Roddy Piper was one of the most iconic professional wrestlers of the 20th century, winning dozens of titles and engaging in a decades-long feud with Hulk Hogan that launched the WrestleMania era. He also appeared in scores of TV shows and films, including the cult classic film They Live.
Enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and named the greatest villain in the history of his profession, Piper’s creativity and mind for the business were legendary. So what drove the man, born Roderick George Toombs? Where did he come from and what was he really like? If Roddy Piper helped make professional wrestling what it is today, what made Roddy Piper?
He was going to answer that question as he sat down to pen his memoir shortly before he died of a heart attack last year at age 61. Now two of his children completed the story of an entertainment legend, revealing how he grew up as a runaway homeless teen to become a man who did battle in milestone matches with the likes of Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Mr. T, Bret Hart, Chavo Guerrero, Adrian Adonis, and Bad News Brown.
Their revealing but touching biography, Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story (Penguin Random House Canada, October 2016), completes the record of a man fans just loved to hate, and to whom they hated to say goodbye.
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Coming from a family of lumberjacks, boxers and hardscrabble frontier police, Roddy Piper had the makings of a brawler in his DNA. He certainly had the passion of a fighter.
Vince McMahon, CEO of WWE, declared Roddy “one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world.”
Hollywood director John Carpenter said: “He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend.”
In early 2015, Piper began researching his autobiography with a trip through Western Canada. He was re-discovering his youth, a part of his life he never discussed during his 61 years. He interviewed friends and family, reliving the sweet moments, the frightening lessons he never forgot, and the gut-wrenching separation from his family in his teenage years that shaped the “Rowdy” persona that drove wrestling into the entertainment mainstream.
Following his death in July 2015, two of Piper’s four children—one a wrestler, one an actress—decided they’d finish the job of telling Roddy's entire and unvarnished life story, separating fact from the many fictions told about his extraordinary accomplishments.
Already a celebrated wrestler before the premiere WrestleMania in 1985, Piper could infuriate a crowd like no ‘heel’ before him. As the principal antagonist to all-American champion Hulk Hogan, Piper used his quick wit, explosive ring style and fearless baiting of audiences to push pro wrestling to unprecedented success. Long a carnival-like sideshow in which performers lived out of their cars and called seedy road-side motels home, wrestling was suddenly pop culture’s main event.
An actor with more than 50 screen credits, including the lead in John Carpenter’s No.1 cult classic, They Live, Piper knew how to keep fans hungry, just as he’d kept them wishing for a complete portrait of his most unusual life.
He wanted to write this book for his family; now they have written it for him.
Rowdy reveals little known secrets about the beloved villain and sheds light on the following:
· How he turned a sport into mass entertainment that reaped billions
· What it was like to step into “Piper’s Pit”
· His extraordinary tolerance for pain
· How he brawled outside the ring his whole life
· What kind of code he lived by -- in and out of the ring
· What Roddy was like as a friend and father
· How he continued to wrestle despite the toll of addiction on his battered body
· How his character and image channeled the seething rage born in his violent youth
Rowdy also dishes on how he:
· Earned his stage name and became a master of character assassination
· Tussled with Muhammad Ali and filmed a fight scene with Henry Winkler
· Was almost killed by a drug gang in his youth when he was a pot dealer
· Suffered a broken nose in a fight that gave him a $25 payday—much to his satisfaction
· In the 70’s and 80s often wrestled two matches a day, sometimes in different countries
· Was kicked out of Japan just prior to joining the WWF/WWE
· Once battled a bear by hand – with honey stuck to his shorts, unbeknownst to him
· Nearly was killed by angry fans in Los Angeles and Juarez, Mexico, amongst other places
· Learned he had cancer only because he had broken his back in the ring
ROWDY: THE RODDY PIPER STORY
Hard cover /400 pages / $24.95 U.S.
8-PAGE COLOR PHOTO INSERT
E-book /$12.99 U.S.
Published by Random House
About the authors
Ariel Teal Toombs is an actress and singer in Los Angeles. She is the middle daughter of Roddy Piper.
Colt Baird Toombs was an undefeated amateur MMA fighter. He has turned his attention toward professional wrestling. He is the son of Roddy Piper.
“Roddy was a great heel because he wasn’t afraid to go to any level to piss everyone off,” said the authors. “At heart, Roddy was a home body and an independent thinker. Roddy went through life beneath a dark cloud that no one else could see”—but now light is shed on the brilliance and passion of his life.
- Pro Wrestling On The Web
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