Roderick George Toombs, better known as Rowdy Roddy Piper, passed away on the 31st July. He was 61. Piper was trained by Gene LeBell, Leo Garibaldi, Tony Condello and Joe Fiorino and made his debut in 1969 against Larry Henning, the grandfather of Curtis Axel. After spending time in the NWA and Georgia Championship Wrestling, he joined the WWF in 1984. He is best known during this time for being in a rivalry with Hulk Hogan and main eventing the first ever Wrestlemania with Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff as they faced Hulk Hogan and Mr T. He went on to win the Intercontinental Championship in 1992 and be the special guest referee for the main event of Wrestlemania X. Piper left the WWF for WCW in 1996 and was there for 4 years. He then made occasional appearances from 2003 to 2015 in the WWE, with him being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
My first memory of Piper is also one of my favourite ever matches. Piper was facing the challenge of Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania VIII and the match is absolutely amazing. There was also the added element of Piper being friends with the Hart family. I also liked the fact that Piper was from my home country of Scotland. I know that that's not true (Piper was born in Saskatoon, Canada) but by the time I found out, I didn't care.
Piper was also known as an actor with his most famous role being in They Live, where he spawned the catchphrase “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum”. Piper also appeared in various movies and TV shows such as Walker, Texas Ranger, The Outer Limits and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Piper's legacy is one of the best villains and talkers in professional wrestling history. His segment, Piper's Pit was innovate as it was in an atmosphere where only the people like the World Champion got to talk. Dave Meltzer described Piper as “one of the key figures in the growth of WWF. In particular, he helped power the success of the first Wrestlemania”. Piper is a wrestler that has been loved by many generations of wrestling fans and he will be sorely missed by everyone.
Piper leaves behind a wife, five children and a grandchild.