Professional Wrestling World Mourns Longtime Star 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, a premier wrestler in the now-WWE during the 1980s and 1990s who fought Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the main event at the first WrestleMania in 1985, has died, the company reports. He was 61.
"Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world," said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. "I extend my deepest condolences to his family."
Born Roderick Toombs, Piper joined the company after years in smaller circuits and quickly developed a reputation as trash-talking "heel," reports the Associated Press:
"Piper became a household name because of his rivalry with Hogan, and the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper and her friend Captain Lou Albano, also a wrestler. The feud led to an MTV special "The War to Settle the Score" in 1985. Piper was cast as the villain, and his disqualification led to Hogan claiming the WWF championship. A brawl at the end of that fight led to the first WrestleMania."
Despite being born in Canada, he usually appeared in a kilt, and often played the bagpipes.
He went on to star in John Carpenter horror film They Live, the AP notes, in which he delivered the classic line "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass — and I'm all out of bubblegum."
Wrestlers and others posted their memories of Piper on Twitter on Friday.
There was no better natural, TV wrestling villain than the late @R_Roddy_Piper. He was #elite. #RIPRoddyPiper— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) August 1, 2015
RIP legend. I first met this wrestling icon when I was 12yrs old when he was wrestling my pops the WWE. For weeks and weeks after that meeting I would have my mom set up a video camera in the kitchen as I would "become" Hot Rod and mimmic and emulate his every word, style, swag, heat, cool cockiness and all delivered with his classic smile (and my awful 12yr old afro).He was a huge influence on me as a kid and an even bigger one when I became The Rock in the WWE. Thank you Roddy for all the talks, all the stories (especially the crazy ones about my grandfather and grandmother😂) all the advice and most importantly.. all the memories of you entertaining us fans. You're missed my friend. Heaven just got a lil' rowdier... Rest in love ~ DJ #JustWhenTheyThinkTheyHaveAllTheAnswers #HotRodChangesTheQuestions
Sad to hear about Roddy Piper.He once worked 91 nights w/out a day off.WWE wouldn't be what it is today w/out him.Wonderful athlete & friend— Jesse Ventura (@GovJVentura) July 31, 2015
I'm devastated by the passing of my friend Roddy Piper. Great wrestler, underrated actor, dear friend. Rest in peace, Rod.— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) July 31, 2015
I STAND BEHIND THE RODDY PIPER WHEN WE BOTH MAKE IT TO HALL OF FAME. FOREVER HE MY BROTHER. pic.twitter.com/Q8S8OtR6XT— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) July 31, 2015