Pssst! Don’t tell my family! I still like to watch professional wrestling. We used to gather in the front room to watch the WWF on TV. We’d buy tickets early to any wrestling event in the area. Hubs and I would watch the high school and college matches that had little of the flair shown in the pro matches, but taught the young athletes the flexibility and skill needed to pin an opponent.
I cried a bit yesterday to find out Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away at 61 years of age. It was so much fun to watch him approach the ring wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes. I had the pleasure of shaking his hand several times and speaking with him before he started marching towards the center of the arena.
Piper’s real name was Roderick George Toombs. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the young Canadian started his pro wrestling career in his teens, including wrestling in the National Wrestling Association and World Wrestling Federation. His impact on the sport led to a 2005 induction in the WWE Hall of Fame.
WWF owner Vince McMahon gave him the opportunity for a fan favorite interview segment appropriately named Piper’s Pit. The result was usually some sort of squall between Piper and another figure in wrestling, including McMahon, Jimmy Snuka, and the legendary Bruno Sammartino.
Following the theme of her hit song, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper became a popular ringside enthusiast. A feud between Hulk Hogan and Piper gained heat when Piper kicked Cyndi in the head and attacked Captain Lou Albano! Hogan demanded a match to settle the score, leading to the first WrestleMania.
|WWE Veterans during Raw 1000 with Piper in his kilt|
|Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat|
His flamboyant personality and ability to rally people to or against his cause brought Piper fame as an actor, guest host, and main attraction. I knew it would be a good match when pro wrestlers like Bret Harte, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, and Sgt.Slaughter were on the card.
I think Vince McMahon’s tribute to Piper’s legacy is an appropriate ending to this man’s life: “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world.”
Thanks for the memories, Rowdy!