(Nicholas Dye, Staff Writer)
As a kid growing up watching the superheroes-come-to-life in the WWF, of course I would go nuts every time I heard Hogan’s music hit or the Ultimate Warrior’s crazed run to the ring. I still get goosebumps overtime Macho Man’s music hits or the Legion of Doom march to the ring. The thing that really fired me up wasn’t “hulking up” or watching Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts deliver the greatest short arm clothesline in the business, it was the complete hatred I had for simply the greatest “heel” in the business, Rowdy Roddy Piper. Every time those bagpipes would hit and I would hear the man from Glasgow, Scotland introduced, I just wanted someone to shut him up. I wanted to see him get beat by “The Hulkster” or choked out by Andre The Giant. I remember having conversations with other kids about how fake wrestling was. I would get pissed and finally concede that it was, at least, a little fake but Hot Rod was 100% real. He was the silver tongued devil of the WWF the first TRUE super villain. I would relish turning on Saturday Night’s Main Event just to see him get knocked around even if it rarely happened. Then one day, in the middle of one of his promos, I remember a switch was flipped. He hadn’t become a “good guy” (or “babyface” as they call it in the industry), he simply came out, talked trash, and backed it all up. He was a dirty fighter and a loud mouth braggart and I suddenly found myself connecting with this kilt-wearing lunatic. Maybe it was because he reminded me, in my own warped way, of another of my heroes, Muhammad Ali. Like Ali, Piper would goad you into a fight, get you off your game, and smack the crap out of you. As I grew older, I cheered wildly for Piper in his 1992 win over the Mountie for the Intercontinental Title and I never wondered why he didn’t go for the big title. I knew he never had to. He didn’t need to be world champ to be the most dynamic wrestler in the business. You always knew that once that sleeper hold was on, you were in trouble. Rowdy was never apologetic for anything he had done and seemed as fired up at the boos as Hogan ever did at the cheers. The main difference? Piper never needed to be in that spotlight, he created his own. In his lifetime, he has been loved and hated, feared and respected, kicked some ass and had his kicked a VERY few times along the way. He is a Hall of Fame inductee, he was the greatest villain ever and my favorite wrestler. He was always quick to shake hands with fans, shared wisdom and supported the new blood coming up, was a loving father and husband and a consummate ambassador for wrestling during it’s highs and lows. One of his last blessing was giving his name to Rhonda Rousey and I guarantee, he couldn’t have picked a better fighter to bestow the title of “Rowdy” on. I will miss you for all of those reasons Rowdy Roddy Piper and I can’t thank you enough for the amazing and damn too short ride. RIP Roderick George “Rowdy” Toombs. The greatest.