Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Ric Flair and Roddy Piper Shoot Interview Roundtable

Presented by Highspots.com

The Feud:  These two wrestling legends and real life best friends would face or team with each other over 230 times in their respective careers – according to available records.  This includes single and tag matches as well as battle royals.

The first time these two men met, both were green and just looking for experience.  The date was November 10th, 1973 and it saw Verne Gagne’s recent training camp graduate Ric Flair defeating  AWA preliminary  wrestler “Ronnie” Piper.

Dusty Rhodes has a Ric Flair and Roddy Piper story to share from this period:

After that match, the two men would not meet again until November 18th of 1980 – this time it was Mid Atlantic TV champion Roddy Piper beating Ric Flair.  This kicked off a LONG series of matches as Flair would go on to defend his United States title against Piper many times over the next several months.  The two men also enlisted tag partners to join in the battles as Flair would team with Ricky Steamboat, Johnny Weaver or Wahoo McDaniels against Piper and partners such as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, or Ivan Koloff. Piper would score his second big win over Flair on January 27th 1981, a night that saw Flair lose his U.S. gold to Piper.

Piper, being a good heel, had used a foreign object to knock Flair out for the pin.  Piper would show up at the next TV taping in a tuxedo (without pants) and he carried a present with him in a wrapped box.  The hosts Bob Caudle and David Crockett were interrupted by Piper strolling on to the set and opening his jacket, showing off his ill-gotten gold belt.

Piper declared “King Richard is dead! Long live the king!” and mocked Flair’s already famous “WHOOOOOO!!”  This drew out Flair and Piper offered him the present.  It would turn out to be Piper’s TV title.  Flair declined the belt and told Piper he only wears belts he wins in the ring.

Flair then produced the foreign object Piper had hit him with – this led to a shouting match and Flair started to rip up his own luxury sports coat – Piper responded by ripping apart his tuxedo, only to realize it was a rental….

This all led to even more rematches and some tag bouts with  Blackjack Mulligan teaming with Flair against Piper and Iron Sheik.  The feud would go on until early April.

The feud was reignited for one night in late July of that year, with Andre the Giant joining Flair against Ray Stevens and Piper in the Maple Leaf Gardens.  Flair would become distracted by winning the World title but he and Piper would find opportunities throughout 1982 and 1983 to face off for the World title – the feud covering the Mid Atlantic, Portland and Maple Leaf promotions.

Piper turning face and ended up in a war with Greg Valentine was the only thing that could quell the Flair and Piper rivalry.  Then in early 1984 Piper jumped to the WWF and ended any further advancement in the feud until Ric Flair’s shocking entrance into the WWF in August of 1991.

Flair and Piper traded insults, Flair on promos and Piper on commentary, however Piper was still recovering from “a motorcycle crash” (the cover story for Piper’s hip replacement surgery) so getting physical wasn’t in the cards.  Flair decided to take advantage of this situation and instead of making his way to the ring for his in ring debut, Ric strutted over by Piper, Randy Savage and Vince McMahon’s commentary booth and confronted Piper.  Piper grabbed a chair to defend himself, and accidentally laid out Vince McMahon with it instead of Flair.  This was the most physical angle Vince had ever been involved with and made Flair’s debut a very memorable one.

Piper would re-enter the ring soon after this and he and Flair would collide across the country in battles, culminating at that November’s Survivor Series as they led teams on opposite sides – a match that saw Flair capture a cheap victory and thus allowing the war to continue. Flair and Piper headlined Madison Square Garden several times during this run and having a memorable collision in the middle of the “Royal Rumble” battle royal.

Once again the feud never truly ended as Piper got sidetracked by winning the Intercontinental title and Roddy “retired” after that April’s Wrestlemania show.

The next time that wrestling fans had the chance to see Flair and Piper together, it would be in World Championship Wrestling. Piper had come in to battle old foe Hulk Hogan and Hogan’s “New World Order” faction and Flair was right in the middle of the trenches in the WCW vs nWo war so an unlikely alliance was formed.

Piper was going to have 2 unknown tough guys and John Tenta team up with him to battle the nWo and Flair saw the error in this plan and offered Piper the services of the Four Horseman instead.  This would lead to a series of Piper and Flair vs nWo matches.

The old rivals tentative unity collapsed that summer as Flair and Piper once again came to blows:

Piper was upset that Flair left him to the mercy of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and wanted Flair to choose between the Horseman and the Hot Rod.  Piper beat Flair on PPV soon after and the feud simmered off quickly.

