Roderick “Roddy” George Toombs (born April 17, 1954), better known by his ring name “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, is a retired Canadian professional wrestler, film actor, and podcast host signed to WWE. In professional wrestling, he is best known for his work with the WWF. Although he is Canadian, due to his Scottish heritage he was billed as coming from Glasgow in Scotland and was known for his signature kilt and bagpipe entrance music. He earned the nickname “Rowdy” by displaying his trademark “Scottish” rage, spontaneity and quick wit. Despite being a crowd favorite for his rockstar-like persona, he often played the villain. He was also nicknamed “Hot Rod”. Toombs headlined several major pay-per-view events and accumulated 34 championships in various promotions during his career; he participated in the main events of WrestleMania I and WrestleMania X – as a special guest referee in the latter. Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. Piper briefly hosted a podcast titled “The Rod Pod”.
Toombs was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is of majority Scottish descent, with some Irish on his mother’s side. He attended Windsor Park Collegiate. His father was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while they lived in The Pas, Manitoba. After being expelled from junior high and having a falling out with his father, Piper hit the road and stayed in youth hostels wherever he could find them and picked up odd jobs at local gyms running errands for several pro wrestlers. As a young man Roddy became proficient in playing the bagpipes, though he has repeatedly stated that he’s unsure exactly where he picked them up. His childhood (and now lifelong) best friend is ex NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Cam Connor.
Professional wrestling career
By the age of 14, he made his pro debut in Winnipeg, against Larry Hennig. When Roddy made his way to the ring playing the bagpipes (his gimmick) the ring-announcer introduced him as “Roddy the Piper”, the fans in attendance heard it as “Roddy Piper” and the name stuck. Piper lost the match in ten seconds. He was a boxer and an amateur wrestler before he started to become a pro wrestler. He won the Golden Gloves boxing championship. He was awarded a Black Belt in Judo from Gene LeBell, American Judo champion, instructor, stuntman, and professional wrestler.
American Wrestling Association (1973–1975)
From 1973 to 1975, Piper was a jobber in the AWA, Kansas City, the Maritimes, and Texas working for Paul Boesch’s NWA Houston Wrestling promotion and in Dallas working for Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Rasslin. What was supposed to be a brief run in California, however, turned out to be a long term stint as booker Leo Garibaldi and publicist Jeff Walton were impressed with Piper and saw the money making possibilities he had as a villain.
National Wrestling Alliance (1975–1980)
By late 1975 and early 1976, Piper was a top villain for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood Wrestling. In 1977–78, he also started to work for Roy Shire’s NWA San Francisco Wrestling in addition to remaining with the L.A. office. Los Angeles was where Piper developed his Rowdy character and became one of the most hated villains in Los Angeles since the days of Classy Freddy Blassie. During this time, he made continuous insults directed at the area’s Mexican community; he later promised to amend by playing the Mexican national anthem on his bagpipes only to anger the fans further by playing “La Cucaracha” instead. Piper also served as manager for several villains in Los Angeles and worked as a referee from time to time. Piper feuded with all the fan favorites in the area and had a long feud with Chavo Guerrero, Sr..
As part of the L.A. storyline, Roddy Piper feuded with Chavo and the whole Guerrero family for about three years in the L.A. territory going so far as to routinely wear a T-Shirt to the ring reading “Conqueror of the Guerreros”. The feud started during a TV bout in early 1976 where Chavo was defending the Jules Strongbow Memorial Scientific Trophy against Piper. Late in this match, Gory Guerrero (who had been in Chavo’s corner giving him advice throughout the match) was slapped by Piper. Chavo “lost his cool” and starting punching Piper, getting DQ’ed and losing the Scientific Trophy for “breaking the rules”. A short time later, Piper then defeated Chavo for the Americas Heavyweight Title; the two competed in the top feud in Los Angeles for the better part of three years. They main evented against each other often during this era (1976 through 1978). The hair match gimmick was one of the top stipulations between these two, resulting in Piper getting his head shaved. Another top stipulation was when Chavo beat Piper in a loser leave town match and Piper immediately reappeared as The Masked Canadian. In his first televised match as The Masked Canadian, Piper actually teamed with Chavo to battle the Americas Tag Team Champions (Gordman and Goliath) and Piper turned on Chavo late in the match, causing Chavo to get pinned. Piper wrestled as The Masked Canadian for several months until he was unmasked by Hector Guerrero.
By late 1978-early 1979, Buddy Rose talked Piper into leaving the California promotions for even more fame in Don Owen’s Pacific Northwest Territory where he teamed with Killer Tim Brooks, Rick Martel, and Mike Popovich to win the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship. Piper also won the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship with victories over both Lord Jonathan Boyd and “Playboy” Buddy Rose.
