As wrestling fans, we have unfortunately grown accustom to seeing some of our favorite legends and stars leave the earth too soon. And this summer, in less than two months time, we have seen the passing of two of the most iconic performers the wrestling business has ever seen.
Yesterday, Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away at the age of 61. I was shocked when I heard the news. Piper had beaten cancer. He seemed to be someone in good health recently. And just like that, he is gone.
Piper revolutionized the wrestling business in the 1980s. When he came to the WWF, he helped bring wrestling to the mainstream media. He was a huge part of the first Wrestlemania and everything that happened with MTV. Piper was so good at being a heel. You don’t see the kind of heat that Piper got back then nowadays. Piper was hated by the masses. I think he might be the greatest heel in wrestling history.
In many ways Piper was way ahead of his time. Piper wrestled into the late 1990s, but he was somebody who could fit in to today’s wrestling world now with no problem. Of course, if he were in the WWE today, he would be the heel that everyone would want to cheer. Piper was just so great on the mic. He never skipped a beat, he was always on his A game. He could undress anyone who tried to challenge him on the mic.
So many historic moments happened on Piper’s Pit. Everyone remembers Piper smashing a coconut over the head of Jimmy Snuka. The Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant main event at Wrestlemania 3 was set on Piper’s Pit. Piper’s own Wrestlemania 3 match was also set up with a Piper’s Pit segment involving Adrian Adonis.
Hulk Hogan is considered to be the biggest star of the 1980s. But if it were not for Rowdy Piper, Hulk Hogan would not have become as big as he did. It takes two people to draw a crowd in the wrestling business. A babyface is only as good as the heel he is feuding with. As Piper said to Hogan at the end of Halloween Havoc 1996, “Do you think the fans would have loved you so much, if they hadn’t hated me?” That statement is 100% true. Hogan needed a strong heel to draw people into the building and want to see Hogan kick their ass. Piper was great at that.
People always talk about the greatest wrestler to never win a World Title. The conversation should start and end with Rowdy Piper. No one drew as much or was as big a star as Piper that is in the conversation. And Piper didn’t need to win the Title to justify is drawing or star power. He did that night in and night out by being the best performer when he stepped out from the curtain.
In less than two months, the wrestling world has lost two of its best performers of all time in Piper and the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. You could argue that those two are the two best talkers in wrestling history. While Dusty Rhodes was the top face in the NWA, Piper was the top heel in the WWF. Imagine if those two would have crossed paths during that time period. That would have been one hell of a program to see. Add into all of this the death of Hulkamania as we know it, and the 1980s pro wrestling world has taken a heavy shot to the gut this summer. We’ve lost two great performers, and the biggest star in pro wrestling history has had his legacy tarnished.
But while we may have lost a handful of stars from the 80s, they will never be forgotten by wrestling fans. And that is because their work never ages as time goes on. Go ahead and throw on a Dusty Rhodes or Roddy Piper math/promo right now. They are textbook examples of Pro Wrestling 101. It shows how simple wrestling can be if it is booked properly. Anyone who wants to get into the pro wrestling business today should watch their work if they want to see how to get over with a crowd. Thanks to modern technology and things like the WWE Network, the work of Piper and Dusty Rhodes will never go away. It will live on for generations to come and will be seen by new audiences on a constant basis.
So while we may be mourning the loss of another wrestling legend, we will do what we always do as a wrestling community. We will celebrate the life and career of two of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. We will sit back and put on a Rowdy Piper match or Piper’s Pit segment and enjoy his great work. That’s how we come together as a pro wrestling community. We remember the good times and celebrate the great careers that we were able to see. And we make sure those careers are never forgotten. Rowdy Piper and Dusty Rhodes memory will never die in the hearts and minds of wrestling fans.
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka