Saturday, August 1, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Last Bell for Hot Rod

On July 31,2015, Roderick George Toombs, better known as WWE superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper, died in his sleep after a heart attack at his Los Angeles residence.. He leaves behind a wife, Kitty, four children, four grandchildren, and four decades of memories. The rest of the world knew him as the villain you loved to hate, I knew him as one heck of a nice guy. I had the pleasure to meet him at "the mecca of professional wrestling," Madison Square Garden, but not in the squared circle, (I wouldn't have lasted five minutes against him! LOL) but, instead, at the Comic Art Convention, which was staged in 2000 and 2002 at the World's Most Famous Arena's Exposition Rotunda. He began his stellar wrestling career in 1973 with Verne Gagne's legendary American Wrestling Association before joining the National Wrestling Alliance ("The Major Leagues of Professional Wrestling!") in 1975  where he fought Mexican lucha libre legend Chavo Guerrero and his family, and  eventually moving on to Jim Crockett's Georgia Chamipionship Wrestling where he went mano-a-mano against legends such as Bob Backlund, ,Sgt.Slaughter,Nature Boy Ric Flair,Playboy Buddy Rose, and Gregg "The Hammer" Valentine.

When the mid-80's reared their Mullet-wearing head, Vince McMahon coaxed Piper back into the squared circle where he faced his greatest battle in a tag team match with Cowboy Bob Orton against the team of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. After a few years as an antagonist, both in the ring and on his own show, Piper's Pit,Piper left to pursue an acting career which resulted in a string of cult favorites, including John Carpenter's "They Live!" ("I came here to kick butt and chew gum. AND I'M ALL OUT OF GUM.") Eventually, Piper returned to the ring to settle the score with "The Million Dollar Man," Ted diBiasi,Jerry "The King" Lawler,and Dustin "Gold Dust" Runnels, among others.

Piper worked with the now-defunct Xcitement (sic) Wrestling Federation as well as WCW, where he caught up with his old nemesis, Hulk Hogan, who turned from "baby face" (good guy) to "heel" (bad guy) and started his own clique, the nWo (New World Order) with fellow ex-WWE-ites Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. To counter the nWo's influence, Piper started a clique of HIS own, ICON, short for I Cower Over Nothing.

In 2003, Hulk had been banned from wrestling in the WWE under his own name, and Piper returned to fall victim to the Hulkster's masked alter ego, Mr. America.After a period of self-examination, during which he questioned everything including his involvement with drugs, Piper joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and continued to wrestle and provide color commentary on a regular basis until just this year. (Fans of Cartoon Network's irreverent Adult Swim show "Robot Chicken" are sure to recognize his inimitable voice in a few bits.)

Even in death, Piper managed to steal the spotlight from his longtime rivals. The Mid-Atlantic Wrestling League was supposed to have dedicated its annual dinner to the memory of "The American Dream," Dusty Rhodes, but as news of his passing broke, they changed their focus to Piper and his own extraordinary career.

Love him or hate him, we will miss him.


Steve out.

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