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Wrestling / Roddy Piper

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"Don't take your life for granted."

Roderick George "Roddy" Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015), better known by his ring name "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler and occasional actor best known for his kayfabe rivalry with Hulk Hogan and starring roles in cult films such as Hell Comes to Frogtown, They Live! and Jungleground. He also parodied himself in two episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Piper was a big reason why the WWF (now the WWE) got so huge in the '80s and was one of its most popular villains. Hulk Hogan was considered a good guy back then and was one of Piper’s biggest rivals.

Known for his kilt, deafening bagpipe music, and big mouth, Piper feuded with nearly everyone in the business, along with some celebrity talents like Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T. He was also the host of All-Star Rock 'N' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular, a preview lineup of CBS kid's shows with bumper segments of Piper lording it over a studio audience.

Along with WWE and, later, WCW, he also competed in various National Wrestling Alliance territories, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic (the Carolinas), San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest territory in Portland, Oregon.

Among his in-ring achievements, he was a former 5x NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champion (3x w/Rick Martel, 1x w/Killer Tim Brooks and 1x w/ Mike Popovich.) a former 3x NWA (Mid-Atlantic)/WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, a former WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion and a former WWE World Tag Team Champion (with Ric Flair).

Piper pressed pause on his wrestling career in the early '90s to act in movies full time. He returned to the WWE several times and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2005 and to the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007.

On July 31, 2015, Piper was found dead in his home from cardiac arrest. He was 61.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper is the Trope Maker and Trope Namer for:

"Just when you think you have the tropes, I change the indexes!":

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Many, starting with his first, after WrestleMania III in 1987. Every time you'd thought he's gone for good, there go the bagpipes.
  • '80s Hair: His "business in the front, party in the back" hair was supreme.
  • Adam Westing: In Saints Row IV, where he showed up in his iconic "Hot Rod" shirt and kilt, he and Keith David fistfight to snap the latter out of a Lotus-Eater Machine, and becomes a recruitable party member who uses wrestling moves to battle alien invaders.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: He was the last celebrity to be honored with his own G.I. Joe action figure in 2007.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Easily his biggest foe was Hulk Hogan. Piper was the Joker to Hulkamania's Batman; when you're THE RIVAL to the biggest name in wrestling history, and can boast that he (technically) never pinned you cleanly, you're definitely in slim company. He once cut some promos about escaping Alcatraz Island just to fight Hollywood Hogan in WCW, claiming, "...Think they would have loved YOU so much if they hadn't hated ME?" Piper passed away the same week a scandal broke over Hogan's racist rants. In true Hot Rod fashion, he once again stole the spotlight away from Hogan (but not before actually coming to Hulk's defense).
    • Also La Familia Guerrero, Greg Valentine, Jimmy Snuka, Bad News Brown, Ric Flair and Rick Rude. He'd have other feuds over his career, but these were the most famous.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Vince Russo enters the ring during Piper's rant about the former, the latter threw in a very... personal question.
    Roddy: Did you kill Owen Hart?
  • Ax-Crazy/Hot-Blooded: The nut of his gimmick. He went from zero to "whirlwind of fists and kicks" in a nanosecond, for any reason or no reason at all.
  • Badass Creed: "I'm trying to find a place with peace. And if not, then let's fill it with mayhem."
  • Bash Brothers: "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Jr., Paul Orndorff, Ric Flair, Rick Martel, and Greg Valentine.
  • Berserk Button: Basically everything, but if you really wanted to tick off Hot Rod, you'd say that the kilt was a skirt. Mario "Jumpman" Mario, as played by Captain Lou Albano, was among those who pressed that button.
  • Big Bad: Of Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, where he was the designated leader of the heel gang opposed to Hogan and his friends.
  • Biography: His autobiography In the Pit with Piper.
  • Boring, but Practical: Piper's wrestling maneuvers in general. Not spectacular, barely legal but they usually got the job done.
  • Bowdlerize: His contribution to The Wrestling Album was a cover of a song by Mike Angelo & The Idols originally called "Fuck Everybody." Due to the WWF's family-oriented direction, he had to change it to "For Everybody", which given that the original song put emphasis on the swear word, resulted in Piper singing "FOR! Everybody!" for no apparent reason. The word "ass" was also replaced with "trash" on two occasions.
  • Brass Balls:
    • Back in the California territory, he wanted to apologize for the way he treated La Familia Guerrero one week earlier, so he played the "Mexican national anthem" on his bagpipes (The theme he was playing was the world-famous "La Cucaracha") in front of an almost all-Mexican audience. It's a miracle he left that venue on his own feet!
    • He even broke a beer bottle with his head on T.V. once.
  • Canada, Eh?: From Saskatchewan in Real Life. Was known early in his career as the Masked Canadian.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: As "Bolphunga, the Unrelenting" on Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and as "Don John" in Adventure Time.invoked
  • Catchphrase: A veritable fountain of them:
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: The Piper Machine.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • He's been referred to as the Robin Williams of wrestling. Watch him train people on Lance Storm's show, or really, listen to any of his promos.
    • Blindsiding Jimmy Snuka... with a coconut to the head.
    • That "Speaking of feet, Tony Atlas is an asshole" line from Legends House.note  The show was mostly forgettable, but Piper was peak Piper in the last two episodes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Even as a face, some of his trademark attacks were eye pokes, spits to the face, and pimp slaps.
  • Cool Mask: As Piper Machine.
  • Cool Old Guy: His gimmick in his last years was the awesome old-school guy that came in to teach the young punks a lesson. Some examples:
    • Teamed with Ric Flair to defeat the Spirit Squad (represented by Kenny and Mikey) for the WWE World Tag Team Championship at Cyber Sunday on November 5, 2006.
    • Teamed with the Highlanders (Rory and Robbie) in a six-man-tag to defeat 3/5 of the Spirit Squad (Johnny, Kenny, and Mikey) on the November 6, 2006 Raw.
    • Defeated The Miz with a rollup and a fast three-count courtesy of special referee Alex Riley in 1:08 on the June 13, 2011 Raw.
  • Crossover: His feud with Carlito Colón started in WWE but was settled in WWC with Piper pinning Colon. If you only watched WWE, you might not know they had a feud in the first place, since their promotion of two of their contract workers going to another company, continuing a storyline started on WWE television, was bare minimal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In one of Piper's first matches ever (in Winnipeg in 1970), Larry "The Axe" Hennig completely squashed Piper in about ten seconds. Piper was a mere 16 years old at the time.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Roddy had to leave home very early since his father (A policeman) was bashing heads with him since he was a kid. Then he had to live on the streets for a good amount of time until he could set up.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: (In Kayfabe, of course.) It really comes to mind how vicious he could really get (as a face, no less!) delivering such brutal beatings unto "Adorable" Adrian Adonis and Goldust.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: On Lance Storm's World of Hurt.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • In storyline, Hot Rod always felt disrespected at how Hogan seems to get all of the credit for the Rock n' Wrestling era while Piper seemed to be treated as nothing more than a footnote — an also-ran who dressed in a kilt and cracked corny jokes, like he wasn't getting the recognition he deserved. (Ironically, Hogan's scandals along with Piper's passing could change the public perception of their legacies.)
    • This also extended to real life. In his autobiography, Piper said that Hulk Hogan and the other face headliners of the inaugural WrestleMania went to a swanky after-party after the event. Meanwhile, Piper and "Cowboy" Bob Orton were not invited, nor even given a ride back to the hotel. Also, Rowdy had to pay his dues the hard way, and he openly resented bodybuilders and celebrities taking the spots of hard workers. See "Sitcom Arch-Nemesis" below.
  • Ear Ache: One of the most famous examples in wrestling was the dog collar match between Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine. Piper, already nursing an injury to his left ear from an earlier match with Valentine, would lose most of the hearing in his ear after several stiff shots with both Valentine's fists and the chain that was holding the two men together. It was because of this injury that led to the creation of Piper's Pit, as a way to keep him on TV while he recovered.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: For as legendary and groundbreaking as Piper's Pit was, the first few segments from early 1984 showed the segment was still finding its footing. Although main-event stars Paul Orndorff, Tito Santana, The Iron Sheik, and The Masked Superstar were guests, these were largely forgettable segments, as were many others featuring low- to mid-card faces, guests whom Piper simply mocked and wouldn't let get in a word edgewise. The first really remarkable Piper's Pit, then, aired March 17, 1984, nearly two months after its debut, and featured André the Giant picking Piper up by his shirt (after having enough of Piper insulting him) and an angry Piper screaming afterwards "You do NOT throw rocks at a man who's got a machine gun!" But it wasn't until later in 1984, with the infamous Pit where Piper smacked Jimmy Snuka over the head with a coconut (after making racist remarks about his heritage), another segment where Piper famously attacked a jobber (before declaring "Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions!"), and the series of Pit segments with Cyndi Lauper, that Piper's Pit finally found solid footing.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The final "Victory Corner," a short-lived interview segment that aired on WWF Championship Wrestling in late 1983 and early 1984, saw Piper introduced as the host of a new segment called Piper's Pit. Piper declared he was going to pull no punches, speak freely of what he thought of his fellow wrestlers, do what he wanted, and cede no ground to wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and André the Giant. How true that was.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being one of the most notorious wrestling heels of all time, even Piper was visibly horrified when Andre the Giant turned heel and ripped off Hulk Hogan's shirt and crucifix. And, as a bonus, even Piper felt the need to comfort Hogan when he noticed Hogan was bleeding.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Not only did his entrance theme feature bagpipes, he also occasionally played them himself, and was quite good. That's actually how he got his ring name. He was walking to the ring for his first match while playing the bagpipes and was announced as "Roddy the Piper."
  • Finishing Move: The good old-fashioned Sleeper Hold, was Piper's finisher of choice... unless the referee was distracted, in which case he would deliver a devastating uppercut to his opponent's groin. He also had a punch flurry ending with a massive haymaker that would zigzag between being a finisher and a signature.
  • Genre Savvy: This in spades. Even as a face, he remembered every dirty trick in the book and exploited them at every chance.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Stay the heck away from drugs, kids!" Yes he actually said "heck."
  • The Grinch: Inverted: he becomes a crusader for Christmas by beating the crap out of Bobby Heenan, who was dressed as Santa Claus.
  • Guttural Growler: A wrestler from The '80s with a speech impediment? It would be more shocking if he spoke normally.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Lost hearing in his right ear due to a burst eardrum after an unusually brutal Dog Collar Match with Greg Valentine in 1983.
    • His knee/hip injuries came into play in several matches.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He turned many times over his career.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The most legendary of them all came in 1986, when he was visibly disgusted that the talk show segment he endorsed prior to his leave of absence in 1986 – "The Flower Shop," with Adrian Adonis (who had adopted a cross-dressing gimmick) – had devolved into Adonis obnoxiously flaunting his new gimmick and pushing it in the faces of fans, and was also disturbed that former friend and No. 1 henchman Bob Orton was now on his side. During a duel between the Flower Shop and Piper's Pit, Piper had the crowd 100-percent in his corner and when the heels couldn't get a word in edgewise and Piper just kept piling on the insults (to the delight of the crowd), they initiated a horrific attack. Piper, of course, didn't stay down long – he once commented that worse (i.e., his real-life background) had happened to him – and swore revenge.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Piper and Flair on Celebrity Wife Swap. Wendi keeps maxing out Ric's credit cards, Kitty is completely at sea, and at the center of it all is Rod — the only person in the house who really 'gets' Naitch.
    • Ric Flair once said that Piper was the only guy who could fill any building, any time, anywhere, just by being on the card. It was always a sellout. Keep in mind Naitch is not exactly known for his humility.
  • Hidden Depths: Found a piano in World of Hurt's gym, and demonstrated he could actually play. He was also a pretty good singer and harmonica player.
  • "I Hate" Song/Villain Song: "For Everybody", dedicated to your feelings in the eventuallity you may not like him.
  • I'll Kill You!: After Sting had made the save for Piper and Diamond Dallas Page from the nWo at the end of the October 13, 1997 WCW Monday Nitro, Piper actually said these exact words.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: He didn't need to know how tough he was, to know how tough he was. And just when you thought you had the answers, he went and changed all the questions.
  • I Know Karate: Trained in Judo and was one of the few black belts under Gene Lebell.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: He's been stabbed by a fan to the point he had to be taken to the hospital by Sgt. Slaughter.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Piper was legendary for using whatever was on hand as a weapon. Probably most (in)famous was when Piper clocked Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Has there ever been a time when somebody wasn't beefing with Piper? That guy had pissing people off down to a fine art.
  • Kick the Dog: Piper was the kind of heel who did this every chance he got. The coconut incident on Piper's Pit with Jimmy Snuka is a particularly infamous example.
  • Large Ham: Even by wrestling standards!
  • Manchild: His juvenile antics on Prime Time Wrestling often were reminiscent of a ten year old on one hell of a sugar rush.
