On Friday, WWE Hall of Fame legend Rowdy Roddy Piper suffered a cardiac arrest in his sleep and died. He was 61.
In a 2003 interview about premature deaths in pro wrestling on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Piper spoke about the difficulties wrestlers face trying to make it to old age. He comments on his own mortality, and while the comments aren’t necessarily prescient, they’re unfortunately accurate. Jump to the 4:30 mark in the video:
“What would you have me do at 49, when my pension plan I can’t take out until I’m 65? I’m not gonna make 65. Let’s face facts, guys.”
The entire episode is worth watching, but it’s depressing. Piper’s comments on his life are objective and knowing. He battled cancer and fought through injuries to do the thing he loved, the thing he was best at — the thing at which he was indisputably one of the best ever — but something that takes the people who do it away from us far too soon. Anyone who got to sit under the learning tree with Piper was better off for it. All we need to do now is figure out how to make people stop dying, and how to make pro wrestling stop breaking our hearts.