“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was the first man I ever truly hated. I say that with the utmost respect and mean it as the highest compliment I could possibly pay the man. My childhood devotion to Hulk Hogan has been well documented in this column and my initial interest and, subsequent, obsession with wrestling began during Hogan’s feud with Hot Rod. Arguably, Hulkamania wouldn’t have run as wild without Piper being cast as his foil during a time where, through a partnership with MTV, professional wrestling was receiving an unprecedented amount of exposure on a national stage.
THE EVENT: THE WAR TO SETTLE THE SCORE, DECEMBER 28, 1984.
“’Rowdy’ Roddy Piper kicked Cindy Lauper in the face,” reported Eddie Yakubics, my babysitter and, as far as I was concerned at the time, the coolest guy I knew. That was all I knew. I had seen the WWF’s syndicated show on WOR- New York and would occasionally sneak pieces of the house shows broadcast on the MSG Network after I was supposed to be in bed. I didn’t even see the incident until I was an adult, able to find it on the Internet, but the mere thought of such a vile, reprehensible act was enough to conjure feelings of outrage, disgust and animus unlike anything I had experienced in my 6 ½ years on the planet. I watched in subsequent weeks as Piper would rant and rave and gloat in his inimitably insane promo style disparaging Lauper and Hogan and, later, Mr. T. I hated Roddy Piper. I wanted him to be silenced. More specifically, I wanted Hot Rod to receive his comeuppance at the hands of my hero, Hulk Hogan.
I felt all of these things because Roddy Piper was incredibly gifted; the consummate professional. His job, after all, was to make me (and millions of other people—many of them adults) feel these things.
HOW I SEE IT NOW:
It wasn’t until later, that this incident was put into context. Dick Clark was there to present an award to Cyndi Lauper for her “contributions to women’s professional wrestling,” and Lauper, in turn, presented Captain Lou Albano with a plaque for his charity work. Piper, displeased with being upstaged, smashed the plaque over Albano’s head (as any fan of wrestling knows, if you see a prop in pro wrestling, it will be used as a weapon.) Piper began kicking Albano while he was down and Lauper clung to Piper’s leg in order to stop the attack on Albano. It was at this point that the incident that inspired my Piper hatred, the infamous “kick to the head,” transpired. In watching the clip now, the kick wasn’t so much a kick as it is a brushing Lauper off his leg with undue force. It was cowardly and inappropriately forceful but it wasn’t the brutal act I had imagined it to be when I was told about it. What really makes the moment disturbing, is the reckless and malicious expression Piper has on his face as he swatted Lauper off of him. The more galling act is that moments later, Piper powerslammed Lauper’s manager/ boyfriend, the 130-pound David Wolff and it looked brutal. All hell broke loose. Legitimite, uniformed NYPD officers stormed the ring at the same time that Hulk Hogan ran to Albano and Lauper’s aid. A really, well-constructed, perfectly-executed piece of business that Piper deserves most of the credit for.
Rest in Peace, Roddy Piper—one of the all time greats.
Tags: "Rpwdy" Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, Hot Rod, Hulk Hogan, hulkamania, Madison Square Garden, old school WWF, Piper kicks Cyndi Lauper, Piper tribute, Piper's Pit, THe Rock N' Wrestling Connection, The War to Settle the Score, World Wrestling Federation, WWF