Piper in April 2014
|Birth name||Roderick George Toombs|
|Born||(1954-04-17)April 17, 1954
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
|Died||July 31, 2015(2015-07-31) (aged 61)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Kitty Jo Dittrich (m. 1982; his death 2015)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Roddy Piper
The Masked Canadian
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Billed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|Billed from||Glasgow, Scotland|
|Trained by||Gene LeBell
In professional wrestling, Piper was best known to international audiences for his work with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, later WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) between 1984 and 2000. Although he was Canadian, because of his Scottish heritage he was billed as coming from Glasgow and was known for his signature kilt and bagpipe entrance music. He earned the nicknames “Rowdy” and “Hot Rod” by displaying his trademark “Scottish” rage, spontaneity, and quick wit. Piper was described by industry veteran Ric Flair as “the most gifted entertainer in the history of professional wrestling”; he is regarded by many as the greatest wrestling villain of all time.
One of the most recognizable pro wrestling stars worldwide, Piper headlined numerous pay-per-view cards, including the WWF and WCW’s respective premier annual events, WrestleMania and Starrcade. Never a world champion, he nevertheless accumulated 34 championships in various promotions during a 42-year ring career. Piper’s most notable rivals included Greg Valentine, Adrian Adonis, and Hulk Hogan, with the feud against Hogan – also involving “Captain” Lou Albano and singer Cyndi Lauper – considered the beginning of “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling“. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
Outside of wrestling, Piper acted in dozens of films and TV shows, including the lead role of John Nada in the 1988 cult classic They Live and a recurring role as a deranged professional wrestler on the FX comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 2.1 Training and early career
- 2.2 National Wrestling Alliance territories
- 2.3 World Wrestling Federation
- 2.4 World Championship Wrestling
- 2.5 Xcitement Wrestling Federation (2001–2002)
- 2.6 Return to WWE (2003)
- 2.7 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2005)
- 2.8 Second return to WWE (2005–2015)
- 2.9 Independent circuit (2005–2015)
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Other media
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Death
- 7 In wrestling
- 8 Championships and accomplishments
- 9 Filmography
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Toombs was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on April 17, 1954, and was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He attended Windsor Park Collegiate. His father, Stanley Baird Toombs, was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while they lived in The Pas, Manitoba. His mother was Eileen (née Anderson) Toombs. After being expelled from junior high for having a switchblade in school and falling out with his father, Piper left home and stayed in youth hostels. He picked up odd jobs at local gyms, running errands for several professional wrestlers. As a young man, he became proficient in playing the bagpipes, though he repeatedly stated that he was unsure exactly where he picked them up. His childhood (and lifelong) best friend was ex-NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Cam Connor.
Professional wrestling career
Training and early career
Piper was a boxer and an amateur wrestler before he started to become a professional wrestler. He won the Golden Gloves boxing championship. He was awarded a Black Belt in Judo from Gene LeBell, American Judo champion, instructor, stuntman, and professional wrestler.
Roddy started wrestling under the care of promoter Al Tomko in Canada, his first match involving ‘midget wrestlers’ in front of a lumberjack audience in Churchill, Manitoba. He soon began earning money wrestling while still going to school. His first match in a pro and famous organization was with the legendary Larry Hennig in the American Wrestling Association. Friends of his played the bag-pipes during his entrance while he was handing out dandelions and then the ring-announcer had to announce something and all that he knew was his name was Roddy. So, after seeing the pipe band he then announced “Here comes Roddy the piper”, thus giving birth to “Roddy Piper” and the name stuck. From 1973 to 1975, Piper was a jobber in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), NWA Central States territory surrounding Kansas City, and in the Maritimes. He also worked in Texas for Paul Boesch‘s NWA Houston Wrestling promotion, and in Dallas for Fritz Von Erich‘s Big Time Rasslin.
National Wrestling Alliance territories
California and Portland (1975–1980)
By late 1975 and early 1976, Piper was a top villain for Mike and Gene LeBell‘s NWA Hollywood Wrestling. In 1977–78, he also started to work for Roy Shire’s NWA San Francisco Wrestling in addition to remaining with the Los Angeles office, where Piper developed his Rowdy character. During this time, he made continuous insults directed at the area’s Mexican community; he later promised to amend by playing the Mexican national anthem on his bagpipes only to anger the fans further by playing “La Cucaracha” instead, which in turn caused a riot. Piper also managed a stable of wrestlers in California.
