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'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, WWE Star, Dies at Age 61

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2015

Don Feria/Associated Press

WWE Hall of Famer Roderick Toombs, aka "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, 61, died Friday, the company confirmed.

"Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world," said Vince McMahon, WWE's chairman and chief executive officer. "I extend my deepest condolences to his family."

WWE Superstars Kevin Owens and John Cena were among the many who eulogized the former Intercontinental champion:

While Hulk Hogan can lay claim to helping WWE explode in the mid-1980s, that explosion was in no small part thanks to Piper playing the perfect bad guy to Hogan's all-conquering hero. The two battled in the main event of WrestleMania 1 in 1985—a tag match also involving Mr. T and Paul Orndorff.

Piper also played a key role in making WWE's Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection such a massive success in the '80s, which opened up professional wrestling to a larger audience:

His "Piper's Pit" segment was also revolutionary at the time and featured the iconic clash between Hogan and Andre the Giant, which set up their bout at WrestleMania III:

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Former WWE star and politician Jesse Ventura highlighted Piper's dedication to the business:

Piper will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans who followed WWE in the '80s. He was a true pioneer and left a legacy in the ring that is still being felt today.

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