Aug 032015

This year seems to be an exceptionally bad year in regards of those who had a huge impression on my youth as they’re passing away. We’ve had Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Lee, Rod Taylor, Patrick Macnee, and a few others pass on to their eternal reward in the last few months. Last Friday, the news broke that wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper died of natural causes in his sleep. He was just 61 years old and had beaten cancer in the last few years.

Rowdy Roddy Piper
The news of Rowdy Roddy Piper dying really hit me when I first came across it. I grew up watching wrestling (back when you could only watch in on Saturday afternoons). There was the regional show of Florida Championship Wrestling hosted by Gordon Solie (I believe that was the name of the promotion, but I could be wrong.) Anyway, I was witness to the eventual rise and dominance of the WWF (now WWE) that featured a stable of demi-gods to children of my era. There was the Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, Demolition, Sgt. Slaughter (my favorite wrestler), and the incomparable Rowdy Roddy Piper. Even though he was a heel, he was my second favorite wrestler because he was true to himself. He was always incredibly mouthy, and nobody could go toe-to-toe with his insults and bragging. His Piper’s Pit was required viewing to see him go ballistic on whatever wrestler was fool enough to enter. He always gave as good as he got, and he was Highlander cool long before kilts became fashionable. His feuds were always entertaining and memorable, and I was torn between rooting for him and Hulk Hogan at the time.

Of course any discussion of Rowdy Roddy Piper has to include They Live. I saw this in the theater when it was originally released, and I absolutely loved it. His line of, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” is a classic. His fight with Keith David in the alley was flat-out brutal and incredible. Of less quality, but also entertaining in 1980s-style cheesiness, is Hell Comes to Frogtown.

Lastly, lest we forget, Rowdy Roddy Piper is one of the few living individuals who have joined the immortals of GI Joe. A limited release figure showcases him as the personal trainer for the Iron Grenadiers, the military force that Destro commands. You just can’t get cooler than being a key Cobra (technically Iron Grenadier) official.

Overall, Rowdy Roddy Piper played a villain in the ring that you had to admire and even like. In person, he was incredibly nice (from the stories I’ve read and heard as I never was lucky enough to meet him). Sadly, they just don’t make wrestlers like him any more. There’s a new bagpiper playing a tune in Heaven now. Roddy Piper will be sorely missed.

Rowdy Roddy Piper GI Joe


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