In the Los Angeles area, Piper feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr., and his father Gory Guerrero. Piper and Chavo Guerrero faced each other in several matches for the Jules Strongbow Memorial Scientific Trophy. Piper also defeated Chavo for the Americas Heavyweight Title. During the feud, Piper lost a hair match and had his head shaved. Piper appeared in several loser leave town matches and was forced to leave the territory. He also appeared in the territory as The Masked Canadian. In his first televised match as The Masked Canadian, Piper teamed with Chavo in a match against Black Gordman and Goliath for the Americas Tag Team Championship. Piper and Guerrero lost the match and faced each other two days later, with Piper defeating Guerrero for the Americas Heavyweight Championship. Piper wrestled as The Masked Canadian for several months until he was unmasked by Hector Guerrero.
By late 1978-early 1979, Piper left the California promotions for even more fame in Don Owen’s Portland–based Pacific Northwest territory. He teamed with Killer Tim Brooks and Rick Martel to win the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship. Piper also won the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship with victories over both Lord Jonathan Boyd and “Playboy” Buddy Rose.
Georgia and Mid-Atlantic (1980–1983)
In the late 1970s, Piper ventured to the Mid-Atlantic territory where he beat Jack Brisco for the Mid-Atlantic title. He also defeated Ric Flair for the US belt which turned into a feud. From 1981–82, Piper served as a commentator on Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW), which would be renamed World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in July, and feuded with the likes of Bob Armstrong, Dick Slater, and Tommy Rich. During the summer of 1982, Piper became a fan favorite after knocking out Don Muraco and Ole Anderson to save broadcast partner Gordon Solie from Muraco, who had grown angry at Solie questioning his tactics. In Wrestling to Rasslin, Gerald W. Morton and George M. O’Brien described the transformation: “the drama finally played itself out on television when one of his [Piper’s] hired assassins, Don Muraco, suddenly attacked the commentator Gordon Solie. Seeing Solie hurt, Piper unleashed his Scottish fury on Muraco. In the week that followed, like Achilles avenging Patroklas, he slaughtered villain after villain…. In the arenas fans chanted his name throughout his matches.”
In 1982, Piper was fired because of showing up late for a match. He went to Puerto Rico for a month and was booked by Jim Barnett shortly thereafter. Piper returned to the Georgia area in the summer of 1983 to aid Tommy Rich during his rivalry with Buzz Sawyer. Eventually, Piper moved back to Jim Crockett Promotions. As a fan favorite, Piper feuded with Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, and Greg Valentine. Piper’s feud with Valentine culminated in a dog collar match at the first Starrcade. Valentine broke Piper’s left eardrum during the match with the collar’s chain, causing Piper to permanently lose 50–75% percent of his hearing. This became known as “The Year of the Ear”.
World Wrestling Federation
Early appearances (1979)
Before entering the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) full-time in 1984, Piper wrestled three matches with the WWF under Vince McMahon, Sr. in 1979 at Madison Square Garden. Before one match, Freddie Blassie stuffed Piper’s bagpipes with toilet paper, so they would not play in front of the Garden crowd.
Piper’s Pit (1984–1987)
In 1983, WWF owner Vince McMahon contacted Piper, who insisted on serving out his contract with Jim Crockett. On his way out of Crockett’s promotion his character became a villain, which set the stage for his WWF run in 1984. Piper debuted in the WWF as a manager because of injuries he suffered during dog collar match at Starrcade, he managed “Dr. D” David Schultz and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, eventually Piper’s run as a manager quietly ended and Piper started wrestling full-time. He was given his own interview segment called Piper’s Pit on Championship Wrestling and Wrestling at the Chase in 1984, starting a run of the segment that ended in 1987. During one Piper’s Pit, Piper insulted Jimmy Snuka‘s Polynesian heritage and attacked Snuka by smashing him over the head with a coconut. Piper also insulted Bruno Sammartino during a Piper’s Pit segment, which led to a feud that ended in a steel cage match which Piper lost.
Piper’s next major storyline was with Hulk Hogan and also involved pop singer Cyndi 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 Paul Orndorff and his former manager Piper against Hogan and Mr. T. Orndorff was pinned by Hogan when Piper’s bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton interfered and mistakenly struck Orndorff instead of Hogan. In Born to Controversy, Piper recalled how during the match he had to keep Mr. T busy to cover Mr. T’s lack of wrestling ability from being seen by the fans. From this situation, Piper and Mr. T’s real-life relationship became hostile, leading to the inevitable conclusion that they be put into a feud with one another on-screen. Piper faced Mr. T in a boxing match at WrestleMania 2 in 1986, which Piper lost by disqualification after bodyslamming Mr. T.
