His name is right up there with Hogan and Savage as far as mainstream notoriety. He was not only a favorite in the wrestling world, but also cult film and 1980's pop culture. His free spirit and unlimited charisma made him a natural for Hollywood and the entertainment industry. While he may never have had that Oscar-worthy role, the admiration of his fans for the parts that he did bring to life more than made up for it.
As a wrestler, he was a big-mouthed scrapper with an intensity to back it up. He was never the biggest dog in the fight, but it didn't matter. Hulk may have towered over Hot Rod, but it was a perfect match. And even early on his career, with Roddy's tart-tongue and often controversial verbiage, he had his followers. Even then, the WWF powers-that-be had to know that an eventually turn for Piper would only further his popularity and visibility as an icon. It did, and while he may not have had the same "bite" as a fan favorite, Roddy was always a classic.
That status as an icon carried over to his interactions with his legions of fans. Ask anyone who had the opportunity to meet Roddy Piper and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't list him among the very best. Roddy didn't just thank you for coming. He took your hand in both of his. He inquired about you and your family. He looked into your eyes and listened and, as you can imagine, was always willing to share a story or two. He made sure that you had the moment that you had been waiting for.
I'm still not sure that it has fully sunk in for me. I mourned so much for Dusty, that I almost feel immune to any more wrestling-related grief. Two of my five all-time favorite wrestlers passing in the same summer is too much. Piper headlined my very first live wrestling event. I was also fortunate to meet him many times at various events. Although all of those meetings were memorable, it's the first that provided me with two moments that have gone down as legendary amongst my friends.
In the order of first meeting my five favorite wrestlers, Piper was fourth. While it was very special, I had no trepidation or worry. I'd met hundreds of wrestlers previously and I keep the line moving as I expect everyone else to do. As my crew and I inched up in line, I felt an odd sensation. What was that? Piper's Pit had suddenly rendered me incontinent. As soon as it hit me, I summonsed whichever muscle I needed in order to shut it off. Yes, I ever so slightly peed myself while about to meet Rowdy Roddy Piper.
It gets better.
Behind me in line was my friend Rick. After his warm, personal greeting, Hot Rod began to sign my items. As he did so, he kept conversation with Rick and I. While I can't remember exactly what was being discussed, Roddy's voice suddenly took a surprised and almost amused tone when he loudly proclaimed...
"Ohhhh...you two are TOGETHERRRR! God BLESS YA!"
Yes, Rowdy Roddy Piper thought that we were a couple. We are not, nor are either of us of that persuasion, but it has gone down through the years as one of the most memorable moments of my many wresting pilgrimages. And no, in subsequent meetings Roddy never inquired as to where my "other half" was.
From the outpouring of love and memories, it's obvious that Roddy Piper is going to be fondly remembered. In this day and age we've come to learn that all of our heroes and icons have their own issues. We're all only human. Roddy had his, but I firmly believe that he worked hard to overcome them. Just as with "The Dream" and many others, he deserved a few more years to bask in the glow of his own legend, but it's really his family who were cheated. They are the ones who truly knew the man and should have had more time with him. We as fans get to see him forever more, as we knew him, thanks to the countless hours of entertainment that he left behind.
Forever loud, forever young, and forever "Rowdy."
Rowdy Roddy Piper