“Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s Death & His Tragic Story

Hamish Woodward

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“Rowdy” Roddy Piper died of a heart attack on July 31, 2015, shocking the wrestling world and leaving the millions of fans distraught at losing one of the greatest heels of all time.

Roddy Piper‘s Death in 2015 was one of the most emotional and painful of all celebrity deaths. He was 61 years old and a legend of professional wrestling and taken far too soon. He was one of the greatest talkers in the history of the business and a legend inside the ring.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 to cap of an incredible career. He would stay involved within wrestling, appearing at WrestleMania events and various independent wrestling shows over the years, as well as guest roles on various TV shows and movies.

It’s been eight years since Roddy Piper passed away and nobody could ever forget the impact that “Hot Rod” had on the WWE.

How Did Roddy Piper Die?

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper died in his sleep on the 31st July, 2015. He died in his home in Hollywood, California and was only 61 years old.

He was reported to have died from a heart attack, caused by a pulmonary embolism. This was reported by TMZ, although his death certificate cites a cardiopulmonary arrest caused by hypertension, listing a pulmonary embolism as a contributing factor.

His deats was felt all across the wrestling world. Days after his death, the WWE roster all stood on stage to pay a moment of silence to Piper.

They all wore Roddy Piper t-shirts and stood alongside the entire arena for 10 tolls of the ring bell. It was an incredibly emotional moment that was accompanied by a moving video package that will never be forgotten.

While his daughter did go into wrestling, it was Ronda Rousey who would pay tribute to Piper in the WWE. She met Roddy Piper during her time in the UFC and was given permission to use “Rowdy” as her own nickname. They became close and were friends up until his death.

Ronda paid tribute to the “Hot Rod” in WWE by wearing his famous leather jacket to the ring.

It was gifted to her by the Piper family and used to honor the legend of the ring. She also wore a tartan skirt on her walk to the ring, a reference to the WWE Hall of Famer’s kilt.

Did Roddy Piper Die In The Ring?

Roddy Piper did not die in the ring. The Canadian wrestler died at home in his sleep in the night. He was found in the morning by an unnamed source and pronounced dead upon discovery.

He was only 61 when he died, which while seems like a young age for most, it was expected for somebody who had lived the life that “Rowdy” Roddy had.

Piper had long retired from wrestling by the time he had died. He had continued his acting career instead of wrestling during this time. He had a recurring role in the hit comedy TV Series “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia“, playing a down on his luck wrestler named “Da Maniac”.

The character was unhinged and hid a dark past and showcased the fantastic acting ability of Roddy Piper prior to his death.

When Was His Last Match?

Roddy Piper wrestled his last match in 2011, just four years before his death.

The final match of the long and illustrious career took place in 2011. It came in Juggalo Championship Wrestling, the hardcore promotion ran by the 90s hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse. 

It was a strange place to end Roddy Piper’s career. Many people thought he had long retired, and if he was to have one last match, it would be in a WWE ring.

The match itself was star-studded. Mick Foley teamed up with Terry Funk, taking on the WWE Hall of Fame duo of ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton and ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. The event itself was billed as “JCW Legends & Icons” and featured huge match ups such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs the Midnight Express, and the dream match of NWO vs DX.

The show was main evented by Orton/Piper vs Foley/Funk, with the former team picking up the win. It was a lacklustre match that barely lasted four minutes, but sent the crowd home happy having seen four legends of the ring competing together one last time. Just four years later Piper would pass away, aged 61.

His last match in the WWE was earlier that year, when he beat The Miz on Monday Night Raw with the help of Alex Riley.

Roddy Piper Tragically Knew He Would Die Young

Years before his death, Roddy Piper eerily predicted that he wouldn’t live a long life. He had spent years in the notoriously hard wrestling business and dabbled in various drugs and alcohol over the years.

He spent 40 years as a professional wrestler, joining the wrestling business when he was just a teenager.

In a 2003 interview for HBO’s “Real Sports with Brian Gumble”, the former WWE star talked about the wrestling business and his role in it.

He joked that wrestling had “a tremendous entrance plan”, offering you love from the fans and riches beyond your wildest dreams. However, there is no retirement and most wrestlers wrestle until they physically cannot step into the ring anymore, not long before their deaths. Some wrestlers even die in the ring.

