compliment. Jake and his snake were synonymous with the type of circus/gimmick atmosphere the WWF created in the late ‘80s, and his strong psychology, excellent promos, and realistic persona all made Jake Roberts a fan favorite. To this day, he’s still someone longtime wrestling fans look back upon fondly, especially now that he’s a lot cleaner and clear headed thanks to Diamond Dallas Page.
In early 1988, Jake Roberts had just come out of rehab. It’s no secret that Jake has had a long history of substance abuse problems, as chronicled in both the Beyond the Mat movie and also The Resurrection of Jake Roberts movie. In that time period, Jake was still among the WWF’s top stars. And in the days before the internet and before underground newsletters gained in popularity, most wrestling fans were not even aware of Jake’s drug problems or that he was in rehab. To keep Jake in check on the road, the WWF office decided it was a good idea for Jake’s wife Cheryl Roberts to go on the road with him.
Cheryl, however, didn’t want to go on the road. She also didn’t want to be on camera. Cheryl’s presence put a strain on her marriage to Jake, as she was able to see first-hand how the wrestlers she knew would treat women and cheat on their wives and use drugs. Jake, of course, was guilty of all of the above himself. The boys expected Jake to tell his wife to keep her mouth shut and not rat them out to their wives. Jake attempted to do that, but it caused problems.
Despite Cheryl’s wishes, the WWF made her the focal point of the memorable Rick Rude vs Jake Roberts feud in 1988. There are two angles in particular most wrestling fans remember vividly from that era. In the first, Rick Rude attempted to get Cheryl to kiss him on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling in April of that year. The idea was Rude didn’t know who she was, and when she finally told him, he yelled at her to the point she slapped him hard (apparently busting his ear drum, as Rude later joked to Jake that his wife hit harder than he did). Jake then made the save in a wild pull-apart brawl.
In the other angle, Rude wore tights with Cheryl’s face stitched on them, and Jake ripped them off. While he wasn’t really nude in the angle, his crotch was censored with a black dot that it made it seem like he was.
Here’s Rude trying to kiss Cheryl… and getting slapped:
Here’s Rude showing off his tights with Cheryl’s face on them… and then Jake yanks them off.
While this road story involves both Jake Roberts and Rick Rude, it’s not known if it took place before, during, or after their in-ring feud. The two did not have major heat with each other, as best as we can tell. Jake has said Rude was a very intense individual, and that was one of the reasons Hulk Hogan never wanted to work with him. Jake also said Rude “knocked out Dizzy a couple times,” which is a reference to Dizzy Hogan, which was one of Brutus Beefcake’s ring names before he got to the WWF. Beefcake and Hogan were as close as brothers (and often rumored to be real brothers, which they’re not), so that may have partially explained it as well. We’ve found no evidence of Rude knocking out Brutus, either outside or inside the ring, so it may or may not be true.
Since his debut with the WWF in 1987, Rick Rude had a gimmick where he’d scan women in the audience after his squash match, invite them into the ring, kiss them, and then he’d swivel his hips over them as they’d “feint” on the floor. In reality, these were women the office scouted and scanned ahead of time. About half the time they were real women in the audience, and the other half they were women the company knew and planted in the audience.
The process was this: one of the road agents would scan the crowd for pretty women before the show, pull them aside, and ask them if they’d like to be on TV to be kissed by Rick Rude. Most of the time they were volunteers, but sometimes they’d be paid. In those days, the WWF would tape three shows in one day, so Rude would often wrestle more than once. Usually they’d find just one woman per match, but sometimes they’d have a backup. Rude would then be told ahead of time which women he could choose from, and then after the match he’d pick one of the pre-screened women.
On this particular night, Jake Roberts was backstage with a woman he was sleeping with. No, it wasn’t his wife Cheryl. It was extremely common for wrestlers to have women they’d sleep with in certain cities, so while Jake was admittedly committing adultery, he was hardly the only one. Just ask Ric Flair.
Rude saw the woman backstage, and told the agents he wanted her to be one of the women he kissed after his match. Problem was, he didn’t know she was with Jake.
The agents approached her about it, and she was offended they had the gall to ask her. She refused and wanted nothing to do with it. Jake, on the other hand, tried to convince her to do it. The WWF was going to pay her $500 for it, and Jake told her, “They’re gonna give you $500! You can buy the cocaine tonight, motherf*cker!” Given that Cheryl wasn’t there and that Jake was talking about doing cocaine with her, this would’ve likely taken place in late 1987 or early 1988, before Rude and Jake had their feud. But we don’t know that for certain.
The woman finally agreed, so she went into a room and signed her release form. When she came out, Jake asked her if they told her when she’d be doing the angle. She said No, so he made her go back and ask them. As we noted, back then the WWF taped three shows at each taping. “After the second hour,” she told Jake.
This was perfect, because Jake was wrestling in the first hour. “After I wrestle, meet me out in your car,” he told her. She did, and when he arrived in her car, she asked why he asked her to meet him there. He answered, “Well, I didn’t think it was appropriate to do this inside.”
“Do what?” she asked.
And so he he told her. She got on her knees and proceeded to service Jake with oral sex (fellatio).
“Don’t spit it out,” Jake told her. “Save that for Rick. When he kisses you and you’re laying down, you tell him what you did.”
Jake later said that this is when he knew he was a drug addict, because he threw caution into the wind knowing he was going to die once Rude found out what happened.
It’s doubtful the woman held it in her mouth the whole time, but even so, she kissed Rude as planned. One version of the story is that she told Rude, “That’s a present from Jake,” after he kissed her.
Bruce Prichard confirmed the story, and said Rude was obviously pissed once he got backstage. Nothing happened, though. It’s possible Jake was such a big star that Rude didn’t want to get into trouble, or maybe he thought it’d make him look bad to the other boys to get physical over a rib. Whatever the case, Jake lived to tell the story.
Rude, as we all know, passed away in 1999. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017 by his widow and two surviving children (one of his sons died in a motorcycle accident in 2016). Ironically Rude’s first wife was named Cheryl. As for Cheryl Roberts, she eventually divorced Jake in the 1990s.
Jake Roberts tells the story:
Jake Roberts talks about working with Rick Rude: