Welcome to a special WEDNESDAY edition of the WRATH of TITO. Today, we'll review Roddy Piper's book, which I have to say, was hard to put down. Thanks to anyone who sent me descriptions of what Piper said on the NWA-TNA show. Someone actually told me it could be downloaded on a file sharing system, to which I took the advice with a smile. I saw the video first hand (too large to send, so don't ask) just to compare it with what was said in his book regarding Vince Russo and Owen Hart. Call it doing your research or homework.
I figured I'd get bombarded with feedback regarding RAW, but I didn't. After one debut and one return on RAW (Goldberg and Nash), ratings just aren't going up. It clearly shows you that people are fed up with the current WWE product and would like to have a change. Guys from the past have LOST their starpower and any nostalgia that was once there from those older WWE or WCW stars is long gone. Time to try something new. Create new stars. Try new storylines. Quit pushing sleeze.
The WWE has a long summer ahead of them, possibly the worst business wise in years, and that says a lot because the summer of 2001 and 2002 weren't very strong business wise. Although I like seeing Goldberg in the WWE, it seems as though 1998 WWE fans never watched him. Obviously they didn't watch him! WCW went downhill in 1999, losing viewers by the month! His popularity peak was in the summer of 1998, and after he won the World Title, the company started going downhill in a big way, as the midcard went to total shit, Hogan had some terrible feuds (Karl Malone, Jay Leno, and the Warrior) and Kevin Nash became head booker for whatever reason.
It's been 5 years since his peak in 1998, and that was when many people just started to watch wrestling. Various injuries and dickhead politics kept Goldberg from getting on a hot streak again, so hence the lack of a big pop in the ratings. Kevin Nash never drew as a main eventer. He was a part of the NWO, sure, but he was a bit player as a tag team wrestler until late 1998 when he BOOKED himself to be the first victory over Bill Goldberg and to win the WCW title. WCW went down the tubes after that. When Nash was the champion in 1995, it was one of the WWE's worst years, business wise.
But hey, that's alright. The WWE could have spent money back then to bring in the likes of Goldberg, Nash, Flair, Steiner (although he wasn't healthy), Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Eric Bischoff during the Invasions, but nooooooooo. Instead, they are still paying top dollar for these guys, while in the process of losing millions because the final opportunity at another wrestling boom, the WCW Invasion, totally tanked because Vince McMahon was a total jackass in handling it. Wasn't Vince McMahon a billionaire at one time? Shit, he's lost 2/3 of that already because of his stupid wrestling decisions.
Boy, I can't wait for all of the jokes I can make about TNN's new name, Spike TV. As if "We've Got Pop" wasn't funny enough. Spike TV... that's so lame. It's going to be aimed at males, obviously, although the network already does that with Star Trek, Baywatch, and the many movies they try to air, which TBS, USA, TNT, and other networks have already overplayed. Is it Spike TV, as in you have to "spike" your drink just to enjoy watching it? Is it Spike TV, because after watching it, you want someone to throw you off a cliff and onto some "spikes"? Maybe you want to put on a pair of "spikes" and stomp on your television after watching its programming? The jokes can go on and on. Viacom has to be the coolest media conglomerate around. I mean seriously, look at all of the crap on the wall they've thrown for Mtv, maybe getting one profitable idea out of 10, every time!
I really hope the rumors about Sting are true. Not that he'll specifically boom the WWE, but as a fan of his, I'd like to see him just so there's something in wrestling to look foward to this summer.
On to the book review!
The book is a paperback and only 237 pages long. However, it doesn't give you long descriptive details like the Lawler book and it's pretty packed about Roddy's life. I like how it starts out, as Piper just skips over his childhood and goes into how he became a professional wrestler. I like when wrestlers do that in their biographies. Sure, everyone has a childhood, but what significant events are provided from that era? Piper started from scratch and took a whoopin' in the business before starting to get noticed as a wrestler. Piper seems to be a member of the last breed of wrestler who were taught how to seriously manhandle someone in the ring and one who didn't take shit from a promoter, whereas the big boom of the WWF in the 1980's ended that.
I'm too young to remember Piper's early career. I was born in 1980, and he says he was selling out arenas on the West Coast before that time. I mean, I hope, for the sake of argument, that he's correct about this just so he doesn't come off as arrogant by saying that he was a big draw out on the West Coast. But the best part about Piper's early days were the stories told about other wrestlers or pranks/ribs performed. Some of the oldschool wrestlers were so ruthless and careless at times, but when you're on the road as much as 300 days of the year, you'd go insane too.
The best thing about Piper is his honesty regarding the business and promoters before 1990. I loved hearing about how wrestlers carried haliburtons, or steel suitcases to carry belongings, as a sign of class among wrestlers. If you made money through wrestling, you carried one. But the stuff about the promoters was fantastic, especially the honestly and guts to tell the truth about Vince McMahon. Piper went into great detail on how Vince changed the business, such as making people pay to see the WWF and not just 2 wrestlers headlining the card. Secondly, Vince may have been buying up talent back in the 1980's, but he got rid of a lot of it once that highly paid talent started putting the WWF on the map. For example, say you had a big wrestler from a territory that signed when Vince McMahon Jr. took over. Once the WWF got stronger, he'd start looking for his younger talent to step up, which was cheaper than the highly paid guy, and eventually replace the big shot from the territory. Piper FEARED that, it appeared that once you lost to Hulk Hogan, Vince's boy, you were finished.
