Remembering “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
“Just when you think you have the answers, I change the questions!”
That is one of the greatest bits of trash talk from one of the most popular entertainers of our generation, the Hot Rod “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, a talent who we sadly lost this past weekend. Piper was born of Scottish descent and spent the entirety of his early life moving around Canada. During his nomadic life style he discovered the sport of professional wrestling, and while he was not the strongest or fastest when he stepped into the squared circle, Piper realized his talent for being an obnoxious loudmouthed villain when given a microphone. This talent took him far in his career as he had classic feuds with; Chavo Guerrero Sr , “the Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and of course Greg Valentine with whom he shared a brutal match with in the inaugural Starrcade. He surpassed the other heels in the business with his creativity in drawing heat; in Los Angeles he famously told a largely Hispanic audience he would make peace with them by playing Mexico’s national anthem on his bag pipes, and he instead played La Cucaracha
His career boomed when Vince McMahon began assembling a wrestling promotion that would be nationwide force to be reckoned with, and he recruited the Rowdy One to be the biggest heel on his roster feuding with the beloved Hulk Hogan. This turned Piper from a wrestler into a full blown pop culture icon. Clad in a kilt and often accompanied by bagpipe music he ruthlessly went after fellow wrestlers as wells prominent people from the entertainment industry such as; Mr. T, Morton Downey Sr., and Cyndi Lauper, leading to the first ever Wrestlemania. His skill was put on display in a regular WWF segment, Piper’s Pit, where he played the obnoxious talk show host to his fellow athletes, leading to many memorable moments. Despite his onscreen persona, the Hot Rod was beloved by the rest of the locker room, and was one of the only wrestlers from his generation to help out the up and comers, even putting over Bret “the Hitman” Hart at Wrestlemania VIII.
Naturally his talent and popularity got the attention of Hollywood and he found himself cast in films destined to become cult classics like, Hell Comes to Frogtown, and of course They Live!. Legendary filmmaker John Carpenter, knew exactly how to play to Piper’s strengths and allowed the performer ad-lib many of his own lines like the oft quoted, “I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum…and I am all out of bubble gum.”
Whether he was a villain or an antihero, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was an entertainer like no other and he will be missed by millions of his fans.