In The Pit With Piper By Roddy Piper

September 13, 2019

This book has some fascinating stories. Some of them may even be true.

Having dealt with, and known people who’ve dealt with, Piper professionally, he was a mixed bag. His insight into ring psychology and protecting oneself within an often cutthroat business was always top notch, but his recollection or telling of facts and dates was, to say the least, something you had to keep on top of.

For example, the book includes Piper’s traditional story that his first pro match was a quick loss to Larry Hennig, which was not the case. He also tells of a prank being played upon him in his Madison Square Garden debut that led to him being immediately dropped by Vince McMahon Sr, when in fact he wrestled at the venue twice more that year.

There are also plenty of details which don’t quite stack up, such as him recalling being infuriated during his boxing match with Mr T by the commentary lines of Susan St James, which would have been difficult to hear given the announce position was nowhere near ringside.

Other stories are plausible but difficult to verify. For example, Piper claims he was booked to lose a house show match to the Undertaker by pinfall but protected himself by taking a tombstone on the arena floor, feigning injury and being counted out and removed on a stretcher. The match certainly happened, though it seems a stretch that bookers would even bother to ask Piper to take a pinfall loss on a house show at this point given he was notoriously picky about such finishes.

Still, there’s plenty of engaging content here, particularly for those who only know Piper from his main WWF run: it’s 130 pages before he even arrives in the company so there’s all manner of detail on his Los Angeles, Portland and Carolinas runs.

The best parts, however, are not the what but the why. Piper frequently explains the thinking that led him to become a superstar despite having neither the size nor the appearance of many of his top-line peers. As well as covering how he got over with an audience, he also details how he made himself valuable to promoters while making sure they did not take advantage of him. Even in today’s vastly different world, there’s much to learn here.

Piper was most certainly a unique character and, for better and occasionally for worse, this book is a true reflection of that.

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  • AW September 15, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Originally bought this in 2004, and recently repurchased it last winter in my ongoing effort to rebuild my complete library of all the books I’ve ever owned (only 27 more to go; trouble is those that remain are the really rare and expensive ones; and yes, I remember EVERY book I’ve ever owned during the course of my entire 41 1/2 years).
    I was pretty let down by this one, being that Piper is/was one of the most influential of people in my life. Not the best of role models, I imagine. Thanks to him, I’ve always said what I think, and I’ve never failed to REALLY piss people off.
    Getting back to this book, it became obvious rather quickly that Roddy’s memory was selective, and most of his stories had to be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve even heard the same stories told by other wrestlers as happening to them, which either lends to the credibility of the story, or the wrestlers know of a story that happened to someone else and apply it to themselves when the time comes for a story to tell.
    However, there are other parts of the book that I find fascinating, such as when Piper talks about how the attraction went from main event name wrestlers being the draw, to the draw becoming the promotion (in this case the WWF/E). Things went from, say for instance, “Hulk Hogan is wrestling Roddy Piper tonight”, to “The WWF is in town this weekend”. From my own perspective, the way Dana White took over and marketed the UFC into an almost monolithic brand in MMA, and now what Al Haymon is attempting to do with PBC in boxing, are very similar to how McMahon eventually cornered the wrestling market.
    At any rate, it’s an interesting enough book that, much like the days of kayfabe, obfuscates fact and fiction to a point that makes you wonder where Roddy’s “shooting” and where he still “working”.

    • jnlister September 16, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      I’ve not read the whole thing yet, but there’s a later book by Piper’s children that takes a draft of a new autobiography that wasn’t completed before he died, then attempts to complete it and find out the real story of his life and career by verifying his stories.

      You might also enjoy this interview I did with Piper in 2014 where he really goes into depth about his thinking and approach to wrestling:

      • AW September 21, 2019 at 1:27 am

        I appreciate you sharing your interview with Roddy (you lucky SOB! I’d have killed to have met him, because as absurd as it may seem, he truly was one of the biggest influences of my life). It actually helps to lend some more credibility to his first book, because a lot of what he says to you in your interview is said there as well, only better in your interview. Maybe you should have been ghostwriting for him!
        I was aware of the follow-up biography, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted another book about Roddy. I figure it might aid in clarifying some things from the initial offering, and perhaps shed a light on his personality away from his gimmick and the industry, however it wasn’t at the top of my list. I imagine I’ll grab it at some point once I’ve finally restored my library completely