Roddy Piper was a pro wrestling legend, a true icon in WWE history. Yet Piper has received less respect from the WWE since his passing than several recent colleagues from the company in a final act of disrespect and shame from the CEO.
Piper helped usher in a revolution for the WWE and pro wrestling. Pro wrestling was hot in 1983 but when Roddy Piper joined the WWE and opened his mouth into a WWE microphone in 1984 everything changed. Piper was not your average heel and while there were many great talkers before him, something about him got under the skin of millions of people all over the world.
To try and put into the words the impact Piper had on wrestling would be doing him an injustice. As a kid watching WWE TV since 1982 at the time, I have to admit, I loved Piper. From the second he tore into a babyface verbally in Piper’s Pit, he became my favorite wrestler. Maybe it was the legend of Piper that I read about in wrestling magazines long before I saw him on television, but the man had a superstar charisma like no other heel I had ever seen, including Ric Flair.
I would never give Piper full credit for the revolution that eventually morphed into WrestleMania, but I could. There were plenty of hot babyfaces in pro wrestling in 1984. Bruno Sammartino in his day was every bit as hot as Hulk Hogan was. But the Brunos and Dustys and Von Erichs never had the heel to play off that Hogan had in Piper. The same can be said about great heels and their lack of babyface rivals. If it wasn’t for the fact that the majority of fans hated Piper’s guts, I don’t know if anyone would have cared as much about WrestleMania.
Think about this for a second. Roddy Piper helped not only sell one main-event at WrestleMania, but both main-events at Mania. I would argue that Wendy Richter vs. LeLani Kai was the co-headliner due to Cyndi Lauper’s involvement in the industry. Who got Lauper over more than Piper? Piper sold that match just as much if not more than he sold his own match against Hogan. What other heel could have pulled that off for Vince McMahon at the time?
In my Piper obit, I pointed to the amount of money that Piper drew for Vince McMahon at the time. He was selling out all over the country in main-events against Jimmy Snuka before he even got to WrestleMania. If you think about the money Piper drew for the WWE between 84 and 85 and use inflation, you could argue that Piper drew more during that hot period than Hogan did. It’s incredible if you really sit down and think about it.
This brings me to the current day and Mr. Piper. Piper passed away on July 31. As I write this we are over two weeks past his passing and the best and I mean the best that the WWE has done so far was a five minute tribute video to Piper, which couldn’t even be fully exploited due to the censorship of his greatest rival. I hate to say it, but that is far from good enough for this man that helped build an institution.
Even if it were the standard, Vince McMahon should have gone far above the standard for a legend like Piper. But it is not the standard. The Ultimate Warrior got about two weeks straight of WWE programming between television and the Network in tributes after he passed away. Dusty Rhodes received several tributes on the Network in his honor, and rightfully so. Yet the only tribute I have seen so far on the Network is a just a hodgepodge of Piper programs in no particular order with no additional commentary. That’s just ridiculous!
It’s not too late. There is always time to put a Piper special together and put it on the network. Yet every day that passes feels like another slap in the face to arguably the greatest piece of talent on the roster in the mid-1980s. Roddy Piper deserved better and shame on the WWE for not giving it to him.