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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper (1954 - 2015)

Roderick "Roddy" George Toombs (aka. Rowdy Roddy Piper)
April 17, 1954 - July 30, 2015


On Friday, July 30th of this year, legendary professional wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (born Roderick George Toombs) died in his sleep after a fatal heart attack, at the age of 61, in his home in Hollywood, California.

Born on April 17, 1954 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Toombs began his career as an amateur wrestler, a boxer winning the Golden Gloves boxing championship, and awarded a black belt in Judo. His first professional wrestling match took place in Winnipeg at the age of 15 against professional wrestler Larry "The Axe" Hennig. When Roddy made his way to the ring playing the bagpipes (which Toombs became proficient at as a kid), the ring-announcer introduced him as "Roddy the Piper", the fans in attendance heard it as "Roddy Piper" and the name stuck. 

Piper's in-ring persona as a brash, trash-talking "heel" (bad guy wrestler) wearing a kilt in honor of his Scottish heritage, defined him as one of the iconic wrestlers of the 1980s and 90s. 

The Rowdy One, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

On November 24, 1983 Piper took part in the first NWA Starrcade pay per view wrestling in front of a crowd of 16,000 people in the Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, North Carolina) in a memorable and brutal dog collar match with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. During the match Piper was struck in the ear with the heavy chain used, damaged his eardrum and lost most of his hearing as a result. 

Two years later, Piper would star in the main event of the very first WWF/WWE Westlemania pay per view on March 31, 1985 in front of 19,121 fans in Madison Square Garden (New York City, New York) when he teamed with "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndoff against wrestling legend (a term I use loosely for several reasons) Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea and Mr. T.

Roddy Piper Vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine At Starrcade 83 in front of 16,000 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum, NC.
Piper Squares Off Against Mr. T. And Hulk Hogan At Wrestlemania I In Madison Square Garden, NY.

Piper would go on to have a memorial feuds with Hogan for much of the 1980s in the WWF/WWE and the late 90s in WCW. Piper is also noted for his rivalry and friendship with wrestling legend "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

Piper is considered one of the greatest talkers and heels in wrestling history. His Piper's Pit interview segments were considered innovative, especially in an atmosphere where only the people like the world champion got to talk, and the wrestlers were the interviewees - but never the interviewers.


Piper Interviews Wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka In Piper's Pit.

Piper is also well known as an actor in several cult-classic films such as the John Carpernter film They Live (1988) and Hell Comes To Frogtown (1988) - both are among this blogger's favorite 80s films.

Piper's Famous Line From The John Carpenter Cult Classic Film They Live (1988)....And One Of My All-Time Favorite Movie Quotes.
Movie Poster For The Classic B-Movie Hell Comes To Frogtown (1988).

In 2005, Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

News of his death broke minutes before the Hall of Heroes dinner to cap off the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends FanFest in Charlotte, North Carolina, where about 600 current and former wrestling personalities and fans had gathered. He received a ten-bell salute after the planned salute to fellow former professional wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, who had died in June 2015. Another ten-bell salute was given at the beginning of the August 3, 2015, episode of WWE Raw and a video was shown honoring his professional career and life. 

Piper's ashes were sprinkled onto his ranch in Gaston, Oregon. He is survived by his wife Kitty and their four children.
 


Roddy Piper With Fellow WWE Hall Of Famer "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
Who Died In June Of This Year. RIP.

On a personal note, back when wrestling was still wrestling - before the era of "sports entertainment" and the end of professional wrestling's territory days - Rowdy Roddy Piper (aka "Hot Rod") was one of my all-time favorite wrestlers and heroes as a child of the 80s, even though he was mostly a "bad guy" through his run. His personality and his character just rubbed off on me.

He was one of the first wrestlers my dad took me to see and I enjoyed his matches and films. I also respected the man, Roderick Toombs for who he was beyond his wrestling persona. His pride in his Scottish and Irish heritage largely inspired my own sense of pride in that heritage, and ironically in kilt wearing. Also of note, like me he was also a Confederate descendant. His great-great grandfather was Robert Augustus Toombs (July 2, 1810 - December 15, 1885), the first Confederate States Secretary of State. 

I wore my own Ulster Red Irish Tartan kilt to a Confederate flag and heritage rally on Saturday, August 1st, both in his honor and in honor of my own Celtic ancestry. The photos of that rally will be included in my next blog post. 

Thank you for the memories and the inspiration, Hot Rod. Your memory and legacy will never be forgotten. I look forward to meeting you in Heaven someday.

RIP Roddy Piper. Thank You For The Memories. God Rest Your Soul.

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