On July 31, 2015, professional WWE Wrestler Roddy passed away from a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 61.
He left behind a wife and four children. Roderick George Toombs was born on April 17, 1954 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
At the age of 13, he ran away from home and earned money playing the bagpipes while living in hostels or on the street.
Two years later he won an amateur wrestling championship and shortly thereafter became a pro wrestler. Piper joined the WWE at the beginning of Vince McMahon’s expansion of the territory in 1984.
Due to his ear injury, he started off as a manger for the new wrestlers that entered the company.
He also hosted his own talk show segment on WWE programming called Piper’s Pit. In this segment, he would antagonize the faces (good guys) of the WWE.
In the most famous edition of the show, he smashed a coconut over the head of “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka.
Piper left wrestling for a short-time in 1986 to film some bad B-rated movies. When he came back, his talk show was taken over by Adrian Adonis and was renamed The Flower Shop.
The fans hated “Adorable” Adrian and cheered for Piper in this feud. The rivalry culminated at WrestleMania 3 in a Hair vs. Hair match that was billed as Piper’s retirement match.
Roddy won the match and Brutus Beefcake became “The Barber” after cutting Adrian’s hair after the match.
For those not acquainted with Saskatoon, it’s one of the coldest places on earth, reaching 100 below with windchill.
That may explain why Roddy hit the ground running—he just wanted to keep warm! At 6 years old, he began studying the bagpipes, moving to different places but always playing with a pipe band.
By the time he was 14, Roddy was considered an impresario of the bagpipes, and was invited to play at prestigious events such as the Rose Bowl, and at Lorne Greene’s house.
Being a big fan of “Bonanza”, Roddy was crushed to find out that Greene had no cattle but had a poodle.
By the time he was 15; Rod won the 167 lb Amateur wrestling championship, and was a star boxer at the Landsdown Boxing Club in Toronto; near the Landsdown subway station where at the time you would have found Roddy looking to stay warm at night.
Piper and Hogan battled for years and headlined some of the biggest matches during the 1980s.
Hogan and Mr. T defeated Piper and Paul Orndorff on March 31, 1985, at the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden.
When Roddy Piper was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, by 16 time World Champion Ric Flair, Flair said “Roddy is the greatest entertainer in Wrestling History, bar none”. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is the last of the real deal gunslingers of Pro Wrestling.
Recently, the WWE named Rowdy Roddy Piper the greatest Villain in the history of Professional Wrestling.
The Saskatchewan-born wrestler, who was known just as well for his mouth as his might, also hosted the Winnipeg Comedy Festival in 2006.