WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is in a new movie, "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies." I had a chance to speak with him about the movie, the upcoming Wrestlemania, the WWE Network, his feelings toward WWE and their feelings toward him.
Ring Posts: Are you going to be involved at all with Wrestlemania Weekend?
Roddy Piper: I'm going to be there. You know, that's a good question. I have a lot of thoughts about it. I don't know any other entertainment sport where 30 years later you could give the fans the opportunity to see the two guys who started it at the War to Settle The Score. Personally, I think that if you don't hit the bagpipes, there's 30 years and I don't know how many millions of fans that you're cheating of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's not about money, it's not about hearing your name get chanted either. It's about saying thank you I think. You want to give the fans what they deserve and you want to do it with class. So am I going to be part of it? I don't know. I don't know. I wouldn't mind inducting T into the Hall of Fame, I guarantee you would never forget that induction. I doubt they'll do that one but they may. I don't know what they're going to do. Tell me when I get there.
Speaking of Mr. T, what do you think of him being inducted into the Hall of Fame?
I'm glad he's being inducted into the Celebrity wing. At the time, at the first Wrestlemania, Mr. T was probably the most famous television celebrity in the world. So I think the guy deserves to be inducted into the Celebrity Hall of Fame. Personally, what I've got with him or against him I think it's time to grow up. Just don't mention my name. Leave me out of your speech, T.
What about the others that are in the Hall of Fame class this year?
Ultimate Warrior? He should be in there. Razor, yeah, I got no problem with those guys. They earned that honor. No problem with any of them. I think all those guys deserve it.
Is there anyone you think should be inducted that hasn't been yet?
I think Cyndi Lauper should be in there. I think she should have been in there a long time ago. She did a lot for wrestling. She got a lot of mainstream to watch the War to Settle the Score. So I think she needs her due.
You were there at Wrestlemania I, you've been at a lot since then. What are some of your favorite memories at Wrestlemania?
Number 1 is hard to beat, because nobody knew how it was going to happen. There was no handbook. The excitement of the very first one, it's hard to beat that. Number 3, that's hard to beat. It had Andre the Giant. You don't have those kinds of icons anymore. This one ... what does the Superdome hold? Around 100 [thousand]? So there might be a chance to set a new indoor record? That would be cool. It's hard to beat 1 and 3 though. They were the first big ones. 1 was just all-time. The electricity really came off it. The different people, from Mr. T to Liberace and the Rockettes to Andy Warhol and Little Richard. Billy Martin, holy cow. It was good stuff. Hard to beat that.
Do you still follow the product and watch wrestling a good amount?
Unfortunately I don't get a chance to watch it as much as I'd like to. Every once in a while I catch a little bit of it, some of the main players. I'm a little in tune.
Last time you were in Baltimore, you were a part of the Old School RAW. Is there anyone that you saw then, or recently that you like, and think have a chance to be the next big star?
I think the guys they have right now are tremendous. Every one of them are tremendous athletes and conduct themselves well. I think Dean Ambrose and that kid Bryan ... I've had them both in the Pit and know what they're made out of. I don't want to forget anybody. Obviously The Shield ... the Samoan kids [The Usos]. I think they're great, I really do. I'm proud of them.
When you were on that show back in January, you really put over CM Punk. What do you think of his situation now with him apparently walking out?
I don't know the reasons. I'm glad you asked that question because I have no bias. I don't know why, and I don't know what was going on, but I know this. CM Punk is a very talented man, and I'm a big fan of his. He's got a lot of great talent to share with the fans all over the world for a number of years. When you have one regime and something is going wrong, you have no other choice but to fall back and catch your breath and see where am I standing and where are they standing and where are we going. Back in the day, when you're going 330 days a year, it's hard to have that much sense. I think that for one, CM Punk has a whole lot more great stuff to come out and I believe that the WWE will want that. They've put a lot of money into him, and they need to get over whatever their problem is. Sometimes going away from each other and catching their breath is the best thing to do.
The WWE Network is out now, have you had a chance to see anything on it, and do you expect to maybe grow your fanbase with the younger crowd getting to experience the "Hot Rod"?
Yeah, I can feel it. I think they like me. I don't know if they like old school or new school better. You know what it does? It gives dad a chance to watch with his son, and maybe his son says "I like Daniel Bryan" well dad can say "Well you should have seen Junkyard Dog" and they can go back and forth watching on the network. The entire family can watch it together, and it makes you more fun for them.
Do you have any plans, or been contacted to be on the WWE Network, whether it's on the panels or anything else?
I have 10 episodes of a reality show already filmed, called Legends House, which will start April 17 on the WWE Network. I've already shot it, it's done, it's already in there. I've already got that done. There's talk of some other things. I have to see what their attitude is going to be, and what my attitude is going to be. Hopefully we can help each other. I have a pretty good attitude these days. I don't know where they're coming from as far as where they want to take the business, but I think the WWE Network is a whole new world and I'll entertain you, just let me go. Come on coach, just let me go.
It seems like between WWE Network and Wrestlemania, you really want to get back out there with them, but is there some pushback from them? What's going on there?
Yeah, I think there is some pushback. Why? Without putting words in anybody's mouth, I think that Roddy has a reputation for being a rebel. I don't think that's a big secret. Not just to be a jerk, but to be a rebel, but at the time I was feuding with Mr. T, and I had young children to feed. I had to do what I had to do. I still think there's some resentment on some people's part with that. Nothing I can do about that. If you want me, I'll be more than happy to come and do that. If you don't want me, I'll do it on someone else's network and make them the money. It's a strange one. It's one I need you guys to figure out, because I'm tired of fighting with them.
