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RIP Roddy Piper: your favorite matches & moments - part 3 of 3, amazing video list

Roddy Piper

By Josh Nason, Wrestling Observer

It’s never easy to say goodbye especially when it comes to a legend like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper who we learned had left for the big ring nearly two weeks ago.

As I did with Dusty Rhodes in June, I asked for your favorite Piper matches and moments to compile them in one place. This final part features an amazing list of YouTube matches and promos in addition to a smorgasbord of your other favorite matches. This is a great companion to the other two parts of this series which you can find here and here.

Cue the bagpipes!

The Build & Execution of Wrestlemania I

Jon Southerland

Just wanted to share my thought's on my personal favorite match of the greatest of all time, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. I've been a wrestling fan for about 35 years since I was 10 years old. Piper had been my absolute favorite of all time from the very first time I saw him on WWF television in the early 80s. Piper was just as much the reason for the mainstream success and national expansion of the then WWF into mainstream pop culture of the time. Just as much as Vince and Hogan were with getting the credit of taking the company and getting it noticed on a national basis, Piper was just as responsible for this success as well.

Every hero needs a great villain, and Hogan had the best villain he could ever hope to get in Roddy Piper. My personal favorite match was the main event of the first WrestleMania and the hot build to that match and everything that it entailed. The success of the main event, the success of WrestleMania, would not have been as big as it was if not for the involvement of Roddy Piper. That main event tag match in MSG with Hogan and Mr T battling Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff was absolute magic, and every main stream outlet and celebrity was involved.

The build for that main event started a little earlier during the MTV Rock N Wrestling connection feud between Wendi Richter, Cyndi Lauper, Fabulous Moolah, and Lou Albano. The Piper's Pit segments were directly responsible for the build up of that match when then later concluded with the main event of WrestleMania. Piper carried that main event tag match on his back. Mr T was not trained to wrestle, Hogan is not very good at carrying a match. So that left the workload primarily on Roddy Piper to sell the match and Paul Orndorff as the workhouse powerhouse and of course with the "Ace" Cowboy Bob Orton in their corner as well.

The build to the match was amazing, with all the vignettes with Piper as the absolute antagonist going after Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, Mr T, and even smashing one of Cyndi Lauper's gold records over the head of Lou Albano in the middle of the ring in all of the build up to the match. Everyone had an easy job. Just let Piper do his thing and follow his lead. Everything he did was so groundbreaking for it's time. He sold that entire match and everyone from all walks of life in the entertainment world was watching.

It was the transition of pro wrestling to sports entertainment in its formative years, but nobody really coined that term as of yet; an amazing tag team match that even included Muhammed Ali as the special ref, Billy Martin as the ring announcer, and Liberace as the the timekeeper. Piper was the main who built and sold everything for that main event match. From his appearances on Wrestling TNT at the time, his Piper’s Pit segments, and the trio of Piper and his henchmen of Orton and Orndorff was such an amazing pairing of the three, it just did not get any better than that.

Piper made you believe in everything he did, he was the best promo man ever, The best villain ever, and later became the best legend ever. The man was such a trailblazer in every sense of the world. Getting wrestling noticed by the mainstream media, being one of the first pro wrestling superstars to star in a major motion picture in "They Live". And his groundbreaking Piper’s Pit segments that were used to sell himself, sell his matches, and sell the main event of WrestleMania. Everything was so groundbreaking for it's time, including being a major part of the success of Saturday Night's Main Event, which was the return of pro wrestling to NBC and network TV in decades.

This guy did so much his entire career and so many moments, it's just impossible to even write a 3rd of what this guy did over his amazing career. But he deserves just as much credit as Hogan and Vince for the success of the expansion era of the WWF in the 80s and it would not have been the same if not for Roddy Piper. Heaven just got a little more Rowdy today, and this is the guy that people will always remember, especially for those of us who grew up with Piper and his matches and his larger than life personality in the 80s, 90s, 2000s, etc.

Just when you thought you had all the answers, Piper changed the questions! Sad day in the wrestling world but I'm sure Piper would be thrilled to know all of the attention this received, and he was the guy that is etched in stone in everyone's memory. There is a Mt Rushmore for great pro wrestlers, and then there is the man who stands above that mountain in Roddy Piper. God Bless the Hot Rod, may he rest in peace.

Roddy Piper vs. Ted DiBiase 

Piper vs. Ted DiBiase - WWF L.A. Sports Arena house show match - 1989
Robb Block

I went with my dad and cousin to the Los Angeles Sports Arena for a house show.  The big semi main event advertised match was Ted DiBiase vs. Jake Roberts.  At the beginning of the show the ring announcer said that Jake would be not be there.  The crowd was groaning and all three of us were upset with this news as usually the replacement was a lesser star.  To our shock, the announcer said and taking Jake's place would be none other than Rowdy Roddy Piper.

