Friday, July 31, 2015

Trying to Stay Strong: RIP "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper takes the ring.

I loved pro wrestling as a kid, and have to admit I still peek in on the happenings from time to time.  It was, and still is, great live entertainment.  When you get down to it, basically you're watching a live action stunt show.  Yeah, the guy knew the punches and the throws were coming, but that doesn't mean it didn't take real muscle, real physical strength, and yes, even a bit of acting to "sell" the action taking place in the ring.  It was all good over-the-top fun.  I used to watch when I could, I loved the Hulk Hogan Rock N' Wrestling show, as ridiculous as it was.  

Pictured:  "Ridiculousness"

Back in the day I used to know many of the wrestlers names--well, their stage names at least--by heart.  Time passed and I lost interest, but there were still a few names I remembered and kept tabs on what they were up to.  To me those names were the legends, the names worth remembering.  

There was Ultimate Warrior who had awesome face paint and killer hair.

12 people have been pounded into submission just by looking at the glare and the hair. 

There was bohemeth of man, Andre the Giant.

I will crush you.

The flamboyant fabulous promo man Macho Man Randy Savage:
Oh yeeeeeah!
The ever changing Hulk Hogan:

Brother, I rip though shirts like cheap tissue

And of course, the villain himself.  A heel among heels, the Hot Rod,  "Rowdy" Roddy Piper:

Put on the glasses you smark

Voted top villain in the WWE hall of fame and well deserved as the best heel pro wrestling had to offer.  He played bagpipes for his entrance in as obnoxious a way possible (and that's saying something.)  He would stage interviews in the "Piper Pit" as an excuse to pummel other wrestlers.  And that sleeper hold finishing move?  An unfair move to win the match. But it was all an act.  No, not just the wrestling bit, that's the obvious part.   By all accounts Roddy Piper was one of those genuine nice guys off stage--I mean outside of the ring.  He was affable, loved his fans and interacting with them, brought back "Piper's Pit" via a fun little podcast (Although there was less body slams this time around).  On top of all this and more I haven't mentioned;  Piper survived cancer and a car wreck and still came out smiling and ready to get back in the thick of life.  

Little wonder he would sign autographs with the phrase "Stay Strong."

I didn't know until years later that he had starred in the cult classic "They Live," because to me he was still that villain from WWF who fought against Hulk Hogan.  When I finally did sit down and watch the movie, I knew I was watching not only some classic John Carpenter, but a classic thriller/horror film that was going to be up there with "Army of Darkness" in terms of how enjoyable it was.  The this is though, I still really think of Roddy Piper as that villainous wrestler more than I think of him as the man who ran out of bubble gum and promptly went to kicking all sorts of...well, you know.  He was a childhood icon.  Man, I hate writing the word "was" in front of Roddy Piper's name.

It's hard seeing an icon from my childhood pass.  No not because of the "Ha ha, we're getting old,  derrrrrr," garbage people usually say around here.  (I hate that kind of attitude towards life and will likely write a short, 50 thousand word essay on the topic.)  Our icons age, and those people you remember seeing on shows from when you were a kid will eventually pass, just as those great voice actors from our favorite cartoons will eventually pass.  It's hard because he was one of those people that I had really wanted to meet in person but never go the chance to do so.  He was one of those people that now, as an adult, I appreciate all the more the hard work and effort they put into making something memorable and special.  I envy those who got his autograph and got just a few minutes to say hello and thank you to Piper.

Let me wrap up by saying this:  If you still have the chance, thank one of those guys from your childhood for helping to make your childhood what it was.  Whether they were a star or not, I'm betting who ever it is would appreciate it greatly.

 I think I'll try and take a cue from Roddy Piper no matter how hard it might be to say goodbye to Piper; I'm going to try.  And as hard as it is, I'll try to follow his motto and Stay Strong.

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