If you are a pro wrestling fan dating back to the late 1970s through to the mid 1990s then this has been an absolutely brutal summer for you. I know because it has been a brutal summer for me.
First, we lost the American Dream Dusty Rhodes on June 11. Dusty was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time when it came to forming a connection with the fans and getting people to care about him and what was happening in his feuds.
Then, just over a week ago, we found out that Hulk Hogan had essentially destroyed his legacy in a sex tape with racist remarks. Sprinkle in some homophobia from that same tape and it is clear why the WWE had no choice to part ways with the biggest star in wrestling history.
The Hogan thing got me to wondering. Has any celebrity ever made a sex tape and not come to regret it later? It seems that whenever one of these things comes out it does more harm than good. Granted, some people were already trainwrecks long before those tapes came out and in fact, the tape coming out was just another link in a long chain of trainwreck behavior. Still, if you’re even just a little bit famous and there is a sex tape of you out there somewhere in the world, you might want to be a little worried. If you’re even a little famous and someone suggests you make a sex tape be afraid, very afraid.
Frankly the weirdest part of the Hogan deal is that he goes off on these rants on a sex tape. That’s some weird kind of foreplay right there.
But then to cap it off and dear God let this be the cap off, Roddy Piper passed away yesterday at the age of 61. The Hogan/Piper dynamic is really the thing that helped power the WWF National Expansion in the early 1980s. They’ll be connected together for all time. Their rivalry even worked to help WCW during it’s time on top of the wrestling world in the mid 1990s.
Piper has a lot in common with Dusty Rhodes as well. Piper was known more for his mouth than for his in-ring exploits. He was a believeable enough brawler but he was so good on the mic that it overshadows anything else he did. Piper’s Pit is the great interview segment of all time. They tried the same concept with other guys later but it never worked the way it did with Piper because none of the other guys was Roddy Piper.
For Piper and Dusty it was less about the things that they said and more about the delivery of the words and who was making that delivery. Dusty was the “common man” and Roddy the wild child of professional wrestling.
I have so many memories of Piper that I can’t even begin to figure out where to start. I started watching wrestling in 1989 while Piper was the co-host of Prime Time Wrestling with Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. The videos I’m about to show are hardly Piper at his best work in the WWF. But everyone’s showing and discussing the Piper’s Pit segments or Mid-Atlantic or the Dog Collar match against Greg Valentine. I wanted to go in a different direction.
This first video is really a setup for the second one. This is Roddy Piper playing a game of trivia against Bobby the Brain Heenan.
This video is the aftermath of the trivia segment. Bobby Heenan dressed up like Santa Claus and was in his absolute glory. But Roddy Piper isn’t going to take Bobby’s antics for too long before he decides to come to the defense of small children everywhere.
Finally, Roddy Piper was a great storyteller. It didn’t really matter if the story was true or fiction because the man telling the story was so entertaining. Here’s Roddy Piper talking about wrestling a bear. This story is also in his book and it makes me laugh every single time.
So Dusty is gone and Piper is gone. Hogan is still around but will have to work really hard to restore his legacy. As I said before I hope that Roddy’s death is the cap to all of this madness. I don’t think I could take another wrestling tragety this summer.