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Wrestling legend Roddy Piper passes away at 61, WWE & Vince McMahon statement (updated)

Roddy Piper

By Dave Meltzer, WrestlingObserver.com

TMZ.com reported Friday that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (born Roderick George Toombs) has passed away at the age of 61. The site reported Piper died of cardiac arrest in his sleep Thursday night in Hollywood, CA.

Wrestling Observer subscribers can listen to breaking news audio with myself and Bryan Alvarez now, as well as classic audio Piper did with Bryan from 2011.

WWE made a statement:

"WWE is deeply saddened that Roderick Toombs, aka “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – WWE Hall of Famer and Intercontinental Champion – passed away today at the age of 61. WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Toombs’ family, friends and fans.” 

Vince McMahon made a statement as well:

“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.” 

Piper was one of the key figures in the growth of WWF. In particular, he helped power the success of the first WrestleMania: the most important show in company history beacuse it was such a make-or-break event. He was considered one of the greatest promos in pro wrestling history, competed in all of the major organizations, and while he never won a World title, he held the WWF Intercontinental title and the WWF Tag Team titles (w/Ric Flair).

He was named to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and was an actor in a variety of lead and supporting roles in B-movies and TV series like the infamous They Live, Bodyslam, and Hell Comes To Frogtown. He appeared in the popular FX series 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' as Da Maniac, a pro wrestler.

Piper leaves behind his wife, Kitty, four children, and one grandchild.