Friday, May 13, 2022

Tough Kid: Roddy Piper and the Sandpaper

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Edited From the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives / Cokes & Popcorn

Roddy Piper once told a story which illustrated what old-timers did to protect the business back in the day. In his day, they sometimes would go to extremes to make sure fans completely bought into an angle. It was all about "protecting the business."

In the audio clip below, Roddy is discussing the famous 1982 angle where he and Ric Flair engaged in an amateur wrestling contest. After Piper embarrassed Flair by pinning him both amateur and professional style, Flair and his cohort Greg Valentine attacked him and ground his face into the cement floor of the WPCQ TV studios in Charlotte.

In a radio interview in 2011 promoting an upcoming NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest, Piper discussed what we didn't see during the commercial break to make sure fans bought into the angle:

Roddy Piper discusses Gene Anderson
Rock 100.5 Atlanta's Rock Station 

Piper mentions he was taken to the back after the angle during the commercial break, and Gene Anderson rubbed sandpaper on his face to create the abrasion you see in the photo below and to help sell the angle to fans. After the facial "alterations", Anderson looked at him and said, "Tough kid." Piper said it was one of the greatest compliments he had ever received.

Roddy Piper 1982
Photograph by Eddie Cheslock

This photo above (taken by magazine photographer Eddie Cheslock in Richmond, VA) was shot in 1982 following the angle between Ric Flair and Roddy Piper which led to the sandpaper treatment he describes receiving in the video from Gene Anderson.

Ricky Steamboat 1978

The 1982 Flair/Piper angle was basically a repeat of an angle four years earlier between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, except the 1978 angle didn't involve an amateur wrestling contest.

On a 2015 appearance on Ric Flair's old podcast WOOOOO! Nation, Steamboat recounted how the same thing has been done to him to help get the angle over.

From the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives / Cokes & Popcorn
Also republished in June of 2015 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway