Professional wrestling is a strange world where everything is hyperbole. All active participants are “Superstars”, all retired wrestlers are “Legends”, and even “Hall of Famers” aren’t always top shelf talent. It’s rare to have an actual “Superstar”, “Legend”, and true “Hall of Famer”. On July 31, 2015 we lost someone who was truly all three. In terms of talent, influence, status, and pretty much any other word you can describe a pro wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper had it in spades. He will truly be missed.
Roddy Piper was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and had a tough childhood. He left his home and stayed in youth hostels at a young age. He trained in boxing and judo which led to him making is professional wrestling debut against Larry Hennig at the age of fifteen. The bagpipe band he played in played him to the ring and the announcer announced him as “Roddy the Piper” and a legend was born. He wrestled in various territories including the AWA, NWA, and Mid-Atlantic. In 1983 Piper participated in the first Starrcade where he wrestled Greg Valentine in a dog collar match. It was a brutal affair that left Piper with a busted eardrum and a permanent loss of fifty percent of his hearing. That match was an instrumental part in the success of the first event of its kind that eventually evolved into the modern “Pay Per View” event.
In 1984 Piper joined the World Wrestling Federation. Here the famous “Piper’s Pit” segment was born. One of wrestling’s most famous moments happened on the Pit when Piper smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head. Piper’s WWF career really took off when he became involved with Hulk Hogan. Piper was the heart and soul behind the angle that was the Main Event of the first Wrestlemania. That main event was Mr. T and Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff and Piper. The next year at Wrestlemania 2 he worked with Mr. T again. Around this time Piper’s rebel spirit began to catch on with fans. As a fan favorite he wrestled his “retirement” match at Wrestlemania 3.
After his retirement Piper decided to tackle acting. Starring in the cult classic They Live was his most famous role. This also spawned the classic line of “I came to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum”. He would return to the WWF and win the Intercontinental Championship, which was his only singles title with the company. His title run ended in a Wrestlemania match with Bret Hart in a match that was key to Hart becoming the Star he became. In the late 90s he went to World Championship Wrestling to work with Hulk Hogan again. After WCW he would make occasional appearances in WWE including another Wrestlemania match.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s influence is undeniable. If anything rebellious happens in wrestling, there is a good chance piper did it first. CM Punk’s rebel spirit? Piper had it first. Various wrestling talk show segments? Piper did it first. Mick Foley’s horrific ear injury? Yep Piper even did that first. Every hero needs a villain and for a long time no one did it better than Piper. In reference to Hulk Hogan Roddy once said “If they didn’t hate me so much, you think they would’ve been cheering you so much?” And it’s true. In that run that launched Hogan to mega stardom. I think it would have been easier to replace Hogan than it would have been to replace Piper. Piper was so tough, he never backed down, he said whatever he wanted, and he did it all in a skirt. There really is no way to do Piper justice. As Piper once said “You do not throw rocks at a man with a machine gun.” And I feel like this article is just throwing rocks when he deserves a machine gun. He was “Rowdy before rowdy was cool”, when we had the answers he changed the questions, and we all know “Sooner or later everybody pays the Piper”. I think the best way to describe Roddy came from the man himself “There’s only one Roddy Piper and not everybody can be Roddy.” Roddy I hope your taking some time to chew some bubble gum up there but something tells me where ever you are your going to end up kicking ass. Rest in Power Hot Rod.
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