As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, members of the PTBN Staff are choosing programs at random and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!
Roddy Piper’s Greatest Hits
Run Time: 98 Minutes
Why Jacob Why???:
BECAUSE JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHICH SHOW I’M GONNA PICK, I CHANGE THE ANSWERS
I figured if we were going to go on this Network voyage, there’s no better way than to start with one of the earlier tapes, especially one focused on such an icon. Along with that, I knew this would give us a nice mix of matches, promos, and random segments, even if they all center around one guy.
Aaron George: Bob Orton going for a checkup on his much maligned arm. I hold no pretensions that Doc Stevens is in any way a licensed physician, but when he was introduced as the resident TNT Doctor I was already in stitches. Straight man Vince is incredulous that Orton’s arm hasn’t healed yet and Piper’s conviction in the face of Bob’s “Your arm is fine” diagnosis is wonderful. Special points to the “doctor” too, who incredulously wondered aloud that the arm should be stronger by now.
Brian Bayless: The Piper’s Pit segment with Jimmy Snuka is one of the most memorable segments in wrestling history and with good reason. This never dragged and was explosive and shocking as anything shown on WWF TV at that point.
Jacob Williams: I have to go with the Mid City Health Club meditation session, just for the pure goofiness. I’m a sucker for these early to mid 80s campy vignettes. I love it all – from Ace as the PR rep to Orndorff’s hot pants to Piper hissing at Gene. Everyone takes the entire premise so serious, and it makes it that much better. To top it off, they beat up some random guy on the street, which actually feels real and gritty. The entire crew just completely sells themselves as some weirdo transgressive tough guys.
Calum McDougall: Tuesday Night Titans with Piper and Bob Orton visiting the doctor. I though the middle of the tape dragged on a bit due to the lack of matches, but this was the highlight of the long talking segment section of the tape. Piper’s mannerisms from the start were outstanding, giving Orton nervous glances throughout and his interactions with the doctor and Vince were fantastic. He had an answer for everything that was thrown at him, and when all else failed he just started quacking at the doctor to end the segment. Excellent stuff.
Dave Hall: Piper’s Pit with special guest: Roddy Piper. This segment was hilarious. I really loved the smooth editing that made it seem like a genuine interview. Piper’s comments were awesome, and very ahead of their time. It was full of one liners from start to finish, from “I had Andre on. I brought him a Johnny brush to brush his teeth”, to “When I shoot a gun, someone gets pregnant.” It seems only fitting that Piper’s greatest guest would be himself, and he really pushed boundaries with this segment. Piper at his very best.
Aaron George: The problem with this set is there isn’t a match that has anything resembling a proper finish. The one that stood out for me was Piper and Dr. Death against Andre The Giant and Snuka. It was super interesting to not only watch Andre carry the babyface segments of a tag match, but then to see him beaten bloody by Piper and experience him in legitimate peril was tons of fun. The image of Roddy Piper sitting on the top turnbuckle covered in Andre’s 1.7 BAC blood is a perfect snapshot of the character. Sure Andre comes back later and they do the fuck finish but for every second Hot Rod is in the ring the crowd is LIVID!
Brian Bayless: The final match on the card, Piper & Orton vs. Snuka & Tonga Kid, was a lot of fun. The crowd went crazy and it was a chaotic match with lots of brawling.
Jacob Williams: This was tough because the Hogan match had so much heat, but I have to go with the Andre tag. It told a better story, and the reaction when Andre comes out with the bandage is breathtaking. Piper looks like such a warrior with the Giant’s blood smeared on him. I wasn’t very hyper aware of this feud between Piper and Andre. This was excellent.
Calum McDougall: Piper & David Schultz vs. Andre The Giant and Jimmy Snuka. I thought this match was a lot of fun. It was good to see an Andre match when he could still go at a good level, and I lost it when he did a drop down. Admittedly, it’s not the most athletic of maneuvers but it was amazing to see Andre do it given that most of the matches of his I’ve seen are post-WrestleMania III, when he’s really broken down. I loved the ending with the bloodbath, then transitioning into the handicap match only for Andre to come back out. The heat that was on Piper and Schultz was unreal, and the visual of Hot Rod sitting on the top rope covered almost head to toe in Andre’s blood was the best shot of the whole video.
