He was a villain with a heart of gold. He was born to controversy and created it until his final breath. He kicked ass and chewed bubble gum. Then he stopped chewing bubble gum. Even when you had the answer, he always had a new question up his sleeve. He was Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of the greatest of all time in the wrestling business.
Over the weekend, we asked you to give us your favorite Hot Rod moments. But before we get to the countdown, we're gonna do something different. Instead of honorable mentions, I'll cede this spot to the Cagesiders, as a couple of them have personal experiences with the man himself.
First up, Prince Moxley Lopez:
In 1984 when I was 5, my brother and I went to a show in Houston. After the show we got to meet the wrestlers backstage. They signed autographs and whatnot. Piper actually interacted with us. Asking us questions about school, etc. I was not a Piper fan (I was 5, he was a heel, ya see?) My brother (who was 10 and LOVED Piper) and I started bickering over something or another. Piper watched in amusement. My mom in the background, "Now boys, stop." We ended up getting physical (I mean we just watched wrestling LIVE). When I was just about to cry out of frustration of not being able to get the better of my big brother (younger siblings will know what I mean) Piper reaches in his trunks to retrieve a foreign object (the same one we (but not the ref) blatantly saw him use in his match) hands it to me and says, read this in Piper's voice "GIVE EM HELL, KID!" I turned hit my brother as hard as I could, my brother completely sold it. Right there on that dingy, dirty floor as I jumped on top of my brother, Piper got on all fours and counted to three. I had finally got the best of my big brother. One of my earliest memories, one of my favorite memories, and by far my personal favorite Roddy Piper memory. Needless to say I was a Roddy Piper fan ever since. He was/is a hero to me. A true to life awesome person. Thank you Rowdy, for everything.
LoneStranger has a similar experience, though it did not involve physical violence:
I bought the special ticket that let me get autographs from all the big guys there. My wife went with me, but didn't have a ticket for the autographs, so she just kinda lurked a couple arms' lengths away from me as we went down the line. The guys smiled, shook hands, signed autographs, but it seemed like they were doing a job and they'd rather be somewhere else. When we got to Piper though, he was extremely friendly. He didn't stay sitting behind his table, but rather stood up the whole time and walked up to me to give me his full attention. He went out of his way to pull my wife over and talk to her as much as he talked to me. I can't remember the conversation, but I do remember he made it seem like he was a friend, he cared about us, and he really appreciated that we were there.
Sorry, it's a little dusty in here. I'm not crying. I'M NOT CRYING. (I'm totally crying.)
Once you get that dust out of your eyes, check out...
The top ten best Roddy Piper moments ever.
(As voted on by you, the Cagesiders, of course. So if your favorite didn't make the cut, that's your fault. Cool? Cool. On with it.)
10. Piper's Pit with Frank Williams.
As mentioned pretty much everywhere in the last few days, Roddy Piper was one of the greatest of all time. Frank Williams... not so much. Williams, a career jobber, has laid down for everyone from Ernie Ladd to Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Yeah, THAT RIC FLAIR. In Madison Square Garden, no less (April 1976 if you're wondering). So Roddy Piper, who claimed to have never lost a match (which was inaccurate, but not completely as far as the WWF is concerned—more on this later), tries to give advice to Frank Williams to toughen him up or something. Then Piper suggested he should quit wrestling and say, make pizzas for a living. It's an innocent insult... unless you're Frank Williams who actually once worked for Domino's and quit.
Frank snatched the mic from Piper a couple more times, and Frank learns the hard way you don't snatch the mic from Roddy, or you get some Jackie Chan happening on you. So our "local athlete" catches a beatdown until he's physically thrown off the set, and Roddy offers just a bit of advice to future guests:
"Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions."
That line would follow Piper for the remainder of his career and life. It's an excellent line, and basically describes the Hot Rod in a nutshell. As for the "local athlete": Frank died of heart problems in 1991.
9. Wrestlemania I.
Ten and a half months after giving jobber Frankie the what-for, Piper, who had been wrestling since the Nixon administration, reached perhaps the apex of his wrestling career when he competed in the first ever Wrestlemania main event. Teaming with "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, he took on the duo of then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. The main event would splinter off into two feuds, both of which would not culminate until the following year: Piper and Mr. T in an infamous boxing match at the next Wrestlemania (if Mr. T's show The A-Team was still hot, surely there would have been a trilogy bout at the next Mania), and Hogan and Orndorff in a memorable cage match at Saturday Night's Main Event in December 1986. The Hogan-Piper rivalry is one of the most enduring in wrestling history, thanks in part to Wrestlemania I, a moment that due to recent events, will soon be lost to the dustbin of history.
8. Wrestlemania VIII.
At the 1992 Royal Rumble event, Roddy Piper made quick work of The Mountie and won what would be his only WWF singles championship ever. It probably came off as a "lifetime achievement award", but damnit if he didn't deserve it. Two months later, Piper faced his longtime friend (and the man The Mountie took the title off of at a house show right before the Rumble due to a 104-degree fever) Bret Hart at Wrestlemania VIII.
The prematch interview had Piper sharing some stories as only Piper can tell them from when he was often a guest at the Hart house when Bret was a young whippersnapper. The match itself was a classic, with Hart bleeding and Piper, who by this time had been beloved for quite a while, trying his best to not revert to his evil ways. Roddy, with an opportunity to leave Indianapolis with his title still intact, fought with himself to use the ring bell and KO a bloody and defenseless Hart. The referee wasn't looking; it wasn't like he was going to get caught. After much debating, Piper decided to do it the honorable way. Piper resorted to his sleeper hold. Bret climbed the ropes and forced Piper into a pin. Piper had to let go of the sleeper or be counted down. Roddy's reluctance to give up the hold forced him to give up his championship. In defeat, Piper was gracious, even going so far as to put the championship on Hart and help him to the back. He was his friend after all.
Side note: this was Piper's first nationally televised loss in a WWF ring. Roddy debuted in the WWF in 1984. He was unpinned on national television for eight years.
7. His entrance strut.
Back to Wrestlemania I. Piper's entrance for the main event will be remembered as much as the main event itself. With New York's finest (and Paul Orndorff... and some bald guy) surrounding him, Piper walked with his head swaying with a evil sneer, confident as ever. Then he stopped briefly to give some guy some dirty look. Or something. Piper at the time was one of the most hated men in wrestling, so it made sense he had some protection around him. Something tells me if he didn't, someone would kill him.
6. Piper's Pit with The Shield.
Full disclosure: I could have gone to this RAW. I SHOULD HAVE gone to this RAW. I'm not sure why I didn't (I definitely did go three months later—the one where Daniel Bryan returned after his wedding to Brie Bella and the death of his father... kinda regret it). Anwyays, the annual legends reunion RAW special spectacular thing featured a Piper's Pit with The Shield. So you have your jealousy accusations, The Shield calling Piper old, Dean Ambrose doing a better Piper than Piper, and it escalates when Piper tries to poke the bear that is Roman Reigns. Roman threatens the Rowdy One when for no particular reason, Seth Rollins does the best troll face. I'm not even sure why he did it. Probably best we didn't know. That little two-second bit may be the best part of this Piper's Pit. But let's be honest, Piper's had a lot of awesome Piper's Pit segements. Like this next one...
5. Piper's Pit with Andre the Giant.
It's 1984, and once again, Roddy Piper's poking the bear. This time, the bear is the 7'4", 525 pound Andre the Giant. Andre the Giant. ANDRE. THE GIANT.
You already know this isn't gonna end well.
So Piper does his usual interview schtick, and he eventually gets to Andre's issue with Big John Studd. Piper claims Studd slammed Andre the Giant, and Andre says nope. No such thing. Never happened. Then Piper, poking at the big behemoth, says given five minutes, he could slam Andre. That's an overt act of aggression in Andre's world, one Andre would not let stand. So Andre grabbed Piper and well, quite honestly, was going to kill him dead had the gentle side not gotten the better of him. He scared Piper straight though. But not before yelling to the camera and Andre that he done picked a fight, warning the giant that "you do not throw rocks at a man who's got a machine gun". Word.
4. Da Maniac.
Roddy Piper's filmography is quite extensive. His more recent credits include a pair of appearances on the hit comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His first appearance was on a 2009 episode, The Gang Wrestles for the Troops. Da' Maniac (Piper) is a wrestler who falls on hard times (so hard, he's living out of his car) and wrestles in small events to make ends meet. This is in reference to the 2008 movie The Wrestler. His erratic behavior ends up costing him a gig because he failed to pay for some parking tickets. Four years later, he turns up again, this time as a timeshare seller. He ends up being an effective salesman, but one of the other characters on the show, Dee, finds out just a little too late. Ouchie. Oh well. Da' Maniac loves ya.
3. Piper congratulates Daniel Bryan.
At Wrestlemania 31, Daniel Bryan completed the Triple Crown and Grand Slam by winning the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Wrestling Championship. While the win did not kick off a return of the championship to prominence (Bryan once again had to vacate the championship due to injury, and his future is in doubt), it did get what would be Piper's last Wrestlemania moment: he along with past Intercontinental Champions and legends congratulated OUR BOI D-BRY. It surely was a touching moment for anyone that watched that night, and one that will carry a lot more meaning in the years to come.
2. Piper's Pit with Jimmy Snuka.
Jimmy Snuka made more than one appearance on Piper's talking segment, a fact Roddy was quick to point out. The first time around, Snuka barely got a chance to talk. So Piper made it up to him by letting Snuka talk this time around... but only after decorating the set a little. And then it gets out of line when the bananas and coconuts come in. Snuka calls out Piper making fun of him, and Piper responds... with a coconut to the head. Down goes Snuka. And down goes the set. Defenseless, Piper whips Snuka with a belt repeatedly. Snuka comes to his senses, but not before Piper escapes. The incident led to a long feud between them, one that would last into the following year.
1. They Live.
One of the most influential movies of the 1980s, the sci-fi horror film stars Piper as drifter John Nada (he's not named until the credits) who through a pair of special sunglasses finds that aliens are manipulating the world around them, forcing others to obey their commands through subliminal messaging. Piper's first starring role is made iconic in the scene where stands near a bank entrance with shotgun in hand and a host of aliens all around the place.
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
And he kicks ass in the form of shotgun blasts to any alien that stands in his way.
The role should have catapulted him into mainstream status much like The Rock did with The Mummy Returns more than a decade later, but They Live disappointed in its initial box office run, more or less relegating Piper into B-movies and straight-to-video releases for the foreseeable future. But They Live has since become a cult classic, and the movie holds up to this day more than a quarter century later. It's a bit of irony that the greatest villain in wrestling history plays the quintessential ass kicking hero in what you thought was Roddy Piper's greatest moment ever.
Rest in peace, Hot Rod.
Share your favorite Roddy Piper moments down there in the comments below.