The world of wrestling continues to reverberate with the losses it has endured over the last several weeks. On June 11, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes died. A couple of weeks ago, revelations that Hulk Hogan went on a racist rant caused him to lose his hero status for many wrestling fans. Now, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper suddenly died yesterday at the age of 61.
Roddy Piper, born Roderick Toombs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, was billed as coming from Glasgow, Scotland, which was a perfect claim to fame for a wrestler who specialized in demonstrations of his Scottish temper. In reality, though, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was not about his fiery temperament. He was a hero to many.
Upon hearing the news, a Canadian man said that his mother had met Roddy Piper while pregnant with him, and that the wrestling great actually was the first action figure he had ever known. UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who goes toe to toe with Berthe Correia tonight at UFC190, dedicated tonight’s fight to Roddy Piper, who gave her his personal blessing to use the “Rowdy” moniker. There were other fans who took to social media to remember the wrestling legend.
RIP #RowdyRoddyPiper. .omg just devastating news. .speechless. .all the greats are passing. ..sad sad day :(— Brian Jennings (@buffalobadboy12) July 31, 2015
Roddy Piper was always one of the greats in wrestling, though it took him a while to get there. Were it not for the falling out he had with his father when he was just 15, he may not have found his path to professional wrestling. A chance playing of the bagpipes as he was making his way to the squared circle cemented his image, and while he had been introduced as “Roddy the Piper,” fans heard it as “Roddy Piper,” and the man’s image grew to encompass a personality as large as he was.
He was not, however, just about the wrestling, though that was clearly one of his great passions. Roddy Piper also featured in one of the best cheesy horror movies to date — John Carpenter’s They Live. Carpenter himself was mourning the legend’s passing.
I'm devastated by the passing of my friend Roddy Piper. Great wrestler, underrated actor, dear friend. Rest in peace, Rod.— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) July 31, 2015
It was clear that Roddy Piper’s influence extended over generations as well.
Dwayne Johnson, better known as “The Rock” to wrestling fans worldwide, noted in an Instagram post, “He was a huge influence on me as a kid and an even bigger one when [he] became The Rock in the WWE.”
Johnson met Piper when he was wrestling Johnson’s father, and Johnson was only 12 at the time.
On Father’s Day, Colt Toombs, Roddy Piper’s only son and an up-and-coming pro wrestler in his own right, tweeted how much his father meant to him. On his father’s passing July 31, Toombs said he will “always try to be the man he raised me to be.”
Dad you are my rock, my inspiration, my hero, I love you so much you are everything I want to be someday. Thankyou dad @R_Roddy_Piper— Colt Toombs (@ColtToombs) June 22, 2015
Interestingly enough, Roddy Piper told HBO’s Real Sports in 2003 that he did not believe he would even reach the age of 65 due to his poor lifestyle choices and had come back to wrestling that same year because he could not access his WWE pension fund until he hit 65. The wrestling legend was actually axed from WWE that year — though the separation would be temporary — for comments he made about the darker side of wrestling in that interview.
[Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for WWE]