Monday, August 3, 2015

Roddy Piper: The Biggest Loudmouth

A loudmouth jerk in a kilt
Photo Credit:
The legend is that a young CM Punk happened to turn on an episode of WWF Superstars just as Roddy Piper smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head. Inspired by this, Punk became the loudmouth jerk that captured the imaginations of all of us who take pro wrestling much more seriously than it deserves. In the documentary Best in The World, Punk talks about digging Piper not because he was the biggest or most athletic, but because he was a loudmouth in a kilt who took joy in pissing people off.

It’s interesting – and, of course, sad – that we lost both Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes within a few weeks of one another. But their proximity draws into contrast what they signified. Much of what was written about Big Dust cast him as an inspirational figure, fighting the odds and making us proud.

Roddy Piper didn’t do that. Part of his appeal was that he stuck out like a sore thumb in the cartoony WWF of the 1980’s. We didn’t know any Hulksters, creepy snake enthusiasts, macho men or Ultimate Warriors in real life. But, if your experience was remotely like mine, we knew a lot of obnoxious jerks who whose mouths continuously wrote checks that their collective butts couldn’t cash. And while it was always satisfying to see the jerks get stomped, we always kind of rooted for them. Because we knew that they were smarter, funnier and cooler than the big guys doling out the ass kickings.

Rhodes was inspirational because he appealed to our higher natures. We knew that he could overcome hard times through grit and determination. But we identified with Roddy Piper because we knew that sometimes, when the big guys had us cornered, our only option was to insult their mothers, kick them in the nuts and run.