Georgia Championship Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic (1980–1983)
In late 1970s, Piper ventured to the Mid-Atlantic territory. He beat Jack Brisco for the Mid-Atlantic title and Ric Flair for the US belt which turned into a huge feud. From 1981-82, Piper served as an arrogant commentator on Georgia Championship Wrestling (which would be renamed World Championship Wrestling in July) and feuded with the likes of Bob Armstrong, Dick Slater, and Tommy Rich. On TV, Piper often spoke highly of evil manager Gary Hart, calling him the one man who may have a higher IQ than him. During the summer of 1982, Piper became a fan favorite after knocking out Don Muraco and Ole Anderson, and famously saving broadcast partner Gordon Solie from Muraco, who grew angry at Solie questioning his tactics. Piper would battle Abdullah the Butcher after Ole brought him in to take down Piper, who heard the cheers of the fans but admitted he was no “goody two-shoes” and still did things his way. Piper would then leave Georgia for the Mid-Atlantic territory. Piper returned to the Georgia area in the summer of 1983 to aid Tommy Rich against Buzz Sawyer.
In 1982, due to showing up late for a match, he was fired and reportedly blackballed from the Georgia territory. Piper maintains this in his book, but others dispute this. He did receive an offer from Gary Hart to go to World Class Championship Wrestling but the money was not good enough. Instead, he went to Puerto Rico for a month or so and was able to get booked by Jim Barnett shortly thereafter. In Wrestling to Rasslin’, Gerald W. Morton and George M. O’Brien described the transformation: “the drama finally played itself out on television when one of his [Piper’s] hired assassins, Don Muraco, suddenly attacked the commentator Gordon Solie. Seeing Solie hurt, Piper unleashed his Scottish fury on Muraco. In the week that followed, like Achilles avenging Patroklas, he slaughtered villain after villain…. In the arenas fans chanted his name throughout his matches.” Eventually, Piper moved back to Jim Crockett Promotions. As a fan favorite, Piper feuded with Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, and Greg Valentine. Piper’s feud with Valentine culminated in a dog collar match at the first Starrcade. Valentine broke Piper’s left eardrum during the match with the collar’s chain, causing Piper to permanently lose fifty percent of his hearing.
World Wrestling Federation
Piper told Arda Ocal of The Score Television Network in an interview that before entering the World Wrestling Federation full-time in 1984, Piper had a match with the WWWF under Vince McMahon Sr in the mid 70s at Madison Square Garden. As a rib to Piper, Freddie Blassie stuffed his bagpipes with toilet paper, so they wouldn’t play in front of the Garden crowd. Piper was not invited back for several years.
Bob Backlund defeated Piper and retained the WWF title at the Olympic Auditorium on July 28, 1978.
Around this time World Wrestling Federation (WWF) owner Vince McMahon contacted Piper, who insisted on serving out his contract with Jim Crockett. Piper started in the WWF in late 1983 and at the same time fulfilled dates with Crockett. On his way out of Crockett’s promotion he became a heel, which set the stage for his WWF run in 1984. He started as a manager at first, due to the injuries he sustained during his dog collar match with Greg Valentine, but soon started wrestling full-time. Piper came in as the manager for “Dr. D” David Schultz and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, and soon began to wrestle with Orndorff as well.
Later that year, he was given his own interview segment called Piper’s Pit, in which he talked to other superstars and which frequently ended in a fight between Piper and his guest. The Piper’s Pit segments helped create the feuds Piper had with other wrestlers. According to Piper’s autobiography, Piper’s Pit was completely unscripted and was in fact so popular that it was taken on the road. In addition to pleasing many of his fans who wanted to see the Pit in person, it accomplished other things: it gave Piper the opportunity to heal some nagging injuries while still retaining his heat with the fans. An early guest on Piper’s Pit was his Mid-Atlantic nemesis Valentine, who also arrived to the WWF. In a rare occurrence for WWF programming at the time, the two made reference to their history in the rival organization and hinted at rekindling it, but as the two were now top villains, they both agreed that they had mutual respect for each other, and it was left at that. In one Piper’s Pit, Piper had an interview with Jimmy Snuka. Piper started insulting Snuka’s Polynesian heritage by bringing out pineapples, bananas, and dropping coconuts onto the table; this was to make Snuka “feel at home” in an act of “remorse” after Snuka was not given much time to speak the previous times he was on Piper’s Pit. Snuka took offense to this and Piper then attacked Snuka by smashing him over the head with a coconut and shoving a banana in his face. He followed this up by whipping Snuka with his belt. Snuka was legitimately knocked woozy allowing Piper to leave before Snuka, now seriously enraged, could fight back. This incident led to a long feud between the two. Piper also insulted Bruno Sammartino during a Piper’s Pit which led to a feud between the two, ending in a steel cage match which Piper lost.
