By Ross Kelly
Just a few weeks after the world of wrestling lost Dusty Rhodes, another legend has passed away. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, born Roderick Toombs, passed away at the age of 61 on July 31, 2015. Piper was one of the sport’s biggest stars over the last 30 years with his peak being during the wrestling boom of the 1980s. Piper is best known for his WWF/WWE career and his feuds with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair. He was also known for his unique ring attire which consisted of wearing a kilt which paid tribute to his Scottish ancestry. Here are five other facts about “Hot Rod” “Rowdy” Roddy Piper:
1. Piper made his pro wrestling debut at the age of 15 in 1969 against Larry Hennig (father of Mr. Perfect and grandfather or Curtis Axel). His final match came 42 years later in 2011 when he teamed with Bob Orton Jr. (father of Randy Orton) and the two defeated hardcore legends, Mick Foley and Terry Funk. Piper and Orton had first met up in 1985 when Piper recruited Orton to be his bodyguard in his feud against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
2. Though a fan favorite in his later years, Piper was originally a “heel” or a bad guy in his initial WWF run. Pro Wrestling Illustrated twice named Piper the “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year” (1984 and 1985), while also naming him the “Most Popular Wrestler of the Year” in 1986. After Piper was inducted into WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, the company named him Number One on the “Top 50 Villains in Wrestling History.”
3. Despite never winning a world championship in a major promotion, Piper won 34 titles throughout his illustrious career. His final title run was in 2006 as a World Tag Team champion alongside Ric Flair in WWE. The 52-year-old Piper and the 57-year-old Flair were a combined 109 years old in what has to be the oldest set of tag team champions in wrestling history.
4. Also an accomplished “B movie” actor, Piper appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Love Boat, and Robot Chicken (voice). In June 2013 he was in an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap alongside longtime friend/enemy Ric Flair. Piper was also only one of two wrestlers to have a G.I. Joe action figure crafted in his likeness (the other is Sgt. Slaughter).
5. Perhaps the most infamous moment of Piper’s career was when he smashed a (real) coconut over the head of Jimmy Snuka on the set of Piper’s Pit. Snuka, who is of Polynesian heritage, was being mocked throughout the segment by Piper with the use of bananas, pineapples, and coconuts. Snuka took offense and Piper attacked Snuka with the coconut which legitimately hurt Snuka. Below is a video of the altercation from 1984: