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  1. #1
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    The CF Underworld: I See Dead People!

    Should we hurt when a pro wrestler hurts?

    In the simplest of ways to answer this question, we might say, Of course, that’s what keeps pro wrestling in business. As far back as 1986, the wrestling world at Saturday Night’s Main Event watched, for the first time, though it wouldn’t be the last, Hulk Hogan go to the hospital on national TV.

    King Kong Bundy did it to him,

    and the first ever world title match at WrestleMania was made.

    Hulk Hogan wanted you to care. He called the ambulance a coffin. And coffins? We once watched the Undertaker die and raise again from the dead. We’ve seen wrestlers bit by snakes and snakes killed by wrestlers. We’ve seen wrestlers retire and be reinstated. We’ve seen friendships ripped away, like the cross off Hogan’s chest at the hands of the Giant. We’ve seen brother turn on brother, and so much more.

    These examples?

    They are of a simpler time when the curtain still did more than separate competitors about to wrestle: it separated the lives wrestlers wanted us to see from the lives they never planned for us to see.

    But, we know,

    like the veil of the temple

    in Biblical times,

    that curtain has long ago

    been rent.

    Remember those brothers who turn on brothers? Did you feel anything when WWF screwed Bret Hart? Did you feel anything, maybe something different, when Bret Hart could never let it go? What about when he had a stroke?

    And Owen?

    Did you feel something,

    do you still,

    when you remember

    Owen

    going

    over the edge?

    I suppose, then, it’s a waste of time to ask if we *should* care when wrestlers hurt. The better question is the experiential one:

    *Do* we care

    when pro wrestlers hurt?

    Let me ask you a question.

    You can answer or not.

    Have you ever shed a tear for a pro wrestler you didn’t *really* know?

    I have,

    and I don’t cry often.

    And when I say I don’t cry often, I’m talking I’ve looked into eye drops wondering if the lack of tears are from dry eyes.
    That’s how seldom I cry.

    And yet, as I was researching to do an episode of the podcast, WWF: TLS, less than an hour before showtime, I was watching a show that I never knew existed.

    It wasn’t pro wrestling,

    but it featured a pro wrestler.

    It was Kim Russo, a medium,

    and the show was titled,

    “The Haunting of Roddy Piper.”

    I was watching, taking notes so fast my mind didn’t know what my hands were writing. Eventually, as I wrote, I noticed tears bouncing off the notebook, like rain off a roof in an afternoon shower.

    In fact, I hadn’t known I was crying until I saw the tears.

    In (second) fact, the last time I remember crying so deeply was 2004, when my identity and life situation changed so sharply I knew I’d never get it, or the people in my life then, back again.

    In (third) fact, the tears were so many, so fast, that I thought I must have as many eyes as Argus Panoptes.

    Now, in the CF Underworld, I ask to watch that episode again. I want to see Roddy Piper, vulnerable. I want to see myself, vulnerable. I want to know what it was that made me cry. I want to know what it was that led Roddy Piper, a former kid on the street who had to fight for food, at 59 years old, to fight a battle so intense that he ended up on TV, seeking a medium, who could possibly help him speak to the dead.

    Even now, I want to laugh at the title, “The Haunting of.”

    The Roddy Piper I knew from wrestling wasn’t haunted. That Roddy Piper haunted other people. Whether in youth, as a heel in pro wrestling, or even as a face.

    But those who Roddy haunted were always of this world.

    This video, however, is from 2013, and so many of those who came up with Piper are no longer of this world.

    Yes, Roddy Piper haunted the living, but, at a certain age, after loss after loss, trauma after trauma, you’re not wrestling with the living anymore.
    And you’re not in charge of who is doing the haunting and who is being haunted.

    This is a story about Roddy Piper. It’s a story about me. But it’s also a story about a generation of pro wrestlers who died too young. And it’s a story about those remaining, who have no idea what to do in order to get them back.

    The Haunting

    The first voice we hear is Roddy’s.

    “I’ve been told I have a lot of demons,” he says. “I want to know what’s going on.”

    Piper tells us early that the issue isn’t only with him. His family, his children, got so used to the presence of the otherworldly, the presence of the dead, that it became commonplace in their home.

    Or, as commonplace as it gets to have spirits haunting your house.

    But, then again, if it really was so commonplace, perhaps we’d never see Piper, at 59, with Russo in his home.