Following a leave of absence from the WWF, Piper returned as a face, during a TV taping of Championship Wrestling on August 23, 1986 against A.J. Petrucci. As part of the storyline, the returning Piper was distressed to find his Piper’s Pit segment replaced by The Flower Shop, a segment hosted by Adrian Adonis, who had also hired Piper’s former bodyguard Orton. Piper spent weeks crashing Adonis’ show and trading insults, leading to a “showdown” between the two segments that ended with Piper being assaulted and humiliated by Adonis, Orton, and Don Muraco, resulting in Piper’s face turn. In response, Piper stormed the set of Adonis’ show and destroyed it with a baseball bat. This led to their Hair vs. Hair match at WrestleMania III, which was billed as Piper’s retirement match from wrestling before he left to become an actor full-time. Piper won the match.
In early 1987, Piper’s Pit also served as the backdrop for Andre the Giant‘s heel turn and challenging Piper’s old foe, Hulk Hogan, for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania III, and Hogan ultimately accepting the challenge.
Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (1989–1992)
In 1989, Piper returned from a two-year hiatus with a live Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania V, where he hosed down a smoking Morton Downey, Jr. with a fire extinguisher. After this, Piper co-hosted Prime Time Wrestling from July 17, 1989 to December 25, 1989, with Gorilla Monsoon, feuding with Bobby Heenan, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and Brother Love. Piper returned to the ring when he interfered in Rude’s Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship defense against The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam, costing Rude the title. The feud finally came to an end when Piper defeated Rude in a match where the stipulation stated that if Piper won, Heenan would have to dress as Santa Claus for an episode of Prime Time. He wrestled Bad News Brown at WrestleMania VI in 1990, in which Piper cut a promo before the match with half his face and body painted black.
In 1991, he supported Virgil in his feud against “The Million Dollar Man” (Ted DiBiase). Later in 1991 Piper was involved in a motorcycle accident, but was still present at their matches at WrestleMania VII and SummerSlam. He renewed his feud with Ric Flair and at the 1992 Royal Rumble defeated The Mountie for his first, and only, Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. He lost it soon after to Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII. Following his title loss to Hart, Piper disappeared from the WWF. He made his return playing the bagpipes at SummerSlam.
Return and The Bottom Line (1994)
He reemerged once again as a regular in 1994 at WrestleMania X as guest referee for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship match between Bret Hart and Yokozuna. During the match, commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler remarked that he hated Piper and continued to taunt Piper on his King’s Court segment on Monday Night Raw, eventually culminating with Lawler bringing out a young, skinny impersonator in a Piper T-shirt and kilt and forcing him to kiss his feet. Enraged, Piper agreed to wrestle Lawler at the King of the Ring, where Piper emerged victorious. Piper wrestled as a fan favorite, and adding to the face attitude by donating part of his purse from the fight with Lawler to a children’s hospital in Ontario. In spring 1994, Piper began hosting a regular weekly segment on All-American Wrestling called “The Bottom Line” where he commented on various happenings in the WWF, as well as on his feud with Lawler. Piper’s segment aired regularly until the Summer of 1994, when Piper would disappear again.
Various appearances (1995)
Leaving the WWF again, he briefly returned in 1995 at WrestleMania XI, once again in a referee capacity, for the submission-only match between Hart and Bob Backlund. After this match Piper became the host for the replay editions of WWF pay-per-views for a brief period of time, commenting on the matches that had just happened, before disappearing again a few months later.
President of the WWF (1996)
In the January 29, 1996 episode of Monday Night RAW, Piper returned for another regular role, as he was named as interim WWF President after Gorilla Monsoon had to take a leave of absence due to an attack by Vader. On February 24 at a house show at East Rutherford, New Jersey he made his first match appearance in almost two years. As a substitute for Razor Ramon, Piper defeated The 1-2-3 Kid after hitting him with a ring bell. He wrestled twice more against the Kid on house shows that month.
As president, one of Piper’s first acts was to reinstate The Ultimate Warrior back into the WWF after a letter campaign written in by fans. Piper had become the object of affection for Goldust. Enraged, Piper claimed he would “make a man” out of Goldust at WrestleMania XII. The match, dubbed a “Hollywood Backlot Brawl”, began in an alleyway behind the Arrowhead Pond, but Goldust jumped into his gold Cadillac and ran Piper over, ultimately escaping (allegedly) onto the highways of Anaheim. Piper pursued in his white Ford Bronco, the aerial footage shown was actually that of the O. J. Simpson “low-speed” chase from two years prior. This was made clear by Piper himself, who recalled the event on an episode of Pipers Pit the Podcast. The two eventually returned to the arena, where Piper disrobed Goldust in the ring, effectively ending the confrontation. With Gorilla Monsoon back in control of the WWF by the end of the night, Piper once again left the company. His final appearance came the September 6, 1996 edition of Monday Night RAW, where footage was shown of him participating with other WWF wrestlers at the CNE “Experience” in Toronto.
