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 411mania » Wrestling » Video Reviews

The Name on the Marquee: Rowdy Roddy Piper's Greatest Hits (1985)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 07.15.2008

-This is a bit of a sentimental one for me because Rowdy Roddy Piper was my first favorite wrestler. I got into wrestling in 1989 and immediately went for the recently-returned, wisecracking, grinning Scotsman. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was just totally marking out for what was actually a watered-down form of his former persona. Whereas he had initially made his name as an obnoxious, hyperactive, unstable loudmouth, I, as a six-year-old noob, was a fan of what he eventually became: a prank-loving joker and equal-opportunity antagonist toward heels…effectively, he was Bugs Bunny in a kilt when I began watching.

And that’s why this tape was such a huge deal to me when I got it years back. I got it in one of my first tape trades, before the McMahonopoly allowed for a three-disc anthology, and I was dying to see what I had missed before I became a fan.

-Hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund, who starts off complaining at what a self-serving, egotistical title “Greatest Hits” is for a video. And he does this after mentioning that the last home video release was titled “Hulkamania.” Ahem.

-The gag here is that Andre just will not tolerate any bullshit from Piper and refuses to say anything more than “None of your business.” So Piper lays into him about his feud with John Studd and vows to slam Andre himself, and that triggers a choke by Andre. Andre knocks him on his ass and shreds his t-shirt, and Piper blurts out a now-legendary Piperism, “You do not throw rocks at a man with a machine gun!” 1 for 1.

From MSG, this bout was triggered by the above segment. Piper’s tie to Schultz here is that when they first arrived in the promotion, Piper wasn’t there to be a wrestler; he managed Schultz and Paul Orndorff. Gradually Piper became a full-time wrestler and it just evolved into this loosely-tied gang of Piper, Schultz, Orndorff, and Cowboy Bob Orton. I’m not gonna say they were the original Four Horsemen, but…you know, four heels who all hate the same guys and team up with each other. I guess you’d say they could have been the original Horsemen if it had occurred to anybody to do something more with these four roughly-affiliated guys.

-Andre starts so Piper runs out of the ring and tells Schultz to start. So he still acts like a manager at this point. Gorilla breaks up when Andre backs Schultz into the ropes and rears back for a punch, and Piper yells out, “You got him now, Dave!” Side headlock by Schultz, and Andre shows off by simply standing upright while Schultz holds on. He sends Schultz off the ropes and bends over for, uh, an ass-butt, I guess. Andre turns his back for some reason and Schultz attacks from behind to take over, and Piper, sensing weakness, tags in. Piper punches away and just keeps on punching, but a single punch from Andre sends Piper to the mat. A kick, a punch, and a headbutt are enough for Piper to tag out and Schultz re-enters to pick up where he left off. Andre just stands in the corner and absorbs the blows before coming back with an Irish whip. Andre goes for a shoulderblock in the corner but takes a high knee that takes him down for a two count. Schultz goes off the ropes for a splash but Andre catches him with a knee and both men are down. Piper runs into the ring, drawing Snuka, and that creats a distraction long enough for Piper to wallop Andre with “brass knuckle” (Pat Patterson, ladies and gentlemen), and Andre is bleeding from the forehead, which, according to Gorilla Monsoon, is his eye. Heels double-team Andre while the referee fights with Snuka to keep him on the apron. Piper bites Andre and emerges with his own face covered in blood, which is a pretty awesome visual.

