Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story | Book Review

We recently read Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story, the unfinished autobiography that Roddy started the very year that he sadly passed away. The book would later be re-conceived and completed by his children, Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs. We share our sincere and honest thoughts on the biography of a father, actor, and one of the greatest villains in wrestling history.

Our review of Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story.
Our review of Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story.

Rowdy Roddy Piper – Forever Etched in Memory

Some of the best nights of my life were spent seeing heel Roddy Piper headline Madison Square Garden.

Etched in my memory forever are Piper vs. Snuka, Piper vs. Tonga Kid, Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton versus those very same gentlemen, and Hot Rod laying out the one and only Andre the Giant; he and Dr. D David Schultz gave Andre and Snuka that rarest of losses on the giant’s then mostly unblemished record.

When you saw the rowdy one at his villainous peak, it was utter carnage, and when it was all over, you could breathe once again.

He was THAT thrilling.

Roddy Piper - From The Streets to the Big Time
Roddy Piper throughout the years.

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Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story Book Review

Not being a huge wrestling book reader as of late (I’ve been disappointed one too many times), this was nonetheless one I needed to seek out.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

An unfinished autobiography that Roddy started the very year he died in 2015, it was "re-conceived" and completed by his children, actress/musician Ariel Teal Toombs and wrestler Colt Baird Toombs.

Separating fact from fiction in their dad’s amazing life would be a herculean task. They wanted to retrace their father’s rough and tumble life and career but even more than that- they wanted to fully understand the iconic legend and loving dad they had recently lost.

What is so very special about this book is that it was a journey of discovery.

Just who was this amazing man?

And interestingly, several early chapters had little if anything to do with wrestling.

They explored their family’s nomadic moving from town to town and the troubled relationship between a rebellious young Roddy and his strict dad.

Young Roddy becomes semi-homeless, never shy to street fight, and does what he needs to survive.

The book chronicles his breaking into wrestling and working the old territories including in no particular order groups in Canada, Texas, Georgia, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Portland, Puerto Rico, Japan, the AWA, and most others in-between.

You meet his wrestling mentors, including the colorful Gene LeBell, and his climbing the ladder in a then mostly super heavyweight world that didn’t immediately embrace a skinny teen breaking in.

More importantly, you see his incredible drive and the dues he was willing to pay, particularly after his marriage and kids came into the picture. And he instinctively knew when to leave each territory when he was still on top and climb that next wrung, which eventually led to WWE.

To their credit, no punches are pulled as they describe their father’s "demons" in detail.

Wild road stories are included, and his hard-partying along with ring buddies Ric Flair, Buddy Rose, Greg Valentine, and others isn’t whitewashed.

One amazing tale has a stranger disrespect Roddy who responds by threatening to drop him off a boat. He would have certainly killed the man.

His demons included a temper which did, on more than one occasion, get him into trouble.

Greg Valentine talks about partying with Roddy Piper:

YouTube video

The weakest part of the book for me was his legendary WWE run as the various matches and angles, and lead-ups to the matches are told in detail, but having seen them all on more than one occasion- and even being in the seats for some, it felt like overkill at least to me.

I was far more interested in Roddy Piper facing his demons and learning more about this tough but tender man.

In the very last chapter, you see the years of wear and tear take their toll as Roddy noticeably slows down at the end, concerning his friends and family.

He dies in bed of a heart attack at age 61, wearing his iconic Hot Rod t-shirt.

This was the only wrestling book I’ve EVER read where I was wiping tears from my eyes. I was finding it hard to see the very pages I was unsuccessfully trying to read.

Kudos for a well-written, entertaining, inspiring, poignant tome that allows us to finally understand this complex man.

There will never, ever be another one quite like him.

Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs.
Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs can be purchased here.

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Evan Ginzburg is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. He's a published author and was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie "The Wrestler" and acclaimed wrestling documentary "350 Days." He is a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring.