As a child growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, wrestling played a huge role in my interests. It was hard to avoid being interested in the WWF, and I had the action figures, halloween costumes, and home-bootlegged VHS tapes of some of my favorite nights of wrestling. Among my favorites were Sting, Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, and of course one of the greatest wrestling villains to engage the fans ire: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Having been raised an Oregonian, and Roddy having wrestled for Pacific Northwest Wrestling, my family and I always had a special attachment to the little asshole (which I of course say in the fondest way that someone can call an iconic wrestling villain an “asshole”). We watched John Carpenter’s “They Live” with great relish every Halloween, often causing me several almost hallucinogenic nightmares. And for my sixth-or-so Halloween we altered a plaid skirt into a makeshift kilt and I wore one of my less obscure childhood costumes.
Hearing last week that Roddy Piper, the greatest wrestling heel of all time, had passed away, I knew I needed to take some time and write a proper tribute.
By the end of the 90’s, I was a hardcore WCW fan, by and large due to the influence of the NWO, but the lead up to my brand-dedication had a lot to do with the mass migration of some of my childhood favorite wrestlers, including Piper. I remember pooling my allowance with my older brother so that we could order Halloween Havoc in 1996, so excited to see Roddy’s triumphant appearance with the WCW. Cheering for him against Hulk Hogan in Starrcade that year. Piper’s feud with the NWO and, consequently, his teamup with Ric Flair and the Four Horseman brought a special edge to what was already a truly fantastic period for professional wrestling.
In 2003, several wrestling icons visited the Oregon House of Representatives following the passing of a bill that allowed professional wrestling to come into Oregon for the first time in years. It was a surprise visit, and I remember my dad calling me at the debate tournament I was at to tell me he was talking to Triple H. “Cool.” I said, “He wrestled for WWF.” Matter-of-factly. “Oh.” My dad said, adding, “well Rowdy Roddy Piper is here too.” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” My dad obtained his autograph for me on a piece of the letterhead from his office, and it’s been hanging on my refrigerator in every apartment I’ve ever lived in.
It’s hard to accept that we’ve lost so many icons of wrestling in the last few years, but “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has taken a special piece of my heart with him. Today, Piper is kicking ass in that big cage match in the sky, suplexing angels, holding Shiva in the figure-four leg lock, tag-teaming with Macho Man Randy Savage, and teaching Buddha the Inverted Atomic Drop. It’s easy to feel devastated by this loss to professional wrestling, but as I reflect on Roddy Piper’s life and career, and consequently his influence on mine, I find and upwelling of pride, respect, and admiration and these feelings overshadow the grief.
Keep kicking ass, Roddy, now and forever.