August 28, 2011
Piper shines in second season of World of Hurt
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
Rowdy Roddy Piper has beaten cancer, he's been electrocuted, he's been stabbed, he's gone down in an airplane and he's been run over.
But since he was a kid, since he roamed the streets of Canada -- in places like Saskatoon, Dauphin, Port Arthur, Dollard des Ormeaux, Don Mills and Scarborough -- Piper (Roderick Toombs) has been a survivor.
A wrestling success story who's battled for all the success he's achieved.
And now he's helping others find their way, as the frontman for World of Hurt: Season 2, which will air this winter on TV on The Cave. There will be 13 30-minute episodes with Piper showing wrestling wannabes the ropes.
Piper is putting his heart and soul into the show.
"They're letting me roll. They won't allow me to talk unless it's on camera. It's emotional. There are guys breaking down crying and girls at each other's throats. I've had my feelings hurt in this business. If I have to tell them to go home, I may be saving their lives."
Piper came from humble beginnings.
"I stayed at a youth hostel and was playing bagpipes on the subway line at Bloor and Yonge in Toronto. I'd open the bagpipe case and people would put quarters in. That was my dinner.
"I accidentally got into pro wrestling. I'm 15, in Winnipeg, and I'm in the ring against Larry 'The Axe' Hennig. The announcer didn't know my name and he announced me as Roddy The Piper.
"I was a punk kid and (Hennig) had just lost the AWA title. I was 167 pounds and he was 320. The bell rang and he was so hot ... He ... broke my nose and split my eye open. (Hennig) beat me in 10 seconds, the shortest match in the history of the Winnipeg Arena. In real time, I think it happened in about seven seconds."
But Piper didn't quit. There was something about this wrestling, something that drew the wayward kid into its allure.
"This was the most dysfunctional family, but I was looking for family," said Piper.
"I didn't have anywhere to go. I was on the street, the tough kid.
"I was making $15 a match, living in my Vega hatchback, feeding myself from a foam cooler with baloney, mustard and bread."
It took a while, but Piper began building a name for himself and began winning championships.
Soon, the fighting took him to Los Angeles, Portland and Charlotte. New York called ... the WWF.
His welcome was having his bagpipes stuffed with toilet paper by Classy Freddie Blassie.
"I went to play my bagpipes and nothing came out. It was, 'don't call us, we'll call you.' It took me 10 years to get back. And I wasn't ever going to let anybody bully me again. I never did bring it up with Blassie. But I never trusted him or gave him the time of day."
Piper is an incredible success story, with 34 championships, the WWE Hall of Fame, and movies in his resume.
"I feel pretty damn good. I just beat The Miz (nearly two months ago) on RAW. They're going to have to kill me to stop me. And they've already tried that."
Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.