Rowdy Roddy Piper was many things to many people. To a kid growing up in Scotland, watching all these body builder types strut their stuff in WWF rings in the 80s, he was pretty much The Man.
That kid would have been me, and whether he knew it or not, Roddy represented me. Before I knew about heels and faces, and angles and booking – he was a guy in a kilt from Scotland and I loved him.
“Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions!”
— Roddy Piper
He was billed from Glasgow, Scotland… sure, it was a bit of artistic liberty, but he wore the kilt and came out to the bagpipes instead of Generic Guitar Rock Track Number 7… to me, he was IT. He talked the talk as good as anyone ever did, and while he wasn’t a 5 star technician in the ring, he more often than not walked the walk. He was never a World Champion, but he damn sure made a few.
The story of him causing a riot in Mexico by claiming he’d learned how to play the Mexican national anthem on the bagpipes, and then play La Cucaracha in the middle of the ring still makes me laugh to this day.
Tales of Roddy and Ric Flair, or Roddy and Dusty Rhodes raising hell in and out of the ring are many and varied. Causing a riot is something that Roddy seems to have excelled in, as it’s a common event in stories told by and about Roddy.
Piper’s Pit was always an event. Even in Roddy’s later years, when he was slightly looser with his motivations, you were guaranteed at least one “did he really just say THAT?” moment whenever he was trusted with a live microphone. There were few better at talking people into handing over cash to see a loudmouth get the comeuppance that he deserved.
“Do you think [the fans] would have loved you so much, if they hadn’t hated me?”
— Roddy Piper, to Hulk Hogan
Piper was a genuine one off, a trail blazer and a hell raiser. In a time when there were HUGE characters in wrestling, he stood out. There is a fine line between madman and genius – Roddy walked the line his entire life, and may even have crossed over a few times…
He leaves behind an incredible legacy; both of people in the business that he influenced, and fans like me that were entertained, inspired and enthralled by The Hot Rod. The man may have left us, but the legend will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all of those people.
St. Peter better be stocking up on bubblegum, because he’s gonna need it…
Rest in peace, Roddy.