One of professional wrestling's all-time greats- Roddy Piper has been staying busy with continued work in the entertainment industry from doing voice work for Adventure Time to participating in Klondike's Celebrity Challenge campaign.
I was given the opportunity to get Piper's thoughts on the early days, Piper's Pit, the changes in pro wrestling, and cooling off with a Klondike.
The Klondike Challenge
I am having a blast with Klondike bars. The fans had to say what Roddy Piper would do for a Klondike Bar and I had to pull it off, but there’s a really good hook to it. The person that pulled it off was a fan himself. He had all these great ideas about a sleeper and this and that. I said sure and then they decided to bring him in and I got to do it to him. It’s hot out here, so its nice that I am doing a shoot for Klondike Bars.
Getting his start in professional wrestling
I left home when I was 13 and lived in youth hostels. I came fifth in the world playing the bagpipes and and the youth hostel I was living in was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was a YMCA and so I just started amateur wrestling and boxing where I became an amateur wrestling champion and a Golden Gloves boxer. My amateur coach, when AWA and Verne Gagne would come to Winnipeg, was a referee. One night someone just didn’t show up. I don’t know who it was and so they needed somebody. I was just a kid living on the streets and my coach said "I could get you twenty five bucks." I had never seen a pro match before so I went with my pipe bags and they said play yourself in for the match.
Do you remember Mr. Perfect? Well it was his dad- Larry the Axe Hennig. I am pretty sure to this day it was the shortest match in the history of the Winnipeg Arena. He beat me in seven seconds. Broke my nose, split my eye. And the promoter comes up to me and says "Kid you did great! How would you like to go to Kansas City?" The paid me my twenty five bucks and put me in a van. I just never stopped.
The reason they call me Roddy Piper is that night when I was coming to the ring the announcer (my name is Roderick, Roddy for short) didn’t really know who I was and saw me coming down with these pipe bags and said "Ladies and Gentlemen, here comes Roddy the Piper". The "the" just got dropped. I don’t know where the Rowdy came from.
Wrestling Chavo Guerrero, Sr.
With Chavo Guerrero I had known for a long time. I wrestled his father Gory Guerrero and really every one of the Guerreros except Mrs. Guerrero. In Mexico the put in a bull ring in Juarez and I was sick and so Mrs. Guerrero made me some chicken soup so that the Guerreros could beat me up later that night in the bull ring.
When I would fought Chavo in Mexico it was very difficult because they didn’t like me at all. Although it wasn’t much different when I fought Chavo in America because they didn’t like me either. Actually one time instead of the Mexican national anthem I played La Cucaracha on the bagpipes and that’s where it all got started.
Since I have had great respect for the Mexican people.
The improvisation of Piper’s Pit and who gave him the greatest battle of wits.
Oh holy cow, there was a lot of great guys and ones that don’t get recognized enough like Don Muraco. He’s in the top ten of all time, Orndorff, and those like Hogan and Andre for Wrestlemania III was a great Piper’s Pit. I don’t know if Flair ever did a Piper’s Pit, but I liked him a lot.
It got to the point that guys didn’t want to do them, because I know what I was going to do and they didn’t know what I was going to do. They came on with one of two attitudes- they were going to beat me to the punch so to speak or one of just pure contempt. I think that’s the reason it became so popular. There was no script. There was nothing but what you made up in those few minutes.
I had done so many interviews by that time that I wasn’t really afraid of anybody. I got beat up a lot though.
The changes he has seen in the wrestling business over the years
Some of the biggest changes are that the sport is safer and that the athletes are much better taken care of. It goes into 120 countries each week, so from my perspective that is great for those guys that are in there now.
I am one of the last of the gunslingers . There were no niceties and in my time you had to fight for your spot. Now the guys that are doing it now though, I might say I have to fight for my spot when they are given there spot a bit more easily. At the same time though, they have some negatives because they are so restricted. Nobody told me what to do, I did what I wanted to do in the ring. Now that they are a publicly traded company and a family company- and I am very proud of them for it, but it tends to water down the natural talent and people won’t take chances.
It’s a double edged sword. You’ve got great athletes and it’s a magnificent show . There were no pyrotechnics and music. Just saw dust and Andre the Giant throwing you around. You know you are falling a long way when you’ve got time to think and I wrestled him like fifty times. They are making more money now too.
As a pro wrestler- before the WWF I had been fighting for fourteen years. As a fighter I raised four children and all of those children never a rain drop fell on their head, never missed a meal, and never had any violence in the house. My youngest child now is going to university to become a doctor so I have such a tremendous respect for wrestling and for what they are doing today. Their hearts are all in the right place
When I was first starting, it wasn't a place to bring your children. It was a place for rough people. Now it’s a place where a huge company like Klondike would allow me to represent them. Klondike is obviously such a family friendly company and how they got stuck with me I don’t know because I wrestled a bear once named Victor. That’s a story I can’t tell ya.
Cagesiders, stay tuned for more from Roddy Piper in part two later next week.