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 - Guerin Shea

As a teenager growing up in the 1980's, I was never a fan of the Hogan-era WWF, with one notable exception - "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. "In the Pit with Piper" is an interesting, funny, and insightful view of the business from one of its greatest legends.

 

Following a classy and respectful forward from Roddy's actual distant cousin, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, the book starts right off telling the story of the tumultuous early life of Roderick George Toombs. Roddy was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but as he said in the book, Roddy has no "home town". At age 13, Roddy left home on his own & lived in a series of youth homes around Canada. Eventually through a friend, Roddy comes in contact with promoter Al Tomko.

 

From there, Roddy tells about all of the struggles he had breaking into the business, and he makes a point of saying that he did so with no connections. According to Roddy, his first match took place in Winnipeg against Larry Hennig - and since he learned to play the bagpipes as a youngster, the ring announcer introduces him as "Roddy 'The Piper'".

 

Next, Roddy talks about his days in California, and this is easily my favorite part of the book. Roddy tells some very insightful stories about life in and out of the ring in Southern California in the 70's, where he was the number one heel for the LaBell promotion. My favorite tales of this part of his career were of the gimmick he used where he would "hypnotize" his opponents, his meeting with Muhammad Ali in the Olympic Auditorium, and his friendship with another rising star who would also go on to have a huge impact on professional wrestling - his name was Andy Kaufman. It was also during his stay in the LaBell promotion that Roddy made his actual Madison Square Garden debut, but Roddy makes it clear it was one he'd rather forget.

 

Roddy then goes into his time in Portland, and how being interviewed in "The Crow's Nest" helped to make him what he became. Then, Roddy talks about his time in the Carolinas and Georgia. He talks about his friendship with Ric Flair, his battles with Jim Barnett and Ole Anderson, and his wild times with Tommy Rich and others. Although there are some great stories (including how Roddy met his wife in Oregon), I must say that this was the most disappointing part of the book, as there was so much that was glossed over.

 

Then comes the WWF years, which take up essentially the remainder of the book. Roddy tells some classic stories about the Piper's Pits', including a hilarious story about the Snuka "one coconuuut, two coconuuuts" one! Roddy then talks about the Wrestlemania years, and his at times strained relationships with Hogan and McMahon. The most interesting parts of this part for me were the treatment he received at the first WM, and of his legit heat with Mr. T. From his "retirement" at WM3 to the steroid trial, there are many insightful stories.

 

An underlying theme throughout the entire book is Roddy's views on promoters and the ills of the business - whether one agrees or disagrees, his opinions are straightforward and deliver a pointed message.

 

All in all, "In the Pit with Piper" is a very entertaining and truthful look of the 33-year career of one of pro wrestling's greatest legends. If you're a Piper fan as I am, it's definitely a must-read - if not, I would highly recommend it as an honest and fun look at the one and only, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper!!!

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