I don't know if you guys already knew this or not, and with the internet being so readily available, how could you not, but last week the world lost a true legend.
The "Hot Rod", Rowdy Roddy Piper died last Thursday at the age of 61. Apparently he had a heart attack while he was asleep and never woke up.
If you know anything about the long and hard life of Roddy Piper, from leaving home at the age of 13 to becoming a professional wrestler, to being a cancer survivor, you'll know the man had as wild a life as possible. Definitely befitting for a man who truly was "Rowdy."
I won't bore you with the details of his life. You can find all the information you want on the the internet, and sites like Wikipedia.org, so I'll just share a little about what the man meant to me.
My dad got me watching Pro-Wrestling at a young age, around 5 or 6. And much like him, I too instantly fell in love with it as soon as I started watching it. I was very fortunate to grow up when I did, because I got to enjoy the huge wrestling boom and modern golden age of wrestling that was the 80's. From Hulk Hogan to the "Macho Man" Randy Savage, from The Millon Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase and Jake "The Snake" Roberts to Andre The Giant and "Ravishing" Rick Rude, I watched them all as they enterained me and countless millions of fans across the world on a weekly basis.
One of the true superstars from that era, was the Hot Rod, Rowdy Roddy Piper.
The man was pioneer, no doubt about that. He helped start the 80's boom and the Rock and Roll Connection, along with Hulk Hogan, as well as main-evented the 1st ever Wrestlemanina, whose success, turned pro-wrestling into a mainstream, household instituion that continues on today more than 30 years after the fact.
It's funny, when you first saw a guy like Piper, you instantly noticed he wasn't not a tall, as built, or buff like the stereotypical wrestler. But then he spoke, and you knew he was something special.
From his famous intros either playing or accompanied to the ring by the sound of bag pipes, Piper was a consumate showman.
He was a hell of a talker too. One of the absolute best ever when it came to cutting promos or hosting his own talk show-ish like segments called Piper's Pit.
Those segments are legendary, and for good reason. Piper was the first to do those types of things, because nobody before 1984 was doing wrestler-oriented segments like that.
Piper pioneered that whole landscape, turning something small like that, into a thing that still exists today for the select few that can actually pull it off.
Piper was also famous for being so animated. Seriously, go look up his promos on YouTube. From his early years in the Portland area in the 70's to the WWF/E, he was making a name for himself by the way he conducted interviews and promos. His exaggerated mannerisms that only he could pull off, like when he'd get worked up, and he'd start tugging on his ear and start shaking and becoming really animated, you just knew you if for a show.
The man never failed to enterain us. He could make you love him or hate with his gift of gab, sometimes both at the sametime, depending on what he had to say. He was controversal, but did it in such a smart way that it got your attention and held it without looking like he was really trying. He was just a natural talker and entertainer that way.
The first match I can remember of his, was supposed to be his last one, back in 1987, Wrestlemania 3 against Adrian Adonis.
while it wasn't a technical, catch-as-can type of match, it was still entertaining as hell because it was Hot Rod, because he knew how to work the crowd and make you cheer him or boo him.
As I got older, I grew to appreciate more what made him so special and why he entertained me so much.
Sure guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior appeared to be more popular, and they certainly seemed more important at times since they had been the WWF World Heavyweight Champion(an honor Piper never got, despite being so over with the fans) But that didn't change the fact that he was still so well-loved, especially once he transitioned from a loud-mouthed heel you loved to hate to a pure baby-face(good guy).
Piper took breaks, made movies, some of which I'm sure some of heard of, like John Carpenter's cult classic They Live, Frogtown, and others, and then he came back to entertain us again. And it was like he never left.
One of personal favorite returns, was his 1989 return at Wrestlemania 5.
It was him, squaring off against the evil Brother Love, a literal red-faced, faux angelical preacher (probably modeled after Jerry Fallwell and the televangelists of the 80's) and then famous talk show host, Morton Downey Jr.(anybody still remember him?)
One by one, Piper out-talked and out-manuvered each of them, putting them in their respective places.
And remember folks, for guys like Piper, they worked best unscripted, meaning they shot from the hip and on the fly off the top of their heads, no note cards or anything like that.
Towards the end, after repeatedly asking Downey to stop blowing smoke in face, Piper pulls out a fire extinguisher and straight up blasts the fucker in the face, hosing him down.
Ha ha ha! I still get a kick out of how he ultimately shut up such a loud-mouthed prick like Morton Downey Jr. As he himself said a few times, "It takes a son of a bitch to know a son a bitch."
Fun fact about the ending to that segment, Piper thought Downey was really trying to legitimately start some shit with him when he started crawling toward him, grabbing his leg. You see Piper hold up the fire extinguisher like he's about to hit him....and that's because he REALLY was about to, before he thought better of it.
Do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube if you can find it.
I love it. No shits given by that guy.
That's another thing I loved about Roddy; he was legit tough, but he didn't lord it over you.
He was a trained boxer and legit knew how to take care of himself in a shoot fight, but his main weapon was his mouth. He could insult you and come up with funny quips and one-liners off the top of his head.
I've always admired that I people, especially him, because trust me folks, it either come naturally to you or you have to work at it; its not necessarily something one can teach.
And especially with the restrictions Piper faced in his heyday, not being able to cuss or swear, he still could be creative and insult you without resorting to saying "Hey, fuck you!"
Piper would go on to from one wrestling company to another during the later 90's, and back again.
Then in 2005, he was given the highest honor you can get in his profession, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, as acknowledgement of all his years entertaining us all and his incredible achievements in the sport of professional wrestling.
Its hard to believe that was exactly 10 years ago.....
Man, where does the time go anymore?
Anyhoo, I just wanted to take a minute and acknowledge a true legend and pioneer, as well one truly entertaining son of a bitch.
Thank you Hot Rod for everything you did and achieved, as well as the many, many years of entertainment you selflessly gave to me and all of us, everywhere.
He's survived by his wife of Kitty and his four children and four grandchildren.
God Bless you, and may you finally rest in peace.....
Have a good one folks.