Another feud, this time between Piper and Hulk Hogan erupted soon after and became what was at the time the highest-profile feud in wrestling history, thanks to the involvement of pop singer Cyndi Lauper, where Piper kicked Lauper in the head—and even attacked Captain Lou Albano—with Hogan seeking revenge as a result. In 1985, MTV broadcast The War to Settle the Score, featuring a main-event matchup between Piper and Hogan, who was accompanied to the ring by Albano, Lauper, and Mr. T. This event set up the very first WrestleMania, which pitted Piper and Paul Orndorff against Hogan and Mr. T. Orndorff was pinned by Hogan when Piper’s bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton interfered and mistakenly struck Orndorff instead of Hogan with his trademark “injured” arm covered in a plaster cast. In Born to Controversy, Piper recalled how he had to keep Mr. T busy with tie-ups and other shoot wrestling moves to keep Mr. T’s lack of wrestling ability from being seen by the fans, thus ruining the match. From this situation, Piper and Mr. T’s real-life relationship became hostile, leading to the inevitable conclusion that they be put into a feud with one another. It was on Right After Wrestling in March 2011, hosted by Arda Ocal and Jimmy Korderas, that Piper explained why WrestleMania didn’t feature a 1-on-1 main event. He said it was because that match happened at the War to Settle the Score, before the WrestleMania event actually happened. Piper once again faced Mr. T, this time alone, in a boxing match at WrestleMania 2 in 1986. Piper lost the match by disqualification after bodyslamming Mr. T.
Following a leave of absence from the WWF, Piper returned during a TV taping on WWF Superstars in 1986 against jobber A.J. Petrucci and received a thunderous ovation from the audience. After being slapped in the face by Petrucci twice, Piper placed one hand behind his back and beat his opponent to a pulp.
During Piper’s 1986 face run, Piper’s Pit played key roles in two storylines memorable to fans: Piper’s feud with Adrian Adonis, and the set-up of the Hulk Hogan-André the Giant match at WrestleMania III.
In the Piper-Adonis feud, the returning Piper was distressed to find his Piper’s Pit segment replaced by The Flower Shop, a segment hosted by Adonis, who was using an effeminate-wrestler gimmick. Piper spent weeks crashing Adonis’ show and trading insults, leading to a “showdown” between the two segments that ended with Piper being assaulted and humiliated by Adonis, Piper’s former bodyguard Orton (now in Adonis’ employ), and Don Muraco. The trio left Piper with his face covered in red lipstick lying in the middle of the remnants of the Piper’s Pit set, which had been destroyed. In response, Piper stormed the set of Adonis’ show and destroyed it with a baseball bat. This led to their Hair vs Hair match at WrestleMania III, which was billed as Piper’s retirement match from wrestling before he left to become an actor full-time. Piper won the match with the assistance of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who had been sheared by Adonis shortly before the match.
The first Piper’s Pit used to build up the Hogan-André feud came when Hogan was invited on the show to receive a trophy for being the WWF Champion for three years. Shortly after presenting Hogan with the trophy, André – Hogan’s “long-time friend” – came out to congratulate Hogan, but closed the segment by simply stating: “Three years to be world champion….it’s a long time.” After saying this, Andre went to shake Hogan’s hand, apparently placing a little too much pressure causing Hogan to wince in pain. The following week, Hogan attempted to return the favor by presenting Andre with a trophy for being undefeated for 15 years, and unwittingly took over the interview. Although the attempt was sincere, Andre couldn’t help but notice that the trophy was noticeably smaller than the one Hogan received the week before, and grew irritated when Hogan became the focal point of the spotlight once again. As Hogan was attempting to congratulate Andre, the Frenchman abruptly stormed off the Pit set. The following week, Piper attempted to get some answers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura interrupted the segment, agreeing with Piper that something was amiss in the Hogan/Andre situation; both Ventura and Piper held true to promises to bring Andre and Hogan, respectively, onto the show the following week. On that subsequent program, Hogan was stunned when André appeared with his long-time nemesis, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, at his side; Hogan pleaded with André to explain why Heenan was at his side, and André replied simply, “I’m here for one reason, to challenge you to a world championship match at Wrestlemania.” Hogan attempted to keep the peace, only to have Heenan order André to attack Hogan to show how serious he was in his challenge; André responded by ripping off Hogan’s shirt and gold crucifix necklace, leaving Hogan in hurt and shock and with Piper of all people trying to console his former enemy. In the process of tearing off Hogan’s shirt, André’s fingernail accidentally scratched Hogan’s skin, causing Hogan to bleed, leading Piper to tell Hogan, “You’re bleeding.” Piper then brought Hogan back the following week to get Hogan to respond to André’s challenge. When Hogan sidestepped the issue for several minutes, Piper put it to him bluntly: “Yes or no? Are you or are you not going to face André the Giant for the WWF championship at Wrestlemania? YES OR NO?!!” Hogan paused for a brief second only to respond with a thunderous “YES!”