The next flare up came in early 1999 after Ric Flair had been named WCW President after defeating Eric Bischoff.  Piper came in to try and stop Flair from abusing his power – this led to a convoluted series of matches between Piper and Flair over control of WCW.  Piper would gain it from Flair after Eric Bischoff showed up and reversed the result of their first match – because you see these matches were for fake storyline power and Eric still had real power (I hope that angle makes your head hurt).  Flair would win back control of WCW a few months later and make the whole thing moot by immediately joining forces with Piper.  Sting would beat Flair for control of WCW soon after and that thankfully ends this nonsense.  Piper was fairly broken down by the end of the summer of ’99 and disappeared again.

Piper and Flair’s last run together occurred in the WWE in 2006 when at the “Cyber Sunday” PPV the fans were able to pick Ric Flair’s partner to go after The Spirit Squad’s tag team titles.  Piper won the poll over Dusty Rhodes and Sgt. Slaughter.  The geriatric tandem won the titles and went on a brief run as champions – however Piper suffered a real life medical scare only 8 days into their reign and Flair and Piper had to drop the gold to Edge and Randy Orton.

The Shoot:

They start by discussing how well Vince respects the legends and how the WWE Hall of Fame holds value – despite some guys not really deserving the spot.

Both men feel seven guys going each year is just too many and hurts the Hall of Fame’s specialness since it leads to more undercard guys who slip in.

Piper suggests Vince induct Red Bastien soon.

Flair says Blackjack Mulligan had to be convinced not go after some old enemies in order to be inducted.

The WWE talent isn’t asked who they feel should be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

They discuss “The Wrestler” movie and the ways Hollywood hit and missed on the production.

Flair says he’ll commit suicide if he ends up in a trailer like Rourke’s character did/

Piper doesn’t feel drugs are prevalent in the modern wrestling.

They rip on the guys who came out in the media during the Benoit scandal for attention.

Flair says he wouldn’t be doing shoot interviews if he was smarter with his money.

Ric says he is paying 40 grand a month for alimony and it’s hurting him badly.

They discuss the Chris Jericho versus Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat and  Jimmy Snuka match from Wrestlemania.  Flair didn’t like that the old guys lost and Mickey Rourke managed to knock Jericho out with one punch.

They have fun mocking Piper’s blown dropkick from that match.

Flair talks about hanging out with Snoop Dog.

Piper and Flair discuss WWE oversaturation on TV and burning out characters.

Flair says the current under card has a long way to go to replace the top guys who are slowly retiring today such as Shawn and Taker.

Ric’s disappointed that the title belts are so deemphasized.

Rumors of Rupert Murdoch starting a wrestling promotion are mentioned.  Flair says he’s heard it would take 450 million to start up and compete with Vince.

Flair says the territories were over rated.  Most guys were driving long miles and making no money.

Piper says he and Flair had great matches since both men wanted to lead the match and they would be combative in calling the match.

Roddy says the matches in the modern era are different since the old days were all about building for next week’s card and now they go to a city once or twice a year.

Buddy Rose declined an invite to come to Georgia Championship Wrestling and replace Gene Anderson who just had a heart attack, because he was worried he wouldn’t get over like he was in Portland.

Piper and Flair agree that a wrestling union is pointless because the WWE provides for all the needs you could imagine.

Diana Hart convinced Ric Flair that Bret Hart is an asshole and has ruined his family.

Flair diplomatically talks about how Hogan buried him in WCW.

Ric thinks MMA will be a flash in the pan because the stars will burn out quickly and fans only want the violence.

They feel wrestling is a sign of how society is feeling and that wrestling can be woven into America’s fabric.

They discuss teaming up for one final run in the late 00’s and drinking while on tour of Europe.

Piper feels the modern product makes it easier to get over, with all the bells and whistles.

Roddy says promos are way different today as well as now they lack nuance.

Piper worked in TNA to make sure his fans realized he wasn’t going to stay down after getting fired from WWE in the mid-2000’s.

Roddy says it took 3 days to film the “backlot brawl” with Gold Dust at Wrestlemania 13.

Piper says he drank before wrestling “maybe 25 times”.

They start talking about smarks and Piper goes off.

Final Thoughts:  The interview was entertaining because Ric Flair and Roddy Piper in front of a microphone can’t be dull.  However this was basically a free range discussion by design, so if you are seeking career retrospectives or dirt this isn’t the DVD to seek out.  However if two legends offering up opinions on the modern product, the pains of celebrity, drinking, women and whatever else crosses their mind then add this to your wrestling library today.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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