Thursday, June 16, 2011

There Will Never Be Another Rowdy Roddy Piper (And That's Okay)

The first Miz talks to the first Piper
Photo Credit: Watermarked in the lower left corner
On RAW Monday night, one of the best talkers from the 1980s, Rowdy Roddy Piper, stood in the same ring with one of the best talkers from the modern era, The Miz. Talk about a meeting across generations. During the back and forth, Piper noted that people were saying Miz was "the next Roddy Piper" and that there'd never be another Roddy Piper. I know the in character proclamation was used in the pejorative sense, but if you take it out of the context of the promo and as a statement of fact, I agree with him. There will NEVER be another Rowdy Scot.

And that's perfectly fine.

Piper is one-of-a-kind, a unique talent in the history of professional wrestling that was unlike any who came before him and unparalleled by anyone who came and will come after. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and a mechanism that works to a point in pro wrestling, trying to completely ape another guy's character or do the same exact things another person has done is a recipe for failure. Wrestling isn't the only place where these kinds of comparisons are dangerous. In real sport, the NBA especially, pundits are so quick to proclaim guys as the next Michael Jordan or Shaquille O'Neal, and they usually flame out. The only person who really hasn't disappointed expectation after comparisons to a past star is Kobe Bryant, and really, the way his career is going, we'll be comparing basketball players to him rather than saying his career was a facsimile to Jordan's. It would be a discredit to him to do otherwise, no matter how much you dislike him as a player (and believe me, I'd rather root for a Communist takeover of America than for any team where Kobe Bryant is the star player).

I feel like it's the same discredit to Miz to say he's the next Piper. To compare him favorably to Piper is one thing; anyone who is in wrestling would feel like an honor to be compared to one of the greatest performers ever. However, to say he's the next Piper? Why base his entire worth on being a facsimile of another guy, however great that guy may be, without looking at the things he can do, some of them similar to Piper, some different?

I do get that people who make those comparisons don't always mean it with the intent assigned here, but at the same time, it does speak to a symptom that we always seem to have to look at the present through the lens of what the past has provided. Wrestling, like most forms of entertainment and even sport, has to evolve in order to be truly memorable. If that weren't the case, the most popular bands would be Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Metallica cover bands. The best teams in football would run the wing-T and not outfit their helmets with facemasks. The most popular movies would be rema... okay, maybe THAT one isn't the best example. And the best drawing wrestling events would be nostalgia shows featuring the Pipers, Hulk Hogans, Ric Flairs, Brutus Beefcakes, Iron Sheiks and other has-beens. I think we'd all be a bit better off if we broke that habit of always reminding ourselves of the "good ol' days", but then again, that might be asking too much. It is human nature to fondly reminisce.

Even so, I still submit that The Miz is not the next Roddy Piper and never will be the next Roddy Piper. He's the first Miz, just as Piper was the first Roddy Piper, Hogan was the first Hulk Hogan and even now, John Cena was the first John Cena. Appreciating the past doesn't mean living in it.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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