In The Pit with Piper

by Roddy Piper with Robert Picarello

Description: Recently inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, Rowdy Roddy Piper is probably one of the few prominate figures in WWE history to not ever hold the WWE world title. Likewise, Piper is also one of the only prominate figures in WWE history to not have his autobiography published through the WWE. Though this may sound like a negative, but it actually serves as both. The positive side of not having the WWE looming over one's shoulders is that they are given unlimited creative freedom; a freedom that Piper takes full advantage of in his book, "In the Pit With Piper". This creative freedom, that Piper enjoys, is also benefitual to the readers because it gives us an indept look at the history of the WWE, then WWF, as well as how they function as an organization and this is easily the best part of his book. But before Piper ever gets to the WWE, we first revisit his past, a past before the WWE.

Piper does a great job of storytelling all his adventures in his book, which should be no surprise since he is one of the best promo men in the business. His stories about Tiger Nelson and Andre the Giant can make readers laugh and smile, while his descriptions about fallen comrades such as Art Barr truely gets one to question the nature of the business. This mixture truly makes for an interesting read because the reader feels that Piper is not holding anything back, he is giving us the industry as a whole, good and bad.
Getting to the meat and potatoes of the book is his history with McMahon and the WWE, then WWF. In this section, the reader's get a rare look at McMahon as a novice and the WWF, when it was just dream. Piper takes us to McMahon's first meeting with the future stars of the WWF, a section so well done, that one feels that he is actually in the meeting himself watching a nervous McMahon through the eyes of a wrestler. It is descriptions like these that make Piper's book an interesting read; descriptions that we wouldn't have been able to read if it weren't for his creative freedom. However, there is a negative that comes out of this freedom as well. There are times when the book just gets confusing due to Piper's rambling that ends up nowhere, especially the ending of his book where the readers can see that Piper is trying to make an interesting point, but doesn't suceed in getting his message across. However, all in all, the good aspects of this book outnumber the negative and makes his autobiography a definite read for any wrestling fan with an appreciation for the business.


Reviewed by Andrew Lee on February 16, 2005.

In The Pit With Piper: Roddy Gets Rowdy
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper (with Robert Picarello)
Berkley Boulevard, Pp 237 | 2002

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper (b. Roderick George Tombs, April 17, 1954) is a wrestling legend. Piper is not a big man, he is not a super-skilled mat technician, he is not big enough to be an out-and-out brawler, and even though he is not large - he is not a high-flyer. He is in fact only a few pounds up on what is known today as the Cruiserweight division. But Roddy Piper sure is tough. And he has spent his career biting off as much as he can, and chewing through the majority of it. He fought good fights and talked even better ones. And he is admired to this day, as a wrestling legend; for his skills as an in-ring entertainer and as a pioneer on the microphone. Piper's flair for cutting promos led to the fabled "Piper's Pit" segments (which, to this day, continues to crop up on RAW, Smackdown and various Pay-Per-Views) which has been an influence on all that follows (from Brother Love to The Peep Show, Carlito's Cabana and most recently, The Cutting Edge). Piper's autobiography (ghost-written, as is forever the way with wrestler's stories) is immediately interesting for old school fans. And his background - he was never happy as Roderick Tombs, and at age 15 and about 150 pounds soaking wet he decided that he wanted to be a fighter and made a life out of fighting battles in the ring and out - certainly makes for compelling reading. The problem in this rather brief autobiography is that Piper neglects whole parts of his story, obviously wishing to focus on the highlights (as is the subjective wont of any autobiography). I, for one, would have liked to have heard more about Piper's acting career. They Live is a cult-classic - but because, at the time of its release (1988) Piper was the recipient of some rather nasty reviews, he seems to have forgotten all about it - essentially he brushes his film-career off in about one paragraph, total. He seems completely embarrassed by Hell Comes To Frogtown (another cult-classic, now being rediscovered on DVD) and several film appearances don't even warrant a mention, sadly.

Likewise, you won't get all of the action from Piper's turns at WWF (and then WWE) but it is great to read the chapters on Wrestlemania I and Wrestlemania II. Obviously these were pivotal moments in the sport's history (pre "sports-entertainment") and Piper had major roles in both. Unfortunately, Piper seems rather bitter that his star doesn't shine as boldly as Hulk Hogan, that he is not as respected in the ring (like Brett Hart and Ric Flair; though he is not personally bitter with either of them - far from it) and there's a negative tone to several of the later chapters in the book - post WWF/WWE, especially his WCW days.

But the negative does not outweigh the positive - for a start, it's nice to read a book that is not affiliated or authorized by the WWE. So you never, for a second, doubt that Piper is speaking his mind (why would you, when he based his career on it?) And as a scrawny boxer-turned-wrestler, you never doubt how tough the real Roderick Tombs must have been - and how his dream of "running away to join the circus" was essentially granted and kept alive by him working for over 30 years as a pro-wrestler. Piper is most definitely old-school and you can see that though the sport (and the entertainment) course through his veins, there are aspects to the entertainment (and the sport) that he is less than happy about. Some of his frustrations are legitimate - he argues convincingly that he did as much to help Wrestlemania go over as say, Hogan. But therein lies the problem with Piper as a wrestler, he was just so good at playing the heel - but seemed to want the kudos that only the faces get. He could work a crowd better than anyone. And he writes a fairly decent book. Just don't go approaching this wanting the whole story. But as a snapshot of a man who has lived a wild and crazy life (some of his on-tour stories with Flair from the late-70s and mid-80s are a total riot) and proved to be lasting influence - and now a Hall Of Famer - this is worth looking at. And anyway, just when you think you've got all the answers, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper changes the questions!

Reviewed by Simon Sweetman on March 3, 2006.

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