Dave Hall: Roddy Piper vs The Tonga Kid. There are lots of really great matches on this presentation, and one could argue that the Piper vs Hogan match at War to Settle the Score could be the best, but I really enjoyed the Piper vs Tonga Kid match. This match surprised me with it’s quick offense and the heat that it had. Piper calling for the time out and then selling a ton for Tonga Kid really made it seem that Tonga Kid was a genuine threat to win. The interference from Jimmy Snuka and Bob Orton did not detract from the match, and really added to the heat. A really enjoyable match.
Most Cringeworthy Moment
Aaron George: Any time Hot Rod spouts off “Just when they think they’ve got all the answers, I change the questions.” It never made any sense in context to what he was doing and it’s just lame. I know we’re supposed to revere it as a classic Piper line but to me it always sounded forced and was a weak spot in an otherwise strong promo game.
Brian Bayless: Gene Okerlund, who did the introduction to this video, listed Piper as 6’3 and 252 lbs. Even in pro wrestling where size is exaggerated it was ridiculous.
Jacob Williams: Frank Williams attempted to speak into a microphone, and it was a complete disaster.
Calum McDougall: Piper’s Pit with Jimmy Snuka. Well, this hasn’t aged well has it? I completely understand that this is a legendary and memorable segment, given that it included two Hall of Famers among other notable parts. Snuka was one of the most popular men in the company at the time, and Piper was quite possibly the most hated man in the WWF. In 1985, it’s a licence to print money. In 2018 however, it’s uncomfortable viewing, with Piper’s taunting in the run up to the coconut shot, right up until the end where he is whipping Snuka within an inch of his life. It’s easy to see why the would only show the coconut attack in more recent clips. It was a different time, but this is certainly not a 2018 segment.
Dave Hall: Everything involving Mean Gene Okerlund. With so much quality stuff on this presentation, I was really disappointed with Mean Gene’s introduction, and his linking statements throughout. The intro was really cringe worthy, as he bagged out Piper and almost made it feel like anyone who had “purchased the video” was a loser for doing so. His negativity is understandable, but after seeing how enjoyable the whole thing was, it ended up looking really stupid.
Aaron George: During an episode of TNT, Vince grills Roddy as to why he didn’t let Jimmy Snuka speak before cracking the coconut on his head; Hot Rod loses it and screams something to the effect of “I DID BUT HE JUST SAT THERE LIKE A BUMBLING IDIOT LIKE THIS GUY!!!” He then points to a dour Lord Alfred Hayes, sitting there with his hands crossed, decked out in a pompadour suit refusing to say a word at the obvious truths Piper was spewing; a look of sadness overcomes his face quickly hidden behind a false smile and a shame-filled stiff upper lip.
Brian Bayless: Piper quacking as the doctor on TNT said that Bob Orton’s arm was fine cracked me up. Also, Orton beating up a guy on the street after Okerlund was kicked out of Piper & Paul Orndorff’s private training session for their WrestleMania match was classic.
Jacob Williams: Piper hissing at the camera out of nowhere, and the ensuing shot of him hissing, is comedy gold.
Calum McDougall: Roddy quacking at the doctor at the end of the TNT segment above. Excellent stuff.
Dave Hall: In a tape full of actual greatest hits and moments, and multiple one-liners from Piper, the funniest line for me was when Piper looked at the cameras and said “When I shoot a gun, someone gets pregnant.” I laughed out loud and even replayed the line just to hear it again.
