Thursday, August 13, 2015

U.S. Wrestling Club: Roddy Piper


In 1981, Jim Crockett promotions developed a club for their fans and called it the "United States Wrestling Club." For a membership fee of $5.00 for one year, fans got the bi-monthly club newsletter "Ringside," a discounted subscription offer on "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine," discounts on tickets to local Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events, and discounts on concessions at those events. Despite being initially well received by fans, Crockett Promotions folded the club after only one year.

The 3rd 4-page issue of the short-lived "Ringside" newsletter arrived in the fall of 1981. The feature article was editor Steve Waid's interview with Roddy Piper about Piper's diverse hobbies. Roddy enjoys dirt biking, quick-draw, and (of course) the bagpipes!

The issue also included Club News, and enrollment form, and letters to the editor (included following the article on Roddy) and a word-jumble puzzle.

Roddy Piper – All Around Competitor

by Steve Waid

When Roddy Piper isn’t sweating and straining as a professional wrestler in any one of thousands of rings throughout the country, chances are you will find him alone, deep in the woods, making music.

It isn’t ordinary music, by the way.  None of this “lilting flute” or “harmonious guitar” stuff. As befits his Scottish heritage, Piper plays the bagpipes – and suffice it to say, he is very, very good.

“I’ve been playing the pipes since I was six years old and living in Glasgow, Scotland,” said Piper. “Right now, I like to go into the woods and play them without being disturbed. That’s when they sound nicest.”

“But I’ve been involved in some serious bagpipe competition and I’ve played in championship pipe bands. I was a member of the World Champion pipe band which won a competition on Toronto, Canada. The band was in the ‘Pro Class’, which is the highest classification.”

It’s not unusual that Piper would take up the pipes, since he is Scottish, but it seems unlikely he would stick with them throughout his many travels.

“I am a professional gypsy, or so it seems,” Piper said with a laugh.   “It’s hard to remember all the places I’ve been.”

To start, there’s Glasgow, Piper’s home. He left there when he was six years old and moved to Melbourne, Australia.  When he was nine, his family made the move to Canada.

“And I’ve lived in every Canadian province but one, and that’s Alberta,” Piper pointed out. “But I never lost my interest in the pipes, even when I started wrestling.”

Piper began his pro wrestling career on the West Coast, where he got a chance to win the America’s Heavyweight Championship several years ago.  “I won, too,” he said.

Before that, Piper’s interest in wrestling was kindled by his father, who was an accomplished amateur in Scotland.

“Back in Scotland, we had the Highland Games, with such events as the hammer toss, the caber pole (that long, heavy wooden pole) toss and wrestling,” Piper said. “We kids would get out there and tussle and later we’d wrestle catch-as-catch-can.”

“My father was a burly man and he did a lot of wrestling. He was always involved in the local championships and he won a lot of them, but he didn’t wrestle much beyond home. He set me in the right direction as far as wrestling goes.”

Today, Piper rules as one of the top wrestlers around and has even earned the United State Heavyweight Championship title. True to his gypsy image, he still travels a great deal.

“But I’ve got another hobby I like when I’m not traveling,” he said.  “And that’s fast-draw. Not art, but gun-slinging, like in the movies.  I had an old wrestling partner out in L.A. who was very much into it and he got me interested.”

“He was so good, he could draw his gun and fire before someone else holding a gun on him could get the cocked hammer down. I’m not that fast, but I enjoy it.”

Piper explained he uses a light-weight, balanced Colt .45 when he does his gun-slinging.  “I keep my eyes open for some good models and I’ve got a few nice ones.”

Piper also enjoys dirt-biking, which he learned from a Hollywood stuntman who would do tricks on a motorcycle.  “It’s fun to get out there and run all over the place, taking lumps and bumps”, Piper said.

Piper’s got quite an interesting set of hobbies – bagpipes, fast-draw and dirt biking.  “Well, I never said I did ordinary things,” he explained.

“Still, it is so hard to find the time to do any of them. I travel so much that I’m seldom at home. There are times when I’d like nothing better than to be able to go into the woods and play my pipes, but it’s hard.”

“It seems like I’m always fighting in the rings. So when I get a chance to  enjoy one of my hobbies, I do it to the fullest.”


* * * * *

Letters to the Editor
(reprinted from Ringside Vol. 1 Issue 3)

Dear Ringside:

I am writing to let you know how much my Mother and I enjoy wrestling. My favorite is Blackjack Mulligan, and my Mom’s favorite is Ric Flair, but we love ‘em all. We are looking forward to a feature on Ric and Blackjack.

I enjoyed your features on Ricky Steamboat and Paul Jones, but I’d like to see more personal things like the wives and family included along with the hobbies.

Also, we were glad to see the address for Ric Flair’s fan club. Needless to say, we’ve already joined. So, keep up the good work.

Amber Thomas

Dear Ringside:

I think a big mistake is being made by wrestling fans about Roddy Piper. People seem to overlook the class and genius this man poses. I admit he does take the short cuts, but with the wrestling skill he has, he doesn’t need to.

At the age of 26, Roddy Piper is second only to Harley Race. Most wrestlers are just beginning to wrestle at the age of 26.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for 12 years and have never seen a wrestler use the basic wrestling skills that I learned while wrestling in high school and college. Fans boo him and call him sissy because of his ancestral kilt, but they don’t realize that’s what he wants, that’s his motivation.

Roddy Piper has a certain charge in him that gets the people going. And that is why Roddy Piper is U.S. Champion, and “You’re Not!”

Neil Rhodes
Columbia, SC

* * * * * 

Editor: Steve Waid
Managing Editor: Sid Morris
Associate Editor: Anita Gersch
Art Director: Anita Gersch
Membership: Donna Taylor

Special Thanks to Peggy Lathan for her transcription of the Ringside newsletter.