Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yes, I Like Pro Wrestling And Here Is My Favorite Wrestler

I don't discuss Pro Wrestling very much, but here's the truth. I love Pro Wrestling and have since I was about 12. It's not because I'm ashamed or anything. It just never really came up here. And boy, have I have watched it all since then: WWF then WWE, NWA, WCW, WCCW, Mid South, Mid Atlantic, Pro Wrestling USA, AWA, UWF, ECW and any other promotion that was shown on TV here in NYC. Technical wrestling, brawling, Fall Count Anywhere, Last Man Standing, Steel Cage Matches, Ladder Matches, Tag Team Matches,  I love them all.

I remember my first time watching it too. It used to come on here on WOR-TV Saturday nights after Racing From Aqueduct, which would usually be around 11:30 PM unless a Mets game either was from the west coast or went to extra innings. I don't remember what the date was or who was wrestling. What I do remember was Pat Patterson, who was working as a commentator next to Vince McMahon, went to interview Ivan Kolloff. There was a discussion regarding Russian wrestlers vs American wrestlers. Patterson defending American wrestlers vs Kolloff upholding the virtues of the Soviets. After a few minutes, Kolloff hauled off and slapped Patterson and stormed off set. Patterson gets up and rips his suit off and is screaming bloody murder and being bleeped after every second word. McMahon is screaming "Pat Patterson is angry and Ivan Kolloff better have left the arena" Me? I'm just sitting on my bed with my mouth wide open. I was hooked immediately.

I had seen wrestlers like the Masked Superstar, the Wild Samoans, Pat Patterson, Sgt. Slaughter,the WWF Champion Bob Backlund, George "The Animal" Steele, Andre The Giant, The Magnificent Muraco, who was the Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas and colorful managers like The Grand Wizard, "Classy" Freddie Blassie and Capt. Lou Albano. I did have a favorite at the time. The "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka was a guy who had just turned face right around when I started watching, was having the first vicious feud I had ever seen with Muraco. I loved that rage he had when he was angry, but I loved his Superfly Splash off the top rope even more. But I wouldn't say I went GaGa over the guy. Then one show, there was a wrestler who was called "Dr. D" David Schultz. He was beating up a ham and egger (Bobby Heenan representing, yo!), so I wasn't too interested. Then I saw his manager. Here was a loud mouth who was yelling instructions, had a sneer on his face and was wearing a kilt. Who the heck was this guy? During the interview after the match, I found out he called himself "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and he was the best manager in the business. I found out much later he was managing only because he was recovering from injuries sustained during his vicious Dog Collar match with Greg Valentine at Starcade months earlier. He later added Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff to his stable and his career in the WWF was off and running.

Piper interviewing Frankie Williams right before pummeling him

Then, he started to host an interview segment called "Piper's Pit" and that's what made he's known for. At the time, it was pretty innovative. Buddy Rogers had a segment called "Rogers Corner", but it was boring as heck. I would have rather watched paint dry. "Piper's Pit" was anything but boring. His first segment, he insulted a writer for the WWF Magazine, who used to host a segment at that spot. The next week, he called an injured Eddie Gilbert's dad stupid for letting him wrestle The Masked Superstar. Piper was so funny as the host. He would complement the rule breakers and embarrass the good guys. He would assault wrestlers like Frankie Williams,  insult Rocky Johnson, and tell Andre The Giant he had a teeny tiny brain. His most famous segment was when he attacked my former favorite Jimmy Snuka by breaking a coconut over his head and then whipping him with his belt. That started off a feud with Snuka that lasted a year. Piper's Pit may have made Piper's career, but it made him my favorite wrestler and I watched everything and listened to everything he said as well.

I was there at Madison Square Garden the night he beat up Capt. Lou Albano, kicked Cyndi Lauper and power slammed her manager Dave Wolfe as well as the next show when he wrestled Hulk Hogan in the first wrestling match aired on MTV. It was called "The War To Settle The Score" and it was a classic. I realize that using the word "classic" and Hulk Hogan in the same sentence is stretching it a bit, but trust me, it was. The electricity in the crowd that night was so electric, you could cut the air with a night. By then, cheering Piper openly was becoming dangerous as I would have cups thrown at me or I would be cursed out. The end of the match had Piper disqualified when Orndorff and Bob Orton interfere in the match. They were about to beat up Cyndi Lauper when Mr. T made the save. Piper and Orndorff beat up on T until Hogan made the save. The interviews leading up to Wrestlemania was classic and Piper stole the show on Saturday Night Live. I wish I could have been at Wrestlemania. But my mom decided my grades weren't up to snuff, so I couldn't go. Back then, there was no pay per view, so I had to wait until the results were posted in the NY Post the next morning. I was crushed to read that Piper and Orndorff had lost. Piper and Orndorff feuded for a while and he "boxed" Mr. T at Wreslemania 2. After, Piper left to film "They Live", which is a Sci-Fi Classic.