Aaron George: Every single match had CRAZY crowd heat. Piper was clearly a master of the chaos filled match. His frenetic energy was incredible and if Michael Cole was calling his matches he would no-doubt be screaming lunatic fringe every ninety seconds. The promos were quite good and even something as hokey a concept as interviewing oneself is pulled off well by the Hot Scot. The meditation promo was great and had Piper and Orton not visited the doctor would have walked away with best segment. Every time Piper read a letter from someone’s family “i.e. Hogan’s mother writing him pleading to stop beating up her son,” was spectacular. Gloria Steinman was at the War To Settle The Score! I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the AMAZING Coliseum Video opening declaring that for 5000 years this bullshit has been going on, all the while the precursor to Hercules’ music blasts as we get shots of jobbers being murdered. Love T getting the shit beat out of him and adore Paul Orndorff screaming at Arnold Skaaland.
Brian Bayless: The matches featured all had a ton of crowd heat and the segments that focused on Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka,and Hulk Hogan were great. Plus, we saw the classic Pit segments with Jimmy Snuka and Frankie Williams.
Jacob Williams: It’s hard narrow it down when so much of this is made up such legendary matches and moments. I absolutely loved any interaction between Piper and Andre. Andre’s innate charisma compliments Piper’s manic energy well. Piper busting Andre open to show that he could back up his big mouth, then Andre stumbling back the ring with crude head bandage, was all so great.
Calum McDougall: Andre’s performance in the opening tag team match, as I said before, as it was good to see a match before he starts to break down. The red hot crowd when Snuka is on offense when the opening match transitions to handicap, what they’d do for a sustained reaction like that nowadays. The bagpipe entrance for the War to Settle The Score match, although I am legally obligated to say this.
Dave Hall: This whole tape is a bunch of genuine highlights. There is so much good stuff on here I don’t know where to start. Two things that did really stand out for me: the Piper’s Pit with Andre the Giant, and watching Andre lift Piper in the air by his shirt. Piper looked genuinely worried at that moment. Then we saw Andre totally sell an assault from Piper, including bleeding. It made Piper look like a total badass. I had never seen the War to Settle the Score before, and really enjoyed it. The Piper’s Pits were all great, and the Tonga Kid and Jimmy Snuka stuff was really entertaining.
Aaron George: It would have been nice to have a match that had a proper finish, but I get the impression Piper didn’t have many of those. I don’t like Real American being dubbed over Eye of The Tiger but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Hulk Hogan slumming it with noted fat sloppy pig Lou Albano. Why on Earth does a guy named Frank Williams struggle so heartily with the English language?
Brian Bayless: For some reason there was an episode of Piper’s Pit that had Samu as the Tonga Kid. Samu had noticeably less charisma than the original Tonga Kid. The segment with Piper interviewing himself started off amusing enough but did run out of steam by the end.
Jacob Williams: Piper interviewing himself overstays its welcome a bit. The stuff with Samu was fine, but it didn’t match the intensity or epic feel of the other feuds covered on this tape.
Calum McDougall: The awful dub over of Real American. You could tell that the crowd was going crazy for the Hulkster but the dub job silences them, which took something off this match for me. Mean Gene and Lord Alfred Hayes on commentary, I didn’t enjoy this team at all. Tonga Kid mocking Piper’s kilt. (It’s not a skirt!!!!)
Dave Hall: In a tape filled with so much great stuff, I found the “Piper’s Workout” clips preparing for WrestleMania to be a little dull and drag a bit. Piper did very little in these segments, and Gene came off as a goof. This really could have been left off, especially as the WrestleMania main event is not covered on this presentation. The other lowlight to me was the layout of the presentation. They cover the Andre segments early 1984), jump to the War to Settle the Score (1985), and then go back to the Snuka/Tonga Kid stuff (1984 again). I think it would have been better if they had run the events and matches chronologically, and finished with the War to Settle the Score.
Wild Card BABY!!!