We went out of our minds as did the whole arena especially since Piper had not been wrestling and his only appearance I believe had been at Mania doing the Piper's Pit segment and he had been making movies since he left after WrestleMania III.  

We were all happy and that may have been of the best Piper matches I actually ever saw as far as doing wrestling moves.  Piper was always entertaining, but a lot of his matches didn't consist of a lot of actual wrestling.  I remember he and DiBiase put on quite a match with Piper doing suplexes and crossbodies and things you didn't see from him too often.  Piper was one of if not my favorite wrestler/performer of all time and I had the chance to meet him several times in person and he was one of the most friendly guys I have ever met.  He was sincere and really liked talking to all of his fans.

There have been many sad deaths in wrestling, but this is one of the most hard hitting to me personally.  I will never forget the Hot Rod.

Piper vs. Paul Orndorff cage match - WWF L.A. Sports Arena house show - 1985
Dan Alegria

My first show was on November 16, 1985 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I was 5.

My dad and older cousin had tickets and were about to head out the door when I found out where they were going. I was crushed. There wasn't much they could do, the show was sold out. Then my dad came up with the idea of having me scrunch up and carrying me into the arena like I was a sleeping toddler. It worked, I spent the show sitting on my dad's lap.

I don't remember 99% of the show. Kind of like my memories of the circus at that age. I don't remember elephants, but I remember eating a snow cone and the flashing wand my parents bought me. But I do remember the main event was "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs Rowdy Roddy Piper in the old school blue steel cage.

My only recollection of the match was Piper climbing the cage to escape and Orndorff grabbing his tights exposing his butt. At that exact moment, a flood of camera flashbulbs lit up the Sports Arena. It's something I can close my eyes and picture to this day.

I didn't go to another live show for another seven years, and didn't see Piper in person again until Wrestlemania 12 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. It was the backlot brawl with Goldust, with the first half of the match airing on the big screen before coming back later in the show to wrestle in the ring. It wasn't a technical masterpiece and I spent years trying to forget what Goldust wore under his suit.

But the applause and send off Piper got after the match is something that stayed with me. A prolonged ovation, almost a thank you / farewell to the Hot Rod and I felt honored to be in the crowd to see it. It turned out the fans were right in the farewell since Piper didn't step into a WWF/WWE ring again until the Hogan vs McMahon match at Wrestlemania 19.

Roddy Piper vs. Paul Orndorff 

Piper vs. Paul Orndorff - WWF house show in Jacksonville, FL - 1986
David Kaplan

My favorite Piper match appears ordinary. During a time, many WWF wrestlers didn't work hard at house shows, Piper worked as if this match was the most important of his career. He brawled all over the arena with super intensity, whipping Orndorff with his belt, took a few leaps off the top rope; he gave it 100%.

And, this match wasn't even the main event! I'd seen wild brawls before as a dedicated fan of Championship Wrestling from Florida. Still, the work was believable, exciting and creative. Roddy's work stood out as superior. I was as entertained as much as a pro wrestling fan could be. Thank you Roddy.

Piper chats with Art Barr in Portland
Eric Walker

This may be the most obscure one, but it is literally a “This is the genius of Roddy Piper” in one segment.

In 1989, Roddy Piper made a few appearances for Don Owens “Portland Wrestling”, where he had worked from the late 70’s until 1981 when he went to Jim Crockett Promotions. During an episode of Portland Wrestling, The Grappler and Carl Styles came out to bully a very young Art Barr until Piper made the save. Later in the show, Art Barr comes out and does the babyface promo promising to watch Piper’s back and everything.

Roddy comes out and tells Art Barr we have to “get some aggression” out of you. With the assistance of CW Bergstrom and Bryan Adams (I believe), they bring out a sheet and have Barr remove all his wrestling gear, and Piper was rolling with comedic but innocent little digs on Barr.  Piper then gives him his new outfit, adds a little makeup and mousse to his hair and some baby powder. In under 5 minutes, Piper transforms Art Barr into “Beetlejuice” and thus “lights a fire under his butt” as Piper put it. This promo is literally Piper at his best, and he elevated Barr within 5 minutes and the Portland Sports Arena crowd ate it up.

Piper’s Pit: Hogan vs. Andre - 1987
Tom Judd

Piper and Jesse verbally sparring to set up Hogan vs. Andre.

Piper vs. Mr. T - WWF Wrestlemania II
Jason ‘Doc’ Young

My favorite Roddy moment is WM 2, when he boxed Mr. T. It looked like a shoot to me, but after a little bit, Piper said "F*ck it". BOOM! He picks T up and bodyslams him for a DQ and they keep scrapping after the bell. Ahhh, memories. RIP, Roddy.

