Rowdy Roddy Piper
Running Time: 321 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: September 2 2019
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
The latest unreleased WWE DVD focuses on the legend that was Rowdy Roddy Piper. Because it has been 13 years since we were privy to a DVD on Hot Rod, there is a definite appetite to relive more material from Piper’s career, though this two-disc set sadly comes several years on from Piper passing away. However, he still has a large fan base, and so it’s a treat to relive some hidden gems from his unforgettable stints in WWE, WCW and beyond.
The DVD begins in Mid-Atlantic, where we see Roddy – then a fresh-faced heel who was slowly gathering momentum to take the wrestling world by storm – face Jay Youngblood and Tony Anthony, with those bouts book-ending a tag clash that sees Piper and Ole Anderson (another competitor with a wild side to him) face Mike Davis and Buddy Landell. The DVD then moves to Roddy’s jump to the WWF in 1984, where he went from being a big star within wrestling to becoming a big star on a mainstream level. After the first Piper’s Pit of this compilation with Mr. Wonderful, Roddy teams with Paul Orndorff himself to face Jose Luis Rivera and SD Jones, before he squares off against Jones one-on-one.
Up until this point, most of the bouts are of the squad variety, so a Philadelphia clash with Superfly Jimmy Snuka represents the first truly competitive contest of the DVD. The focus then heavily switches to Piper’s Pit with eight such segments, starting with him as the hottest heel in the territory and ending with him as a beloved babyface, with matches against Wonderful and Mr. Fuji interspersed. In 1987, Piper would leave the WWF to go to Hollywood, but he was back by 1989, and he was the resident babyface legend who would have occasional big matches. As part of this, he had a major feud with Rick Rude, and one such clash from Toronto is featured here.
He would still wrestle on television now and again, though, as evidenced by a Wrestling Challenge bout against Rick Martel as part of an Intercontinental Championship tournament. Two matches with Mr. Perfect from November 1990 and March 1991 respectively see two of the greatest wrestlers never to win the WWF/WWE Championship go at it, and these book-end three vintage action figure commercials and an interview between Piper, Virgil and another legend who we lost at the beginning of this year, Mean Gene Okerlund.
All of this content is merely on disc one. Disc two opens with Ronda Rousey discussing her links with Piper (Ronda’s cameo is promoted on the back of the DVD sleeve to the point that it almost takes away from this being Roddy’s DVD), before we get a quick squash win for Roddy over Sandy Beach (his last WWF/WWE match on free television for over a decade) and a Piper’s Pit with The Brooklyn Brawler which is similar to the Pit with Brawler on the WWE Unreleased 1986-1995 set. Over the next few years, Piper would make rare appearances for the WWF with just two matches for the company, but even in mid-1996, Roddy seemed like a lifer for the WWF, which made it shocking that he would sign with WCW, and more surprising still that he would slowly transition into becoming a weekly in-ring performer for his new employer.
We get two interviews with Mean Gene and a segment discussing his training in Alcatraz for a match against Hollywood Hulk Hogan, before we move to 1998 for two Nitro showdowns against Macho Man Randy Savage and Hogan himself. Piper would eventually return to WWE in 2003, with his first match back being against Rikishi. After leaving, he would return in 2005 for a Hall Of Fame induction, and later in the year, he had a few bouts which round off the matches on this DVD: a handicap bout against Randy Orton and his old pal Cowboy Bob Orton, and a six-man tag alongside Batista and Eddie Guerrero against The Ortons and Mr. Kennedy. The DVD isn’t quite over yet, though: a random 2008 segment is followed by several Pits from 2011 (two with The Miz and John Cena), 2012 (with Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee) and 2014 (one with The Shield and another with Rusev and Lana). The Rusev/Lana segment marks the final ever Piper’s Pit in a WWE setting, as he would tragically be gone less than eight months later. But his legend lives on, and though he often feuded with Hulk Hogan, he shares wrestling immortality with The Hulkster, providing a legacy that can never be ignored.
Incidentally, though many of the matches here are squashes and thus immediately forgettable, there is still a lorry-load of archive material on Hot Rod which makes it a shame that WWE DVDs are now almost exclusively two-disc sets for non-PPV releases. Thanks to the WWE Network, fans are able to access so much content, and it is impossible for WWE to release every second of television footage starring a particular performer, but if this had been a three-disc set, we could have had even more hidden gems from Piper’s pre-WWE days, his iconic first run with the Federation, his up-and-down WCW stint or his latter days in WWE where he would very occasionally lace up the boots. Given that Piper shone in relatively short verbal segments, an extra disc combined with his previous 2006 DVD could have allowed his biggest fans to truly own almost every meaningful moment from Piper’s career.
Nevertheless, this is a real treat for all fans of Roddy Piper. This set is not about five-star wrestling, and is instead about celebrating the charisma and personality of an all-time great. As I mentioned, a third disc would have made this even better, but for what we get, this is still a lot of fun, and a hark back to the days when fans weren’t concerned about star ratings, list rankings or segment-by-segment breakdowns, instead enjoying wrestling for pure entertainment value. In that respect, few were better than Rowdy Roddy Piper, making this DVD a lot of fun to watch.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good