Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Piper's 1986 babyface turn sells me

Pro Wrestling Illustrated January 1987 headline says "Great Scot! Pro Wrestling Illustrated. 'Rowdy Roddy Piper Turns Good'
"Great Scot!" proclaims Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
"Rowdy Roddy Piper TURNS GOOD"
As I mentioned right from the beginning of this blog, I dug Rowdy Roddy Piper right from the beginning. He was a bad guy, but he was entertaining. He had a different energy. He talked back. He wasn't as big or as muscular as his opponents, but he wouldn't hesitate to get in Hulk Hogan's mustachioed face and tell him off. There was something more convincing about Roddy Piper, and I liked it.

But when I became a fan, Roddy was not on television. He was not at the live events. He just wasn't around.

Piper was in Hollywood shooting a movie. But when he came back, things got crazy.

Roddy Piper was the host of an interview segment called Piper's Pit. In front of a set of three sparsely-decorated flats, a pair of folding chairs was set up on a tartan rug. Piper would either have a good guy on and belittle him, or be joined by a bad guy who he'd praise up and down.

Inside Wrestling: 'The New Roddy Piper: Why the fans love him...but why they should hate him!'But while Hot Rod was away, a new segment emerged. The Flower Shop, hosted by biker-turned-fauxmosexual 'Adorable' Adrian Adonis. Adrian was a heel, a bad guy who hit the homophobia button hard. It was not yet uncool to yell anti-gay slurs in public, and the WWF exploited that to the extreme with Adonis, a fat guy who could bounce around the ring like a rubber ball.

Adrian starred on the Flower Shop, with his pipsqueak manager Jimmy Hart and bodygard 'Ace' Cowboy Bob Orton, Jr. Orton was previously partners with Roddy Piper. Now he was aligned with Adorable Adrian, switching his brown cowboy hat for a pink one.

At the end of the summer of 1986, Roddy came back. And boy, he was mad. Look what had become of his show! Flowers! A prancing, fat gay man! His partner in a pink cowboy hat! The outrage! Roddy confronted the usurpers.

Adonis and crew ganged up and beat Roddy up. Adrian assaulted Piper's knee with a steel chair and left him smeared with makeup. Fade to commercial.

WWF Magazine: 'Roddy Piper: is he marching to a different drummer?'Later in the show, Roddy reappeared. Hobbling in on crutches and carrying a baseball bat, he was a man possessed. He smashed flower pots, upturned tables and used the bat to obliterate the lattice and flats of the Flower Shop set. Wincing in pain but burning with anger, Roddy Piper made it clear that this war was just beginning.


The wrestling magazines jumped on it. Had the evil Roddy Piper changed his ways? Is Roddy Piper a good guy now? Can Hulk Hogan trust him? This was my first babyface turn, and I was right into it.

I'd been to one, two, three wrestling shows so far but had yet to see Roddy Piper. Roddy Piper was my favourite. Now Piper was back. Mission: See Roddy Piper live.

My opportunity was just around the corner at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

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