Pro wrestlers are accustomed to portraying characters when they are in a sold-out arena or public event with the cameras rolling.
However, it wasn’t so easy for those who participated in Legends of Wrestling Night on Friday, July 31 at Marlins Park. After receiving the news shortly before the festivities began that one of their brothers, the iconic Rowdy Roddy Piper, passed away, they had to somehow collect themselves.
Kevin Nash, Bushwhacker Luke, Mick Foley, The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), Tyrus (Brodus Clay) and JoJo made up the lineup. The 21-year-old WWE diva wasn’t even alive when Piper helped make WrestleMania a global phenomenon, but much like the rest of the world, the Hall of Famer’s death was shocking and hard to believe. JoJo performed a tremendous rendition of the National Anthem. Interesting enough, her father, Jose Offerman, was the first batter to ever face the then Florida Marlins during opening day in 1993.
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Each of the superstars put on the best face possible in an effort for the fans to leave with a memorable experience. Given all the smiles, I think they accomplished that.
Bushwhacker Luke, who knew Piper very well, had tears in his eyes when remembering the loveable onscreen villain in a kilt during a press conference.
Foley threw out the first pitch before the San Diego Padres and Marlins took the field. Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory, president of Legends of Wrestling, and Rey Rey of Rey Rey Championship Belts, presented his latest creation to Marlins’ star pitcher Jose Fernandez for his birthday. Another of Rey Rey’s work was awarded to the winner of the costume contest, which went to a boy dressed as Chris Jericho -- lighted jacket and all. The sentimental favorite was a lady honoring the late Hot Rod. She was runner-up.
The Nasty Boys and Bushwhacker Luke led the crowd in a stirring rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Nash proved he still had it by giving the big boot to poor Julio the Octopus, a sea creature mascot who made the mistake of getting on the near 7-footer’s bad side. WWE alum and local sports broadcaster Craig Minervini conducted interviews.
Because of the noise ordinance curfew and the game going extra innings, the fireworks were canceled.
Fans appeared to have a good time holding their collectible posters and marlins World order T-shirts (brilliance by the Marlins’ marketing team.)
Let’s hope Legends of Wrestling Night at Marlins Park becomes an annual tradition.
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