WWE – Getting Rowdy – The Unreleased Matches of Roddy Piper (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 321 minutes approx.
Rowdy Roddy Piper was one of those once in a lifetime performers in pro-wrestling and a bona fide legend. WWE has already released a DVD of his story and career a few years back, but this adjunct look into the archives is not just an overdue posthumous release but also a curious one at that.
The reason for this is for a title dedicated to Roddy Piper, it spends a lot of time with the spotlight on Ronda Rousey, a lifelong Piper fan and as we know, current holder of the “Rowdy” moniker with Piper’s permission. Nothing wrong with that as it helps to get a genuine fan perspective when discussing a legend, but there are points when this feels more like the Ronda Rousey story than the Roddy Piper story.
Not to undermine how important and influential Piper was to Rousey and her career but they do go a little overboard with the video packages detailing Rousey’s WWE run, with her debut appearance at the 2018 Royal Rumble and her RAW Women’s title run, that it feels like they have stumbled onto an opportunity to make a Rousey WWE retrospective with the limited amount of material without actually making one.
I can’t deny there is genuine affection on Rousey’s behalf – she tears up recalling how she only got to meet Piper not long before his death in 2015 – and it is clear she is getting a lot from sharing her love for Piper with us. At the risk of being disingenuous, whilst I am sure Rousey’s presence is designed to help attract modern fans, it is a shame it comes at the expense of someone with the legacy of Roddy Piper.
With that out of the way, back to the main feature review. As we have seen with the “Unreleased” series, that already includes collections from Macho Man Randy Savage and Shawn Michaels, most of the matches and interview segments included have been pulled from TV shows and fit the remit from not appearing on prior WWE home video releases, but are hardly rare or forgotten gems.
Archive interviews with Piper himself from 2003 and 2013 help set the scene for the start of his career and his quick ascension in territories like Portland and LA, but the first few matches in this set in fact are from 1981/82 when he was in Mid Atlantic Wrestling which later became Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW. Piper was a heel at this point and his finisher was a Belly to Back Suplex but for fans of old school NWA wrestling these are rather fun to watch.
There is a huge time leap to January 1984 and Piper’s WWF debut which is a shame as we skip the period from 1982 whilst Piper was a heel announcer alongside Gordon Solie in Georgia Championship Wrestling and Roddy turned face defending Solie from Ole Anderson and Don Muraco, leading to a hot period for Piper when he returned to Crockett a year later.
But, most fans will know Piper from his WWF work so it is natural content from this period would dominate this collection. A selection of lesser known Piper’s Pit segments featuring the likes of Paul Orndorff and Andre The Giant are featured along with solo promos to set up his feuds with Jimmy Snuka, Cyndi Lauper, and of course Hulk Hogan ahead of the first Wrestlemania. Then we jump to Piper’s WWF face turn which saw him turn his caustic wit and acid tongue onto the heels of the time, Jimmy Hart, Hart Foundation, Adrian Adonis, the latter being Piper’s retirement feud at WM 3.
Pretty much every match featured during this portion is from either TV or regional close circuit broadcasts from around the US. The first exclusive match is a 1990 bout against Mr. Perfect, clearly a post TV tapings dark match, as both men are soaking wet from having already worked earlier in the night. It is also a very rare occasion where Piper actually lost a match clean by pinfall!
Fans of the Hulkamania era of WWF will have fond memories of seeing some of these TV bouts and segment again as well as the faces from this period, most of whom have since passed on. Disc two is the sadder one to watch as the first half concentrates on Piper’s time in WCW during the Monday Night Wars and was frankly, a shell of his former self in the ring.
Roddy could still cut a promo but his ring work was embarrassing, not helped by the fact he was in the ring with the likes of Hogan and Savage and other old timers in the twilight of their careers. Mercilessly there are only five entries from Monday Nitro but the law of diminishing returns continues with Piper’s return to WWE in 2002 and sporadic returns thereafter, which sees him getting into the ring with the likes of Rikishi, Randy Orton and The Miz.
Even the interview segments were not up to scratch, especially the later ones with John Cena, AJ Lee and Daniel Bryan, The Shield and Rusev and Lana, as Piper, now a cancer survivor, was hampered by the same meticulously scripted tosh everyone else is saddled with and just doesn’t work as well as his when Roddy is working off his own wits.
There is no question Rowdy Roddy Piper is an icon in wrestling and has amassed a body of work that will continue to be mined for years to come and never get old. However with a long career comes its peak and troughs and this release represents this sad fact all too perfectly.
Personally I would have featured more of the pre-WWF stuff as WWE do have most of the Mid Atlantic/Georgia/JCP libraries to show younger fans just how deep Piper’s contribution to wrestling actually goes. For old school fans, I recommend the first disc whilst the second disc is for die-hard Piper fans only.
Rating – ***
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