Sunday 17 December 2017

Wrestling world left reeling after sudden death of Rowdy Roddy Piper

WWE Hall of Famer
WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, who has died age 61. Photo: Getty Images
WWE Hall of Fame Wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper speaks during a press conference for the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in New York, March 31, 2009. Photo: Reuters
Wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper attends the WrestleMania 25th anniversary press conference in 2009. Photo: Getty Images
'All outta bubblegum': Roddy Piper starred in John Carpenter's "They Live"
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Photo: Getty Images
Former professional wrestlers Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "Rowdy Roddy Piper look on as Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka steps into the ring to battle WWE Superstar Chris Jericho during WrestleMania 25 at Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Getty Images
Roddy Piper was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006. He was 61. Photo: Getty Images newsdesk

Wrestling fans worldwide are in mourning after the sudden death of grappling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at the age of 61.

The much-loved Piper, born Roderick George Toombs, died from cardiac arrest in his sleep at his home in Hollywood and is survived by his wife Kitty and their four kids, including his son Colton who is pursuing a career in professional wrestling.

The “Hot Rod” was a wrestling icon and while Hulk Hogan and “Hulkamania” grabbed the spotlight and sent World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) into orbit in the mid 80’s, Piper played a starring role as the wrestler everyone loved to hate.

The Canadian-born superstar headlined Wrestlemania 1 in 1985 when teaming with Paul Orndorff to square off against Hogan and Mr. T and even appeared on The Late Show with Joan Rivers in 1987.

Despite being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2006, Piper had been cancer free since November which makes this news all the more shocking especially only weeks after the passing of fellow legend Dusty Rhodes.

Billed as from Glasgow, Scotland he famously wore a kilt to the ring while bagpipes bellowed throughout the arena and despite being a crowd favourite for his rock star-like persona, Roddy played the villain for the best part of his career.

His spontaneity and quick wit in front of camera led him to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and named No. 1 of the Top 50 heels in wrestling history.

Piper had a long relationship with WWE, wrestling as recently as 2008, but appeared on various WWE shows up until 2014 as part of his Legends contract. 

Widely regarded as the greatest wrestler never to win a world title and one of the masters of wrestling psychology, his loss will reverberate throughout the industry.

Many fellow professionals have shared their condolences through social media and Hogan, who is embroiled in a huge racism scandal at present, had the following to say.

“I will forever miss him. He was my best friend. He is a legend.” Hogan adds, “God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace. Much love forever.”

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