Piper returned from a hiatus with a live Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania V, where he hosed down a smoking Morton Downey, Jr. with a fire extinguisher. After this, Piper began co-hosting Prime Time Wrestling with Gorilla Monsoon, providing a change of pace from the constant bickering that was caused between Monsoon and Bobby Heenan during Heenan’s tenure. Heenan insisted on having his own show opposite Prime Time called “The Bobby Heenan Show”. Which was basically used as a catalyst to insult Piper and Monsoon after leaving “Prime Time” on bad terms. Eventually, Heenan’s comments began to irritate Piper and Piper finally told Heenan to either “put up or shut up.” Shortly after this, Heenan brought “Ravishing” Rick Rude into the mix by inviting him to his show to further insult Piper. The feud reached the physical level when Piper made an appearance on “The Brother Love Show” to address his position on the matter. Brother Love provoked Piper for several minutes by questioning his courage and ring ability. Piper finally had enough and told Love he had bad hygiene. When Love questioned Piper for bringing this up, Piper pulled out a small bag of toiletries and began dousing Love with toothpaste and mouthwash. Rude made his move during this moment and attacked Piper from behind, eventually spewing mouthwash into his eyes rendering him temporarily blind. This eventually brought Piper’s return to the ring full-circle as Piper interfered in Rude’s Intercontinental Title defense against The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam ’89, costing Rude the belt. Rude vowed revenge and the two engaged in a very physical and violent feud that lasted the rest of the year. The feud finally came to an end when Piper defeated Rude in a match where the stipulation stated that if Piper won, Heenan would have to dress as Santa Claus for an episode of “Prime Time”. Piper was victorious, and Heenan was forced to dress as Claus the following week. Initially, Heenan seemed pleased with portraying Santa and even went so far as to imitate Claus and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. However, as the show progressed, Heenan’s true motives were revealed as he began to call Christmas “a sham”, and that the children of the world had been “scammed” by their parents. Piper snapped and attacked Heenan, ignoring pleas from Monsoon to stop the attack due to Piper’s agreement to abstain from physicality on the “Prime Time” set. Piper refused, and in turn, was fired from “Prime Time.” Piper also wrestled Bad News Brown at WrestleMania VI in 1990. The match ended with both men being counted out of the ring, but the real highlight of the match was Piper’s choice of ring attire. In true ‘Rowdy’ fashion, Piper cut a promo and came to the ring with half his body painted black in a strange attempt to play head games with Bad News.
In 1991, he supported Virgil in his feud against “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and was present at their matches at WrestleMania VII and SummerSlam. He also renewed his feud with Ric Flair and at the 1992 Royal Rumble defeated The Mountie for his first, and only, Intercontinental Championship. He lost it soon after to Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII. Following his title loss to Hart, Piper disappeared from the WWF. He made his return playing the bagpipes at SummerSlam. The return proved to be a cameo, as he disappeared from the WWF again, this time for nearly two years.
He reemerged in 1994 at WrestleMania X as guest referee for the WWF Championship match between Bret Hart and Yokozuna. During the match, commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler remarked that he hated Piper and continued to taunt Piper on his King’s Court segment on Monday Night Raw, eventually culminating with Lawler bringing out a skinny teenager in a Piper T-shirt and kilt and forcing him to kiss his feet. Enraged, Piper agreed to wrestle Lawler at the King of the Ring, where Piper emerged victorious. Piper wrestled as a fan favorite, saying he had “made a mess of most of his career as a heel”, and adding to the face attitude by donating part of his purse from the fight with Lawler to a children’s hospital in Ontario.
Leaving the WWF again, he soon returned in 1995 at WrestleMania XI, once again in a referee capacity, for the submission-only match between Hart and Bob Backlund. In 1996, Piper was named as interim WWF President, following Vader’s malicious assault on Gorilla Monsoon, following the Royal Rumble. As president, Piper had become the object of affection for Goldust. Enraged, Piper claimed he would “make a man” out of Goldust at WrestleMania XII, in a “Hollywood Backlot Brawl.” While the contest began in an alleyway behind the Arrowhead Pond, Goldust jumped into his gold Cadillac and ran Piper over, ultimately escaping (allegedly) onto the highways of Anaheim. Piper pursued in his white Ford Bronco, which when viewed from aerial footage looked similar to the O. J. Simpson “low-speed” chase from two years prior (the WWF had attempted to be humorous and recycle the footage with Vince McMahon quipping on commentary, “This footage looks awfully familiar”). The two eventually returned to the arena, where Piper disrobed Goldust in the ring, effectively ending the confrontation. With Gorilla Monsoon back in control of the WWF by the end of the night, Piper once again left the Federation.
World Championship Wrestling (1996–2000)
Later in 1996, Piper joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He appeared at Halloween Havoc to “break Hogan’s monotony.” In his first appearance, Piper asked Hogan, “Do you think [the fans] would’ve loved you so much, if they hadn’t hated me?” Piper and Hogan wrestled in a non-title match in the main event of Starrcade, WCW’s biggest pay-per-view event of the year. Piper defeated Hogan with a sleeper hold. Piper faced Hogan in a title match at SuperBrawl VII. This time, Hogan beat Piper when Randy Savage interfered and joined the New World Order (nWo). Promos showed Piper locking himself in the Alcatraz prison and vigorously exercising in order to prepare for the highly anticipated match. During the spring of 1997, Piper joined forces with Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen in their battle with the nWo. Shortly thereafter, Piper and Flair feuded before Piper disappeared from the scene. Piper briefly returned in October 1997 to face Hogan once again in a steel cage match, which Piper did win.