When you say you'd do something on another network, are you talking about TNA, or do you mean something outside of wrestling?
I've had talks about another wrestling organization. Quite a few people also want to do a reality show with me. So, with the WWE Network, it's such an obvious fit, it's so obvious, that not to do it would be a sign to me that they're not interested, for whatever reason, in doing business with me. Wouldn't you agree?
Hard to disagree, and is that why you want to get involved with Wrestlemania so much? For them to show that there is some interest in doing business?
Yeah, I think that if they choose not to have me come out with Hogan ... I'm not looking to get applause, I'm way past that in my career, though I'm very grateful for it. I think this one, in all sincerity, is us thanking you. I don't care if it's us two guys coming out and just thanking you, which they won't do. Hogan and Piper looking at each other in the ring 30 years later, and you have two or three generations of dads and sons or daughters, that's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives. If you're the WWE, why would you not want to exploit that and give them that treatment? If I don't do anything ... well then probably you won't see me again. That's my guess. Never say never but I think I'd go elsewhere, or maybe go do movies, be a dad, hang it up.
You would just hang it up, or just not work with the WWE anymore?
If they don't use me, then I don't know what the message is, but it would tell me that I'm not welcome. And I don't go any place that I'm not welcome. So I'm not sure what I'd do, but it's hard to see me coming back if they don't want me.
Wow. Well, I guess one of those things you could do would be movies, and you do have a movie coming out, "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies." What was it like to film that movie?
"Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies" is a comedy. It was fun. You just don't take it serious. You just go there, get your popcorn and sit down. When you see 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan and Kurt Angle and Matt Hardy ... .I put one guy in the hospital! I was hitting him in the head with a pan. He had a bandage on and was a zombie. It was making a great clanking sound, and I thought I was hitting a suit! But I was actually hitting him in the head and I put him in the hospital ... not cool, Rod. That was my first day on the set. There's a lot of inside jokes. All it is is to have fun.
Who is this movie going to appeal to? Will it appeal to wrestling fans, or zombie fans, or comedy fans? Who is the audience going to be?
I think it's going to appeal to everybody who doesn't take themselves too serious. It's a Saturday night popcorn movie that you'd watch over and over again. You'll catch little things you didn't catch the first time. It's going to appeal to people that just want to have a good time. "Hell Comes To Frogtown" [a 1988 movie Piper was part of], I don't know how many that sold. I didn't think anybody would want it, but it was just fun. Everything can't be so serious in life, you have to have some fun.
What was it like working with some of the other wrestlers in the movie?
Kurt Angle and Matt Hardy ... I have so much respect for them. There were some punches that needed to be thrown and Kurt Angle, he didn't even want to touch me out of respect. And Matt Hardy...they're tremendous men. They're tremendous athletes and doing their best work right now. They treated me with such respect. It was a blast. But some of the zombies ... I don't know where they got them, but they weren't in our business! I got this little old lady, about 89 years old, and she got me by the ankle and I couldn't get her off! I was yelling for someone to get this lady off of me. But she was being a zombie and was getting into it.
How did doing this movie compare to some of the other movies you've been in?
I don't know if there is a comparison. This is really unique. The zombie world is really hot right now. The title itself is pretty self-explanatory. As far as the rest of the movies that I've been in ... I haven't done one that I really like yet. I'm think I'm probably going to go for some more A-movies, and try some real acting, instead of just acting out. I think that's where I'm supposed to be.
What was it like working on such a low-budget movie [the budget was $8,000]?
They took care of me. The extras had a little bit of a tough time, but they took care of me. How do I put this ... As you go along in your career, you have different ebbs where you think you're pretty important. Then you realize you're not, and you move to a different phase. Then you come to a phase where...I'm just grateful to be here and I've been so lucky. So much wonderful stuff has happened to me. I don't get caught up in that anymore. John Carpenter, the director [who worked with Piper on "They Live"], he just told me to go out and have fun. I think that's what I do in this one. I love the guys I was working with, and it was just cool.
So you're hoping for a sequel to it?
Haha, now you're telling me. Let me know once you see it what you think of it. I don't know what a sequel would be. They may turn it into a video game, that would be the smartest thing, I think.
Anything else movie-wise on your plate coming up or still just looking?
Yeah, there's another movie I've been looking at doing. It's a real serious piece of work. I'll probably try to do that right after Wrestlemania. They've also asked me to do a television show. I got to think a little bit. I've been rolling pretty hard. I have to think about what's the next thing I want to do. I want to keep coming out with quality things, as well as things just for fun. I'm far from over.
And what about outside the world of TV or movies? Is anything else going on?
You can go on my twitter (@R_Roddy_Piper) and see me on twitter. I have some surprises coming for you. I actually have a soda pop coming out! It's called Rocket Fizz. We'll see how that tastes and what marketing I do there. The rest of it. .. let's see what happens at Wrestlemania. That will directly affect the direction I take in entertaining you guys. You know, someday you'll tell me that you don't want me around anymore. When you tell me that, I'll go away, but until then, I'm going to give you everything I got.
"Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies" comes out in limited release on March 28. You can find out more at http://prowrestlersvszombies.com/.