World Championship Wrestling
Feuding with nWo (1996–1998)
Piper joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the fall of 1996. He made his surprise WCW debut as a fan favorite at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view in October to insult the nWo leader and the World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan. On the November 18 episode of Nitro, Piper revealed that Eric Bischoff was a member of the nWo, which ended with the nWo attacking him. Piper defeated Hogan with his signature sleeper hold in the non-title main event of the company’s flagship pay-per-view Starrcade, which earned him a title shot against Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship at SuperBrawl VII, where Piper was defeated. Piper then joined forces with Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen in their battle with the nWo. At Uncensored, Piper competed in a triangle elimination match where he captained a team of Horsemen Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and Jeff Jarrett against the nWo and WCW’s team of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and The Giant. His team lost the match. Piper moved on to feud with other members of nWo. At Slamboree, Piper, Flair and Kevin Greene defeated nWo members Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Syxx in a six-man tag team match. The following month, at The Great American Bash pay-per-view, Piper and Flair unsuccessfully challenged The Outsiders for the World Tag Team Championship. This loss led to a match between Piper and Flair at Bash at the Beach, which Piper won.
Piper took a hiatus from television before making his return to WCW on the September 8 episode of Nitro, where he was appointed the new on-air Commissioner of WCW, which reduced his in-ring work. He briefly resumed his feud with Hulk Hogan, beating him in a steel cage match at Halloween Havoc. At the 1998 Spring Stampede pay-per-view, Piper teamed with The Giant in a loss to Hogan and Nash in a Baseball Bat on a Pole match. At Slamboree, Piper served as the special guest referee in a match between Randy Savage and Bret Hart, which Hart won. At The Great American Bash, Piper and Savage lost to Hogan and Hart in a tag team match. Piper teamed with Diamond Dallas Page and The Warrior in Team WCW in a WarGames match at Fall Brawl for an opportunity at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the following month’s Halloween Havoc. Page won the match for his team.
Various storylines and departure (1999–2000)
On the February 8, 1999 episode of Nitro, Piper defeated Bret Hart to win his third United States Heavyweight Championship; the first two reigns being in JCP. Piper held the title for only two weeks as he lost the title to Scott Hall at SuperBrawl IX. In late 1999, Piper was featured on WCW television, in an angle with Vince Russo, who was now portraying himself as the “Powers That Be” (an unseen power that was controlling WCW). At Starrcade, Piper was the special referee in the World Heavyweight Championship match featuring Goldberg and Hart. Forced by Russo, Piper called for the bell when Hart locked in the Sharpshooter on Goldberg, when it was apparent that Goldberg had not submitted. The feud between Piper and the Powers That Be ended shortly after. Piper’s last appearance in WCW was at SuperBrawl 2000 in February 2000 where he was a surprise referee in the World Championship title match between Sid Vicious, Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall. In July 2000, WCW terminated Piper’s contract.
Xcitement Wrestling Federation (2001–2002)
Before going to the WWE in 2003, Piper served as the commissioner of the Xcitement Wrestling Federation (XWF). In November 2002, Piper’s autobiography, In the Pit with Piper: Roddy Gets Rowdy, was released.
Return to WWE (2003)
Piper returned to WWE on March 30, 2003, by conducting a surprise run in during the Hulk Hogan-Vince McMahon match at WrestleMania XIX in Seattle, Washington, where he attacked Hogan with a steel pipe to cement his heel status; Hogan nevertheless eventually won the match. Piper went on to align with Sean O’Haire; at Backlash in April, Rikishi hit Piper with Piper’s own coconut, but this led to O’Haire defeating Rikishi.
In May, as Hulk Hogan had been banned in storyline from television by Vince McMahon, Hogan returned under a mask as Mr. America, and continued his feud with Piper, O’Haire and McMahon, who tried to reveal Mr. America’s true identity. This storyline also saw Piper tear off the fake leg of one-legged wrestler Zach Gowen, who was playing a Hogan fan. At Judgment Day, Piper argued with Chris Jericho if Piper’s Pit was better than Jericho’s talk show The Highlight Reel. Later at the event, Piper lost to Mr. America.
