Full Career Retrospective and Greatest Moments for Roddy Piper

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

"Just when you think you've got the answers, I change the questions!"

The above is not only the greatest of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's iconic soundbites, it also perfectly sums up the career of wrestling's greatest personalities.

A virtuoso performer on the microphone, the opinionated Piper had the uncanny ability to talk audiences into the arenas that very few could match. Most of the time, those fans were paying their hard-earned money to see the rowdy one get his butt kicked by the biggest heroes in the sport.

But Piper was more than just a great heel. He was a scrappy, fiery, passionate babyface fans had no trouble supporting when he filled that role.

It was the Hot Scot's understanding of psychology and how to get an audience to react the way he intended that helped him star in territories across the country. From California to Georgia to New York, Piper was the most captivating and entertaining star on the show.

Never a great technical wrestler, Piper leaned heavily on his brawling abilities in his in-ring work, while facial expressions, body language and promos carried programs against top competition the remainder of the way.

His feuds with Chavo Guerrero in San Francisco, Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Georgia, and Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, Adrian Adonis and Rick Rude in Vince McMahon's WWE helped make Piper one of the most recognizable and respected stars in the industry.

Piper brought an attitude and edginess to the world of professional wrestling that predated both ECW and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Had he been in his prime during the Attitude Era, he easily could have been the perfect rival for Superstars such as Austin, The Rock, Mankind and Undertaker.

A wrestler, a manager, a commentator and an actor, Piper has worn many hats in the professional wrestling and entertainment world, and he has done them all to great success.

One of the greatest performers to ever step foot inside a squared circle, Piper still manages to engross audiences whenever he gets the opportunity to appear on Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown.

In honor of a Superstar who was ahead of his time, and in some ways still is, here is a look back at a few of Roddy Piper's greatest moments and matches.

 

El Conquistador de Los Guerreros

The first hint of what Piper was capable of as a villain came during his time in NWA San Francisco Wrestling and the program he worked with Chavo Guerrero Sr.

The loud-mouth wrestler made it a regular habit to poke fun of Guerrero and mock his family's Mexican heritage. One of the most memorable came when Piper feigned a sincere apology to the Spanish people, then proceeded to again mock them by playing "La Cucaracha" on his bag pipes.

Piper's program with Guerrero stretched across several big matches, including a Hair vs. Hair match that the future Hall of Famer lost. While the feud has become lost in the annals of wrestling history by those outside of the Bay Area, it is the perfect example of a young star coming into his own as a performer.

Very much the genesis of the heel character who would end up sweeping the nation and making Piper one of the top stars in the industry.

 

Dog Collar Match

While Piper would go on to have many very good matches, fans still point to the Dog Collar match against Greg Valentine at Starrcade 1983 as one of his crowning achievements.

A vicious, violent, bloody brawl of a match, the bout featured two of wrestling's hardest hitters beating one another around the squared circle with a steel chain in hopes of scoring a huge win on the very first "supercard" of wrestling.

At one point, Valentine hit Piper so hard with the chain that it busted his opponent's ear drum and caused Piper to have weak equilibrium through the remainder of the bout. As he did his entire career, Piper fought through the obstacle and scored a huge victory over "The Hammer."

 

Piper's Pit

The definitive wrestling talk-show segment, Piper's Pit worked as well as it did because of Hot Rod's ability to carry the segment. He did all the talking, captured the audience's attention and his guests could get by on doing the bare minimum, which was probably a good thing.

Case in point: Jimmy Snuka. The man known affectionately to fans across the country as "Superfly" was the furthest thing from a strong talker, but he had incredible presence and fans bought into his character.

Not able to come back with a verbal retort for Piper, however, he found himself on the receiving end of verbal humiliation at the hands of the loud-mouth villain. Eventually, Snuka had enough and was prepared to take out his frustration on Piper when he was suddenly and violently attacked with...a coconut.

Sure, "violent" and "coconut" do not naturally go hand-in-hand, but the manner in which Piper hit Snuka with the fruit and the way it exploded over his head really sold the moment as an iconic one that would live forever in WWE lore.

The segment set off a feud between the two. While Snuka reveled in the opportunity to get his hands on Piper, it was Hot Rod who came out of the rivalry better off.

 

Rock, Wrestling and WrestleMania

1985 saw the fusion of the worlds of rock 'n' roll and professional wrestling.

Pop star Cyndi Lauper was one of the first celebrities to embrace the sport, playing a key role in the rivalry between Wendi Richter and Leilani Kai over the women's title. She also brought with her a great deal of mainstream media attention, not to mention a relationship between WWE and MTV.

Lauper's appearances combined with the larger-than-life characters such as Hulk Hogan made WWE events must-see. Other stars from the entertainment industry, such as Danny DeVito, Andy Warhol and Saturday Night Live's Joe Piscopo, were spotted sitting at ringside for some of the big events in historic Madison Square Garden.

