Rowdy Roddy Piper passing away last week was another devastating blow to the wrestling community as he was a true original. No one walked down to the ring, delivered a promo and told a story during his matches like he did. We’ve lost a number of iconic superstars this year, including Dusty Rhodes; but to me the death of Roddy Piper is one of the most tragic because of one reason:
He was never a world champion for any of the big league companies like WWE or WCW.
Now don’t get me wrong, Piper transcended the need for any world championship belt with many memorable matches, his iconic role in “They Live” and with his promos. His role as a heel during his massive feud with Hulk Hogan helped cement Hogan’s run on top for years, essentially breathing financial life into the WWF for a good portion of the 80’s. He was an essential piece of the puzzle that made WWF what it was back then and not once did he receive the ultimate acknowledgement of that hard work in the form of a WWF Championship run. That’s a tragedy, folks. I highly doubt a run with Piper as champion would have hurt WWF’s bottom line and he without a doubt knew how to draw heat from the crowd as a heel. The classic scenario of Piper winning the championship with unhanded tactics against 80’s icon Hulk Hogan would have setup the ultimate “Face VS Heel.” program, with Hogan eventually winning the title back that he was cheated out of. Good triumphs over evil. It’s been told a million times, but not the way Piper would have done it with that belt.
The thing that bothers me about Piper not having his name attached to the linage of a world championship is for the historical aspect of the industry. Think about it: In three or four generations from now when a new wrestling fan looks at the history of the WWE title, they will have a better chance of learning about The Great Khali than they will of Rowdy Roddy Piper based on that list of who held the title. Seasoned wrestling fans know that a world title on you doesn’t make you the man, but once you’ve held that title, your chances of being remembered historical increase dramatically over those who don’t. While its true that he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship, there’s always the chance that WWE could sweep that title under the rug. They have once before.
I think the fact that Piper was never given a World Championship run bothered him. Inside MMA replayed a segment from 2007/2008 where they interviewed him and Bas Rutten introduced him as a “World champion wrestling superstar.” You could tell that Piper wanted to correct him and tell him: “They never gave me that chance, buddy.” but instead he laughed it off and proceeded with the interview like a pro.
Roddy Piper should not be forgotten and will most likely never be, but it’s up to us as fans of this industry to keep his legacy alive where the promoters failed to do so.
RIP, Roddy Piper!