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RIP Roddy Piper: your favorite matches & moments, part 1 of 3

Roddy Piper & Vince McMahon

By Josh Nason, Wrestling Observer

It’s never easy to say goodbye especially when it comes to a legend like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper who left for the big ring in the sky at some point last Thursday night/Friday morning.

As I did with Dusty Rhodes in June, I asked for your favorite Piper matches and moments to compile them in one place. I expected a few emails, but nothing like what you’re about to read. Instead of one long huge post, you’re getting three posts over the next three days. Yep, there was that many emails!

And while you’ll see some consistencies in the matches and angles, I really liked the personal touch in the stories behind them. There’s also house show matches, video compilations, and all kinds of fun stuff here. Clearly, Piper meant a lot to a lot of people and it showed.

Without further adieu, here’s part 1 of 3 of your favorite Roddy Piper matches and moments in your words. RIP Hot Rod.

Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan

Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan -- WCW Starrcade 1996

Matt Wright
 

I am pretty partial to the ‘Icon vs. Icon’ build for Starrcade 1996 when it comes to Rowdy Roddy Piper. The whole card was loaded with good matches and talent, and was one of the few examples of the Bischoff era where the depth of WCW was used correctly throughout the show. Piper vs. Hogan had a good build, the audience was heated, and many in the crowd were strongly behind Hot Rod, including a fan that tried to attack the nWo. The match was good enough, and it was great seeing Piper go over. I had a great night watching it during the Christmas break of my senior year of high-school with the guys that are still my best friends to this day.

This news has hit me hard since I watch "They Live" pretty regularly (including a month ago on El Rey), and have been seeing Piper on the public service ads every week that air during the local broadcasts of ROH.
 

Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan cage match -- WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

Name Withheld

I was 11 at the time and it was my first Piper main event I ever saw live. I really should load it up on the Network to see how it holds up after all these years.

Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan -- WCW Super Brawl 1997

Name Withheld

I have vivid memories from watching Piper train for his match with Hogan at Superbrawl 97 by locking himself on Alcatraz Island.

Piper then wrestled the match in a manner I can only describe as "like a man who was locked in prison for the last month and was looking for the guy who put him there". It wasn't a pretty match since he obviously couldn't move well because of his hip, but it told a great story. He didn't just go out there, ignore the pretext of the buildup for the match, and just do all of the same planned, overly-choreographed spots he does in every match like every guy in wrestling does today whether it's a squash match or a blood feud. He wrestled as if it was actually real.

I so miss this about wrestling. They've just taken the soul out of what's great about pro wrestling these days. Guys like Piper could make you suspend your disbelief that wrestling is fake and make you want to see it anyway because they were so committed to making it seem like real fights. It's so sad that guys like him will never be seen in modern pro wrestling again. He was truly one of a kind.

Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie

Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie, WWF Intercontinental title match -- Royal Rumble 1992
Chris H.

It was the first pay-per-view event I attended live, in Albany, NY, and it was the first title change I saw in person, so there is a lot of personal nostalgia involved in the match. The match itself was not great, and there was no real rivalry between the two, but for whatever reason, the crowd just loved Piper on this night.

Piper won his first title in the company (which was a big deal back then) via the sleeper, then he got the big taser from Jimmy Hart and shocked the Mountie. Howard Finkel announcing Piper as the "NEEEEWWWWW" IC champion was the biggest pop I had ever heard, until Steve Austin drove a beer truck into the same building seven years later.

The crowd also went crazy when Piper came into the Rumble match later on in the show, and famously gave Hulk Hogan his first fan backlash at the end of the match when he showed poor sportsmanship by pulling Sid Justice out of the match to give Ric Flair the win and the vacant WWF championship.

I've been to four Wrestlemanias and dozens of TV tapings since, but Piper raising the IC belt high that night remains one of my favorite wrestling memories.

Ryan Shields

This one might be a little different than some other people will suggest but I absolutely love Piper’s performance at the Royal Rumble 92.

He gives a great little crazy Hot Rod promo before his match with the Mountie "you say you're gonna take my manhood....ugh....I came here to fight...I don't know what you came here to do!" And then he goes out and has such a fun little match with the Mountie. It's nothing all time great but the crowd reacts huge to Piper winning the IC title and he looks like he's having a blast.

Piper then gets involved in the Royal Rumble later and they keep telling the story of how he has a chance to win two titles in one night. He has a couple great spots with Flair. I love the whole thing.

Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis hair vs. hair match -- Wrestlemania 3
George Atsavas

Piper was in a hair-vs-hair match vs Adrian Adonis, and he'd already announced his (first) retirement before the show.

Anyway, at Mania 3 everyone came out for their match on these blue carts, including Adonis. The cart wasn't working or something, so Piper walked out instead to a huge pop that started the moment his bagpipes hit the speakers. He jogs to the ring as the building erupts. More cheers as he faces Adonis down before the match even starts.

The best match of that night was the incredible Savage-Steamboat encounter, and the biggest moment of that night was Hogan slamming Andre, but for my money the best pop of the night was tens of thousands of wrestling fans cheering when the Hot Rod ran to the ring.  Those people were there to see Piper, and he delivered for 'em.

Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart 

Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart -- Wrestlemania 8

James Dixon

My favorite Roddy Piper match was against Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII. I am sure I am not alone in this selection. Piper did the right thing for business and put Hart over, doing a rare job in order to help cement the future of a man he respected. The match was a classic, and a bout I feel is often underrated. The storytelling was special, and a match I can still watch today and get lost in the moment. The blood, the friendly rivalry that turns rapidly sour, Piper's "Sophie's Choice" with the ring bell, the clever finish. It's all brilliant. That is how you put someone over and make a star.

