On Friday, WWE Hall of Famer ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper passed away in his sleep at age 61.
Piper’s memorable wrestling moments could fill their own hall of fame, whether it’s boxing Mr. T, locking himself in Alcatraz to destroy Hulk Hogan or smashing ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut, but he had just as strong a connection with a non-wrestling audience. Piper was a household name in and out of the ring, and to celebrate his pop culture life we’ve put together a list of the moments and things that made him so.
The They Live Fight Scene
If you want to see one of the greatest fight scenes — and maybe one of the greatest scenes, period — in movie history, look no further than Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David beating the sh*t out of each other for 6 straight minutes in John Carpenter’s 1988 cult classic They Live. What it lacks in fight choreography, it makes up for in realism and … uh, length. It just goes on and on, and gets more confusingly wonderful as it goes. “Put the glasses on! Put ’em on!”
Hell Comes To Frogtown
After They Live, the Rowdy Roddy Piper movie most people can name is Hell Comes To Frogtown. They’ve probably never seen it, but with a name like that, how could you forget it? If you’ve never heard of it, here’s the plot: a guy named Hell goes to a place called “Frogtown.” Not kidding.
In all seriousness, it’s Mad Max Fury Road. A group of mutant amphibians kidnap a bunch of women to use as sex slaves, and Piper (as “Sam Hell”) has to drive through the desert fighting them in a bunch of crazy cars. Watch the trailer, you’ll see what I’m talking about. If you combine Mad Max and the Super Mario Bros. movie, boom, Hell Comes To Frogtown.
Rowdy Roddy Peeper
“Tomorrow on Rock Bottom, he’s the foreigner who takes perverted videos of you when you least suspect it … he’s Rowdy Roddy PEEPER.”
You know you’re a pop culture icon when you make The Simpsons as a reference — a classic season 6 episode, even — and not as a guest star. “It makes you look like a pervert—but every single Scottish person does it!”
Piper lent his voice to The Flame Lord Don John in a season 5 episode of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, entitled ‘The Red Throne.’ Don John’s a villain who helps the Flame King overthrow Flame Princess in exchange for her hand in marriage. He doesn’t do much better than Da Maniac, though, and gets knocked out by Flame Princess before being imprisoned in an old lantern. It makes sense if you watch the show. Kind of.
In the best episode of the long-running CBS procedural Cold Case, Piper guest stars as “Sweet Sil Tavern,” a dramatization version of Ric Flair who has fallen on hard times, and may or may not have murdered fellow wrestler Mick “The Machine” Malone. He also talks about his old promoter, Lance, because Cold Case is great at coming up with just-wrong names for real people.
You’re gonna want to watch every second of this. Seriously, click play. The Rowdy One steps onto the classic MTV set as a veejay, gets a promo cut on him by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, tries to moon the camera and dodges a cake to the face. Not even a pie, a cake. Bonus points for the part where he hops around in circle and sings Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady.’
Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N Wrestling
Speaking of music and cartoons, Rowdy Roddy Piper was the main antagonist in the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N Wrestling. I know I said this list wouldn’t be wrestling-related, but trust me, if you’ve ever seen the show you know it has nothing to do with wrestling.
Piper’s role on the show was to drive a Wacky Races car full of wrestlers and just kinda stomp around acting pissy until Hulk showed him up. He was voiced (incredibly inaccurately, I might add) by Charles Adler, the voice of Buster Bunny on Tiny Toon Adventures. He’d eventually repurpose the Piper voice to take over as Starscream and Cobra Commander in Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons when Chris Latta died.
It’s a Hogan’s Heroes parody starring Hulk Hogan. Yeah. Anyway, the best part by a mile is Rowdy Roddy Piper using “stealth” to distract a guard, which equates to him yelling, “Hey, hey, hey, ya f*cking Nazi! How are ya?!” and throwing piledrivers.
I’m Your Man
In 1992, Rowdy Roddy took a shot at David Hasselhoff-style international stardom, releasing the UK-only single ‘I’m Your Man.’ The video is INCREDIBLY 1992, with a leather jacket and jeans with no shirt and tons of frolicking on the beach. If there’s one thing on this list guaranteed to make you laugh, it’s ‘I’m Your Man.’ Who knew Roddy Piper had his own ‘Party All The Time?’
It’s definitely not the best Piper track, though. That honor goes to ‘For Everybody’ from 1985’s The Wrestling Album, a thoroughly censored cover of Mike Angelo & The Idols’ ‘The World May Not Like Me,’ aka ‘F*ck Everybody.’ No idea why someone picked that for a WWF album, but it also includes a rockin’ Mean Gene Okerlund cover of ‘Tutti Frutti,’ so who the f*ck knows.
Goonies R Good Enough
And now, maybe the BEST music video ever made.
Cyndi Lauper’s “mom and pop gas station” that sells veggie burgers (in 1985) and gives you free cookies every time you get gas is in danger of closing. In swoops evil (but rich) Rowdy Roddy Piper, along with Freddie Blassie and The Iron Sheik, to steal the land. Cyndi will have to sell unless she, Captain Lou Albano, The Goonies (who r good enough) and The Bangles (??) can retrieve ancient pirate treasure. It takes two entire music videos.
The best part is that in the end, Cyndi simply summons ANDRE THE GIANT in gladiator clothes to chase off the heels. ‘Goonies R Good Enough’ part 2 ends with Piper getting ditched at the gas station and beaten up in the street while Cyndi dances. She’s so unusual.
Singing Christmas Carols On CBC
You might’ve missed this one. It’s from CBC’s spectacularly-titled AIR FARCE NOT THE NEW YEAR’S EVE SPECIAL and features Rowdy Roddy inviting his number one fan to sing Christmas Carols with him, only to reveal that on every day of the ’12 Days of Christmas,’ Piper’s true love gives him wrestling moves. It’s 4 minutes of Piper in a Christmas sweater, beating the crap out of a stranger. Beautiful.
Okay, it’s technically wrestling-related, but Piper’s turn as aging local wrestler ‘Da Maniac’ on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is one of his most memorable TV roles. Contracted by The Gang to wrestle a terrorist-themed Rickety Cricket at a benefit show for The Troops, Da Maniac gets arrested for unpaid parking tickets moments before he’s supposed to perform. But don’t worry … “Da Maniac loves you.
That’s the kind of emotional strength you get from eating a bucket of chestnuts.
Walker, Texas Ranger
In another wrestling episode of a non-wrestling TV show, Piper guest stars as pro wrestler Cody “The Crusader” Conway on a season 6 episode of the Chuck Norris staple Walker, Texas Ranger. The plot description alone will make you want to tab over to YouTube and start searching:
A woman and her son have fled to Dallas after she witnesses a murder. But the killer is on her tail and its up to Walker and her husband, a pro wrestler, to protect their son and stop the killer before he gets to any of them.
And I assume somebody gets jump-kicked through a windshield.