If John McClane had been fighting against a faceless bad guy in Die Hard it’s a safe bet that it, like hundreds of other action films, would have been forgotten instantly. Hans Gruber made him, because a good guy needs a bad guy. Roddy Piper was that bad guy. He was the ying to Hulk Hogan’s yang and it’s a pretty safe bet that without the Hot Rod, Hulk Hogan would never have reached the height of celebrity that he did. On the week that it came out that Hulk wasn’t the squeaky clean American hero that he wanted us all to believe, Roddy had to upstage him once again. Sadly, this time he did it by leaving this Earth behind.
It’s easy to love the dead, we all know that and I personally very rarely feel anything when a celebrity dies. However, Hot Rod now makes it two this year that have really cut me deep. Rowdy Roddy Piper was wrestling’s first punk rock bad guy. To a generation of wrestling fans he was the ultimate in cool, however unlike Attitude Era WWE, he never wanted you to cheer him. He was a bastard and no one has ever done it better. Without Roddy Piper there would have been no Stone Cold, no DX and certainly no CM Punk. The characters these people took and ran with, were all born out of what Roddy Piper did.
And yet Piper goes down as one of the WWE legends who never held the big one. He was never World Champ. To some that will be the constant black dot on his career, much like it was with the likes of Razor Ramon. However, for me it sums up what made Piper the man he was. In an industry that sees constant backstage politics and backstabbing over who gets to be on the top, Piper was always happy to be the back up guy. He co-headlined the very first Wrestlemania and was on the losing team and in fact only ever once won outright on the biggest stage of them all, beating Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III. Piper could lay claim to being the best bad guy WWE ever had and he was more than happy to lose. Hogan’s not the only one who can lay claim to being made by Hot Rod with the likes of Bret Hart and Goldberg both point to him as a key figure in their careers.
Beyond win/loss records and making other superstars, Roddy Piper is important because he was god damn exciting. When he stepped into the ring and picked up a microphone you were never sure what he was going to do next. Even in the later stages of his career, when he wasn’t always on top form, he was still able to come out and find that magic. He played a major part in the Wade Barrett and John Cena feud coming out of the Nexus and sold that World Title better than the WWE were managing at the time. Roddy Piper was one of a kind and wherever he is now, there’s no chance he isn’t doing anything but raising hell.