Piper and O’Haire then moved on to challenge Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but in June 2003, WWE stopped employing Piper after a controversial interview with HBO‘s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in which Piper discussed the darker side of the wrestling industry. WWE cited that “Piper stated that he used drugs for many years while working in professional wrestling and that he does not like the person that he becomes when he actively performs as a professional wrestler”, and dismissed Piper because of “inability to reach agreement on a contract and to assist Piper from engaging in any self-destructive behavior”. On his 2006 DVD, Piper claimed that HBO took parts of his interviews out of context to make wrestling look bad.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2005)
Piper debuted for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion on September 17, 2003, at an NWA-TNA pay-per-view, where he questioned whether he was really a drug addict (despite having admitted so on television) and started a feud with Vince Russo, cutting a promo where he blamed Russo for the death of Owen Hart. In November 2004 at Victory Road, he hosted In the Pit with Piper and interviewed Jimmy Snuka, who refused to accede to Piper’s demands of hitting Piper with a coconut. On the December 24, 2004 episode of Impact, Piper hosted another In The Pit with Piper and interviewed Hector Garza but was interrupted by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. At Final Resolution in January 2005, Piper refereed a match between Jeff Hardy and Scott Hall, helping Hardy win.
Second return to WWE (2005–2015)
On February 21, 2005, it was announced that Piper was to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Piper held an episode of Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania 21 where he interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin. On the July 11, 2005 episode of Raw, Piper received a superkick from Shawn Michaels, the guest for Piper’s Pit. In October and November 2005, Piper feuded with Cowboy Bob Orton and Randy Orton, after they attacked him during a session of Piper’s Pit with Mick Foley. While Piper defeated both Ortons in a handicap match and submitted Bob in a six-man tag match, the feud ended with Randy interfering in a singles match between Piper and Bob, disqualifying Bob, but beating down Piper.
Piper returned to Raw on September 11, 2006 for a six-man tag team match win with The Highlanders against the Spirit Squad. He also appeared on the Raw Family Reunion, along with Money Inc. and Arn Anderson to accompany Ric Flair ringside for a match against Mitch of the Spirit Squad. On November 5, Piper would gain what would be his final championship in WWE, winning the World Tag Team Championship with Flair from The Spirit Squad at Cyber Sunday. On the November 13, 2006 episode of Raw, Piper and Flair lost the title to Rated-RKO.
In 2007, Piper appeared in February to announce Dusty Rhodes for the WWE Hall of Fame, and also in June for Vince McMahon Appreciation Night. In 2008, Piper made a surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble match by attacking Jimmy Snuka, but was eliminated by Kane. Piper then had a series of confrontations with Santino Marella in 2008, including on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
On the February 16, 2009 episode of Raw, after Chris Jericho insulted WWE legends, Piper interrupted him and was attacked by Jericho for it. The feud culminated in Jericho defeating Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania XXV in a handicap match. Piper later guest hosted Raw on November 16, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Piper challenged Vince McMahon to a street fight later in the evening, but Randy Orton came out to fight in McMahon’s place. Kofi Kingston came out to stop Randy’s assault on Piper. He inducted Wendy Richter into the 2010 WWE Hall of Fame on March 27, 2010. He also appeared the next night on Raw as one of the Legend Lumberjacks in a match that involved Christian and Ted DiBiase. Two months later, Piper hired DiBiase to capture guest host Quinton Jackson so he could “gain revenge on BA”, but was unsuccessful.
At WrestleMania XXVII, Piper made a cameo by hitting Zack Ryder with a coconut. On the June 13, 2011 episode of Raw, The Miz and later Alex Riley were guests on Piper’s Pit; this led to Piper defeating Miz in a match (to win $5000) because of help from Riley, the guest referee; this was Piper’s last documented WWE match. John Cena was a guest for Piper’s Pit on the November 28, 2011 episode of Raw.
On the April 10, 2012 episode of SmackDown, Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee were guest of Piper’s Pit. On the June 18 episode of Raw, Piper reunited with Cyndi Lauper. At Raw 1000, Piper and various other veterans helped Lita defeat Heath Slater. On the August 13, 2012 episode of Raw, Chris Jericho was the guest for Piper’s Pit, but Dolph Ziggler and the Miz interrupted.
On the January 6, 2014 episode of Raw, The Shield were guests for Piper’s Pit. On the March 31, 2014 episode of Raw, Piper hosted Piper’s Pit with superstars who would compete in the André the Giant 31-man memorial battle royal, which ended in a brawl with Big Show clearing the ring and Piper raising his hand. At WrestleMania XXX, the four men who wrestled in the main event of WrestleMania I—Piper, Paul Orndorff, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T—buried the hatchet in a backstage segment. On the December 22, 2014 episode of Raw, Rusev and Lana were guests for the final edition of Piper’s Pit.At WrestleMania 31, Piper and other legends appeared in a backstage segment after Daniel Bryan won the Intercontinental Championship.
In early July 2015, Ric Flair said Piper lost his WWE Legends contract with the company because of a public feud with Steve Austin which resulted in Piper leaving PodcastOne. Piper later apologized to Austin.
Independent circuit (2005–2015)
In February 2005 at WrestleReunion, Piper teamed with Jimmy Valiant and Jimmy Snuka against Colonel DeBeers, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and “Playboy” Buddy Rose. On January 29, 2011, Piper made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) during the WrestleReunion 5 weekend, defeating nineteen other men, last eliminating Terry Funk, to win the Legends Battle Royal.
Piper’s last documented match occurred on August 12, 2011, at the JCW Legends and Icons event. What was originally a match for Piper against Terry Funk was altered mid-match to a tag match between Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton against Funk and Mick Foley, which Piper’s team won.
In 2012, Piper, along with Don Coss, created Portland Wrestling Uncut, a revival of the original Portland Wrestling, with new and old wrestlers combined. Playing prominently in the show are Piper and Coss as announcers, The Grappler (Len Denton) as a manager, guest appearances by the like of Matt Borne (among others), rewind segments that show partial matches from the original Portland Wrestling (owned by Don and Barry Owen), and Piper’s son, Colt Toombs.
Piper is considered one of the greatest talkers and heels in wrestling history. Piper’s Pit interview segments were considered innovative, especially in an atmosphere where only the people like the world champion got to talk, and the wrestlers were the interviewees—never the interviewers. Many of the people on Piper’s Pit never got to be world champion, but were main eventers. According to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, he could just leave Piper in a room and return twenty minutes later with Piper having done a class-A promo. WWE named him the greatest villain in wrestling history.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter described Piper as “one of the key figures in the growth of WWF. In particular, he helped power the success of the first WrestleMania: the most important show in company history”.
Mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey was nicknamed “Rowdy” by her friends, however she initially rejected using it professionally, feeling it would be disrespectful to Piper. After being introduced to him through Gene LeBell, Piper gave her his approval to use the nickname. On the day of his death, she dedicated her next day’s UFC 190 title match with Bethe Correia to him. After quickly winning it, she noted him first in her post-fight interview.
In the 1980s, Piper also appeared in singer Cyndi Lauper‘s music video for the song “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough“. Piper performed the song, “For Everybody,” on the The Wrestling Album (Columbia Records, 1985). He also appeared as a guest VJ on MTV in 1988. In 1992, he released a UK only single and music video for his song, “I’m Your Man”. The single came with the B-side, “Judy Come Back”.
Acting and hosting
Deadline.com wrote, “During and after his wrestling days, Piper racked up dozens of film and TV credits, starring in numerous action B-movies and later doing voice work”. The most famous of Piper’s acting exploits was in the 1988 science fiction film They Live, directed by John Carpenter, which spawned the catchphrase Piper came up with—”I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum.”—as well as the long fight scene over sunglasses against Keith David which took three weeks to rehearse. The line and the fight scene have since been parodied in Duke Nukem, South Park and Adventure Time. Entertainment Weekly wrote that Piper’s role in They Live made him a “cult icon” and “some kind of legend”. Rolling Stone wrote that Piper “had a memorable career as a cult actor”, citing They Live and the 1987 film Hell Comes to Frogtown.
Piper was a guest on a 1985 Saturday Night Live episode, tormenting hosts Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and appeared as a special guest on MADtv along with Bret Hart. In the early 1990s, Piper made guest-star appearances on two episodes of The New Zorro on The Family Channel. In 1991, Piper and Jesse “The Body” Ventura starred in Tag Team, a television film about two ex-professional wrestlers turned police officers. Piper appeared as a wrestler loosely based on himself in an episode called “Crusader” from Walker, Texas Ranger. Piper also appeared in an episode of The Outer Limits series.
Piper appeared in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, as professional wrestler named “Da’ Maniac” during season 5 and reprised this role in season 9. Although the character was a parody of Mickey Rourke‘s role in The Wrestler, Piper had previously endorsed The Wrestler and Rourke’s performance during an appearance with Rourke on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He appeared as Mr. Thurgood in the low-budget film The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens in 2008 and its sequel Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes in 2010. On March 14, 2010, Piper appeared in “One Fall”, an episode in CBS’s Cold Case, playing a wrestler named Sweet Sil. In September 2010, Piper appeared in a FunnyorDie.com video, fighting against childhood obesity in a PSA parody. The clip included him using wrestling moves on children eating junk food and the parents who feed junk food to their kids.
