How did 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper die? Truth behind tragic death of the 'greatest villian in wrestling history'
Piper was known for his unique style of entering the ring wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes
Although he was born as Roderick George Toombs, he became popular as 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. Many pro-wrestling fans consider him as the 'greatest villain in wrestling history'. He earned the title during the '80s when he was part of the hugely popular World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE). Piper was known for his unique style of entering the ring wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes.
When Piper passed away unexpectedly at the age of 61 in 2015, wrestling enthusiasts across the world mourned the great loss. Read on to know more about the cause of Piper's death.
'Rowdy' Roddy Piper's Early Life
Piper was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1954. Although he was Canadian, he was often billed as coming from Glasgow owing to his Scottish heritage, and his trademark 'Scottish; short-temper, and quick wit'. According to his bio in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, he had a fallout with his father after being expelled from his junior high school. Following the fallout, he left home and began staying at a youth hostel.
He picked up various odd jobs at local gyms and ran errands for several professional wrestlers. He also became proficient in playing the bagpipes, although he wasn't sure how exactly he learned the skill. He also served a tour of duty with the Canadian Army.
Roddy Piper's glorious wrestling career
Piper's childhood was pretty rough, but all these hard circumstances molded him into becoming the youngest professional wrestler at the age of 15. He made his debut in pro-wrestling in Winnipeg against Larry ‘The Axe’ Henning and he made his entrance playing the bagpipes. In his early days of wrestling, Piper had well-publicized feuds with ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair and ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka. The Snuka feud came when WWF promoter Vince McMahon gave Piper a TV segment called “Piper’s Pit” on one of the WWF television broadcasts and Piper cracked a coconut over Snuka’s head, reported Sports Casting.
Piper's feud with Hulk Hogan made him extremely popular. In 1985, Piper participated in a main-event match against Hogan on MTV's 'The War to Settle the Score'. Hogan was accompanied to the ring by singer Cyndi Lauper and wrestler Captain Lou Albano and Mr T. Piper was disqualified from the match which led to Hogan claiming the WWF title. Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
Roddy Piper's Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosis and death
In 2006, WWE made an announcement on its official website that Piper had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Later the wrestler himself confirmed it on his website by posting messages of thanks to his fans. He revealed that he wouldn't have gotten his diagnosis had he not been partnered with Ric Flair for a Cyber Sunday match and taken to the hospital.
In 2015, Piper died in his sleep at the age of 61, at his Hollywood residence. His death certificate cites a cardiopulmonary arrest (cardiac arrest) caused by hypertension, listing a pulmonary embolism as a contributing factor. WWE owner Vince McMahon released a statement expressing his condolences to the grieving family. He wrote, "Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.” Even Piper's former rival Hulk Hogan came forward with a condolence message. He told TMZ, "I will forever miss him. He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace.”
Piper is survived by his wife Kitty Jo Dittrich, who he was married to until his death and their four children. You can learn more about Piper's life and glorious career on A&E's upcoming special 'Biography: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper' directed by Emmy and Peabody Award-winner Joe Lavine. 'Biography: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper' premieres on April 25, at 8/7c on A&E.