TAG TEAM (1991) — BY HENRY GILBERT
While it only ended up being a TV movie, Tag Team could’ve been so much more. The hour-long production paired Roddy with Jesse Ventura, one of the few wrestlers that could match Piper’s unhinged intensity. The duo played a tag team who were run out of pro wrestling by nefarious means, and now needed jobs. So, they take the next obvious course of action and become policemen. Piper and Ventura then start using their skills to clean up the mean streets using a few clotheslines and backdrops to subdue a perp. You can watch the entirety below.
It was a cute premise for a schlocky film, but Tag Team was originally meant to be the pilot for an entire TV series. The two saw it as their chance at the big time, their own A-Team. They were so into the project that they did their own stunts, which the TV producers were actually a bit uncomfortable with. The end fight scene’s hilarious use of wrestling moves really makes me wish this had gotten more than one episode. Just imagine all the silly excuses the duo would make up to use their wrestling skills on the job.
The other thing to note is how humorously and unintentionally homoerotic Roddy and Jesse’s relationship is. They live together, shower together, grapple together, and seem a bit more interested in each other than any of the women they meet. Tag Team is overflowing with machismo to the point of silliness, and Piper and Ventura’s straight-faced commitment to the premise only makes it funnier. By the time the last scene has the two of them hanging out half-naked, no one even bats an eye.
So how close did Piper get to this being a regular gig? He and Jesse talked all about it back in 2014…
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (2009) — BY DAVE RUDDEN
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has never shied away from gross or uncomfortable humor, and Roddy Piper’s guest appearances as “Da Maniac” proved the aging superstar could step in the ring with the sitcom’s ensemble cast. His first appearance was in “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops,” when Mac, Dennis, and Charlie ask Da Maniac for help putting together a benefit wrestling show for the troops (to make Paddy’s look good in the eyes of the community, of course). On a show where the gang has been kidnapped by an inbred family and targeted by a North Korean BBQ restaurant, Da Maniac was one of the few characters to legitimately creep out the start quintet, thanks to Piper’s creepy performance.
Said performance was good enough to get Piper invited back, as Roddy revisited his role four years later in “Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare,” where the gang gets roped into a pyramid scheme and Da Maniac randomly attends one of their seminars. Over the course of the episode he foils their attempts at finding other buyers and backing out of their own deals, finally giving a fortune to the scheme once the gang finds a way out. It was the perfect ending for a madcap character that never antagonized or hated the gang, but played the “Wild Card” even better than Charlie.
LEGENDS HOUSE (2014) — BY DAVE RUDDEN
Just in case you needed you needed a reminder that Roddy Piper could deliver the comedy without a script, the WWE Network-exclusive reality show Legends House featured Piper as the anchor of its eight-man cast. Over the course of the nine-episode series, Piper led the charge (Braveheart-style) during a LARPing session, was the centerpiece of a wrestler roast, and had trouble operating a blender.
While Piper was usually the punchline-deliverer always good for the customary talking-head segments, Legends House was also an outlet to showcase a deeper side of the Hot Rod. He’d wander away from the eponymous abode due to his lonely nature and struggle with his sobriety as the rest of the cast partied, but the real heart of the show came to light when Piper and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan developed a deep friendship they never had the opportunity to forge while on the road in the 1980s. One of the more sadly touching moments of this mostly hokey show was seeing Duggan overcome with sadness when Piper would leave the house for other media obligations.
Even though the show was a bit more combative than you’d expect from a program full of retired wrestlers, the octet left Legends House on good terms. The final two left in the house after everyone said goodbye were Hacksaw and Hot Rod, whereupon Piper thanked Duggan for being his lifeline through the show’s recording. Piper was the last one left, saying farewell to the fancy house and in a way, to us too. While he’s appeared on WWE television a number of times since then, this was the last chance most fans had to spend a considerable amount to with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Goodbye, Hot Rod.