Liar Of The Night: Forgive me for a fucking second if I can’t picture Mr. T rocking out to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. If Mr. T can name ONE other Cyndi Lauper song I will eat a shit sandwich. He enjoys her music… PUH – LEASE – I wonder how many takes it took to get that line out. – AG
Best Tidbit: According to Piper, the coconut he used to hit Snuka was not gimmicked and Snuka himself was unaware he was going to be getting hit with anything of the fruits on the table. Piper even claimed that Snuka tried to go after him that night at the hotel. The segment was filmed on 3/28/84 in St. Louis but did not air until the 6/9/84 edition of “Championship Wrestling.” – BB
Excellence in Medical Practice Award: This one goes to Doc Stevens. No matter how much Piper yells and quacks at him, he never strays from calmly delivering his diagnosis. – JW
What’s The Point Award: Piper’s Pit with guest Roddy Piper. This should have been really good, and for 1985 technology this was impressive. But it didn’t go anywhere, was too long for me and by the end I was just baffled at the whole thing. A good idea on paper which just fell short on execution for me. – CM
Most Nosey: Gene Okerlund. If guys are meditating and hissing at you while sitting on the dirtiest floor I’ve ever seen stop asking questions at take your bald headed ass out of the Mid City Gym FOR MEN. He interrupts Orndorff as he attempts a sexy deadlift, he stops Piper from transitioning to snake. Get outta there you oaf! The guy who asked if Gene needed help deserved to get his ass beat. – AG
The Sympathy Award: On a tape with some of the biggest names in the history of wrestling – Piper, Hogan, Andre – we get a cameo from Frank Williams. Piper can destroy nearly anyone on the mic, so when he goes against poor Frank Williams in the Pit, I kind of just felt bad. Williams can barely utter a coherent sentence, and Piper just humiliates him. – JW
Again! What’s the point???: As I just mentioned, I felt that without any coverage of the WrestleMania main event there was little point in showing the workout video of Piper and Orndorff. It just added nothing to the presentation. – DH
Most Random: Lou Thesz as special referee. When Mean Gene threw to this match and mentioned there was a special referee the last person I expected to see was Lou Thesz! Even more surprising is that they actually acknowledge him as a former World Champion. I’m assuming this is because Thesz was well known in the Minneapolis area where this match happened and they know him as a legendary champion (rightfully so) but this was a head scratcher nonetheless. – CM
Aaron George: This was a fun set but don’t go into it looking for some classic matches. Because of the lack of variety in the programming of it I found myself struggling to get through it. Still there’s some classic MOMENTS, and after watching you couldn’t ever argue that Piper wasn’t one thousand percent effective in the ring. RATING: 6/10
Brian Bayless: Piper was arguably the best heel in all of wrestling from 1984-85 and this tape did a great job of capturing everything that made him great. Sure, the matches themselves were not masterpieces but you saw a lot of crowds going wild to go along with many memorable segments and interviews. One of the best Coliseum Home Video releases you can get. RATING: 8/10
Jacob Williams: Every match on here felt so epic and meaningful. You had guys who were insanely over coupled with crowds that are just buying into absolutely everything that’s happening. I know there wasn’t much variety, but it was amazing to watch a snapshot of a guy firing on all cylinders in his prime right as the WWF was catching fire. RATING: 8/10
Calum McDougall: The tape started off hot, with opening tag and the Hogan MTV match but it took a nosedive with the long section in the middle. That being said, I still thought it was a decent video, due to the good stuff being great. RATING:4/10
Dave Hall: What a way to start the reboot of the Network Adventure. This was awesome. Knowing the history of the Coliseum Home Video stuff, I was really worried there would be a lot of crap mixed in with some good stuff. But this was great moment after great moment. The matches all had heat and moved well, and really showcased Piper’s ability in the ring to make his opponent look good. The Piper’s Pit were all memorable ones, you have the classic Bob Orton and Piper visiting the doctor, which was really fun, and then you have Piper interviewing himself which was simply brilliant. While Mean Gene may have mocked the title at the start of the presentation, never has the phrase “Greatest Hits” ever been more warranted. RATING: 10/10
And we are out! Where will the Network Adventure travel to? Which Coliseum will be conquered next? Which of these assholes will quit the project in an indignant rage??? Find out in TWO WEEKS!