Roddy Piper Turns 60: The Five Most Important Piper's Pits
People seem to remember the first Wrestlemania card for Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, but without the perfect villain off whom to play, that card doesn't sell nearly as prolifically as it did, and given what McMahon had riding on it (pretty much all his financial chips were in the middle of the table), who knows how or even if WWE exists today. Certainly, history is rewritten differently.
So Roddy Piper was important. Important to wrestling history, important to the business at the time, important to my childhood.
Well, Roddy Piper turned 60 late last week. This makes me feel old. It also gives me a reason to post old YouTube videos of Piper's Pits, the short live interview segments that ran on WWF weekly television back in the day and served as the launching point for some of the most important angles in company history.
If you're putting together a list of the most memorable moments in WWE history, you don't get out of the Top 10 without at least two or three old "Pits." So, to honor one of the truly great television characters of all time, here are the five most important Piper's Pits of all time:
(DISCLAIMER: Since this is totally my opinion, I'm allowed to do these sorts of things, but in putting this list together, I immediately eliminated any "special" editions of Piper's Pit when they would bring Piper back on a "one night only" basis. Those don't count. The same way the Brady Christmas specials and Brady wedding specials don't count as real episodes of The Brady Bunch. Also, I didn't include any Pits that occurred in the middle of the ring in, say, Madison Square Garden. To me, the only Pits eligible for discussion are the ones that ran on the makeshift set at 35 minutes past the hour every Saturday morning from February 1984 through March 1987. I will not debate this with you, so save it.)
FRANKIE WILLIAMS, March 1984
Since most of us in the Northeast in early 1984 only knew Piper through the wrestling magazines, Piper was still in the process of familiarizing the traditional WWF audience with his character. So what better way to get him over as a monster villain than to invite one of the Saturday morning jobbers (wrestling parlance for "guys who lose all the time in order to make the stars look like stars") into Piper's Pit and beat the living shit out of him, right? And as the WWF roster in 1984 went, nobody was a bigger jobber than Frankie Williams. At that time, the only person less equipped to defend himself from Piper's onslaught was probably 80-something ring announcer Joe McHugh. So you know how this went...
When my brothers and I are mad at each other, to this day, we still say we "have no room for nobody." Thank you, Frankie! (Also, if this angle ever went down in 2014, WWE would have a hard time running one of those anti-bullying ads in the same show. Just saying.)
JIMMY SNUKA, Summer 1984
This was perhaps the most seminal wrestling moment for anyone born between the years 1967 and 1975. When Jimmy Snuka made his first appearance on Piper's Pit, Piper spent the entire five minutes making fun of him and not allowing him to speak. Actually, anyone who heard Snuka speak back in those days would probably argue Piper did Snuka a favor. Snuka complaining about not being allowed to speak is like Dwight Howard complaining about not being sent to the foul line enough.
Anyway, Piper invited Snuka back for a chance to speak his mind a second time, but before doing so, he wanted to make Snuka feel welcome, which he did in typical Piper fashion -- by making racist jokes about bananas, palm trees and Polynesian women. Piper capped it off by cracking Snuka's head with a real coconut and burying him in the lumber that composed the makeshift set for the Pit. Hospitality!!