As someone who grew up a huge fan of professional wrestling, and who watched it pretty consistently until the mid 2000s, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite wrestlers pass away. I was always more Hulk Hogan than Ultimate Warrior, but Jim Hellwig’s death still hit me hard. Now another childhood favorite has passed away. WWE Hall of Famer and legend Roddy Piper, AKA Roderick George Toombs, has passed away at 61. According to his agent, Piper died in his sleep. He is survived by his wife Kitty and four children.
Pro wrestlers put a lot of themselves on the line when they do what they do. It might have predetermined results, but everything else, from the slams to the lifestyle, is physically and mentally taxing. They’re pulling punches, but still getting hit. That’s why most wrestlers don’t have much in the way of a retirement plan. For everyone who becomes a realtor, there are guys who struggle with drug addiction and chronic pain. Pro wrestling is as hard on the body as any sport, maybe even harder, and they don’t have personal trainers, health insurance, or an off-season in which to recover from their injuries.
Even Piper got in trouble with his wrestling bosses for appearing in John Carpenter’s classic, They Live. Still, he did it and went from a wrestling legend to a full-on legend and cult figure beyond compare. Can’t argue with that legacy, or with the man who forged it.
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