Piper in Baltimore
Daniel in Baltimore

My favorite memories of Piper were a collection of his matches at The Baltimore Civic Center (Baltimore Arena) in the late 1980s. I used to go every time with my friend, and the crowd was always hot to boo Piper, people would walk around during intermission or beforehand with a large sign praising Piper and boy beer cups and popcorn flew at the direction of Piper fans walking around praising their hero. He was my hero too.

But I loved his feud with Paul Orndorff, it lasted for I think 3 house shows in Baltimore, each more violent than the last. He had a way to rile the crowd up. He was not the best technician in the ring, but he could hold his own against anyone, but he was one of the best all around performers or entertainers. When he came to town, especially in a main event feud, you knew you were getting your money’s worth or more. He will sorely be missed, it is an end of an era.

Piper vs. Jose Estrada, August 1979
Name withheld

I always think back to August 1979.  He took on jobber Jose Estrada and went to a 10:00 draw on WWE All Star Wrestling.  He tried to play the bagpipes and was attacked from behind by Estrada.  The next show, WWE Superstars, about five hours later, TV time,  he was wrestling another jobber Steve King.  Piper was getting booed vociferously trying to play the bagpipes and then attacked King and went total heel.  It worked out for him as he was able to pin King. That was all we saw of Roddy until the Hulk Hogan days.

Piper vs. Bad News Brown, Wrestlemania 6
Jeff Krausser

I loved the lead up to the match, which may have not been the greatest but Piper painting himself half black was great. It was one of my earliest memories of Roddy and still holds up and cracks me up to this day. WWE should teach a Piper Promo class at the Performance Center.

Piper vs. Don Muraco: WWF King Of The Ring 1986
Andy MacConney

I was deeply saddened when I heard about one of my all time faves Rowdy Roddy Piper. Much as I loved the Wrestlemania 3 match against Adonis and his I-C title win against the Mountie, my favorite was the 1986 King of the Ring in Foxboro against Don Muraco.

The match itself ended in a double-countout, but the beginning of it was what made it memorable.  And it was nothing Roddy did or said.  His slow stroll to his music had everyone in the park mezmorized.  And the roar from the crowd, low at first and built throughout, was definitely memorable.  This was also his first match back after Mania 2(I think).

While the WWE Universe may have a tough time viewing, this it was definitely memorable.  They Live is also one of my favorite movies.  Hope Rowdy Ronda Rousey keeps the Rowdy name going for many years.

Roddy Piper
 

Best Of The Rest

Ivan Adams

My favorite match was the Greg Valentine Dog Collar match at Starrcade 1983, while my favorite moment was when he saved Gordon Solie from a Don Muraco attack on Georgia Championship Wrestling in the early 1980s. What a great Roddy face turn.

Steve Gennarelli

Piper's match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania reminded people how Roddy was an underrated talent in the ring and his ability to work a match and to control a crowd was second to none. There's also a hellacious cage match from the Spectrum where he and Orton have a old fashioned bloodbath with Bruno and Orndorff that is worth searching for.

But I have many favorite memories of Piper that were away from an actual wrestling match. Him slapping Lord Alfred Hayes on "TNT" was pretty shocking back then. He & Blassie chewing scenery in "The Goonies" video with Cyndi Lauper.  The CBS Saturday Morning preview hosted by Piper. He did great interviews with Eddie Andleman in Boston and another great interview on the old FNN/Score network. Too many Piper memories to narrow them down. Thanks for the Memories RP Squared and a box of fluffy ducks to you.

Craig Dempster

I actually have two Piper matches that stand out to me, both happening within a couple of months of each other. The first is Piper vs The Mountie from Royal Rumble 92, the second is Piper vs Bret Hart from WrestleMania VIII.

These matches have stuck with me through the years as this was the time that I was first introduced to pro wrestling in any capacity (I'm from England but I have no memory of World of Sport). The match at the Rumble wasn't great by any stretch, but I'll always remember the way that Piper celebrated his victory, he was so happy and made it look like this was the greatest moment of his career.

The match with Bret speaks for itself. It was the first time I'd seen blood in a match on that sort of level and the story those guys told that night may have stole the show. More than anything, I remember my personal encounters with Piper at various conventions over the years, whether it be WWE Axxess or independent conventions. His line was always packed and slow moving, but the reason for this was that he was very personable with everyone that he met. He was a really nice guy, no attitude, no ego, none of that nonsense. He will be sorely missed.