In early 1998, Piper once again returned to feud with Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Bret Hart. In early 1999, Piper had a short run as United States Champion, became WCW Commissioner, and resumed his feud with Flair over control of WCW. Piper also had a short feud with Buff Bagwell in the summer of 1999, where he was defeated by Bagwell, whose mother got involved. In late 1999, Piper was featured on WCW Television, in an angle with Vince Russo, who was now portraying himself as the “Powers That Be” (an unseen power that was controlling WCW). At Starrcade, Piper was the special referee in the WCW title match featuring Goldberg and Bret Hart. This match was otherwise notorious for Goldberg legitimately injuring Bret Hart, giving him the concussion that would eventually lead to his retirement. Forced by Russo, Piper called for the bell when Hart locked in the Sharpshooter on Goldberg, when it was apparent that Goldberg had not submitted. Piper apologized for this incident the next night on Nitro and attempted to make the save for Goldberg when Bret Hart and the nWo beat him down, but the nWo also attacked Piper. The feud between Piper and the Powers That Be ended shortly after and Piper disappeared. Piper’s last appearance in WCW was at SuperBrawl in February 2000 where he was a surprise referee in the title match between Sid Vicious, Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall. In the fall of 2000, WCW terminated Piper’s contract, and the organization ceased to exist after being sold to WWF in March 2001.
Before going to the WWE in 2003 Piper was the figurehead and commissioner of the now defunct XWF promotion featured in its earliest live events. (Indiana, Milwaukee, Green Bay)
World Wrestling Entertainment (2003)
In November 2002, Piper’s autobiography, In the Pit with Piper: Roddy Gets Rowdy, was released. At WrestleMania XIX in Seattle, Washington, Piper ran in during the Hulk Hogan-Vince McMahon match and made his second WWE run as a villain by attacking Hogan with a steel pipe. He brought back Piper’s Pit on the April 10 episode of SmackDown!, and after aligning with Sean O’Haire, Piper smashed a coconut over the head of Rikishi, a relative of Snuka. At Backlash that month, Rikishi returned the favor to Piper. Piper was then put in a program against “Mr. America”. The storyline was Hulk Hogan had been bought off WWF television forever by McMahon. Hulk Hogan returned “incognito” although the joke was that everybody knew who he really was, which infuriated McMahon. At this point, Piper and O’Haire were portrayed as McMahon’s lackeys attempting to unmask Mr. America. Despite Piper being a heel he still got cheered due to being a legend.
Around the same time on Raw, Chris Jericho started The Highlight Reel—a show similar to ‘Piper’s Pit’. The two even verbally sparred on TV, with Jericho calling Piper fat and telling him to call him “when he lost some weight”; Piper’s retorted, “I have seen Chris Jericho wrestle. I have heard Chris Jericho talk. I have even heard Chris Jericho sing. So I’ll make you a deal: I promise you that when I lose some weight, I’ll call you. And when you get some talent, you call me.” At Judgment Day, the two met again, with Jericho telling Piper he made a wrong turn and missed the senior’s home and alluding to the incident where Piper ripped off a fan’s (later revealed to be Zach Gowen) leg and used it as a weapon, mentioning there were some midgets and lepers he could thrash, and while patting Piper’s stomach, asked if he ate the leg. Piper responded by blasting him for ripping off the Piper’s Pit idea and drilling it into the ground and called Jericho’s birth an “accident”. In June 2003, WWE decided to stop using Piper (who was working without a contract at the time) after a controversial interview with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in which Piper discussed the darker side of the wrestling business. On his 2006 DVD, Piper claimed that HBO took parts of his interviews out of context to make wrestling look worse.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2005)
In 2003, Piper appeared for the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion, hosting several In the Pit with Piper interview segments. He interviewed former rival Jimmy Snuka at the company’s first three-hour pay-per-view, Victory Road, where he dared Snuka to get revenge by hitting him with a coconut. Instead, TNA wrestler Kid Kash eventually used the coconut on Sonjay Dutt. Piper also served as a member of the National Wrestling Alliance Championship Committee, culminating in refereeing a match at Final Resolution between Scott Hall and Jeff Hardy.
The Vince Russo/TNA Controversy
One of Piper’s more controversial TNA moments came during one of its weekly pay-per-view shows. Vince Russo at the time was at the center of a massive power struggle (kayfabe) between the TNA roster and Russo’s stable of young wrestlers called Sports Entertainment Xtreme. Piper had requested a segment to plug his new book, but instead, used the time to basically shoot on Russo and his effect on the world of professional wrestling. Piper touched on subjects from the death of Owen Hart, for which Piper held Russo to blame, to the downfall of WCW amongst other touchy subjects. Russo came to the ring basically “in character” to confront Piper. But, when Piper got in Russo’s face, Russo made the comment that Piper was “a moron”. Piper not only took offense to the remark, but delivered a “potato shot” to the side of Russo’s head. Russo immediately realized that Piper’s heat with him was legitimate, and quickly backed off unsure of what Piper might do next. When The Harris Brothers hit the ring to try and cool the situation down, Russo became visibly upset as Piper continued to vehemently shoot on him. Russo got so upset that at one point in time it took both the Harrises to restrain him. Piper later said in a shoot interview that everything he had to say to Russo was real and that he was willing to get physical if Russo had taken it that far.Russo retaliated later by saying that he and Owen were very close and that Piper wasn’t even with the company the night Owen died so he had no way of knowing how upset he was with Owen’s death.