  • Man in a Kilt: You don't say? At least the most triumphant one in wrestling.
  • Motor Mouth: In his prime, the man was a walking "rant machine" on wheels. He'd mellow down considerably as he got older, however.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Hollywood Backlot Brawl with Goldust at WrestleMania XII.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: He was supposed to be Scottish, after all, whilst speaking with a recognizable Canadian accent.
  • Nothing Personal: During the Monday Night War, he didn't get the whole WWF vs. WCW thing and just saw them as two more territories.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Had a noticeable one when, during his feud with Mr. America (Hulk Hogan in a knockoff Captain America mask), he tried beating an already down and out America with a flag pole, only for Zach Gowen to jump in the way. When Roddy tried to pull Gowen off, he instead pulled off Gowen's prosthetic leg. Piper could only meekly place the leg down, and flee the ring with what little dignity he had left.
    • In 1984, Roddy went to Larry Holmes' gym as a promotional skit. He was assured that Larry wouldn't actually be there, so when he stepped in the gym, he yelled that he was Rowdy Roddy Piper and he was there to kick Larry Holmes' ass. Guess who walks out of the office in response.
  • Older Is Better: His fighting style was quite old-fashioned; he was one of the last persons you saw using maneuvers like the Airplane Spin and the Giant Swing in a non-comedic context.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper or "Hot Rod".
  • Power Stable:
  • Precision F-Strike: Got away with saying "bullshit!" at WrestleMania 21; appropriately enough, it was in an interview segment with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
  • Rags to Riches: Piper was homeless and lived on the street as a teenager. At one point, he owned nothing but his car and his bagpipes. Piper's net worth after he died was estimated to be around 4 million dollars.
    • He used to wander hotels, in order to eat scraps on flatware left outside the door for room service to carry away.
  • Red Baron: "Rowdy", "Hot Rod" and "The Rowdiest One."
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On the September 27 (taped September 16), 1986, WWF Superstars, Piper's Dragon "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Jr. and "Magnificent" Don Muraco turned on Piper, siding with "Adorable" Adrian Adonis' "The Flower Shop," tore down the "Piper's Pit" set, and injured Piper's leg in the process. On the October 4th show (taped the same night), Piper came out with a crutch and destroyed the set of "The Flower Shop." This ultimately led to the hair vs. hair match between Piper and Adonis at WrestleMania III.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Piper had a bit in his interviews where he would ask someone a question, then just as they were about to answer, he'd pull the mic away and say, "I didn't want to know that bad."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He made Mr. T look like the fool on the microphone and in the ring. He also shoot-wrestled Mr. T to the mat at WrestleMania, and didn't let him get in any of his spots. Roddy genuinely detested Mr. T, because he felt the man showed no respect to anyone in the business other than his buddy Hulk Hogan. They had many tense moments off-camera.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Piper passed the nickname "Rowdy" to Ronda Rousey, somebody known for speaking her mind in UFC.
    • Most "Rock n' Wrestling" WWF personalities have a equivalent in 2010s WWE, and Piper is no exception: Dean Ambrose.
  • Tag Team: (as Piper Machine): "The Machines" with Giant Machine, Hulk Machine,Super Machine (Bill "Masked Superstar"/"Demolition Ax" Eadie), Big Machine (Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham), Animal Machine (George "The Animal" Steele) and Crusher Machine (The Crusher.)
    • Several times World Tag-Team champion across various promotions, as stated above.
    • There was a pilot for a series called Tag Team that starred Piper and Jesse Ventura.
  • Talk Show with Fists: Piper's Pit is the originator.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Piper couldn't stand snakes in the slightest, something that Jake Roberts loved to use when messing with him backstage. Jake's trolling eventually got so bad that he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot Jake if he ever pullled out another serpent on him again.
  • Wild Card: See his Catchphrase and Genre Savvy above. No one knew what Piper would do at any given time.
  • Would Hit a Girl: By his last years, it was very much averted. He'd gone onto the WWE's programs to host special Piper's Pits specifically to scold heel wrestlers who hurt women the previous week. But this was not always the case, of course:
    • In 1979, a then 25-year-old Piper – already having perfected his crazy, psychopathic heel character – once grabbed female wrestler Vicki Williams by the hair, lifted her up and screamed at her face, telling her there was no place in wrestling for women and that if she wanted to fight and challenge his manhood, he'd show her in short order how wrong she was.
    • In 1984-1985, when the "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection" era was in full swing and he was wrestling's most hated man, Piper (in kayfabe) hated rock music diva Cyndi Lauper so much that he tried to attack her, without provocation, many times. He actually did assault her and her then-boyfriend David Wolfe during an infamous in-ring promo at New York City's Madison Square Garden (the setup being American Bandstand's Dick Clark presenting an award to Lauper and "Captain" Lou Albano for their (real life) work with the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation). The incident brought Piper's feud with Hulk Hogan (an avowed friend of Lauper's) to a new level, and set up "The War to Settle the Score," aired nationally via MTV, where Piper's allies — "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and "Cowboy" Bob Orton — threatened to seriously hurt Lauper, if not worse. Mr. T was in the front row and came to Hogan's aide during the match, thus setting up the first WrestleMania.
  • Wrote the Book:
    • When Jake Roberts says you're the best promo, you're the best promo.
    • The Rock has said that Rowdy was a big influence on him and his character. When all the best talkers put one man on top, you definitely know who the trailblazer was in that regard.
  • Wrestling Family: He was a cousin of The Harts.
  • You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: Uh ... look at the name at the top of this page. Ask Brother Love and Jimmy Hart (during his face years) ... or, during his heel run, Billy Red Lyons and (at least once) Gorilla Monsoon if wearing glasses spared them.

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