Interviews
Interview - Rowdy Roddy Piper


Interview: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - Wrestler & Actor, by Chris Yankek -
April 2003

Roddy Piper went back to the WWE for one more run at WrestleMania 19 when he interfered in the Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon match as Piper's Pit was alive one more time, and became one of the most important roles on WWE Smackdown next to Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan as always. Now after being released, Roddy Piper has new projects in store for his future.

First off how are you?

"I feel great. I am honored because there is not many people who have me back twice. I feel pretty good. On a personal note, my second oldest child is in Italy right now, she got a 4.0, and is an honor student, and she is now going to UCLA. So for a professional wrestling lacking education, it's a pretty proud moment for her dad."

The comments you made on the HBO special about wrestlers involved with drugs and deaths included admitting that you took drugs. Do you think this was the main reason you were released from WWE?

"I don't think it had a thing to do with it. No. Not at all. In my book In the Pit with Piper, the wrestling fan received 80,000 words. If you read between the lines In the Pit with Piper, you would have known that I went through a spell under the lifestyle of a professional wrestler. What you're referring to on HBO as far as using drugs, it's a little misleading. The fellow by the name of Armen Keteyian was the guy who interviewed me, and the interview was about two hours, and then they asked if they could interview me with my family, and that took two and a half hours. During the interview we talked about a players association, and Armen Keteyian generally asked, 'What did Dr. Zahorian have and where?' Well, it was Hershey, Pennsylvania, and there was this doctor who was prescribing drugs, and 30 minutes later Armen Keteyian in the same interview said, 'Roddy, you lived like this for 20 years?' Yeah I did. I didn't take every one of those drugs because he had asked me about what prescriptions or drugs he had. I have been arguably in this sport for more then 30 years, and no one knows including me, but as the interview was played they showed nothing of my family. What I did with HBO Real Sports Brian Gumble and Armen Keteyian was that they had been after me since January, and I kept pushing it off as I didn't want to do the interview. They were interested in doing a story on chapter 12 in my book which was the sickness, and I admitted that yes that was 12 years ago, and all the drugs they named I wasn't taking, but on the other hand I was in court. You can look up the transcript, and see what I was and wasn't doing. I wouldn't do the interview unless I had my team there, so I had the B roll of all the footage. You have HBO Real Sports here who is trying to do a piece with the deaths of professional wrestlers that I have been speaking of, and with you in our first interview I believe what I thought of what Vince McMahon was doing. We bring me ahead to the first appearance on WWE Smackdown, and I ended it with I hate you too Vince McMahon. It was pretty much in your face, what I was saying all along, and what is in the book. When you see Vince McMahon slapping the paper out of Armen Keteyian's hand, this is Vince McMahon losing his temper. I think it came down to why I was terminated was that it was about who can handle the pressure, and who was the best stickman in the world, and it's not Vince McMahon. I just think I made a multi-millionaire angry, and this multi-millionaire decided that he didn't want to be bothered handling Roddy Piper. Every time we came in the ring to do The Piper's Pits, it became more Mr. McMahon, and the quality of them was decreasing. It was a way out for him not having to deal with somebody he couldn't control."

So your response is that you came off better then Vince McMahon did on the HBO Real Sports special, and with that Vince McMahon fired you because of that?

"Exactly."

What was the exact statement you were given from WWE as far as your release goes?

"I saw it like everyone else saw it when WWE put it on the internet, and I have not spoken to anyone from WWE at this point when I am speaking to you Chris. They put up this statement, and they referred to the HBO special which we just talked about as a reference point. From 1971 to 1991 if your talking about a drug use, this is 2003, and that is irrelevant. I believe that self destructive was in the statement, and I had in my hand the booking dates with Piper's Pit with Vince McMahon in house show venues for August, and I had received a three month working visa for Japan as I was schedule to go over there too. There were no contract disputes at all, everything was settled. I was in the Hotel in Newark at Madison Square Garden the same night the HBO special aired. Ironically Hulk Hogan took his mask off and quit, and I found via this statement the next day of self destructive behavior, and I wasn't wrestling as I was only doing Piper's Pits, but via many lawyers, we know there was no contractual disagreements as it was already done. I have not done any drugs since I was in that darn court with Dr. Zahorian which was 1991, and yes sir it is his ego, and in a little defense of Vince McMahon, he has taken it upon himself as far as keeping sports entertainment running, and it's very hard for one man to run the sport as we see from week to week on the show."

Why did you decide to go back to WWE, and do the run in at WrestleMania 19 in the Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon match?

"I was on The Best Damn Sports Show, and I knew that Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan were going to wrestle each other, and I said Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan have been living next door to each other their whole life, and put me in the middle as referee and I will have them kill each other, and that is what started the balling running. The reason I came into the ring not as referee was that they were going to come back after WrestleMania 19, and this might have been the lowest WrestleMania they ever had, and the fact I would make a surprise appearance and come back and do a match on the pay perview would make more sense and to a point that is correct."

