The Horror Honeys: R.I.P ~ "Rowdy" Roddy Piper ~ April 17th, 1954 - July 31st, 2015

R.I.P ~ "Rowdy" Roddy Piper ~ April 17th, 1954 - July 31st, 2015

A Monster Honey Tribute to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper by Jennica

Hell Comes to the Horror Community

Growing up, I did not have a lot of friends who were obsessed with watching horror movies. Believe it or not, my best friend for the last fifteen years is not a horror fanatic. While I have been spending my years attending horror double features and conventions, she has been traveling all over the U.S. to attend wrestling matches and meet-and-greets. When we get together and gush about the sights we have seen and boast about the icons that we have met, our individual interests seldom-- if ever--cross over. 
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Enter "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Wrestling extraordinaire, horror legend, and a piece of the bridge bringing my best friend and I closer together. He was always someone that we could both talk about as we disclosed our own random Piper facts and anecdotes. I was fortunate enough to see the bad-ass in the flesh at Days of the Dead Los Angeles in 2013. My best friend got the pleasure of meeting Piper at a Ring of Honor event in Nashville last year. Our main entertainment interests might not always be shared, but we both agree that Roddy Piper was a phenomenal performer and a genuine human being. On July 31st, Hell came to the wrestling community as well as the horror community when Piper passed away due to cardiac arrest at the age of 61.

It is impossible to speak of Piper's contributions to pop culture and bad-assery without acknowledging his firm footprint left on the wrestling community. Not only did he win several championship matches in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) as well as achieve the highly praised status of Tag Team Champion and Intercontinental Champion in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, or WWE as the kids call it these days), but Piper also competed against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in a match at the very first Wrestlemania Main Event in 1985.

Hot Rod - circa 1985
The much-loved wrestling champ has been regarded by many fans as one of the best speakers in the business and he even had his own WWE talk show segment called "Piper's Pit." One of the most memorable Piper's Pit moments was when he hit Jimmy Snuka, father of Tamina Snuka and Deuce, in the head with a coconut. This became a running gag for years to come, as Piper had the tendency to poke fun at exceptionally dense fans and questions whether they too had been struck on the head with a coconut. 
Piper's Pit. Fuckin' coconuts, man.
During his long career as a man who knew his way around a microphone, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's best known catch phrase in the wrestling business was "Just when you think you've got all the answers, I change the questions." Now that one of wrestling fans' favorite heels will never again return to the stage, everyone is left scrambling for all the answers once more.

Piper with co-star Sandahl Bergman
(1988)
Roddy Piper was a world wrestling sensation but he also made a name for himself in another area within the entertainment industry as an actor, particularly in the realm of horror and science fiction. His first credited role was appropriately Sam Hell in the 1988 B-movie cult classic Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988), in which Piper is a prisoner of women (but wasn't he always?) in a dystopian world overun by mutant frogs. Upon selecting the role of Sam Hell, the choice came down to either wrestling bad-ass Roddy Piper or television actor Ed Marinaro. Directors Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer were hell-bent on getting Piper.

Nineteen eighty-eight proved to be a busy year for Piper's acting career as he also took on the role of the bubblegum-chewing, ass-kicking, nameless lead character in John Carpenter's iconic sci-fi action film, They Live. On the set of They Live, Piper was able to take his wrestling experience and use it on co-star Keith David. The notorious fight scene between Piper and David was originally designed to last a mere twenty seconds, but the two actors had other plans and duked it out for real in what became one of the longest combat sequences in cinema history. 

Piper preparing to give co-star Keith David a beating
(1988) 
Aside from throwing punches, Piper also drew from his Piper's Pit experience as he was a natural at coming up with snappy, quick-witted dialogue. John Carpenter later revealed that the most quoted line from They Live, "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum," was a Roddy Piper original.

A number of high-end wrestlers in the WWE have gone on to try their hand-- or fist-- at acting, but few such as Piper have side-stepped the major studio blockbusters to become a part of horror movies with a loyal cult following. And to his cult following from both the wrestling fanbase and horror fanbase, Piper proved his loyalty and never missed an opportunity to shake a hand, sign an autograph, and bring two passionate communities together. Rest in peace, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. 

Share your favorite "Rowdy" Roddy Piper memories with me on Twitter: @PrmQueenFrmMars