In The Pit With Piper

Review From User :

Back in the 1980s, during the Hulkamania craze, I was one of the few that cheered for the opposite corner--shouting praise to the usually loud, often obnoxious, and most definitely rowdy, fear-no-one, kilt-wearing bagpipe playing, take-no-prisoners contestant. The "commentator" of (and often demolisher of) Piper's Pit. The guy the fans loved to hate. The true original ICON ("I Cover Over Nothing") The one and only--Rowdy Roddy Piper.
But he wasn't always that way. In fact, he started out as Roderick George Toombs, born on April 17, 1954 in Saskatoon, Saskachewan. For a number of years, he lived on an Indian res called The Pas in Manitoba and it was, somehow, there, that he found the bagpipes (or they found him) He left at age 13 and hitchhiked from place to place, playing "the pipes" in hopes for a quarter so he could spend the night at a youth hostel. But there were many nights that young Roddy went to bed, cold, hungry and alone. The occasional attempts to get him into schools were failures since he wasn't interested, and wasn't particularly any good at reading or writing, so he went back to youth hostels or the streets. But it was one of these hostels that changed his life forever.
This particular hostel had a Police Athletic League and an amateur wrestling coach. And by age 15, Roddy naturally excelled at the mat and had even went on to win his first Championship belt (amateur and below minor league that it was). But it helped give the usually shy and reserved kid who had learned to avoid attention the beginnings of confidence, experience and self.
One of his friends happened to be enrolled in school for pro-wrestling and invited Roddy to visit. Roddy had already dealt with enough con men to recognize one, but he signed the contract with the promoter and then carefully stole it back from the man's briefcase. Now he could fight in real matches. After all, he "had a contract"!
And, the rest, they could say, was history, as he worked his way from promoter to promoter until finally, years later, WWF and Vince McMahon. But McMahon wasn't ready for the Rowdy One. For one thing, Roddy had not been trained the "professional" way. He learned "on the job", traveling around with a bunch of old wrestlers who had taken him in and drove him from show to show, teaching him, using him, but loving him all the same. His Forefathers, he called them. The ones who found a direction for the delinquent to focus his energies on--and he was damned good at doing it. This was a man that would never kowtow to the likes of McMahon for the peanuts he was offering.
He speaks briefly about his wife (of over 25 yrs) Kitty and where they met, where they married, and mentions the names of his four children, Anastasia, Ariel, Colton, and Faron. But other than that, the book is about wrestling. The good, bad and the very, very ugliness of it.
I kind of wish he had spend a little more time talking about him and his home life, about the number of movies he made, about who *he* truly was, but I don't think he actually knew. Or perhaps wasn't prepared to share with just anyone who picked up the book. At home on his ranch in Oregon, he was father and husband, and on the road, he was "Rowdy Roddy Piper". He says in the Foreward that he had to cobble together much of his memories along with help of others who had been there because it was all a bit hazy, and having read the book, I understand. No matter what anyone says, wrestling is a grueling sport, both physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. I don't think he was prepared to go there at that point in this book back in 2002.

Unfortunately, Roddy died in July of 2015, and I know he regrets some of things he did, but I pray that he was mostly proud of what he had accomplished. For his friends, for his family, and for himself. Rest in peace, Hot Rod.


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