Talkin’ with … ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Guest Star and Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper

Talkin’ with … ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Guest Star and Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper

If you were a wrestling or music fan in the 1980s, Rowdy Roddy Piper was on your radar, from his moves in the squared circle and his lively, often out-of-control “Piper’s Pit” interview segments to his feud with Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper that led to the first WrestleMania event in 1985 and, later, Piper’s own Hollywood career.

Tonight, Piper pops up in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10PM ET, FX), playing – what else? – a wrestler. In “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops,” Charlie, Mac and Dennis decide to do their patriotic duty by putting on a wrestling show for the troops, including an appearance by Da Maniac (Piper) and fashioning themselves into a wrasslin’ trio. This, obviously, cannot end well for the Paddy’s Pub gang.

I had a chance to chat with Piper yesterday about his gig on Sunny, about his thriving movie career (including a recent flick with his daughter and Corey Feldman), about his feud and friendship with the late Captain Lou Albano, and, in just-announced news that took Rowdy Roddy by surprise, about Hulk Hogan’s announcement that he’s returning to wrestling.

Does that mean a Hulk vs. Roddy rematch could be in the works? Could be …

Hi, Roddy. Thanks for taking the time to do this today. I used to watch wrestling with my grandpa growing up and was a big fan of yours.
(Laughing) Oh, you must have been starved for entertainment then.

Tell me about your character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia … His name is Da Maniac?
Yes, he’s an interesting character. He’s a take-off of the character Mickey Rourke played in The Wrestler, and putting him in a sitcom situation. You know, they’re very kind people, the Sunny cast, I’m a big fan of theirs. When they were growing up, they watched wrestling –
they were very sweet (to me) – and when this project came about, and I heard they wanted someone to play the part of “The Wrestler,” so to speak, it seemed like kind of a natural (thing) there, I guess.

The guys on It’s Always Sunny are obviously big fans of yours, too …
Yes, and they’re just really super people. When we did the first scene and I came out, they didn’t know me. And I was late, and jumped out onto the set just in time. And I guess I was being intimidating – I didn’t mean to be – and Charlie (Day) was the poor guy who suffered the most. There’s a scene where (Da Maniac) takes a helmet out of his station wagon, and it has barbed wire all over it, and I inadvertently hit Charlie in the groin with it. Poor Charlie suffered, you see. So I don’t know whether Charlie is still talking to me, but the rest of the cast is, and they’re all wonderful.

They have several recurring characters on It’s Always Sunny, so is there any chance you’ll go back after this episode?
I would love to go back and see them. I guess we’ll see how this episode plays out. I’m talking to some folks about doing a sitcom now, so that would be a lot of fun.

That’s something you would want to do, a regular weekly series?
Yeah, I think so. I’m talking to Bunim-Murray right now, talking about developing one. And I’m also hosting Monday Night Raw in November at Madison Square Garden. I don’t think I’ll be getting back in the ring again though. I was (in the ring) in April for Wrestlemania XXV – can you believe that?

I know! You were there back at the very first one …
Right! I was there when it didn’t even have a number, wasn’t I Kim? (Laughing). The event, Wrestlemania XXV, in Houston was a really nice one, and I think there was something like 70,000 people in attendance, but I just don’t think my time in the ring is much more. I think it’s time for me to grow up. May as well have people laugh with me and at me and do something in the entertainment world.

And you’re hosting Monday Night Raw in November?
Yes, with Jimmy Fallon. That one’s easy for me, but poor Jimmy … I hope he doesn’t speak to Charlie.

Now Hulk Hogan just announced that he is going to return to wrestling … does that change things for you? You two have such a long history of being rivals, there’s still no chance of you going back in?
Wow, you know what … did he announce that last night?

He announced it this (Wednesday) morning. He’s going to be wrestling with TNA.
Ah, okay. Wow, this is terrible, giving me openings like that … I only wrestle for the major leagues. I’m the reason (Hulk Hogan) has got no hair, you know. (Laughing). But if he’s going back, I might be willing to go back for a one-off. You know, to be honest with you Kim, this is the first I’ve heard about it. But right away my ears perked up when you said that. I beat him once and he’s never beaten me, and I know that drives him crazy. So yeah, maybe I could give him a chance to lose twice, I guess. Hahaha. See, these openings that you’re giving me? You’re gonna have to make this match with me now if I go.

I would be right there in your corner! One of your other big rivals from the first Wrestlemania, Captain Lou Albano, recently passed away – what was your relationship with him like more recently?
I had an on and off relationship with Lou. I respected and admired the talent. Quick story: The first time I went to Madison Square Garden, when I was 19-years-old, they called me “The Boy Wonder.” And I used to play the bagpipes before I wrestled. So I got there, and Lou came up to me and hugged me and said he’d seen me (wrestle) and said ‘Oh, you’re too good, we don’t want you here.’ And then Freddie Blassie, the manager, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, came up to me and said, ‘Aw, you’re a pencil-necked geek, we don’t want you’ and gave me a hug. And then, before I went on that night – there were promoters from everywhere who had come to see me – I went to play my bagpipes, and nothing came out. Freddie Blassie had stuffed rolls of toilet paper in them. When they said they didn’t want me there, they meant it. And when I went into the dressing room, Vince McMahon Sr. basically said, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ And it took me another 10 years to get back there. It was a brutal business, very brutal business. So I always carried a grudge, but later in life I found out that Captain Lou hadn’t known anything about it. It was Freddie. So when I came back, it was during the Cyndi Lauper (feud), and I explained to him that I had thought he was involved with it, and apologized to him, and we became very dear friends after that. So it was a very sad day for me (when he died). I’ve lost too many friends.

In addition to wrestling and the It’s Always Sunny episode, your movie career is really thriving, with several movies coming up for you. In The Bloke Goes to Hollywood, you co-star with your daughter, and the movie was directed by Corey Feldman?
Yeah! My daughter Ariel Teal Toombs. She’s a working actress here in Los Angeles, and she’s a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy … cost me a fortune. (Laughing). She’s just one of the most beautiful kids. I have four beautiful children, and I have great relationships with them. Being able to be on the set with her was like a dream come true. She was always hugging onto my arm, and it was great to get to work with her.

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