There may not be a greater wrestler to never win the World Heavyweight Title than Rowdy Roddy Piper. Although he never was world champion he headlined many big PPV’s and has has held over 34 championships over his career. The man in a kilt was a part of the biggest explosion in the history of professional wrestling. He is a member of the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame.
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Roddy began his wrestling career at the young at of 14. He made his debut against the legendary Larry “The Axe” Hennig. Already having the gimmick of playing the bagpipes to the ring the ring announcer called him “Roddy The Piper” and history was made.
From the early 1970s until 1980 Piper traveled all over the country wrestling in various territories. With probably his most notable break coming in 1976 when he had feud with Chavo Guerrero in NWA Hollywood. Their issue lasted the better part of 2 years with a big hair match that caused Piper to have to shave his head. After leaving LA he went to star for Don Owen in the Pacific Northwest Territory.
In 1980 Piper’s career really began to take off into superstar status. He had a run in the Mid Atlantic territory and then into Georgia Championship Wrestling. He got to really show off his talking skills as commentator alongside the legendary Gordon Solie. In 1983 he went to the Mid-Atlantic and feuded with Hall of Famers like Ric Flair and Sgt Slaughter as a fan favorite. His most notable issue came against Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.
This culminated in one of the most brutal matches in the history of wrestling. The dog collar match was held at the first Starrcade in 1983. A busted eardrum and a lot of blood later Piper had become a household name after the Thanksgiving super card.
In 1984 Roddy made his way up to the land of milk and honey known as the WWF. The WWF was on the brink its outbreak. Piper came into the WWF as a manager. He was in charge of “Dr D” Dave Shultz and “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
After a short time in the organization, Piper began to establish himself as a wrestler. He also began one of the most legendary segments in the history wrestling known as “Piper’s Pit”. The interview segment was the precursor to ones such as The Barbershop, The Funeral Palor, or the modern Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. None has ever captured the magic of Piper’s Pit. The two most famous Pits ever are probably the SuperFly Jimmy Snuka coconut incident and Andre The Giant challenging Hulk Hogan.
As 1985 the WWF launched the biggest event that wrestling has ever seen. Wrestlemania was dream that Vince McMahon had as he was taking over the wrestling business. This event married America’s celebrity culture with pro wrestling. One of those celebrities was the star of the show the A-Team Mr T. Mr T was partnering with WWF superstar Hulk Hogan and their adversaries for this event were Piper and Paul Orndorff. People wanting to see Hogan and Mr T destroy Piper and wanting them to shut him up drove this event to mega status.
Piper would go on to be a big part of the next two Wrestlemanias. He took on Mr T again in a boxing match in Wrestlemania 2 and Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania 3 as a babyface. Shortly thereafter he took a break from the wrestling business and returned in 1989. He was always a part of the big events and was involved in some pretty crazy angles. From his beef with talk show host Morton Downey Jr to his feud with Bad News Brown. Which finished at Wrestlemania VI, Piper no stranger to controversy came to the ring painted half black.
Throughout the 1990s Piper had feuds with legends such as Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler and The Million Dollar Man. The highlight was probably capturing the Intercontinental Title during this time. Where he had a legendary face vs face match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania. He would leave the WWF in 1995. He would then make waves in WCW in 1996.
In WCW Piper would meet some of his old rivals. He would get himself acquainted with old foe Hulk Hogan right away. This time there was a little bit of role reversal. Hogan was the enemy of the fans and Piper was sent to take him down a notch. Roddy would go on to face Hogan in a non-title match was billed as “Icon vs Icon”. It took place at the WCW’s biggest event of the year Starrcade. Piper would go on to win that match but lose the match for the title at SuperBrawl VII. Roddy would then go on to defeat Hogan in a steel cage non-title match in 1997 giving him the edge in their rivalry. Also while in WCW he found another old adversary in Ric Flair whom he had issues with in Mid-Atlantic and in WWF.
After 2000 Rowdy left WCW and spent his time semi-retired. He has made numerous appearances over the years in the WWE and even showed up on TNA television a few times. Piper has had a very active career outside of the ring appearing numerous movies and TV shows. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and currently is under a legends contract with the company. Coming back to host an occasional Piper’s Pit or get in someone’s face that needs it. Little known Piper fact he is a cousin of the legendary Hart family. He currently lives with his family in the mountains of Portland, Oregon. He is also is training his son Colton as he is getting ready to start a career in MMA and professional wrestling.
Keith B. Holt