Speaking in 2003, a 49 year old Roddy Piper said;

“Wrestling has a tremendous entrance plan. You come in and it’s ‘Boy here you are. It’s rock and roll, it’s wonderful.’ It’s got no exit plan, What would you have me do at 49 when my pension plan, I can’t take out until I’m 65. I’m not gonna make 65—let’s face facts, guys.”

His prediction was correct. Roddy Piper died at aged 61, 4 years off his prediction as to how long he would last in life. His death was huge shock to everybody, except clearly to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper himself.

Why Did Roddy Piper Play The Bagpipes?

While you may think it was just part of his gimmick, Roddy Piper did actually play the bagpipes.

The former WWE star learnt to play the bagpipes as a child. Some sources claim that he learnt them at just age six, although during an interview with Steve Austin, Piper claims not to remember when he first did.

Despite not being Scottish, they became a big part of his identity. He was part of many bagpipe groups and was said to be a “child prodigy” with the instruments.

Roddy Piper played the bagpipes to the ring during his first ever wrestling match. On the A&E Documentary about his life, he detailed how he employed his own bag piping group to play him to the ring, an outrageously flashy entrance for a wrestler in their first ever match.

In a 2014 interview with the Portland Tribune,Roddy Piper claimed to have played with other young pipers at the Rose Bowl when he was 12. He also revealed that he came “fifth in the world” in a bagpipe competition at age 14.

Roddy Piper entering to the bagpipes to face Hulk Hogan in WCW

However, given the nature of pro-wrestling and his old-school mentality, it’s unknown whether these were real facts or embellishments to further push his wrestling persona.

Roddy Piper worked the bag pipes into his act. He would purposely play them horribly, making an awful sound to drown out the noise of the fans.

He even admitted to once playing the Scottish National Anthem in Portland, a place where he was one of the biggest stars. He noted that his playing was “just horrible. I’d literally torture (fans) until they booed me.”.

His most famous one, however, was definitely in Mexico. In the ultimate heel move, Roddy Piper announced to the crowd that he was going to play the Mexican National Anthem, before letting out a rendition of “La Cucaracha”.

He later revealed that he didn’t think he would make it out of the arena alive.

It has been said that after Roddy Piper’s death, bagpipes were played at his funeral in honour of his musical hobby.

Did Roddy Piper Hate Mr T?

Wrestling in the main event of WrestleMania 1 together did not mean Roddy Piper and Mr T had to get along.

Mr T was one of the most popular actors in America at the time, having shot to superstardom with roles in The A Team and Rocky III.

He met Hulk Hogan while filming the Rocky movie, which opened the door for an appearance in wrestling. Mr T made a series of appearances before agreeing to wrestle in the main event of the first WrestleMania.

However, Roddy Piper did not take kindly to Mr T. In his view, Mr T was not a wrestler, so should not have been in the ring with the “real” wrestlers that night.

Despite that, he was ever the professional. Piper instructed Mr T to get him in a fireman’s carry during the match, getting one of the most iconic shots from WrestleMania 1.

The iconic image of Mr T and Roddy Piper (WrestleMania 1)

They managed to put their real-life heat behind them for a boxing match at WrestleMania 2 the following year. This was very unorthodox and did not really work as a fixed contest.

Mr T won the match when Piper got angry and body slammed him. However, the fans largely took the side of Hot Rod, and it made him an even more popular star than he was before.

The boxing match was allegedly set up because Mr T was so upset at his treatment the previous year. Vince McMahon allegedly set up the match so Mr T could hit Piper “for real”, but still in the scripted nature of wrestling.

Both Mr T and Roddy Piper were inducted into the WWE Hall of Famer (2014 & 2005 respectively). Mr T is still alive and paid tribute to Roddy Piper after his death in July 2015.

FAQ

When Did Roddy Piper Die?

Rowdy” Roddy Piper died on July 31, 2015,

How Did Roddy Piper Die?

Roddy Piper was reported to have died from a heart attack, caused by a pulmonary embolism. This was reported by TMZ, although his death certificate cites a cardiopulmonary arrest caused by hypertension, listing a pulmonary embolism as a contributing factor.

Howe Old Was Roddy Piper When He Died?

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was 61 years old when he died.

When Was His Last Match In WWE?

Roddy Piper’s Last WWE match in WWE was against The Miz on the June 13, 2011 episode of Raw

Did Roddy Piper win the WWE Championship?

Roddy Piper never won the WWE Championship in his career. This was owing to the fact that he refused to lose to a lot of wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan. Piper could not be trusted to drop the belt when needed, so was never trusted as a top star in the WWE.

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