I also really enjoyed his work as a commentator in the early nineties. Specifically at SummerSlam 1991. Alongside Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon he was a riot, and the three had a fun rapport and an enjoyment for what they were doing that shined through. If only modern announce trios could be even a fraction as entertaining.

Jón Grétar Sigurjónsson

My favorite match was his Mania 8 match with Bret Hart. Those two were my favorites at the time, and I was so excited to see them. I remember reading about the match in WWF Magazine (of course buying into the whole thing being real), and was so impressed with Piper for not using the bell.

Dan Kiven

My favorite Piper moment is the promo he cut on Bret Hart at WrestleMania 8. It's a fairly short but crazy segment where Piper is talking to Hart and saying crazy things about how they grew up around each other and that Hart wasn't potty trained until he was 8 years old and when Helen Hart would make baloney sandwiches, she would only use one slice of baloney. It was nuts. I really think it showed what the Piper character was supposed to be.

A close second would be the song he did that was later shown on Nitro. I remember watching Nitro and having a hard time comprehending why this even existed and why it was on Nitro. I still don't really get it, but it's a great cheesy Piper song and I love it for that.

JYD, Piper, and Ricky Steamboat vs. Harley Race, Adrian Adonis, and Randy Savage -- WWF Madison Square Garden house show

Raphael Saray

Obviously Bret vs Piper at WM8, but this was one of my all time favorite matches of the 80s -- an MSG 6 man tag building to WM3.

Roddy Piper & Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair & Sid Justice -- WWF Philadelphia house show
Bob McGhee

There are lots better matches...but here's a favorite moment.

You know Philadelphia's legendary for its wrestling fans. The hardest core of us were NWA fans, who religiously went to the shows at the Philadelphia Civic Center, and ignored WWF as pretty much Titan Toon Adventures. But we made an exception on one March 1992 Saturday afternoon WWF matinee house show at the Philadelphia Spectrum which had a main event of Hulk Hogan/Roddy Piper vs. Ric Flair/Sid "Justice" Vicious.

We managed to get ringside popping for Piper and Flair in their old school identities, with signs asking them to go old school. Flair laughed his ass off at the signs, and audibly yelled at Piper to "look", pointing to the signs. Sid walked around pretty much going "duh", and Hogan wondered why we weren't popping for him like all the other sheep...er, WWF fans. Then he looked.

Roddy Piper vs. Jimmy Snuka

Roddy Piper vs. Jimmy Snuka -- WWF house show, Hartford, CT in 1984
Steve Luther

I was a big Jimmy Snuka fan, particularly coming off his epic feud with Don Muraco. But when Roddy Piper came to the WWF in 1984 I instantly identified with him and even though he was a mega heel, he soon became one of my favorite wrestlers anywhere. I would wait with great anticipation for any interview or match or Pit segment with Piper on TV, literally the hair would stand up on the back of my neck when he was on. Perhaps because I was a shy kid and through Roddy Piper I could fantasize about being that brash, trash-talking, bigshot that Piper portrayed when he entered the territory, something that was so opposite of my own personality, yet I yearned to be.

I was just starting college and after the Piper-Snuka coconut angle on TV, I saw those two would be one of the featured matches at the Hartford Civic Center house show. (Hulk Hogan defending the WWF title against Kamala was the only other match I recall that night.)  Because I was broke, I begged my Dad to take me to the matches. He was a very casual fan and didn't like to go into the city, but agreed to take me that one night.

The Civic Center had a huge crowd that night, easily 10,000+, and everyone was there waiting anxiously for Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka to fight.  When the ring announcer finally said  "about to make his way to the ring, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland....." the building erupted in the loudest roar of boos and jeers I had ever heard in all my years as a wrestling fan and other house shows I had been to, and Piper confidently strode to the ring, ever defiant. The place popped equally for cheers when Jimmy Snuka came to the ring.

They didn't have a long match - maybe 10 minutes - but the roaring crowd hung on every move and the heat was out-of-this-world. Literally every punch, kick, slap and poke the crowd was super into.  It wasn't a clean finish - I think Snuka won by DQ - but what I remember most was, after the finish, Piper delivered a beatdown on Snuka which had the fans up in arms with rage.  

One of my biggest memories was that there were a group of teenage girls sitting in front of me, all huge Snuka fans. Being one of the few Piper supporters, they would look back in utter disbelief that I could possibly be cheering the rowdy Scotsman.  At one point during the post-match beatdown I yelled out something to the effect of "Go Piper, hit that island boy with another coconut!"

Aghast, the girls turned to me with tears streaming down their faces and yelled "SHUT UP!! STOP IT!!! JIMMY"S HURT!!!  I remember after Piper left the ring - to a humongous chorus of boos - the girls all saying "We love you Jimmy"  and me continuing to mock Snuka and cheer on Piper for his night's work, proud of myself for rubbing Snuka's dismay in the girls' faces.    

Of all the house shows I've attended - WWE/WWF, WCW, NWA, Mid-Atlantic - I never got to see Roddy Piper in person in the ring again unfortunately, but he had a fan for life and I loved every minute of his WWF run, and of course I supported him just as much after he turned babyface.  

Part 2 comes Friday and your teaser is one word: Solie.