In 2012, Piper appeared on a Season 4 episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, in which he conveyed a story of being visited by the ghost of Adrian Adonis. In May 2013, Piper appeared in “Barry’s Angels”— episode 12 of the fourth season of the A&E reality show, Storage Wars —in which he appraised a set of Scottish kilts purchased by Barry Weiss. In June 2013, Piper appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, where he swapped wives with Ric Flair.
Piper appeared as himself in the video game Saints Row IV. He also played himself as the protagonist in the 2013 film Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies. In April 2014, Piper appeared as a regular cast member on the WWE Network original reality show Legends’ House. He also started a podcast; Piper’s Pit with Roddy Piper, in association with PodcastOne.
In 2006, Roddy Piper ventured into the realm of voice acting, providing the voice of himself in “Metal Militia”—an episode of Cartoon Network‘s animated series Robot Chicken—and the voice of The Pyro Messiah in the Night Traveler multimedia adventure series produced by Lunar Moth Entertainment. He provided the voice of Bolphunga in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and the voice of Don John in the Adventure Time episode The Red Throne. He also voiced his own likeness in the 2013 video game Saints Row IV.
Piper is one of several real people to be immortalized with a 3.75 in (9.5 cm) G.I. Joe action figure of himself, as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the Iron Grenadier Trainer. The figure was released as an exclusive for the 2007 International G.I. Joe Convention from the Official G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club. Piper appeared at the convention to sign autographs.
Piper and his wife Kitty Jo Dittrich had been married since 1982. They had four children.
On November 27, 2006, it was announced on WWE.com that Piper had Hodgkin’s lymphoma; he finished radiation therapy on January 15, 2007. This was also confirmed on Piper’s official website, where he posted messages of thanks to all his fans and stated that, had the fans not chosen him as Ric Flair‘s partner at Cyber Sunday, he would not have been taken to the hospital and diagnosed as having his disease in time.
In November 2008, a video spread around the internet showing Piper smoking cannabis and taking a hit from a bong in front of a crowd cheering him on, although he later acknowledged his use of medicinal marijuana “to alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer”. This was reiterated on a blog from Jim Ross.
In his autobiography, Piper claimed to be a cousin of Bret Hart, which would make him a relative of the Hart wrestling family. This fact was once used as a trivia question on Raw.[unreliable source] Hart stated that Piper was the only wrestler to visit him in the hospital after his stroke.
On July 31, 2015, Piper died in his sleep at the age of 61 at his home in Hollywood, California. His death certificate attributes this to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by hypertension, listing a pulmonary embolism as a contributing factor; TMZ reported this as a heart attack caused by the embolism. Piper is survived by his wife Kitty, their four children, and four grandchildren.
News of his death broke minutes before the Hall of Heroes dinner to cap off the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends FanFest in Charlotte, North Carolina, where about 600 current and former wrestling personalities and fans had gathered. He received a ten-bell salute after the planned salute to fellow former professional wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, who had died the previous month. Another ten-bell salute was given at the beginning of the August 3, 2015 episode of Raw.
WWE CEO Vince McMahon said, “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.” Film director John Carpenter said, “Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper’s passing today. He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend.”
In an HBO Real Sports interview conducted by Piper in 2003, he had predicted that he was “not going to make 65” because of his poor health, and that he made his 2003 return to WWE because he could not access his pension fund until reaching the age of 65.
