In 1996, we almost got a feud nobody wanted: “The Juice” OJ Simpson against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 12. Here is how this match almost went down.
In early 1996, Roddy Piper was back on WWF TV and making references to OJ Simpson in his promos. OJ had just been acquitted of murder a few months prior and WWF, always keen for a bit of mainstream press, were thinking about bringing OJ in for a match at WrestleMania.
WWF booker and friend, Bruce Prichard talks about it on his “Something to Wrestle” podcast:
“The original plan was for OJ Simpson to have a match at WrestleMania against the Hot Rod. I remember calling Roddy and pitching Roddy the idea, which he was for. We had had preliminary talks with OJ Simpson’s people, who at that point, were looking for anything that had a paycheck attached to it. We floated the idea out there, we did talk to OJ’s people, I talked to Piper about it, Piper was on board. We were bringing him back in to get involved. If you go back, in the early time of Piper’s re-emergence, he does make comments about OJ Simpson. He makes comments about right and wrong in America and what’s going on and that he’s here to make things right in the WWF. The end game to that was going to be the one off and have Piper beat the shit out of OJ Simpson at WrestleMania in Anaheim, California.”
“We had had preliminary talks with OJ Simpson’s people, who at that point, were looking for anything that had a paycheck attached to it.”
Despite Roddy being positioned as the good guy beating up the possible double-murderer, this idea looked bad for all involved and it was thankfully shut down relatively quickly.
“Once that started getting out beyond the inner circle of OJ Simpson’s people and out in Hollywood, the backlash was deafening. The people were like, ‘If you do this, you’ll never have another sponsor.’ Just extremely, extremely negative. So, we punted. We thought the end game of OJ getting the shit kicked out of him would satisfy some people. As those words come out of my mouth, you realize how ridiculous this is today. But you always have to try something on even if it sounds ridiculous.”
The backlash to the proposed OJ Simpson match was extremely, extremely negative.
It’s certainly for the best that this angle never happened, and Roddy went on to have a match with the Hollywood-obsessed Goldust character at WrestleMania 12, in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl. The match is remembered favorably and featured a highway chase with a white Bronco (which Roddy got to keep), which is probably as close as they should have taken the connection to OJ Simpson.