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Wrestling fans young, old and in between were dealt a depressing blow this weekend when it was announced that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper had passed away due to cardiac arrest. The superstar had seen it all, done most of it, and had a clever remark every step of the way. To pay tribute to the icon, the WWE took some time during Monday’s Raw to showcase just what made him so great. Check out the oh-so-short retrospective below.
Honestly, they could have just spent that five minutes solely replaying classic bits from his “Piper’s Pit” segments. But I understand that this wasn’t just about pleasing me. Although I know I’m not alone. I digress.
Things got started with the expected ten-bell salute that’s given when a wrestler dies (under normal circumstances), and it was quite touching to see almost the entire WWE roster on stage, with nearly everybody rocking Hot Rod T-shirts. (The top brass looked a little more dapper, of course.) It’s no small feat to look like you’re mourning when your face is full of makeup. But all it takes is a quick look around that arena and seeing all of the signs dedicated to Piper’s memory and it’s enough to get anyone feeling morose. But the celebratory kind of morose, because if anybody would want people having a good time in his memory, it’s Rowdy.
Then we get that shot of Piper’s empty chair with his kilt hanging off of it, which is probably one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen on any wrestling program. Thankfully, that was followed by a flashback-filled video where Piper was smiling 90% of the time, so that raised the spirits a bit. (Or if you’re not into spirits, it raised a couple of beers with Stone Cold Steve Austin.) We got pictures when he was a kid, when he was just starting out in the pro wrestling world, when he was on top of his game, and when he returned to the WWE in his later years. And in every single shot, he looked like he was having more fun than anybody else.
Not to flip the mood back to downbeat, but it was a total bummer that so many of those pictures had him next to a fellow superstar that had also passed away, including Dusty Rhodes, Ultimate Warrior, and Andre the Giant.
It’s almost surprising that WWE execs decided to keep Hulk Hogan in a couple of those pictures, considering their distancing actions following his firing over racist comments. But whatever. At least they snuck in Piper’s unforgettable line from John Carpenter’s They Live.
The wrestling world has seen a lot of its superstars deal with ugly controversy in both life and death, but the only controversies Roddy Piper dealt with were his own fictitious ones, and the sport just won’t be the same without him.