-Integrity preservation takes us to the match being stopped while physicians and referees try to escort Andre backstage for medical attention. Dr. Monsoon explains that Andre is “partially unconscious.” I’m pretty sure “unconscious” works like “pregnant”; you either are or you aren’t. Snuka demands that the match continue as a handicap bout, and of course the heels are happy to do that. Side headlock by Piper and he gets a shoulderblock, but Snuka dazes him with a dropkick and begins chopping the bejeezus out of both guys. Double headbutt and now Piper is begging for his life. Snuka responds with more headbutts. Piper finally gouges Snuka to even things up. (Yeah, 2 vs. 1, so, totally even now, right?) Kneelift by Piper followed by a pinfall attempt but a kickout with authority compels Piper to tag out. Schultz goes for a pin but gets the same kind of kickout as Andre the Giant Mummy arrives back at ringside with his head covered with bandages, and now he cleans house. Andre mauls Schultz as Snuka keeps Piper out of the ring. Tragic moment as the faces bungle what would have been a beautiful, awesome spot if they had pulled it off. Piper & Schultz are both knocked out of the ring and just getting back to their feet. Snuka lays down on the mat, Andre hooks his legs, and falls backward, attempting to slingshot Snuka clear over the top rope and onto both guys. Snuka ends up just hitting the ropes instead and the MSG crowd audibly deflates because they knew what was coming and it would have looked phenomenal. Piper & Schultz get fed up and leave, Snuka & Andre follow them out, and Piper & Schultz are declared the winners for reasons that are never adequately explored. Theory expressed by Patterson is that when Andre re-entered the match, he forgot to tag in, so he was the illegal man for all that time, but then Gorilla jumps in and notes that before he left the ring involuntarily, he was the legal man. So the crowd is disappointed and the commentators can’t make sense of the finish. Why not just have the nWo attack Andre while Gorilla announces that we’re desperately out of time, too? 1 for 2.

-Frank Williams was a jobber who had been with the company since 1976, and Piper points out that he’s never won a match in all those years. Williams gets fed up and argues that at least he’s fighting every night and going for the wins honestly, so Piper beats him up while Williams remains seated. Frank attempts a comeback, so Piper just shoves him through the curtain to get rid of him, and I mean that literally. Williams was never seen again. Piperism of the segment: “Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions.” 2 for 3.

-Piper shows up to antagonize Mr. T on the set. Piper asks Mr. T what it’s like to play a Piper-like tough guy on TV. Mr. T accuses Piper of beating up wimps when what he does on “The A-Team” is “real.” Yes, he says The A-Team is real. Piper wins. 3 for 4.

WORLD TITLE: HULK HOGAN (champion, with Captain Lou Albano, Cyndi Lauper, and David Wolff) vs. ROWDY RODDY PIPER (with Cowboy Bob Orton)
-From “The War to Settle the Score.” Hogan’s entrance is hilarious in this version because they’ve dubbed “Eye of the Tiger” with totally inappropriate stock music; it sounds like Hogan is coming to the ring to a Jane Fonda workout on Betamax. Copy-pasted from my original review:

-It’s a special night, so Hot Rod comes to the ring with a full band of pipes. Piper is wearing a Hulkamania t-shirt and destroys a guitar for some last-second heat. Hogan comes to the ring and gets a pep talk from his close personal friend Mister T, sitting at ringside. Hogan gets into the ring and it’s immediately a fistfight. Hogan with a scientific rake of the eyes, and Piper is all “What’s up with that?” and retaliates with ground ‘n pound, 15 years before anybody knew what that was. Hogan fights back for an Irish whip and an elbow to the throat. Two scientific bodyslams and an elbowdrop, but Piper reverses with an Irish whip and a clothesline and tries for an early finish, but Hogan kicks out. Mean Gene is almost totally ignoring the match in favor of name-dropping celebrities in attendance. He has the balls to give a shout-out to Joe Piscopo almost an entire year after America forgot who he was. Two kicks to the head from Piper, followed by laying his palm over Hogan’s eyes, which Gorilla calls a “choke.” I think I’m starting to understand why you didn’t finish med school, Gorilla. More stomping and chops to the throat, and Piper goes in for the kill with a sleeper. The commentary gets REALLY stupid now, as Gorilla & Gene complain about the blatant chokehold, even as the referee is looking right at Piper and checking the arm. Hogan powers out and rams Piper into the corner, but Piper immediately blocks the comeback. Orton interferes, but Hogan smashes his slinged arm into the exposed metal part of the turnbuckle, and Orton became a legend by milking that for the rest of 1985. Hogan fires away at Piper while Orton signals for Paul Orndorff to come to ringside. A really fake-looking ref bump marks the turning point. Orndorff & Piper double-team Hogan, and Cyndi Lauper jumps 30 feet from the floor to the ring apron to stop them. Piper & Orndorff target her next, but Mister T leaps the railing to stop it and the heels refocus their double team efforts. Hogan finally makes it to his feet, Mister T makes it to his feet, and Piper & Orndorff are just kinda, “Eh, screw this” and walk out of the ring. Referees, guys in suits, and New York cops flood the ring for that extra touch of hellzapoppin’, and Hogan wins by DQ at 7:40. 3 for 5. Match was crap, but since Vince McMahon is still in business 23 years later, it obviously served its purpose. Can’t fault him for that.

