Hot Rod: Bidding adieu to the greatest villain in WWE history
What do we know when we talk about the WWE? There are a few performers who’ve transcended the reach of this particular phenomenon that is sports entertainment. No matter how stylized the realms of professional wrestling become, no matter how much time has passed since wrestling became mainstream, no matter how many controversies come and go- there are some names that will remain indelible.
Every ardent WWE fan will have that one group of friends, acquaintances and family members who’ve given up on wrestling or are not really big fans of this particular pretense sport. But they will still be aware of some personas who defined and redefined what it means to be a wrestler.
Rowdy Roddy Piper was one of them.
The classic ‘Hot Rod’ shirt, the trailblazing, trendsetting talk show called Piper’s Pit, that one trippy film called ‘They Live and that original, the first Wrestlemania main event- Piper’s influence can be traced back to all these happenings and till date his influence is all over the current-day product. Even Ronda Rousey, the biggest draw in UFC today, is influenced by Piper. Her nickname was given and taken with due permission from the man himself. Rousey even dedicated her latest fight to him.
The 80s, the golden era of the WWE, would be incomplete without the Piper. His talk show not only set trends and crossed boundaries, it became an essential and one of the most entertaining viewing WWE had to provide at the time. There’s a strong reason why he’s considered one of the greatest villains of all time. These interviews he conducted became his trademark and a tremendous display of terrific promo work. This talk show was the reason why so many talk shows, over the years, took birth. Nothing really has ever come close to the storytelling displayed on a Piper’s Pit segment. Nothing.
He was a good wrestler, don’t think twice about that. But the biggest impact he made, that also greatly impacted WWE, was the way he talked. He was badass even before badassery in WWE became a usual adjective. His leather jacket combined with the kilt and the bagpipe music gave him a rock-star like persona for which the fans greatly paid their attention to. Add in the aggression and the quick repartee he brought forth became legendary over the course of his career.
There was simply no heel like Piper.
And given all these attributes, when you see the man or hear him talk, you just know that he loved pro- wrestling. Whether it is his opinions about the business or his Hall of Fame speech or his teary appreciation for the Darren Aronofsky film ‘The Wrestler’- Piper was a real wrestler. That’s a bit of an oxymoron adding the word real to a sport that has often been termed fake but then again only the result and movements in the match are pre- rehearsed but when the kick flies onto your face or that body slams right onto you from the top rope- it’s all pretty darn real.
Piper was a storyteller’s dream. Everything in his segments had some meaning behind it, even the infamous segment with Jimmy Snuka where he had coconuts and bananas featured at the time.
The recent news surrounding Piper was his fallout with Stone Cold Steve Austin over their respective podcasts. The last we heard from Piper was his dissatisfaction with his podcast being pulled off because of some comments made on Stone Cold. Hopefully, things did not get worse.
He was fearless, he was nonchalant and he surely relished in the jeers that greeted him so often when he was a heel. But mostly, he was rowdy.