Adam Ginsberg

I was exactly 2 years old when the infamous Piper’s Pit coconut incident took place in 1984. I remember it vividly, watching with my father. Jimmy Snuka staggering around knocking the set of the pit down in the process after being humiliated by the Hot Rod. Yes, that was in fact the moment I was hooked. From that point on, I set forth on a dream to become a pro wrestler, a dream I achieved. I encourage anyone reading that if you can dream it, you can achieve it.

There isn’t one particular match or promo I can say is my favorite. In my opinion, Piper’s best work is from his days here in Southern California for Mike Labell, and Don Owens in Portland in his beginning years. Speaking of Portland, what can be said about Roddy taking a stand against WWF when they toured Oregon out of respect, and loyalty to PNW Promoter Don Owens? Who was ever so bold to stay true to himself and his beliefs other than The Hot Rod?Just when you think we have the answers, he changes the questions indeed.

Most when remembering Roddy will remember his many WWF runs.His first being the most trendsetting upon pop culture and Pro Wrestling. Being the catalyst for tying the Rock and Wrestling Connection together. It took two to tango, and he and Hulk Hogan ignited a generation forever. Was there ever a better heel than Roddy Piper? In my opinion, no. He was at the top of the list for many things, and it is for that he will always live on throughout our hearts and minds. Rest in Paradise HotRod.

Chris Aiken

Though it isn't necessarily my favorite match, the promo from this video is a classic early Piper promo from California in the late '70s.

28 Matches & Moments
Name Withheld

1 - Obviously the Snuka Piper’s Pit, but they use the TNT airing that has him smugly smiling while watching in an inset and he does the "I Love you" hand gesture.

2 - The MSG match with him and Dr D bloodying Andre

3 - The sketch where they go see a "doctor" on Ace's arm. Obviously nothing is broken, but Piper starts making duck noises, implying he's a quack to the point even Vince who's moderating the segment starts laughing

4 - His Pit interview with himself

5 - I remember I was in 8th grade and on Nov. 10, 1984, I had a basketball game. We got blown out, and I didn’t shower or stay to hear the coach because he was facing the Tonga Kid at MSG and I had to be home.

6 - His debut on Nitro

7 - The TNT ep where he slapped Hayes ("Excuse me, I don't wear a bow tie")

8 - His return after to TNT to start his feud with Albano (1/3/85; It’s on the Network)

9 - The August ‘84 MSG match where he took out Snuka

10 - The Pit right after Mania in the locker room (I didn't know Dave Meltzer existed so I was floored to find him turning on Orndorff)

11 - The Wrestling Classic. Just him vs Hogan was just a main event to me.

12 - His face return in ‘86 and the Pits that followed, especially where he destroyed The Flower shop with the bat

13 - The 3/30/85 promo on TBS the night before Mania.

14 - The Rick McGraw Pit and match

15 - Obviously: "Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions"

16 - The matches he had in 85 with Bruno and Orndorff (mixing in Ace)

17 - Him managing Studd and, I believe, Adonis for one taping.

18 - Discovering the Pits he did exclusively for St Louis. It’s like they did dry runs with Snuka feud 3 times before the major angle.

19 - He and Jesse Venture were banned from dissing Hogan on his hairline, but on his Coliseum Video interview he snuck one in.

20 - The squash where Snuka returned

21 - The 12/84 Meadowlands live Pit

22 - The 3/85 matinee live Pit at Garden (wow)

23 - Just about every promo he cut on Mr. T.

24 - I have a local promo for the first SNME as it was at the Nassau Coliseum. It was Hogan vs Orton, but he stole the promo and I didn’t realize until after SNME aired that was what it was for.

25 - His first face turn promo against the Iron Shiek on SNME

26 - His SNME feud with the Hillbillies

27 - There's a local MSG promo with him, Schultz and Orndorff about their match with Atlas, Johnson and Putski that is so outrageously offensive that only he could pull it off and swing it to where you didn’t see him so much as a racist, but just a jerk who you wanted to see get his butt kicked.

28 -- And of course, several Pits (Frankie Williams, Andre, the Orndorff one with the cast while he had Blassie’s stable and they're arguing from the ring to his set).

****

The Ultimate Roddy Piper YouTube List
Steve Helwagen

The Early Days

  • Piper/Buddy Rose Feud Portland 1979: A | B | C
  • Piper-Ric Flair Mid-Atlantic angle 1981 US title change and more links: A | B | C | D | E
  • Great interviews Flair and Piper: A | B
  • Piper-Valentine feud 83: A | B

The Georgia Years

  • Piper Rich brawl: A | B

Move to WWF in 1984

  • Piper-Snuka matches: A | B
  • Highlights of WM 1 match Piper-Orndorff vs Hogan-Mr. T: A | B
  • 1996-97: Piper-Flair promos on WCW Nitro: A | B | C