In 1997 while competing in WCW “Rowdy” Roddy Piper would often walk to the ring wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Icon”. In most cases, you’d characterise that as arrogance or hubris. Not with Piper, he was an Icon and he knew it. Having headlined the first Wrestlemania, wrestled on the first Starrcade, won countless championships and had one of the most recognisable characters in the industry, it’s hard to argue with that assessment. Piper’s matches over the years were often wild and out of control, but rarely away from the spotlight. Now, with the power of the vast archive at the disposal of WWE, some of Piper’s greatest unseen matches can now be brought light. As you might expect, it’s one hell of a ride.
This two-disc DVD set opens with Piper’s early career including matches with Jay Youngblood, and a surreal tag match alongside Ole Anderson against Buddy Landell and Mike Davis. However, then we get into the thick of proceedings with his matches in WWE. It’s incredible the charisma and pure heel heat Piper had here. It’s especially evident when he’s alongside Paul Orndorff and they made a great unit. Highlights of that run include matches with SD Jones and Jimmy Snuka. All of these (as becomes a theme) are interspersed with moments from Piper’s regular chat show segment, Piper’s Pit which arguably offered some of his most iconic moments.
However, Piper could also be a great babyface and his run in WWE in the late 80s/early 90s (admittedly interrupted by frequent movie roles and a fairly serious motorcycle injury at one stage) was superb at points. His matches with Mr Perfect and Ravishing Rick Rude are both really enjoyable, although probably in part due to the calibre of opposition. I should also point out that included here is an action figure commercial for Piper which offers a fantastic slice of nostalgia.
Disc 2 is ultimately unable to match the standard of the offering on disc one, if nothing else because it was on the “back nine” of Piper’s career. That’s not to say he wasn’t capable of good matches and fun segments but it was not at the level of his earlier work. Matches with Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage from WCW are a fun throwback, and his batshit crazy segments from Alcatraz are included too. The matches are fewer and further between after WCW closed its doors, although seeing him take on Randy Orton and Cowboy Bob Orton is a nice nod to the early days of the Hulkamania era, and the tag alongside Batista and Eddie Guerrero against the Ortons and Mr Kennedy is surprisingly entertaining. The weirdest visual is seeing Piper take on Rikishi from 2003 though, in what can only be described as a bizarre pairing. After that, understandably given his age and health issues, Piper is mostly relegated to Piper’s Pit, but segments with The Miz, John Cena, The Shield, Rusev and Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee show that even in his latter days “Hot Rod” still had plenty to offer on the microphone.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper passed away in 2015, and I was lucky enough months earlier to meet him in an airport following Wrestlemania 31. He was lovely, taking a photo, offering a hug and just generally being a fantastic person. We talked for a few minutes, but he seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying. As one of my all-time favourites, I was delighted. With Piper sadly gone, it is great to see WWE giving the fans an opportunity to see previously unseen and unreleased matches and I would recommend this DVD set very highly. It’s a great representation of Piper’s career, without relying on the matches and segments that you will likely have seen hundreds of times on WWE TV.