“Rowdy” Roddy Piper Talks Klondike Bars, Wrestling Bears and Being Hated

Roddy-Piper-and-Klondike
Ever wonder what you would do for a Klondike Bar?  How about what a celebrity would do for one?

That”s the question posed in the Klondike Celebrity Challenge where fan could decide what three different celebs would do to get their hands on that delicious ice cream wrapped in creamy chocolate.  All summer long, fans have given their ideas for the celebrities.

Take of example Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and him showing off some sweet dancing moves to get his hands on one.  Or even for teen pop-star Tiffany singing to strangers in the mall.  Sure, why not?

But then one fan decided how about facing WWE Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper?  Easier said than done, even if for a yummy Klondike bar.

Fans have been able to take part on the Klondike Celebrity Challenge on its Facebook Page and this Sunday, September 22, Joel McHale will be hosting the Klondys which will announce the winner.

BetweenTheRopes.com caught up with the “Hot Rod” to talk about the challenge, wrestling bears and being hated over a wrestling career that has now spanned more than four decades.

(You can go to the bottom of the podcast to hear the entire interview.)

So what have you been up to lately? 

I’m constantly doing something different.  This time it’s the Klondike Celebrity Challenge.  I’m being challenged.

How can anyone challenge you?

(laughs) I don’t know.  It was pretty cool.  If you go to the Klondike Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Klondike) you see what these people would make Roddy Piper do for a Klondike bar.  The Klondike people were pretty smart because was they did was you go to the Facebook page and people come up with different ideas like hit someone with coconuts, chew bubble gum, fight Hogan again.  But whoever comes up with the idea that gets picked, they have to do the idea also.  So this guy named Eric — who is a nice guy but said he wanted to wrestle ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper — (laughs) I don’t think he heard the rest of the rules.  I just came right through the door.  I didn’t even open it!  OK bud here we go!  He did OK but I think they next day he had a tremendous amount of respect for pro wrestling as he limped in.

What they’re going to do on September 22nd is while the Emmy’s are going on, Joel McHale is going to present the first Klondy award.  It’s great stuff and I want to win.

Any idea what the Klondy award looks like?

(laughs)  I don’t!  Either a big polar bear or like a really good ice cream bar.  I don’t know but I’ll be proud to put it by my other trophies here.

klondyWhat other trophies do you have sitting around your house right now?

I’ll turn around and tell you.  The coolest one is I have an Afghanistan Special Forces Raise the Flag on the front line under my name and they flew that flag and took it down and they folded it and put it in a huge case and says was battalion it’s from and I was presented that which is really cool.  I have Rookie of the Year, Most Hated of the Year, Most Loved Wrestler of the Year, four Hall of Fames, #1 movie They Live, record from Cindi Lauper, the gloves I boxed Mr. T with.

I do love that you were both the most hated wrestler and most loved wrestler.

You know what?  I don’t have these in front of me but when I started two years in a row I was rookie of the year.  Go figure that one out.  And I was the most loved and most hated back-to-back.  In Nassau Coliseum at WrestleMania II I was wrestling Mr. T and the crowd just started cheering my name.  I don’t know why.  Probably the reason why (Hulk) Hogan lost most of his hair!

At that time, when you talk about being the most hated guy out there, how much easier was it to be hated then compared to now in wrestling?

Oh, they’re not even the same animal.  I’ve been stabbed three times, the last one an inch from the heart in Raleigh, North Carolina.  You know, we were pretty serious about what we were doing back then.  It was more like gun fighters I guess.  In 1982, 3, 4 the WWWF which was run by Vince McMahon, Sr., he called us all rebels who would work anywhere.  And when you came into that locker room there was Hogan, (David) Schultz, (Don) Moraco, Andre (the Giant), Tony Atlas,  Bruno Sammartino.  It’s a pretty heavy-hitting crowd.  Back then, they stabbed you.  Now they don’t.  I think that’s the difference.

That’s a good thing that they’re not stabbing people now.

(laughs)  I think so too!  I’d go to an arena.  I’d send in three, four weeks of annoying interviews and I’d come right to your town, beat up your champion and then at the end of the night, you guys would go out and eat and I had to eat too.  And there’d be only one Denny’s.  First thing I would do, I’d walk into the Denny’s, I’d go right back to the kitchen and give the cook $20 so he wouldn’t spit in my food.  I did that for like ten years.

That’s a costly grand slam.

(laughs)  And you know what, they didn’t have the class to have a Klondike bar.

You mentioned doing those interviews.  Did the gift of gab come naturally for you or did you develop it over time?

Well, I started pro when I was 15.  I was pretty scared.  And they beat me up a lot for about four or five years, every night.  I remember the first time a microphone was ever put in my hand, it was in Halifax and I maybe 16 years old.  And I just wrestled a guy, a young fellow named Lou Thesz on TV and this guy just the microphone in my hand, the promoter.  I just told him how scared I was.  I didn’t have any preconceived notions.  I was a pretty honest kid.  I’ve been kicked around enough where I’ve found bottom and I was scared.  And as I got going, I just said what was on my heart and started to mix some showbiz in with it.  But most of the things that I say, you can’t go out and do an interview unless you back it up.  Then you lose you credibility.  So if I say to somebody that I’m going to paint myself half-black and go out and get you, I better do that.  Or I’m going to break a full bottle of beer over my head and watch this because this is how tough I am.  I need to do that and I did that.