-A special segment produced especially for the cassette. Piper is in a tuxedo because for this home video release, he is going to interview his greatest guest ever: Himself. It’s a split-screen effect (and a rather impressive one at that, it’s totally seamless and realistic; bravo editing department), and Piper & Piper fawn over each other in admiration of their mutual awesomeness. Host Piper reads Guest Piper a letter from Hulk Hogan’s barely-literate mother complaining about how Hogan cries and holds her ankles begging every time he has to go to an arena where he’ll see Roddy Piper. Host Piper asks if Guest Piper has ever experienced any kind of disappointments; for example, “premature disappointments.” Wow. Guest Piper asks “What does it say on my t-shirt? It doesn’t say Limp Rod! It says Hot Rod!...It says that because I am fast & furious…the first time, I’m fast & furious. The second time, I’m long & lean. The third time, I’m wonderful.”

-Piper talks about pursuing a movie career, and who would have guessed he’d actually follow up on that? Okay, got to pause here and offer a true personal anecdote about something else Piper says. Here’s the quote:
“I back up what I say! That’s the difference between you and me. I can back up what I say. Old Clint, he shoots those guns, brother. When I shoot a gun, someone gets pregnant! I got a pregnant horse at home, man!”

-As I alluded to earlier, I got this tape when I was still in high school and just started doing tape trading. A few weeks after I first watched this, student body elections were approaching and part of the process involved an assembly in the gym with campaign speeches. For each candidate, there would be two speeches, a nomination speech (delivered by a classmate chosen by each candidate) and a candidate speech (delivered by, duh, the candidate). A classmate of mine named Dan Ondrusek approaches me between classes the day before the assembly and asks if I’ll do his nomination speech. Being the class clown and a member of drama club, of course I was desperate for being the center of attention so I said yes and asked him “What points to do you want me to cover about you in this speech?” He rattles off stuff about being a hard worker who will take it seriously, and then finishes it with “and, you know, I can back up what I say, or whatever.”

So the next day I get up and deliver my nomination speech for Dan in front of the entire student body, and when I get to the part where I promise everybody that Dan can back up what he says, THAT was the quote I used. And the two-part reaction I got for it was glorious. A smattering of laughter from the guys in the assembly, dropping off into shocked silence when I got to the part about having sex with horses. And of course, the girls were stunned silent through the whole thing.

And by the way, did I mention this was a Catholic school? Yes, Parkersburg Catholic in Parkersburg, WV, Home of the Crusaders, Let's Go Blue and all that…So in front of an assembly of Catholic school students and teachers, I delivered a speech about unprotected sex & bestiality. Dan subsequently won the election. In recent years he’s been in Africa doing some wonderful work for the Peace Corp, and I know that it’s all thanks to my obnoxious speech nine years ago. Definitely.

Back to the segment, Piper talks about how fans piss him off (and he actually uses that word twice) and gives advice for men who are having trouble getting their wives pregnant: “Pick up your phone and give me a call.” You’d better believe this segment gets a point. 4 for 6.

-A report from Gene Okerlund. Piper & Orndorff meditate in a corner while Orton stands guard. Piper begins making weird noises, frightening the Mean one. Orndorff comes out of his trance and Piper begins harassing Mean Gene. Everyone eventually gets fed up with Okerlund for disrupting their training and shove him out of the building, and before they head back in, they beat up an innocent bystander for fun (while somebody walking by yells “He’s a stuntman!”) This never really got going. 4 for 7.

-I bet you can just guess what show this is from by reading that title. The doctor examines x-rays from immediately after Orton’s original injury and a more recent x-ray, which reveals that Orton’s arm is totally healed. This would, of course, mean that he shouldn’t be wearing a plaster cast anymore. So Piper immediately begins questioning the quality of the x-ray and the doctor performs an examination on Orton on the spot to shut him off, and of course he’s fine. Piper reacts to that by getting right in the doctor’s face and doing the most annoying quacking possible. 5 for 8. Piper at his obnoxious best.

