As I'm sitting here in an airport at 5am waiting to board my plane home where I haven't been in weeks, I hear the echoes of silence around me and I cant help but think of all Roddy quotes today. Every protagonist needs an antagonist. Roddy was the perfect fit for this role. Perfect villain to the hero. Trash talking rugged and scruff enigma. “Just when you think you know all the answers I change all the questions”. As William Regal so eloquently put on twitter the other day “Without Dragons, you don't need Dragon Slayers. Roddy Piper was the best Dragon The Wrestling ever saw. And with a smile, the best Dragon Slayer”.
A while back I did a 5 day(shows) loop in Canada. One of the towns I made was called Yorkton in the province of Saskatchewan. Its about 3 hours drive from Saskatoon where RP was born. Although he was raised in Winnipeg Manitoba he was billed from Glasgow Scotland because of his heritage and a proficient bag pipe player. RP was a star amateur wrestler and boxer growing up. He had his first pro wrestling match at the age of 15 against Larry The Axe Hennig (father of Mr Perfect Curt Hennig and grandfather of Curtis Axl) without ever seeing a pro wrestling bout. His high school wrestling coach was a pro wrestling referee on weekends and when a wrestler couldn't make the show he told Roddy that he could get him $25 for the appearance which didn't even last 30 seconds. But thats all it took for him to be hooked on this crazy sport.
“Its because of me that Hulk Hogan has no hair” —RP
Roddy had many memorable feuds in his career spanning close to a half century. a Memorable feud with Hulk Hogan that also involved pop singer Cindi Lauper In 1985, MTV broadcast The War to Settle the Score, which featured a main-event match between Piper and Hogan, who was accompanied to the ring by Lauper, Captain Lou Albano and Mr T. This event set up the very first WrestleMania, which pitted Piper and Paul Orndorff against Hogan and Mr. T. So in a weird way although Hogan made wrestling what it is today in my opinion Rod had a huge part in the success of Hogan and WrestleMania.
One of Hot Rods traveling partners and road buddies whom he briefly traveled with during one of his WWE runs once shared this story with me….. We once stopped at this dingy biker bar in the middle of nowhere in Texas which could only be described like it was an old western bar with Harley Davidson and Boss Hoss motorcycles lined up as far as the eye could see. Hot Rod wanted to get a quick drink inside on the way to making the next town. Looking like an obvious outcast he walked in like he owned the place and ordered a shot of whiskey at the bar. Gargantuan mammoth of a man with a skin head and face piercings, covered with tattoos, wearing a leather vest with no sleeves or shirt underneath walked up to Roddy and grabbed the shot of whiskey out of his hand. Looked him dead in the eye with an evil grin and proceeded to gargle and swoosh the whiskey in his mouth what felt like 60 seconds of aggressive mouth washing just to spit it back out in the shot glass and put it on the table right in front of Rod. The two men stared each other in the eyes with tension building and me looking for the quickest escape route. Rod picked up the glass of whiskey and I was almost dead sure that we were going to get our asses kicked by this gang of leather wearing biker punks. Rod knocked back the shot of whiskey and with a smile on his face and the raspiest voice I've ever heard from him, yelled over the bar “NICE TO MEET YA GUYS!!!” After that we were treated like locals in this bar and didn't have to pay for a drink all night. But on our way out Roddy couldn't resist the temptation and kicked over one of the motorcycles which caused about 5 dozen bikes to fall over like dominoes.
In closing I’ve had many conversations with Rod over the years and he was always very humble and polite and always tried to help me out wherever he could. He also always went out of his way to say hi to everybody in the business and was a role model for so many guys and girls in the business today. As a young boy I was always more drawn to the “bad guys” or heels of wrestling. Roddy sure had everybodys attention whenever he was on our screens. RIP Hot Rod.