Return to World Wrestling Entertainment (2005–present)
Hall of Fame (2005)
On February 21, 2005, it was announced that Piper was to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Piper held an episode of Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania 21 where he interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin. The interview was interrupted by Carlito, who was promptly beaten up by both Piper and Austin.
In February 2005 at an event called WrestleReunion, Piper teamed with Jimmy Valiant and Snuka against Colonel DeBeers, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and “Playboy” Buddy Rose.
On the July 11, 2005 episode of Raw, Piper returned as a face to host Piper’s Pit with guest Shawn Michaels, who superkicked Piper at the end of the show. This was during Michaels’ feud with Hulk Hogan. Piper once again appeared on Raw on October 3, 2005 for Raw Homecoming. He hosted Piper’s Pit with guest Mick Foley; later in the segment, Randy Orton and “Cowboy” Bob Orton appeared and attacked both Foley and Piper.
SmackDown!; Feud with The Ortons (2005)
This event sparked a mini-feud between Piper and The Ortons. On the next SmackDown! after Homecoming, Piper took on the Ortons in a handicap match. Piper won with a roll-up on Bob Orton after a distraction by The Undertaker. On October 28, Piper teamed with Batista and Eddie Guerrero to take on Randy Orton, Bob Orton, and Mr. Kennedy. Piper won after applying the sleeper hold to Bob Orton. Piper’s feud with The Ortons came to an end on the November 4, 2005 episode of SmackDown! with a DQ victory over Bob Orton.
World Tag Team Champion (2006)
Piper returned to Raw on September 11, 2006 for a six-man tag team match win with The Highlanders against the Spirit Squad. He also appeared on the Raw Family Reunion, along with Money Inc. and Arn Anderson to accompany Ric Flair ringside for a match against Mitch of the Spirit Squad. On November 5, Piper won the World Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair from The Spirit Squad at Cyber Sunday, after being chosen to be Flair’s partner by voters at WWE.com over Sgt. Slaughter and Dusty Rhodes. On the November 13, 2006 episode of Raw, Piper and Flair lost the title to Rated-RKO. Piper never made it to the ring, as he was attacked by Edge with a con-chair-to before the match. On November 17, 2006, WWE announced on their website that Piper was flown from the UK to his home state of Oregon and had surgery for what was originally believed to be kidney stones, but was speculated to be a disc problem in his back. It was later determined to be cancer. As a result of the procedure, it was announced that he was withdrawing from the Survivor Series match which would have pitted himself (as a co-captain), along with Flair, Anderson, Sgt. Slaughter, and Dusty Rhodes against the Spirit Squad. He was replaced with Ron Simmons.
Various storylines (2007–present)
He made a return to Raw on an episode taped February 12, 2007, during which he announced that his friend Dusty Rhodes was to be the first person inducted into the 2007 class of the WWE Hall of Fame. During appearance Umaga, with manager Armando Alejandro Estrada, entered the ring and laid out both men. He then returned on the June 11, 2007 episode of Raw as part of “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night”, where he introduced a video of some of McMahon’s most embarrassing moments.
In 2008, after finishing his therapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he made a brief appearance in the Royal Rumble, primarily focusing on “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. Both men were eliminated by Kane shortly after they entered the ring. Piper returned to Raw on April 28, 2008. He was a backstage visitor, and was confronted by Santino Marella. Marella poked fun at Piper’s weight, which resulted in Santino getting slapped by Piper. The next week, Piper was a guest on Carlito’s Cabana and Carlito and Santino were about to double team Piper when they were chased off by Cody Rhodes and Cryme Tyme. On May 12, Piper’s interference stopped Santino and Carlito from beating Rhodes and Hardcore Holly for the World Tag Team Championship. Santino then threatened Piper with retaliation, culminating in a confrontation with Piper during the May 16 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He wrestled his presumed last match on April 18, 2008 one day after his 54th birthday at Newburgh Free Academy’s Spring Slam. On October 26, 2008, however, Piper appeared on WWE’s Cyber Sunday as one of the three choices fans could choose to face Marella for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. The other choices were Goldust and The Honky Tonk Man. Honky Tonk Man was chosen and won via a disqualification due to interference by Beth Phoenix and therefore did not win the title. Goldust then entered the ring, followed by Piper. The three candidates then fought Santino, afterwards celebrating together in the ring. Piper appeared on the October 27 episode of Raw as a special guest commentator, along with both Goldust and Honky Tonk Man, for Marella’s match against Charlie Haas.
On February 16, 2009 Piper returned to Raw to confront Chris Jericho after Jericho continued to act disrespectfully towards the Hall of Famers. After the segment, Jericho attacked Piper. One month later, on the March 16 episode of Raw, Piper would get his revenge when he, along with Ric Flair, Jimmy Snuka, and Ricky Steamboat, attacked Jericho. For the first time since Wrestlemania XII in 1996, Piper wrestled at WrestleMania XXV along with Snuka and Steamboat with Flair in their corner to go against Jericho in a three on one handicap match. Jericho won the match; Piper was the second of the three to be eliminated. Piper later guest hosted WWE Raw on November 16, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Piper challenged Vince McMahon to a street fight later in the evening only to have Randy Orton come out to fight against, then shortly after Kofi Kingston came out to stop Randy’s assault on Piper.
