Brian Gewirtz has fond memories of his relationship with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Former WWE writer and author Brian Gewirtz recently spoke with Dominic DeAngelo to promote his new book, There’s Just One Problem… During the conversation, Gewirtz recalled his first interaction with ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, which took place at WrestleMania XIX.
“My first interaction was his run-in at WrestleMania 19 in the match with Hogan and Vince [McMahon]. I remember the idea being bandied about in our little inner circle writers’ meeting, and some people were for it and some people were against it. I tried, I didn’t want to. Sometimes if you’re too demonstrative and passionate about something that could work against you. So I didn’t want to go nuts and be like, ‘We must do this.’ It was like, ‘Yeah, I think that would be really cool.’ I would try to have a level-headed, pragmatic, ‘Yes. Because the fans would not be expecting it.’ He hasn’t been seen in the WWE ring in a long time.
“That was my first experience was that and I know as I write about like the last thing I wanted to do was piss him off or be that guy. I know we didn’t have a great experience with writers in general in WCW. I know that even just the existence of a wrestling writer is the antithesis of everything that he stood for as a guy who got himself over as a skinny teenager, homeless teenager, and then when working the territories all over this country and Mexico and Canada, everywhere.”
Gewirtz recalled being tasked to write for Piper and not wanting to step on the wrestling legend’s toes, also feeling a bit thankful that Bruce Prichard was around to help navigate the situation.
“The last thing he needs is some kid who’s never taken a bump to be telling him how to get over. It’s like, ‘oh, my God, I just… can I just look at him? Do I have to actually work with him?’ But thankfully and this is why I give Bruce Prichard so much leeway for blatantly stealing all my Michael Hayes bits that he employs on his podcast. Bruce was friends with Roddy for ages, and Bruce smartened him up, so to speak, in the business, saying like, ‘Hey, listen, I know writers, blah, blah, blah, but he’s a kid, he’s a good kid. He idolizes you. He had your poster in his bedroom and he’s talented.’ He said all these great things and ‘he hates to be touched by strangers. So whatever you do, don’t do that.’ So when I first met Roddy, he gave me the TSA pat down that lasted like an interminable amount of time that I would have been truly, truly uncomfortable. With writing, I was only slightly uncomfortable, but also kind of freaking out in a good way too.”
14 years ago my all time fav @R_Roddy_Piper wore this shirt at WM21 with @steveaustinBSR. I was told one thing: Make sure Roddy doesn’t curse. Cut to: Roddy shouting “Bullshit” on live PPV. His defense: “Is Bullshit really considered a curse?” The absolute greatest. #RIPHotRod pic.twitter.com/S0pIzUOS9M
— Brian Gewirtz (@bfg728) April 4, 2019
Gewirtz also spoke about getting to know Roddy Piper off the air as well, recalling how Piper showed up at his birthday party one year in Los Angeles.
“The truth of the matter is, he was very soft-spoken and almost like a gravelly voice. He turned that on when he was in front of that red light. But backstage, [he said] ‘Hey, kid, how are you doing?’, like that kind of thing. Obviously, as everyone knows about Roddy, he’s very family oriented and very passionate about his in-ring family, as well as his actual family. He had this special quality.
“I was just talking about this recently. I had a birthday party out in L.A., at Trader Vic’s,” Gewirtz explained. “I invited him, not thinking that he would show up. And not only did he show up, [but] he showed up with the beer-soaked ‘Hot Rod’ t-shirt that he wore in the ring at WrestleMania 21 in his Piper’s Pit with [Steve] Austin. The promo that I was technically the writer of, I was more just the caretaker of. He presented [the shirt] to me, he autographed it, I framed it, shadow boxed it, and it’s hanging in my apartment.
“Then, he hung out and hung out with all my friends, the same friends [that used to go with me to see him wrestle growing up],” Gewirtz added, “and now he’s coming to my birthday party. That’s absolutely nuts. And he seems to be enjoying himself right on top of everything. It’s not like he’s just like ‘Yeah, I told Prichard I’d do this.’ It’s like he was actually there and enjoying the moment. So I’m so, so grateful. I mean that alone is worth a lot of the craziness and headaches that you experience working backstage in wrestling.”
Check out our full video interview with Brian Gewirtz at the top of this post. There’s Just One Problem…: True Tales from the Former, One-Time, 7th Most Powerful Person in WWE is available now.
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