Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away today, July 31, 2015. He was 61.
Piper (born Roderick Toombs) passed away in his sleep due to a heart attack. He was in his home in California at the time of his passing.
To say that Roddy Piper was a legend in the professional wrestling industry would be a vast understatement. Piper was a legit Top 20 pro wrestling superstar of all time. While he was extremely talented inside the ring, he was best known for his work on the microphone. His interview segment The Piper’s Pit was groundbreaking and set the template for pro wrestling interviews that followed it in the next thirty years. Even up to his passing, Piper was booked far and wide on pro wrestling events so fans could hear him on the microphone hosting his Pit.
His legacy is hard to sum up in just a few words. He worked in every major American pro wrestling organization over that past forty plus years. He debuted professionally at the tender age of 15 and worked all across the country and Canada honing his skills. In the late ‘70s he terrorized California before moving to Georgia and the Carolinas through the first part of the 1980s.
In the 1983 he was a key component in Vince McMahon, Jr.’s expansion of the World Wrestling Federation into a global juggernaut. It was here where he truly created the famed Piper’s Pit and became the lead villain at the time when the roster was as loaded as it had ever been. He was a primary antagonist for WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan and was part of the main event of WrestleMania I that saw Piper and Paul Orndorff battle Hogan and ‘80s icon Mr. T in a tag team match. While much credit is given to Hogan and Mr. T for the event’s success, it has been argued that many people paid to see Piper lose.
Piper remained a fixture off/on in the WWF up until early 1996. He served in a variety of capacities and was both hated and adored by the fans throughout these times.
During the famed Monday Night Wars of the late 1990s, Piper sided with World Championship Wrestling. He resumed his legendary feud with Hulk Hogan, this time with Piper acting as the hero. Piper worked off/on for WCW up until the company’s demise.
Now entering the twilight of his career in the 2000s, Piper was free to work anywhere and everywhere. He appeared in TNA Wrestling sporadically and would show back up in WWE randomly from 2003 up until his last public appearance with the company at WrestleMania XXX.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and won over thirty Championships in his career, including the WWE World Tag Team Championship, the WWE Intercontinental Championship, the NWA/WCW World Television Championship and the NWA/WCW United States Championship. Piper is also widely regarded as one of the greatest to never with the World Heavyweight Championship.
He was loved in the ring. He was hated in the ring. Fans that watched him over the years adored him. His family and friends loved him, and he was incredibly respected by the men and women he shared the squared circle with. For every wrestler in the past thirty years who has picked up a microphone, hosted an interview segment or delivered a memorable monologue to the fans owes just little bit of credit to the Hotrod.
Pro wrestling didn’t just lose another “good one;” they lost one of the best the world has ever seen.