What were your thoughts on the creative direction of WWE Smackdown, and your thoughts on how Piper's Pit came across?

"The first Piper's Pit I call free falling, and I don't write them or construct them in that matter. I felt really good as I believe it got the highest share for that segment in the history of that show, and from there on I believe that Vince McMahon tried to become Roddy Piper having Piper's pit and here comes Mr. McMahon. I did a taped interview and I said Vince McMahon, Jr. and they bleeped out the Junior. The next week I come out and introduce Vince McMahon, and he said, 'After all, who better knows a big American success story than Vincent Kennedy McMahon.' When I would said something on Piper's Pit, the next week it was compensated for. There was a young fellow by the name of Zack Gowen, and he asked if I would pull this kid's leg off. I went to Zack Gowen and found out he was a baseball player, lost his leg to cancer, and he had been in a wrestling camp, and could do these maneuvers quite well. Once I looked at in the way it was his dream to be a professional wrestler, I knew that he needed some propelling to get to that main event slot, and there is no other way he would have got there. What are you going to do? Put Zack Gowen against The Big Show, and it's going to draw money? No. I am going to help this kid get a lift up, and that was that, but if you look at it from that point, and how much Zack Gowen wanted to be a professional wrestler, but if you look at the picture for the WWE that's not a nice way of a killing a top commodity off or putting a mask over a famous wrestler like Hulk Hogan as Mr. America. One of the most stupidest times when I was in the ring was saying that you're not Mr. America, you're Hulk Hogan. The idea was with the way things were structured by Vince McMahon on Piper's Pit, he was trying to kill my heat and step in as the host. At WrestleMania 19, he made himself the main event, and now he wants to be in front of the camera, and he picks Hulk Hogan to wrestle him, and he picks Roddy Piper to come down who got a bigger ovation then both of them, and Vince McMahon got over his head."

Do you think there is too much Mcmahon's in the major storylines on WWE Smackdown?

"Yes...Yes...Yes. Next question."

On May 18, 2003 WWE Judgement Day 2003 you were defeated by Mr. America aka Hulk Hogan. In your biography, you talked at length on why you refused to lose to Hogan, what changed your mind this time around?

"Well, Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 1 was a totally different story. I was fighting for my family and he was fighting for his. My job as I saw it was to help out young guys, and to get my business back on track that is professional wrestling. I believe that it was off track, and there are only a few people who can put it on track. I was open and honest, and if that worked for the fans, and at my point in my career, I owed it."

Were you surprised to see Hulk Hogan leave the WWE because he was not happy with his creative direction?

"Surprise? Yes. The most ironic thing is that for different reasons our time with WWE ended for different reasons, and me and Hulk Hogan became pretty close towards the end, and that day in Madison Square Garden was the last day for Hulk Hogan who took his mask off after the cameras went off and said good bye. It is kind of ironic, but I don't know if it's coincidental or not."

Did you think Sean O'Haire lost out when you were let go?

"The creative team in WWE didn't understand on how to get someone like that over. Sean O'Haire is one hell of a guy, and he can speak for himself, and he doesn't need Roddy Piper. I think the WWE did a tremendous disservice by putting him with Roddy Piper. Let them go out and do what they need to do because I can only tell you how Roddy Piper can draw money. I wish him nothing but the best."

Why do you think WWE never gave you the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?

"I didn't need one. Only people who can't draw money need belts. The only thing I need is a great opponent."

You're going to be starring in a movie with Janet Jackson real soon, am I right?

"Yeah. The filming starts September 2nd, and it has Janet Jackson, Christopher Walken, and Emilio Estevez, so I am going to be doing that movie."

Finally, what is in store for your future?

"As we wind this up, you Chris are doing a great job. I wish you all the luck in the world, and for the listeners and readers watching you, you are very respectful, and have all my respect from that. UPW is going to be a ball, and at the end of this seven day camp, the top ten guys have to go into this battle royal on a real deal card, and that is going to be the best entertainment for me. It's going to be a very tough camp, but a sincere honest one. I would like to do animated voices. I think that would be a blast. I am a big kid fan. I am going to do entertainment in various ways."

Listen to the interview

Listen to the 2nd interview

Links:

Rowdy Roddy Piper official website

Interview - Chris Yandek - 31st August 2002

Interview - Chris Yandek - 14th July 2003

WWE official website

Media Man Australia: Piper Book Release

Article - Wrestling Book Reviews - Just an opinion!, by Greg Tingle

Article - Rock N Roll Wrestling: The Way It Was, by Bobby Riedel

Profile: Roddy Piper

Profile: Hulk Hogan

Profile: Vince McMahon