Remembering “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Today is two years since “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has passed. He was an incredible force in wrestling and entertainment throughout my childhood, and into my adult life. As I was a wrestling fan from early childhood, Piper was always one of those guys who stood out to me. My first memories were when he feuded with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. As a small child the dog collar match really frightened me.

Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (Dog Collar… by WWFOldSchool

A few years later, Piper would join the WWF and become an temporary manager, and personality, which led to his very own segment, “Pipers Pit”. This segment always consisted of Piper calling our other wrestlers to interview, then would insult them, and it would almost always end with a fight. The heat Piper had as a heel at WWF was amazing, and he hadn’t even wrestled. When he finally wrestled Hogan, in that MTV special with Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou, he helped Hogan become more beloved by the crowd, for as snide and pompous as Piper could be, Hogan was equally wholesome and inspiring… it was one of Hogans more memorable moments of my childhood, and it was also what slung shot Piper to stardom.

Over the years Piper was the IC champion, was The “President” of the company, and was  seen as a guest ref in matches, then from WWF went to WCW and ran an memorable feud with NWO that lasted nearly two years. He took a chunk of time off and returned to WWE in the early 2000’s, mostly in a non wrestling role. He left the company at some point, and had a brief run in TNA, after which he returned to WWE, as well as did a series of appearances on the Independent circuit before his death.

What really got me about Piper, was the way he was able to keep your attention. When he spoke, people listened, well unless they were booing… He could play the crowd like a violin, and very few wrestlers who have succeeded him, have even come close to his greatness on the mic. Piper influenced a legion of wrestlers, managers, and personalities, with his quick wit, and his seemingly boundless energy and love for the business.

He will never be forgotten.

Remembering Nancy Benoit

Today marks 10 years since the terrible tragedy that struck the Benoit home. This article is not another piece to determine or speculate what had happened, as the reality is, we will never know. But what we can talk about is who Nancy was, her accomplishments, and how she, like far too many other women, died at the hands of the one she loved.

Nancy got her start by modeling for wrestling magazines, and doing “Apartment Wrestling” which is a niche in the women’s wresting market. From there she joined up with Kevin Sullivan and joined his stable at Florida Championship Wrestling. She had first done a short stint in WCW with Sullivan, but was most famous for her character in ECW “Woman”. That is where I first saw her. By then she had moved on from Sullivan and was working with The Sandman. She was devious. She was one you had to watch out for, and despite her “sexy sidekick” persona, she wasn’t just a valet, she was truly a great ringside manager. If you have opportunity to look back on these videos, you will see what I mean. She was always important to her story lines. Despite what her name led you to believe “Woman” was a integral part of The Sandman’s rise to the top of the company. She spent 4 years in ECW, then returned to WCW where she managed the current lineup of the Four Horsemen. Chris Benoit was part of the stable at the time, and at some point they started an on screen love angle, and he was feuding with her then real life husband, Kevin Sullivan, and wrestling turned to real life, when she left Sullivan for Benoit. During the feud she had some memorable moments standing up for herself, in a liberated woman kinda way.  Nancy left wrestling in the late 90’s. I think 97 or 98, I was working a lot back then, so all I remember is one day she wasn’t there anymore.

Nancy had their son, and then later married Benoit in 2000. In 2003 she filed for divorce and a restraining order alleging cruel treatment but later dropped both.  4 years later, she was found dead, after Chris Benoit had gone absent from TV, and the family was found by authorities. It was deemed a double murder suicide. It is probably one of the most horrific things to happen in wrestling history, but to womanhood, this is part of a problem far too many of us have faced, domestic violence. CNN put this article out on intimate partner violence last month, but here are some of the quick facts it contains:

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to the United Nations.
According to a Global Study on Homicide, of all women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, an estimated half were killed by intimate partners or family members.
United States:
Each day –
Three or more women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands on average, according to the American Psychology Association.
Each year – Over 10 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 1994 and 2011, the rates of serious intimate partner violence perpetrated on women fell 72%.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (and loveisrepect, its project for teens and young adults) answered 323,669 calls, chats and texts in 2016.

This is something we all need to be aware of in our own lives, and in the lives of those we love around us. Nancy filed for divorce, with a restraining order 4 years before her death. Whatever was going on between them, clearly had been going on for some time. We don’t know what steps they took, whether they went to counseling, whether Chris was aware of how bad his brain damage was from all of the hits, collisions and concussions he had faced. We know Chris and Nancy fought quite a bit, and as Cageside Seats Reported in 2010, the investigation was garbage.   What is sad is that we live in a society that doesn’t do more to save women in domestically abusive situations. Nancy did not make a ton of money off of her time in wrestling, though she did manage both of her husbands professional careers. Nancy made her own, often overlooked mark on wrestling. Despite her upper middle class status, and comfortable lifestyle she was not able to escape the abuse and her subsequent death, by the hands of the one she loved.

If you know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, reach out, lend support, don’t judge, help them if they need it, and if you know someone who has suffered from a head injury and is acting violently, please encourage them to get treatment as well. In order to prevent these things, we need to be vigilant.