-Boom goes the coconut. 6 for 9.

-Piper defends his actions to an irate Vince McMahon, saying that Snuka deserved it for not speaking up for himself. Hayes accuses Piper of being without dignity, so Piper slaps him across the face and storms offstage. 7 for 10.

-From St. Louis, with guest referee Lou Thesz. No shit. What’s disappointing is that Thesz is wearing just a normal referee shirt instead of the Magic Eye puzzle that he normally wore when he worked as a referee. Piper throws his kilt at Snuka, blinding him long enough to get the early advantage, punching, gouging, and clapping behind Snuka’s head, which is painful for some reason. Snuka kicks and chops his way to a comeback and Piper bails. Back in the ring, Snuka chokes away until Piper gets a low-blow and spits on Snuka. What a weird match for using Lou Thesz. Reverse atomic drop by Piper. He follows with a kneelift but Thesz doesn’t even make it to one before Snuka kicks out. Chops to the head by Snuka, and we have a brawl outside the ring. Piper cracks Snuka with a chair, for which Thesz gives him a proper scolding. Back in the ring, Piper gets a shoulderblock, but Snuka gets a chop off the rope that knocks Piper out of the ring. Snuka follows, ramming his head into a table and hitting him with a chair. A punch and a headbutt back in the ring keep Piper leery, but when Snuka goes off the ropes, he misses Piper and hits Lou Thesz. Flying bodypress off the top rope by Snuka, but there’s no referee. He goes for another one, but Piper rolls out of the way and steals Thesz’s belt, whipping Snuka and choking him until Thesz gets back to his feet and chokes Piper. Piper challenges Thesz to a fight and Thesz punches him, and it turns into a 2-on-1 against Piper until he runs away, and Snuka gets a semi-cheap countout victory. 8 for 11. Fun brawl.

-Piper reads a letter from Jimmy Snuka’s son, asking him not to hurt Daddy anymore. Funny bit, as Piper reads the letter against type, playing it totally straight and sincere, before spitting on the floor and crumpling the letter. 9 for 12

Tonga Kid was a 19-year-old Samoan “cousin” of Jimmy Snuka who came to the WWF to avenge the neck injury Piper gave the Superfly at MSG. Piper gives this kid a pretty decent rub, asking him why he wears a skirt, setting up a pretty funny comeback by Kid, who lifts Piper’s kilt and says “It’s obvious why you wear yours.” The Kid does a pretty charismatic promo, daring Piper to break his neck, and Piper backs off and leaves. Tonga was supposed to get a giant push, but getting exposure like this at the tender age of 19 went straight to his head, and Vince fired him more or less to just put him in his place, before giving him a second chance two years later as Tama of the Islanders. 10 for 13.

ROWDY RODDY PIPER vs. TONGA KID (with Jimmy Snuka)
-From the Philadelphia Spectrum. A surprising number of fans at ringside are wearing hats at this show, but even more surprising is that none of them are Hat Guy. Piper goes for a sneak attack to start but Tonga, anticipating, ducks it and gets the early advantage with a headbutt, and “Piper is on Queer Street! Woooooooo!” Guess who’s on commentary. Piper tries to escape but Tonga drags him back in by the hair (“Woooooo!”) and headbutts him over and over again. Funny bit as Piper tries to escape but then realizes he’s escaped to Snuka’s corner and freezes, and Tonga pulls him back in. Piper catches Tonga with a thumb to the eye and a chop to take down the Kid. Piper gets a backbreaker, but a lazy pin gets two. Piper punches Tonga in the head, but since Tonga is Samoan, he reacts by standing straight up, moonwalking, and breakdancing. (“Woooooo!”) Tonga fires away at Piper, but Piper ducks and gets a back suplex, then chokes away. Piper drags him over to Snuka to bite & choke Tonga Kid in front of his family. Shot to the throat by Piper. He follows up by clapping his hands behind Kid’s ears, which hurts for some reason. Tonga gets out of a front facelock by countering into a suplex and both men are out of it. Piper goes for an axehandle but Tonga gets a shot to the stomach. Piper rams the Kid into the turnbuckle, leading to more moonwalking (“Woooooooo!”) and it degenerates into a brawl outside the ring. Piper goes for a chair but Snuka moves right toward him and Piper runs back into the ring…until Snuka turns his back, and then Piper attacks. Piper gets Tonga back into the ring, but Snuka runs in to get a piece of Piper, and Bob Orton sprints from the locker room to be an equalizer. It’s a brawl until the faces clear the ring. 10 for 14. Fast-moving match and nothing actively bad, but Tonga was completely exposed for what he was, a 19-year-old rookie unable to do anything beyond chopping, headbutting, and moonwalking.