He inducted Wendy Richter to the 2010 WWE Hall of Fame on March 27, 2010. He also appeared the next night on Raw as one of the Legend Lumberjacks in a match that involved Christian and Ted Dibiase. Two months later, Piper turned heel for one night only by hiring DiBiase to capture guest host Quinton Jackson so he could “gain revenge on BA”, but was unsuccessful. On the July 12, 2010 episode of Raw, it was hinted that Piper could possibly be the Anonymous General Manager as on an e-mail sent to Michael Cole, the GM said “Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions.” The idea was abandoned on the July 24 episode of Raw when Cole said ” And if you’re not down with that I got two words for you” which was Triple H and Shawn Michaels trademark line as D-Generation X, but again this idea was dropped. On the November 15, 2010 episode of Raw, Piper quickly turned face during a return of Piper’s Pit telling John Cena to do the right thing by calling the WWE Championship match at Survivor Series between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton down the middle. He went on to point out that legends such as Ricky Steamboat, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, Jimmy Snuka, and himself had never won a World Championship in WWE.
On January 29, 2011, Piper made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) during the WrestleReunion 5 weekend, defeating nineteen other men, last eliminating Terry Funk, to win the Legends Battle Royal. He appeared in a backstage segment at WrestleMania XXVII where he hit Zack Ryder in the back of the head with a coconut, reminiscing of what he did to Jimmy Snuka. Piper made an appearance on the June 13, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw, hosting Piper’s Pit once again. His guests were The Miz and Alex Riley, which led to a match with The Miz with Riley as the special guest referee. He went on to win the match, and won $5,000 out of The Miz’s money per the pre-match stipulation. Roddy Piper noted that he was paid $5,000 for his appearance on the June 13th RAW for Piper’s Pit with The Miz and Alex Riley. Piper currently co-host the WWE Vintage show with Gene Okerlund. He recently made a television appearance in WWE and hosted a Piper’s Pit segment featuring John Cena on the November 28, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw. He also appeared on November 29, 2011 special holiday edition of SmackDown.
Piper returned on the April 10, 2012 special edition of Smackdown: Blast from the Past, in which he hosted Piper’s Pit featuring Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee. Piper made an appearance on June 18, 2012 he made a segment with Cyndi Lauper and Heath Slater. He then reappeared on the 1,000 episode of Raw on July 23, 2012, where he and various other WWE Legends helped Lita take down Heath Slater. On the August 13 episode of Raw, Piper hosted another edition of Piper’s Pit with Chris Jericho, which was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler.
On the January 6, 2014 Old School Raw Piper hosted Piper’s Pit with The Shield as his guests and was about to get beat down when he was saved by CM Punk and the New Age Outlaws. Piper and Paul Orndorff appeared in a backstage segment, and shook hands with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T during WrestleMania XXX, making amends around 30 years after competing at the very first WrestleMania.
Portland Wrestling Uncut (2012–present)
In 2012, Piper, along with Don Coss, created Portland Wrestling Uncut, a revival of the original Portland Wrestling, with new and old wrestlers combined. The show, which airs on KPDX Television Channel 49 and online at KPTV FOX 12 Oregon’s website, was originally slated for 13 episodes. On January 26, 2013, Piper announced that Portland Wrestling Uncut had been picked up for another 52 weeks. Playing prominently in the show is Piper and Coss as announcers, The Grappler (Len Denton) as a manager, guest appearances by the like of Matt Borne (among others), rewind segments that show partial matches from the original Portland Wrestling (owned by Don and Barry Owen), and Piper’s son, Colt Toombs.
Piper featured in the wrestling documentary Bloodstained Memoirs. Piper was a guest on a 1985 Saturday Night Live episode, tormenting hosts Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and has appeared as a special guest on MADtv along with Bret Hart. In 1991, the pilot episode for “Tag Team”, a television program about two ex-professional wrestlers turned police officers, starred Piper and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Piper appeared as a wrestler loosely based on himself in an episode called “Crusader” from Walker, Texas Ranger where his name was Cody “The Crusader” Conway. Piper appeared as a prison antagonist in an episode of The Outer Limits TV series. Piper was the host of ITV’s Celebrity Wrestling in the UK. Piper appeared as a character named Commander Cash on RoboCop: The Series. Piper appeared as a choice in the “Wheel of Destiny” segment of The Man Show. Piper also starred in the 1988 John Carpenter film, They Live. Piper played a drifter turned saviour of the human race after discovering a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world’s elite for what they truly are, money hungry aliens with a new-world-order-like agenda. That same year, he starred in the film Hell Comes to Frogtown. He also guest-starred in an episode in the second season of the Highlander TV series.
In the 1980s, Piper also appeared in singer Cyndi Lauper’s music video for the song “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.” He also appeared as a guest VJ on MTV in 1988.
