Just a few weeks after the crushing announcement that “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes had passed away, the wrestling world was rocked with the news of another WWE Hall of Famer passing on Friday. Several sources have confirmed the death of perhaps the most charismatic and unpredictable superstar to ever step inside of a wrestling ring.
Piper, born Roderick George Toombs, died from cardiac arrest in his sleep at his home on Thursday night. He was discovered on Friday. He was one of the most outspoken superstars to ever grace the industry. He appeared at the original WrestleMania I event back in 1985, squaring off against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
Through the years, he engaged in memorable feuds such as with Hogan and Mr. T. He also had a feud with Bad News Brown, where he showed up to a match with half of his body painted black. He competed in WWE, was their interim commissioner back in 1996, and also showed up in WCW to continue his war with Hogan. He even, in his own words, “cracked open a coconut over a guy that’s never been the same.”
Piper was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006, but had noted last November that he was cancer free. A family source told TMZ, who was one of the first media outlets to break this news, that he was cancer free at the time of his death.
He was entered into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, and was named one of the top 50 heels in the history of the WWE. He had one of the longest-tenured relationships of anyone associated with the company. He last wrestled on TV for them in 2008, and continued to make appearances through 2014. Piper’s rep issued a brief statement regarding his passing.
I am devastated at this news. Rod was a good friend as well as a client and one of the most generous, sincere and authentic people I have ever known. This is a true loss to us all.
Once his regular active wrestling career had ended, Piper stayed in the spotlight. He was a regular in Hollywood and started acting in TV shows and movies. His personality and his charismatic nature made him a perfect fit for the glitz and glamour of the bright lights.
WWE has posted the news on their website, offering their condolences. Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon noted that Piper was one of the “most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, and beloved by millions of fans around the world.” He extended his deepest condolences to his family. On behalf of Examiner, and as a performer presenting this unfortunate news, our thoughts and prayers are also going out to his family and friends during this time.