There were few wrestlers who were more notorious in professional wrestling than “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Best known for his quick wit and his unpredictable demeanor, Piper’s legend is one that seems to grow with each passing year. In fact, some of the accounts of his career have been so often repeated that they have been adopted as fact. But just as he once proclaimed on the Piper’s Pit: “Just when you think you got all the answers, I change the questions.”
Piper’s ascent from a 160-pound teenager learning the ropes in Winnipeg rings to be the headliner against Hulk Hogan at the first WrestleMania is as unlikely a story as any you’ll ever hear in the world of professional wrestling. Just that unbelievable ascent over a 12-year career alone maybe has given us reason to believe some the incredible tales that we have come to believe about the ‘HotRod.’ But which are fact and which are fiction?
The following list will challenge everything you thought you knew about the WWE Hall of Famer from his introduction to the sport until his untimely demise. Ask yourself, did I already know the following about Roddy?
10 How He Got His Name
Roddy himself has spun a colorful yarn about his introduction to the wrestling business, which paints himself as a fifteen-year-old kid playing at Winnipeg Arena with his pipe band when a no-show on the card opened up a spot for a stand-in. Roddy was selected and as the ring announcer didn’t know his name, simply called him Roddy the Piper.
9 Piper Was Trained By Tony Condello
8 His Debut Wasn’t Against Larry Hennig
The harrowing tale of the shortest match in Winnipeg Arena history is not entirely a myth. Piper did oppose the imposing patriarch of the Hennig wrestling clan on April 24, 1974, in a match that the Winnipeg Free Press reported as:
“One of the shortest matches in Winnipeg history saw Larry 'The Axe' Hennig dispose of Roddy Piper is just under two minutes. It was almost a matter of the bell ringing to start the fight and then immediately echoing back to end the match.”
7 Youngest Pro Wrestler Ever?
6 The Friendship Began In The Winnipeg Arena
5 Piper Was Known by Other Names
4 Dark Days In Cali
In his book In the Pit with Piper, Roddy shows a rare glimpse of vulnerability when he admits that while he put on a front for those around him that he was fearless - deep down, he was actually afraid of everything. This stems from some early mistreatment by veterans of the scene in southern California that Piper often danced around in interviews upon direct questioning. “It’s a tough business,” Piper would say, deflecting the question. Yet in other interviews, he suggests that perhaps hard feelings were created with wrestlers of influence when they had taken liberties with him behind the scenes. Whatever happened, it only served to strengthen Piper’s resolve and prepare him for the greater challenges ahead.
3 The Most Hated Man In America
At the height of the WWE’s national wrestling expansion in 1984, Roddy Piper was front and center as the lead antagonist. Inspiring riots in arenas and often finding himself under a flurry of flying debris as he made his escape to the locker room after a night of treachery, there was no doubt that Piper had struck a nerve with the wrestling audiences.
2 The Number of Film Credits To His Name
1 Inside That Leather Jacket
Aside from his trademark kilt, there are few images of Roddy Piper that spring to mind that don’t feature him wearing a leather jacket. What many fans won’t realize is that in the inside zippered pocket of that stab-resistant garment were two items that Roddy kept close to his heart. His Canadian passport (“In case I ever need to get outta anywhere in a hurry”) and a photo of himself with his four children. The photo, heavily creased and protected inside a well-worn ziplock sandwich bag was seen by few who knew Roddy, but it was a comfort that he no doubt clung to and reflected on in airports, locker rooms and movie sets as a constant reminder of why he was working so hard.
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