In the early 1990s, Roddy Piper made guest-star appearances on two episodes of “The New Zorro” on the Family Channel. In 1992, he also released a UK only single and music video for his song, “I’m Your Man”. The single came with the B-side, “Judy Come Back”.
In April 2005, Piper co-presented Celebrity Wrestling in the United Kingdom on ITV1. This Saturday evening reality show saw celebrities learn wrestling and compete in challenge matches. After a few weeks the program was to be canceled, due to a huge drop in TV ratings but instead was moved to Sunday mornings to finish its final episodes.
In 2007, Piper became the second pro-wrestler, the other being Sgt. Slaughter, to have their likeness crafted in a G.I. Joe figure. According to his filecard, he is a trainer for Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.
He appeared as Mr. Thurgood in the low-budget film The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens in 2008 and its sequel Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes in 2010.
Wizard’s list of the 100 Greatest Villains of All Time ranked Roddy Piper as #35.
On October 29, 2009, Piper appeared as pro-wrestler named “Da’ Maniac” on season 5 episode 7 (“The Gang Wrestles for the Troops”) of the sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, parodying Mickey Rourke’s role in The Wrestler. He reprised this role in Season 9 Episode 4.
In UGK’S “International Players Anthem” DJ Paul pokes fun at Andre 3000 asking him why is he dressed as Roddy Piper.
On March 14, 2010, Piper appeared in “One Fall”, an episode in CBS’s Cold Case, playing a wrestler named Sweet Sil.
In September 2010, Piper appeared in a FunnyorDie.com video, fighting against childhood obesity in a PSA parody. The clip included him using wrestling moves on children eating junk food and the parents who feed junk food to their kids.
In 2010 Piper was expected to appear in a reality series from Red Line Films, the producers of Dhani Tackles the Globe and Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch.
In December 2011, Piper appeared in several segments of the Air Farce’s “Not the New Year’s Eve Special”, which aired on January 1, 2012, on the CBC Television Network in Canada.
It has been confirmed that Piper will appear on WWE Network’s WWE Legends’ House which is currently in production.
In 2012, Piper joined the ToadhopNetwork hosting a weekly Thursday night podcast, “Rod Pod”. The show later moved to the GoCastNetwork.
In 2012, Piper appeared on a Season 4 episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, in which he conveyed a story of being visited by the ghost of Adrian Adonis.
In October 2012, Piper announced on his Twitter page that he was working as part of an upcoming wrestling game on Facebook called Warlordz of Wrestling.
In May 2013, Piper appeared in “Barry’s Angels”, episode 12 of the fourth season of the A&E reality show, Storage Wars, in which he valuated a set of Scottish kilts purchased by Barry Weiss.
In June 2013, Piper appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, where he swapped wives with Ric Flair.
In July 2013, Piper appeared in a segment of The Haunting Of with medium Kim Russo.
In August 2013, Piper appeared in as himself in the video game Saints Row IV and there is an unlockable Roddy Piper outfit the Protagonist can wear called “Rowdy Roddy Piper Suit“.
Piper plays himself as the protagonist in the 2013 film Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies.
Piper is considered one of the greatest talkers and heels in wrestling history. Piper’s Pit interview segments were considered innovative, especially in an atmosphere where only the people like the World champion got to talk, and the wrestlers were the interviewees – never the interviewers. Many of the people on Piper’s Pit never got to be World champion, but were main eventers. According to Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, he could just leave Piper in a room and return twenty minutes later with Piper having done a class-A promo.
Piper and his wife Kitty live on a mountain in Portland, Oregon, and have four children: daughters Anastacia Shea, Ariel Teal, and Falon Danika and son Colton Baird. Anastacia has a child, making Piper a grandfather. His son Colt Toombs is also an aspiring professional mixed martial arts fighter and also wrestles in Portland, Oregon, for Portland Wrestling Uncut. His daughter Ariel Teal Toombs is following her dad’s lead in Hollywood as an actress. Piper and his daughter Ariel acted together in the movie “Legion: The Final Exorcism (aka Costa Chica: Confession of an Exorcist). Piper was notable for wearing his wedding band during his matches, a rarity among professional wrestlers. On April 4, 2006 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Piper was issued an award by the Mayor, Sam Katz. On July 27, 2006, he had the honor of throwing out the first pitch of a St. Louis Cardinals/Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
On November 27, 2006, it was announced on WWE.com that Piper has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he finished radiation therapy on January 15, 2007. This was also confirmed on Piper’s official web site where he posted messages of thanks to all his fans and stated that had the fans not chosen him as Ric Flair’s partner at Cyber Sunday he would not have been taken to the hospital and diagnosed as having his disease in time.
In November 2008 a video spread around the internet showing Piper smoking pot and taking a hit from a bong in front of a crowd cheering him on, although he later acknowledged his use of medicinal marijuana “to alleviate the symptoms associated with cancer.” This was reiterated on a blog from Jim Ross.
On July 2, 2009 Piper was arrested on suspicion of DUI in the early morning hours in Hollywood, California. Piper was stopped by police at around 1:00 a.m. and given field sobriety tests. He was then arrested. His bond was set at $5,000.