Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Performer Analysis: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

1) Innovation- 10

The "Hot Rod" is one of the pioneers in what we now call sports entertainment. His crazy antics and unpredictable behavior led to his getting his own segment on the weekly wrestling program called "Piper's Pit." What happened after that was Piper doing and saying whatever he wanted and creating legendary moment after moment for decades to come. He set the format for any type of wrestler-interview segment that would ever come down the line. An amazing achievement. Piper also created slogans and "catchphrases" before they become cliched on the spur of the moment.

2) Conditioning- 5

This isn't one of Roddy's strengths, but he still scores marginally well. In his younger days he was a lot bigger and broader, possibly due to steroid use. But in his later days, his frame scaled down and really thinned out, but he didn't become exactly cut or anything. Without all the excess body weight, you would think his stamina would hold up but Piper wasn't a marathon man. And i don't grade on guys being able to wrestle for long periods of time, but also compentently. Piper and Hogan went 16 minutes in 1996 and they looked like drunken hobos stumbling down a darkened alley. That's not stamina.

3) Skill- 5

Another one of Piper's weaker categories. He has always been knocked for his wrestling ability or lack there of and after watching a great plethora of his work, i'd have to say it's not all bad. Piper was surprisingly agile in his day and had a lot of good chain wrestling when he was with the right guy. But, he can't bump for anything. He can sell moves extrememly well and react apporpriately to them, but actually taking a realistic bump after a move, say a clothesline and he looks like a cartoon character. He has a decent move set, which has become dwindling down to just punches as he continues to get in the ring.

4) Psychology- 10

Going back to the art of selling a move and selling your pain, Piper is very adept at that. He can take a punch to the face and sell it 15 different ways depending on how it came off: i saw him take the shot and fall down, i saw him get angry at the punch, i saw him not feel it due to adrenaline and i saw him stagger backwards, reeling from it. I saw a lot of depth in his performances, because that's what selling a move is, a performance and i was very pleased. He also is great at selling ground holds and other moves of the sort and doing some after sell with it. Then, you have the mind games: He's wore boxing gloves, brought out original works of art depicting his opponent, he's danced, he's kissed valets, he's kissed men, he even painted himself half-black! Piper is a master of psyching out his opponent and the fans recoginze it and eat it up.

5) Interviews- 10

You don't need me to re-hash the litany of hilarious quotes that Piper has came up with over the years, the off the cuff remarks that he's thrown out on live TV, the insults, the quips, the jabs, the punchlines that he's thrown out there for years to describe what a master of the microphone he truly is. I believe he's the greatest mic worker in wrestling, bar none. Whenever Piper is on and has a microphone in his hand, you listen. You want to hear what he'll say next. He's got the quickest wit that's ever graced our business. This is the easiest 10 i've ever given in an analysis.

6) Character- 10

Even back in his early days, the "boys" and the promoters commented on what an original gimmick he had: a young scrappy punk kid wearing a skirt comes out with bagpipes to the ring. What is this guy doing? Piper has always been proud of playing up his Scottish roots, however real or false they are, but his on screen role has never really been about him being Scottish or anything like that, it's just part of his mystique and energy. You know when Hot Rod comes out, he's going to be wearing his kilt and you know you're going to hear the bagpipes playing in the background and the music just grabs you and still to this day, it's one of the best and probably most recognizable theme songs in wrestling history. As far as playing face and heel, Piper's heel days are long gone, but he was one of the best in the world. He helped make Wrestlemania into the biggest show of the year and even just a few years ago on Smackdown, he gave it another try. But, the people love Piper, he's an endearing hero and he plays a face magnificently as well.

7) Fans- 10

Do i even need to write anything here? Piper has always been a fan favorite among fans. His first few years in the business, he was a fantastic heel, always playing an elusive foil who spoke with words more so than actions and made every fan favorite chase him down to get a match with him. But, his interviews were so entertaining that eventually he would be made into a face and the fans would love him for it and that they did. Piper always elicits a great reaction whether it's just for nostalgia now, or if it's out of respect. It's been that way for years and i would suspect will be that way for years to come.

8) Basics- 6

Piper isn't completely lost when it comes to the physical part of wrestling. In his early days, all you had was the basics, so to not know them to some degree means you must have been a complete failure and we all know that is not true when it comes to Hot Rod. He has some good fundamentals, but compared to others, not as fluid or comfortable as you would like to see. Piper is a great puncher, utilizing his amateur boxing background. His rope movement, again, looks very cartoony, but that's possibly just his body mechanics. Overall, Piper knows his stuff, or at least did, but i wouldn't rank him near the higher echelon of technical greats.

9) Feuds/ Opponents- 9

Roddy Piper v. Hulk Hogan is a feud that, according to the DVD, seems to still be going on today. A heavy point made in the video is that there is a argument about who really sold out the first Wrestlemania, was it Hogan's popularity or the fact that people wanted to see Hogan kick Piper's ass. I'm not going to weigh in on that one, but there is a yin to every yang and Hogan would be an egotistical fool to think he did it all himself, which is probably why he does. But anyways, Piper has got to go tooth and nail with most every legendary guy from the 80's and early 90's in one way or another. If you look back at your career and see that you've fought against Andre the Giant, Jack Brisco, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, The Funk's, The Valentine's, Hulk Hogan, Rick Rude, and Bret Hart, then you've done something right.

10) Gutcheck- 7

Piper is an amazing guy. He's been through a rough life, living on the streets when he was only 13, having to make something of himself out of nothing with no one to rely on. And he did it by fighting, it's the only thing he knew and i'm glad to see that fighting made him a millionaire. He truly deserves all the accolades he gets. He may have never won a World Title but he is still one of the biggest stars in wrestling. He got a hip replacement and kept on going. He comes back because he loves this business. Piper hasn't always been around, he took breaks from wrestling so not to burn himself out but he's contributed a lot over the years and i applaud him for that. Sometimes he did it for the money, or because he was told and as he gets older, he doesn't have the same options as he used to but he's still one of the most controversial guys to ever step foot in a ring.

Total Score: 82
Ranking: Legend
PO: Thumbs Up

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