Piper, an old-school-minded pro wrestler, despised the idea of celebrity involvement in the sport. He regularly cut scathing promos about the stars, leading to one memorable night in New York when he kicked Lauper, broke a gold record over Captain Lou Albano's head and chased Dick Clark from the squared circle.

A feud with Hogan catapulted Piper to the top of the card. The hottest heel in the company, Piper was every bit as responsible for drawing audiences as Hogan or the celebrity involvement because fans would eagerly pay money to watch him get beat up.

When television's Mr. T was added to the equation at the War to Settle the Score, fan anticipation swelled.

A major event, dubbed WrestleMania, was created and a blockbuster tag match featuring Hogan and Mr. T taking on Piper and Paul Orndorff was booked as the marquee match. Throw in former Yankees manager Billy Martin, Liberace and Muhammad Ali to the mix and you have a sports-entertainment spectacular.

Piper and Orndorff would fall in defeat following botched interference from "Cowboy" Bob Orton. Piper would continue to feud with Mr. T, leading to an embarrassingly bad boxing match the following year.

 

WrestleMania III

What was billed as Piper's retirement match took place in front of 93,173 fans inside the Pontiac SilverDome at WrestleMania III.

Piper's opponent, the effeminate "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, had a way of controlling the crowd with his heel antics and played a key role in helping Hot Rod make the transition from hated heel to beloved babyface.

The two had several confrontations dating back to the previous May, but it was the added element of Piper's impending retirement that really put it over as something important.

Credit: WWE.com

While the actual wrestling was subpar, the story the veterans told the fans kept them invested in the bout.

Piper won the match, which had carried a Hair vs. Hair stipulation with it, and invited Brutus Beefcake into the ring to heel cut the golden locks of the Adorable one.

It was a magnificent way to send Piper off into the sunset.

As is the case with nearly all wrestling retirements, however, he would return to the ring some two years later.

 

Intercontinental Champion and WrestleMania VIII

In January of 1992, Piper accomplished something he had not been able to do in the eight years he had been with WWE and that is capture one of the promotion's coveted championships.

He did so by defeating The Mountie to win the intercontinental title at the Royal Rumble. The victory resulted in one of the loudest pops any title win has ever received and was a legitimate feel-good moment for one of the sport's most popular competitors.

At WrestleMania VIII, he would be tasked with defending the title against the No. 1 contender, Bret "Hitman" Hart. It was against the celebrated in-ring worker that Piper had, arguably, the finest wrestling match of his storied career.

Piper threw everything at Hart and nearly allowed his frustration to boil over, teasing a shot from the ring bell to the Hitman before thinking better of it. He locked in the sleeper and appeared poised to successfully retain his title, but Hart kicked off the turnbuckles, rolled into a pinning combination and scored the win.

It was a huge passing of the torch moment for Piper, as he rarely allowed himself to be booked in a manner that resulted in a clean pinfall loss. Instead of protecting himself, he put Hart over the strongest way he knew how, and the match went a long way in establishing Hart as one of the legitimate stars of the new generation.

 

Hollywood Back Lot Brawl

Piper returned to WWE in 1996 as the interim president of the company while on-screen figurehead Gorilla Monsoon as recovering from injury. It was only a matter of time before he and the bizarre Goldust crossed paths, and when they did, it triggered an intriguing storyline that resulted in the first, and only, Hollywood Back Lot Brawl in WWE history.

WrestleMania XII in Anaheim was the setting for the match. Fans were treated to a brutal, violent match as Piper and the enigmatic Goldust pounded away at one another with stiff shots from hands, weapons and even a gold Cadillac.

Goldust escaped the scene and Piper followed in a white Ford Bronco as WWE played on the O.J. Simpson car chase that engrossed the nation.

Once they returned to the arena, Piper assaulted Goldust some more before stripping the big Texan to women's lingerie in the night's most disturbing moment.

It was Piper's last truly great, memorable moment in WWE.

 

WCW and His Many Returns

In October of 1996, Piper debuted in WCW and set the stage for a showdown with Hogan at the company's Starrcade pay-per-view the following December. Piper would defeat Hogan in one of the promotion's biggest matches ever but would soon become just another older veteran populating the top of the card.

The matches that he competed in for WCW were critical flops and, later in his stay there, financial ones as well. WCW going out of business was one of the best things that could have happened to Piper, who needed to step away from the limelight for a bit.

At WrestleMania XIX in 2003, he returned to WWE and began another rivalry with Hogan as WWE struggled to find the next big star to pick up where Steve Austin and The Rock left off.

Piper would make several returns to WWE over the years that followed. At WrestleMania 21, he conducted Piper's Pit with Austin. A year later, he teamed with Ric Flair to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship at October's Cyber Sunday.

But as had been the case throughout his career, Piper has always thrived when he in is possession of a microphone. His Piper Pit segment has been utilized to help put over big pay-per-view main events or to tell emotional stories heading into big matches.

Piper is still one of the most recognizable stars in the industry and one of the most beloved wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 in a jam-packed ceremony also including rival Hogan and former partners Orndorff and Orton.