Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Guerin Shea
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
In the Pit with Piper