“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, a premier wrestler in the now-WWE during the 1980s and 1990s who fought Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the main event at the first WrestleMania in 1985, has died, the company reports. He was 61.
“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”
Born Roderick Toombs, Piper joined the company after years in smaller circuits and quickly developed a reputation as trash-talking “heel,” reports the Associated Press:
“Piper became a household name because of his rivalry with Hogan, and the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper and her friend Captain Lou Albano, also a wrestler. The feud led to an MTV special “The War to Settle the Score” in 1985. Piper was cast as the villain, and his disqualification led to Hogan claiming the WWF championship. A brawl at the end of that fight led to the first WrestleMania.”
Despite being born in Canada, he usually appeared in a kilt, and often played the bagpipes.
He went on to star in John Carpenter horror film They Live, the AP notes, in which he delivered the classic line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass — and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Wrestlers and others posted their memories of Piper on Twitter on Friday.