I got that schooling myself because from the old Gorgeous George days guys would say I’m going to rip your lungs out and whatever the terminology was.  And I think no you’re not going to do that.  And when you started to say what you actually wanted to achieve, then it started a new way for the fan to think.  I guess I was the innovator in that, not necessarily by intelligence but by survival.  The first time I said how scared I was, no one had ever said that on the microphone before.  And it really got a lot of attention.

You’ve been in the wrestling business now for over four decades.  I think you’re one of the last guys around that can say you wrestled a bear.

That bear, he’d love to kill me.  His name was Victor like he needed a name.  And I fought him for $25!  And I’m looking over at (Roy) Shire like you’re going to fire me if I don’t wrestle this bear.  And hey rules for wrestling this bear too.  It’s a good thing in the Klondike thing that they didn’t want me to wrestle the polar bear.  I might have at least charged fifty for that one.

I think there still might be time where I can say I want to tag-team with a polar bear from Klondike against Roddy Piper for a Klondike bar.

That would have been a good one.

Obviously people remember the moment when you hit Jimmy Snuka with the coconut.  Did you ever imagine that would become this iconic moment?

No.  You don’t think like that.  In my case anyway.  Jimmy Snuka is an unbelievable athlete.  But he only says three things: you know brudda.  That’s it!  How was the funeral?  You know brudda.  How was the wedding?  You know brudda.  And I have two minutes and 54 seconds in Piper’s Pit which was relatively new.  I know we were someplace made to look like an arena.  I just said to someone go an get some stuff from Fiji.  I just needed things to talk about.  And they came back with pineapples and bananas and coconuts.  There was no more thought put in it than that.  I don’t think I’d ever held a coconut before.  I can remember taking those coconuts and dropping them on the table and thinking to myself ‘holy cow’ and looking at Jimmy.  What convinced me to hit him, to show how selfish you can be, was he had this headband on made of seashells, that was a head guard.  That was good enough for me.  When I hit him the whole set came down behind the set was like two packers and a meat dolly.  What’s the guy in the dress doing to the Polynesian guy?  I don’t think anybody goes into something thinking I’m going to try and make history here.  I think they’re just working hard and they’re getting finely honed.  They just kind of hit it every once in a while.

Has Snuka ever forgiven you?

No.  You know, people talk about it and we kind of laugh a little bit but the truth of the matter is I thought … His eyes rolled.  That’s not a good sign.  When he was down, his eyes rolled back.  When they finally got Snuka back to his dressing room, I was told that he just stared at the floor for 20-25 minutes.  They never take you to the hospital.  You could be walking out with your leg.  I love Jimmy to death.  He was never, ever the same after that.

There has been talking about a movie on your life.  If there anything more to that?

Yeah they’re writing that.  It’s scaring the dog out of me.  Even when I wrote a book, I didn’t talk about before I was 15.  So, year, they’re writing it.

Are you involved with it?

Yeah, because they have to ask me because nobody knows.  Even my family.  I kind of started my life at 15.  Before that, it was a very challenging life.  So now they’re writing about it.  I was a very angry man until I was 13.  I lived on the streets for two years.  And when I was 15, I lived in a YMCA boxing and amateur wrestling.  And somebody just didn’t show up at the Winnipeg Arena for Verne Gagne’s club.  And they said I can get you $25.  And my bagpipe band, I came in fifth in the world playing the bagpipes when I was 14.  I had never seen one and I said what’s going on?  They said we’ll play you in.  My first name is Roderick.  Short for Roderick is Roddy.  The announced didn’t know who I was.  He needed to announce me.  He said ladies and gentlemen, here comes Roddy the Piper.  No more to it than that.  It was Mr’  Perfect’s dad, Larry ‘The Axe” Hennig, I was 167 pounds, he was 320 pounds.  I lost in ten seconds.  He broke my nose, split my eye.  I guess he wasn’t a bagpipe fan.  And the promoter comes back and he said “kid you did great, how would you like to go to Kansas City?”  And they put my in a van that night in Canada and snuck me over and I never stopped.  And then I got into a life … no rules, just some real consequences.

What has the life meant for you to be a part of the wrestling business for 45 years now?

It’s done this.  I’ve given me four of the most beautiful children in the world.  Today is my wife’s birthday and on October 12 we’ll married 31 years.  It gave me a family I never had.  When I got to pro wrestling, I considered them my family.  And because of that family I got my own family.  And that’s the greatest gift of all.

You can listen to the entire interview with Roddy below.  Subscribe to Between The Ropes on iTunes so you can automatically get the latest podcasts. You can also subscribe to Between The Ropes on Stitcher.

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Brian Fritz

Brian is the founder of Between The Ropes and has also covered wrestling and MMA for The Orlando Sentinel and AOL Fanhouse. He is a self-admitted nerd, a sports nut and lists Jack Bauer as his hero. You can email Brian at fritz@betweentheropes.com or follow him on Twitter @BrianFritz.


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