If you have not seen They Live, see it!

When Piper returned, he became a fan favorite and hosted Piper's Pit where he now complemented the good guys and insulted the bad guys. He also feuded with wrestlers like "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, Bob Orton, Ric Flair, Harley Race and Bad News Brown. He won his only singles title around this time when he beat the Mountie for the Intercontinental Title. He then had his best match when he wrestled Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 7 and dropped the belt to Hart. After, he would only wrestle sporadicaly, mainly serving as color commentator with Vince McMahon on WWF TV. He left and later showed up in WCW to feud with Hogan before returning to WWE after. He shows up every now and then to host a Pit which is always entertaining.

God, I still wish I had this

I really don't have much of a Piper collection. When I was a kid, I got the Piper LJN figure and had the poster that came with the figure on my wall. I also got the Hogan figure and had Piper beat him for the belt, which he wore. I also had a picture book that the WWE put out. I also had a cup that 7-11 had sold with a Big Gulp and the later Hasbro Piper figure from the 1990's. All of this got lost due to various moves and I hope to one day get them all back in my collection, as well as other things so I can have a shelf dedicated to Piper. Here's what I do have:

I have always loved the Unmatched Fury line. The figures were pretty realistic and had a base to pose them on. When I found out that Piper would have a figure in this line, I knew I had to have it and grabbed it when I saw it.

The Entrance Greats was a Christmas gift my buddy, George got for me. The figure also has a stand, but this stand plays a few seconds of his entrance music. I love this figure and was thrilled when I tore open the wrapper and saw Hot Rod underneath.

Speaking of Hot Rod, this was a t shirt I had wanted ever since I was a kid and saw him sporting it on Piper's Pit. Thanks to the magic of eBay, I now have this shirt as a part of my geeky wardrobe.

I had shown this pin off in a blog from last year. I picked this pin up for a buck at SuperMega Fest in New Jersey. There wasn't a lot to be had at the show, but I was more than happy to add this pin to the Piper collection.

One of my most cherished experiences was meeting Roddy at the Big Apple Comic Con a few years ago. I was extremely nervous, which I never get when meeting a celebrity. Waiting on line, I met his son, Colt and struck up a conversation with him until it was my turn to meet Piper. When I got up there, I basically spilled my guts to the man like a little girl meeting the Beatles circa 1964. Piper was the best. He listened intently to everything I said, laughed at a few comments, was genuinely pleased when I told him he was my all time favorite and even asked about my family. He signed these 2 pictures for me and posed for a photograph with me.

When I get my man cave, there will be only 2 photos of myself on my walls. A picture of me at the old Yankee Stadium and this picture of me and the "Rowdy Scott". I want to blow it up and have him sign it for me before framing it. I got Albano to sign the Piper's Pit photo at the same show. I just need Cyndi Lauper to sign it so I can add it to my future man cave wall.

I do have the Piper DVD that the WWE put out not too long ago as well as Hell Comes To Frogtown. I'm always looking for the Pit's burnt on a DVD as well as They Live, but I want that on Blu-Ray and I'm not sure its been released on Blu-Ray just yet.

I apologize for the long read. I guess when you admire someone for as long as I have, there's a lot you want to say about the individual. I know if he was a jerk when I met him all this would have been flushed down the toilet like when I met Graig Nettles. But when you know the man is as decent in real life as he's bad in the world of Pro Wrestling, then you know he's doing something right. Ether he's beating up someone or insulting them with his quick tongue or acting in a movie Piper is one of the most entertaining individuals to ever have stepped into the squared circle. He's as big a reason for the popularity of wrestling in the 80's as Hogan was. To this day, he is wildly cheered when he appears on Raw and that is a well deserved cheer for a man who gave his life to wrestling. He was Rowdy before being Rowdy was cool and that's a fact. When you can't throw rocks at a man who carries a machine gun, the only thing I can do is say thanks to for making my childhood a different, yet entertaining one.

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