'Rowdy' Roddy Piper fans asked to observe moment of silence

AP News
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Posted: Aug 11, 2015 8:18 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The family of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper asked fans to observe a moment of silence as his friends and relatives gathered for a memorial Tuesday.

The kilt-wearing trash-talker who headlined the first WrestleMania died of cardiac arrest on July 31 at his California home. He was 61.

His family held a private funeral Tuesday in the Portland, Oregon, area, where he maintained a home. They asked fans around the world to join them in a moment of silence as the service began at 10:30 a.m. PDT. The service coincided with a Tuesday night WWE SmackDown show at Portland's Moda Center.

Born Roderick Toombs, Piper rose to fame in the 1980s as he battled Hulk Hogan. Though Canadian, he often appeared in a kilt and came to the ring blowing bagpipes in a nod to his Scottish heritage.

"The truth is that Roddy Piper was so good at his job that he never needed a title belt around his waist to make people pay attention to him," friend Matthew Merz said at a public memorial held Monday in Portland, according to KOIN. "WrestleMania wasn't built on a big world title match. It was built on Rowdy Roddy Piper."

Piper was a villain for the early portion of his career, once cracking a coconut over the skull of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka in a segment for his popular WWF talk show called "Piper's Pit." He later starred in the movie "They Live" and continued acting for most of the next three decades. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Piper became a household name because of his rivalry with Hogan, and the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper and her friend Captain Lou Albano. The feud led to an MTV special "The War to Settle the Score" in 1985. Piper was cast as the villain, and his disqualification led to Hogan keeping the WWF championship.

"Roddy Piper was a great human being. He was a better human being than he was a wrestler, and by the way, he was the greatest wrestler of all time," former Portland Uncut wrestler Kelly Shafer told KPTV.

Another private memorial for Piper is scheduled for Monday at the Comedy Store in Hollywood.