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“Rowdy” Roddy Piper dead of heart attack at age 61

Legendary WWE heel “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has died at the age of 61. Piper, born Roderick Tombs, reportedly died of a heart attack Thursday night in his sleep.

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Piper was an integral part of the inaugural WrestleMania with his main event match with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. That match launched the World Wrestling Federation as the premiere wrestling organization in the 1980s. Piper was the antagonist to Hogan’s all-American good guy. Piper used every heel tactic — cheating to win with a brawling style — while cultivating an iconic look with ringer “Hot Rod” T-shirt and kilt.

WWE issued this statement on Piper’s death today:

WWE is deeply saddened that Roderick Toombs, aka “Rowdy” Roddy Piper — WWE Hall of Famer and Intercontinental Champion — passed away today at the age of 61.

WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Toombs’ family, friends and fans.

“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

WWE impresario Vince McMahon issued the following statement.

Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Piper made his “Piper’s Pit” interview segments vital parts of WWF television in the 1980s.

In his most famous angle, Piper smashed a coconut onto the head of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.

In the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era, Piper didn’t just play antagonist to Hogan but also pop icon Cyndi Lauper.

Lauper reacted to Piper’s death, sending condolences to his family.

Piper went to star in the 1988 science-fiction thriller They Live. His line — “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” — became iconic in cult and pop-culture circles.

Piper’s last mainstream interview may have been with Rich Eisen.

Piper’s son, Colt, issued a statement via Twitter.

About Brian Fritz

Brian Fritz
Brian is the owner and editor-in-chief of Between The Ropes. He has also covered wrestling and MMA for The Orlando Sentinel and AOL Fanhouse and currently is a contributor for Sporting News. You can email Brian at btrfritz@gmail.com.

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