He was buried near his home at Gaston, Oregon.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Wrestlers managed
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling/World Championship Wrestling
- NWA All-Star Wrestling
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA San Francisco
- Pacific Northwest Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- Legends Battle Royal (2011)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Match of the Year (1985) with Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at WrestleMania I
- Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1984, 1985)
- Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1982)
- Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1986)
- Stanley Weston Award (2015)
- PWI ranked him No. 17 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the “PWI Years” in 2003
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Class of 2007
- World Class Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Best Heel (1984, 1985)
- Best on Interviews (1981) tied with Lou Albano
- Best on Interviews (1982, 1983)
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1986) vs. Mr. T in a boxing match at WrestleMania 2
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1997) vs. Hollywood Hogan at SuperBrawl VII
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
Luchas de Apuestas record
|Winner (wager)||Loser (wager)||Location||Event||Date||Notes|
|Roddy Piper (hair)||Adrian Adonis (hair)||Pontiac, Michigan||WrestleMania III||000000001987-03-29-0000March 29, 1987|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|1978||The One and Only||Leatherneck Joe Grady||Uncredited|
|1986||Body Slam||Quick Rick Roberts||First lead role|||
|1988||Hell Comes to Frogtown||Sam Hell||Lead role|||
|They Live||John Nada||Lead role|||
|1989||Buy & Cell||Cowboy||Supporting role|
|1991||Tagteam||Rick McDonald||Lead role|
|1992||Immortal Combat||John Keller||Lead role|
|1993||Back In Action||Frank Rossi||Lead role|
|1994||No Contest||Ice||Supporting role|||
|Tough & Deadly||Elmo Freech||Lead role|
|1995||Jungleground||Lt. Jacob ‘Jake’ Cornell||Lead role|||
|1996||Terminal Rush||Bartel||Lead role|||
|Marked Man||Frank Gibson||Lead role|
|Sci-Fighters||Det. Cameron Grayson||Lead role|||
|1997||First Encounter||Lt. Ed Ganz||Lead role|
|Dead Tides||Mick Leddy||Lead role|||
|The Bad Pack||Dash Simms||Lead role|
|1998||Hard Time||Randy||Supporting role|
|Last To Surrender||Nick Ford||Lead role|
|1999||Legless Larry & the Lipstick Lady||Legless Larry||Lead role|
|The Shepherd||Miles||Also known as Cyber City|
|2000||Jack of Hearts||Detective Deeks||Supporting role|
|2005||Three Wise Guys||Pastor Roberts||Supporting role|
|Honor||LT Tyrell||3rd lead|||
|2006||Domestic Import||Bronco Bill||Also known as Nanny Insanity|||
|Costa Chica: Confession of an Exorcist||Lucas McMurter||Also known as Legion: The Final Exorcism|||
|Shut Up and Shoot!||Yokum The Bartender||Supporting role|
|Night Traveler||The Pyro Messiah (voice)||Supporting role|
|Blind Eye||Fred Mears||Lead role|||
|2007||Urban Legends: The Ghosts of Goldfield||Jackson Smith||Fourth film in the Urban Legend (film) franchise.|||
|Super Sweet 16: The Movie||Mitch|
|2008||Legion: The Final Exorcism||Unknown|||
|2009||The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens||William Thurgood||Lead role|||
|A Gothic Tale||Narrator|
|2010||The Portal||Homeless George|
|Lights Out||Detective Callahan||Lead role|
|Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes||William Thurgood|||
|Alien Opponent||Father Melluzzo||Lead role|
|2011||Clear Lake||Wayne||Lead role|
|2013||Black Dynamite Teaches a Hard Way!||Himself||Guest role|
|Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies||Himself||Lead role|||
|2014||Don’t Look Back||Grandfather||Eddie Starks|||
|2015||Portal to Hell||Jack||Lead role|||
|2015||The Masked Saint||Nicky Stone||Supporting role|
|2016||The Bet||Mr. Jablonski||Supporting role|
|2016||The Chair||Murphy||Supporting role||http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3400932/?ref_=nv_sr_4|
|1987||The Highwayman||Preacher||Episode: “Pilot” (S 1:Ep 1)|||
|1989||The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!||Himself||Guest Appearance|||
|1990||The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage||Maurice Steiger||TV Reunion Movie|||
|1994||RoboCop: The Series||Faked Commander Cash||Episode: Robocop vs. Commander Cash|
|1998||Walker Texas Ranger||The Crusader||Episode: Crusader|
|1999||The Outer Limits||Marlon||Episode: “Small Friends” (S 5:Ep 3|||
|Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends||Himself||Episode: “Wrestling” (S 2:Ep 6)|||
|1993||Highlander||Immortal Anthony Gallen||Episode: “Epitaph for Tommy” (S 2:Ep 10)|||
|2003||The Man Show||Himself||Episode: Apologizing|
|2006||Robot Chicken||Himself||Episode: “Metal Militia” (S 2:Ep 9)|
|2009||It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Da’ Maniac||Episode: “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops” (S 5:Ep 7)|||
|2010||Cold Case||“Sweet” Sil Tavern||Episode: “One Fall” (S 7:Ep 16)|||
|2011||Fantasy Factory||Himself||Episode: “Kid Lightning” (S 4:Ep 7)|||
|2012||Breaking In||Mr. Weller||Episode: “The Contra Club” (S 2:Ep 1)|||
|2013||Storage Wars||Himself||Episode: “Barry’s Angels” (S 4:Ep 11)|||
|It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Da’ Maniac||Episode: “Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare” (S 9:Ep 4)|||
|2014||Adventure Time||Don John (voice)||Episode: “The Red Throne” (S 5:Ep 47)|
|2015||Food Factory USA||Himself||Episode: “No Snout About It” (S 2:Ep 4)|
|2014–2015||Piper’s Pit||Himself||Podcast, with PodcastOne from April 2014 to July 2015, two last episodes on SoundCloud.|||
|2015||Table For 3||Himself||