-Tonga chases Piper & Orton out of the ring, and it’s a donnybrook to start. The heels are rammed into each other and dueling headbutts clear Orton from the ring, and Tonga takes advantage of Piper with a wristlock, which he apparently DOES know from a wristwatch, so he’s growing as a worker now. Armdrag by the Kid followed by a legdrop on the arm. Piper backs the Kid into a corner and tags in Orton, but Kid dodges the double team and gets another armdrag to keep the advantage. Powerslam gets two. Snuka tags in with an arm-wringer. Snuka no-sells a few punches and takes Orton to the mat with a headbutt. Armbbar by Snuka, and Orton crawls over for a tag and we get treated to a great subtle bit by Piper. He barely sticks out his hand and keeps his elbow close to his chest so there’s no way Orton can tag him, even up close. Then Snuka drags Orton away from the corner and Piper immediately reaches out as if he wants to tag in, knowing that there’s still no way for Orton to get to him. That’s pretty funny. Orton finally gets the tag and Piper stands there for a few moments before reluctantly coming in, and of course Snuka kicks his ass Piper turns to Old Reliable—an eye gouge—to get the advantage, then immediately tags Orton. Orton attempts to finish him off with a pump splash, but Snuka raises his knees and we get the double hot tag. Tonga chops Piper and takes him off his feet with a kick, but Piper manages to get him over to the corner and this time the double-teaming works out. Orton distracts the referee while Piper chokes with the tag rope. Double-clothesline and Piper, feeling brave, taunts Snuka. When Snuka threatens to come in, Piper tags out again. Ha! Elbowdrops by Orton and Piper re-enters to start working Tonga’s arm, a la earlier in the match. I love the way the spots are building off earlier spots in this match. Tonga goes for a tag, but Orton knocks Snuka off the apron while Piper gets a shot to the throat on the Kid. Chinlock by Piper while Okerlund & Monsoon put over the Kid for showing so much improvement in the last few months. Yeah, he’s better here than he was in the last match, but you don’t put him over for that while he’s entering his fourth minute of getting his ass kicked.

GORILLA: I want to see Piper get his upcoming.
GENE: Comeuppance.
GORILLA: Whatever.

Double-teaming marches on as Orton gets a forearm off the top rope. Bodydrop is countered with a sunset flip and Orton panicks and punches him over and over again. Orton goes for a pin but Snuka yanks him off. Piper goes for his own backdrop but Tonga kicks him away and goes for the tag…But he’s dazed and goes to the wrong corner. Orton dishes out more, but Tonga ducks a punch and slides over to his corner, and it’s a hot tag. Snuka cleans house with the usual, including one neat-looking spot, a triple headbutt. Snuka rams Orton & Piper’s heads together and thrusts his own head forward while doing it, so both opponents get headbutted twice. All four men brawl in the ring until Piper clears Tonga from the ring, but Snuka blocks an Orton superplex and gets a flying bodypress. Piper pulls Snuka off and the heels destroy him and get him out of the ring, and now it’s Tonga’s turn to get double-teamed. Orton starts to go off the top rope, but Snuka sneaks up and shoves him so that he hits Piper instead. Both faces wind up on the floor, and in your surreal racist spot of the night, Snuka & Tonga accidentally headbutt each other, and it totally revitalizes both of them. It’s a four-man slugfest back in the ring, but the referee gets wiped out in the confusion and it’s a double-disqualification. 11 for 15.

And that's it, everybody.

The 411: This actually compliments the DVD set rather nicely. Good matches not featured on the three-disc set plus an undiscovered gem in the Piper-meets-Piper segment. Even if you did buy the DVD set, if you're a Hot Rod mark, you need this.
Final Score:  7.3   [ Good ]  legend


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