RIP Roddy Piper: 6 Times Hot Rod Ruled over Movies, Music, & TV

roddy-tagteam

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…

roddy-sunny

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.

roddy-legends

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.

12 thoughts on “RIP Roddy Piper: 6 Times Hot Rod Ruled over Movies, Music, & TV

  1. Really nice article guys, enjoyed looking back on stuff he’d done outside of the ring.

    I’m absolutely gutted to hear of his passing. He was one of my all time favorites as a kid and one of the main reasons I watched wrestling every week. I remember his promo’s being so entertaining that I’d rewind the show after watching them just to see his promo’s over again. Then I’d try and quote them to my friends as school because I wanted them to know how great he was.

    In fact he was someone i always looked forward to seeing if I knew he’d be on the show because of how entertaining he was.

    I’m really going to miss him, he was one of a few wrestlers that I always wanted to know what he was doing next and always listened to his podcast because he was still just as funny and crazy as ever. RIP.

  2. I’m surprised you guys were able to write this up so quickly. As a big John Carpenter fan, this passing hits me harder than Dusty Rhodes, and that was also a big loss. RIP to one of the most gloriously maniacal bastards the circuit has ever seen.

  3. My personal favourite Rowdy Roddy Piper movie is Hell Comes to Frogtown. It was a campy B-movie, a post-apocalyptic rip-off of Mad Max. He was perfect in the lead role as Sam Hell. So many over the top Shatner-esque facial expressions. R.I.P.

    (The movie’s up on YouTube if you’re curious)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAYqOEjmIDk

  4. I’m really saddened by his passing equally as much as I was with Dusty’s. I wasn’t alive during his heyday but The WWE Netowork and games have helped. We’ll miss you Roddy.

  5. Wow, did not expect you to leave so suddenly brotha; rest in peace and thanks for giving us a bad guy worth rooting for. You came to kick ass and chew bubblegum and even thou you were out of bubblegum you made due and ended up giving us fans something more; a legacy. Roderick George Toombs 1954-2015

  6. I had no idea until today that Roddy was Canadian and is actually from the same province as me (Saskatchewan)

  7. Another one!? I literally just replayed that level in Saints Row IV within the last week or two.

    Rest in peace, kick ass and chew bubblegum.

  8. Dustys passing was sad but Roddys has hit me hard, for me he was the first wrestler i remember seeing who was… different. He wasnt a huge vanilla babyface meathead and he fascinated me from start. He just had this fire and his promos could almost be scary how intense he was. Think in hindsight Piper set me down the path of being a Heel fan, he got the TRUE art of being a heel and didnt need cheap heat. I’d say the closest person we have to that now that gets the mindset is Kevin Owens. But anyway RIP Hot Rod, May you be a half hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead.

  9. Hi guys,
    Great episode this week. I played a ton of adventure games on PC back in the 1990s, so this one really hit home for me. And your enthusiasm for the Kings Quest has got me more intrigued to play it, I wasn’t sure about it at first because I was content to just let Kings Quest stay in the past, but hearing you guys praise it makes me more curious.

    Re: QOTW
    I did once make a shelf on top of a desk I had by taking a piece of wood and stacking it on top of eight soda cans that were arranged to be like “legs” of the shelf.

    Similarly, my printer right now is sitting on an old laptop and two VHS cassettes as a makeshift printer stand. All those things would have gone in the trash otherwise.

  10. I was looking forward to Racist Hogan discussion dominating the next Cheap Popcast episode. But now it’s going to be all about Roddy.

  11. This really does bum me out. Even though I’m not really a wrestling fan, being someone who loves They Live and Always Sunny definitely put Roddy Piper on my radar, and it was always cool to hear the Laser Time crew discuss him and his career. I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of his career, and he’s one of the few wrestlers I’ve gone back to look into as a result. He will definitely be missed…

  12. Not sure if you guys saw the Piper/Flair episode of Celebrity Wife Swap from two years ago, but it was amazing to see how devoted a husband and father Roddy was. This was, of course, in contrast to Flair being a total shithead who is on his fourth wife and still goes out and blows money like he’s still the top draw in wrestling.

    Having watched this, Piper’s passing hit me a bit harder, since he left behind his wife of 33 years and four kids.

    Basically, it should have been Flair. Haha.

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