With that being said, Piper totally admits to refusing to job to Hulk Hogan at the War to Settle the Score, the Mtv special, and Wrestlemania 1. He knew that if Hogan pinned his shoulders to the mat, 1, 2, 3, he was through. Proof of that is provided later with the end of Wrestlemania 1, as Mr. T and Hulk Hogan were ushered out in a limo and partied all night, while Mr. Perfect and Roddy was left at the arena without a ride! Piper was a smart guy, and by reading his book and hearing why he did what he did back then makes you respect him. He knew he'd be out of the job or making less money if Hogan beat him, and mind you, Piper did have a family to feed. Piper was pretty smart, too, in getting out when he could, as his "retirement" match was at Wrestlemania 3, and Piper knew that the WWF would always come a calling back because he was a strong heel or good personality that would always draw fans or spark a feud.
I agreed with his comments about Mr. T. The WWF wanted T to go over Piper at Wrestlemania 2, but he again said "no way", knowing that it would not benefit the business if a celebrity beat a wrestler. See Bam Bam vs. Lawrence Taylor for that problem. He did put over Bret Hart, though, which I thought was a very honorable job, but would he have done the job to Bret if he wasn't his cousin? Yep, Piper and the Harts are related. That's a great question for Mr. Piper. The fact that Piper is related to the Harts sparked his comments made about Owen, but we'll get to that in a bit.
The rest of the book has Piper going into detail about his time as an announcer in the WWF, and the problems with Vince during that, and he even discussed his match with Goldust at Wrestlemania 12, as he was actually pretty injured heading into that. Finally, Piper gets into a little bit of what he did in WCW while Vince Russo was there in 1999. WAIT A SECOND?!?!? Aren't we forgetting an important time frame? How about his time in WCW before Russo came along? You know, when Piper debuted at Halloween Havoc 1996 and Hogan vs. Piper headlined Starrcade 1996? How about how he was on a decent amount of television in 1997, as well? He fought Hogan 3 times on Pay Per Views from 1996 to 1997, and not a mention of that at all? For shame... I mean, he barely goes into details about his time with Vince Russo in late 1999. I'd LOVE to hear his comments about the Bret Hart vs. Bill Goldberg match of Starrcade 1999. I'd LOVE IT! But it's like it never happened...
Piper, to his credit, did go over the details of his Vince McMahon steroid trial testimony and involvement. Good read there.
Now, onto the Owen Hart stuff. Piper talks, in the book, about some conversations he had with Ed Ferrara and Vince Russo during late 1999 in WCW. He then talks about his video recorded tape he sent to WCW on ways to improve the product, which I believe he sent to Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo in 2000. Both things replicated what he said on NWA-TNA. Here's a quote of what Piper told Ed Ferrara when Ferrara confronted Piper about a scripted interview, kinda boasting that Ferrara and Russo were successful writers in the WWF just months ago: "Oh, then you must be the two motherfuckers who were responsible for writing the script that led to the tragic death of my cousin Owen Hart?" So there you go on the controversial NWA-TNA comments. Sadly, it seemed as though it was turned into an angle on NWA-TNA, when I could totally understand Piper's position and feelings on his cousin Owen, although you didn't see Piper's other cousin, Bret Hart, blaming Russo for any of this. In fact, Bret Hart actually worked well with Russo, as Russo was the first guy to make him a WCW champion! Bret Hart wrote the foreward of the book, too...
Piper also takes minor shots at the WWE, such as having fat Samoans dancing around in thongs. He also says that on the NWA-TNA "shoot", as well. He talks about how the WWE needs to raise its moral standards, although painting yourself half black one time represented morality? He also emphasizes competition in the industry, which is true in all regards because the WWE product totally slacks off. At the time he wrote this book, he was backing the XWF. Since then, he has jumped from the NWA-TNA and to the WWE. Piper then sticks up for the wrestlers, saying they are still getting underpaid for their hardwork and that they won't see benefits in the long run. Very true. He also discusses his attempts to unionize wrestlers. I'm sure with all of the backstage acting, wrestlers could possibly get into the Actor's Guild, although Piper is a part of that for several movies that he's done (which he also doesn't go into great detail over).
LAST WORD: For a no nonsense look at the business before 1990, this is your book. His material regarding the WWF in the 1980's is priceless, and his stories about being on the road during the 1970's/early 1980's are quite entertaining. That makes it a great read alone and something you'd want to go out of your way for. But, Piper skips over things such as nearly all of his WCW career. But, it's from HIM and it doesn't feel like a fake and edited WWE biography. The points made in the book are from him and not what the WWE wants you to hear. He believes what he says, too, which always helps you out when reading a biography. I'll give it an [ A ] for the simple fact that it never bored me one bit and had some good views on his own events. Leaving out a few key things keeps it behind the best books in the business, but I still highly recommend reading it, and you can purchase the book by Clicking Here, Clicking Here, or by going to Roddy's site at RoddyPiper.com.
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