    Piper rubs a dog and talks like only Piper can talk. He tells a story full of irony, without pushing so hard to make it obvious. Piper, haunted by the dead, tells us he moved his family to the mountains, many years ago, to escape stalkers.

    “I’ve been stabbed three times,” says Piper. “So, I had to put my kids up here.”

    Piper tells us he’d like to know what’s going on, but he’s a hard guy to convince. In fact, he wouldn’t be here, or, rather, we wouldn’t be there, at his home, for this show, if it hadn’t of been for one incident.

    Piper doesn’t yet tell us about the incident, but it’s the incident that led me to find this show. Because, that day I was researching for the legacy series, it wasn’t for Roddy Piper. It was for Roddy Piper’s friend, Adrian Adonis.

    *


    Russo is in her car. She knows of Roddy Piper, knows of him because her son once watched pro wrestling.

    Even from afar, having not yet met Piper, she tells us that

    she feels a sadness,

    a choking up,

    very emotional.

    “It may be time,” she says, “for Roddy to let down that tough guy act.”

    *


    Roddy Piper describes his childhood home like this: “there wasn’t a lot of money and there wasn’t a lot of patience.”

    Piper says he left home at 12 years old. He tells his story with so few words, but he knows how to connect without swinging a glove.

    Piper says seven words we’d better remember. Seven words that will go with us, whether we take them or not.

    Piper says: “There really wasn’t a place for me.”

    How many people can tell that story? How many people, when they look back, to childhood, to the source of their identity, look back with nothing but absence to claim?

    The thing about absence is there is nothing there to claim.

    Reach for it.

    Try to touch it.

    You can’t.

    It’s absent.

    But the thing about absence is it knows how to claim you.

    It knows how to reach in you and place within you a nothingness that will always be something.

    It knows how to place within you something so bottomless that you might just go to your grave trying to descend through it.

    Might go to your grave

    or

    you might go to Russo

    and bring those who have gone to their grave

    back to where you are.

    *


    It’s no accident that Piper transitions from absence into boxing and from boxing into pro wrestling.

    See,

    boxing

    kept Piper alive,

    and it transitioned him

    from the nothingness of childhood

    to the somethingness

    that became

    his pro wrestling family.

    “Family,”

    Piper says with a hard laugh,

    “I was desperate for family.”

    Another Young Man

    Piper transitions.

    Again.

    “I was 22 years old,” says Piper. “There was another young man. He was 22 years old.”

    It’s funny. I’ve watched Roddy Piper since I was nine years old. But it’s this man, another young man, Adrian Adonis, who brought me to the show.
    Piper says there was a chemistry between them.

    Can you imagine?

    You didn’t fit at home. You did what it takes to make it on the streets. And yet, here you are, in the wild world of pro wrestling, meeting a man your age, of your chemistry,

    and lo and behold,

    where the absence has always been,

    there is something

    of

    a

    connection.

    “I really loved him,” says Piper. “And it was a match made in heaven, as far as having a best friend.”

    The First Intervention

    This is where the emotions start to get me. Even the second time around, I have to hit pause and give myself a moment.

    See, I know a little bit about what it’s like to grow up feeling like you never had a home. I know a little bit about what it’s like growing up feeling like you never had a place.

    Thankfully, I never ran away.

    I never would have made it like Roddy Piper.

    But I did run,

    long ago,

    inwardly,

    into my imagination.

    In my house, when good parents turned bad through alcohol addiction and domestic violence, when they let the home get so overrun with roaches that, should you have to go to the bathroom at night, you kept the lights off, skipped toe-first into a sprint, knowing that on the floor and over your head, were anywhere from 50-100 roaches, should you turn on the light.

    I never had a voice in that home.

    I never had a voice at school.

    I had a voice in the backyard.

    I had a voice when I would play wrestling.

    Or when I would imagination fantasy worlds outside.

    I could be the hero there.

    I could be anyone and anything, as long as I was fictionalized. Only now do I realize how much that “anyone and anything” was congruent to the amount of “nobody and nothing” that I was in my nonfiction life.

    I know what it’s like, more than I wish I did, to say goodbye to everyone and everything. When I decided I would go to college, the first in my family, immediate or not, to do so, I was really saying goodbye to my family, to my town, to all the places I lived and never was.

    I went to seven colleges in order to get one undergraduate degree.

    When I thought I was finding a voice, I would do everything I could, rather unconsciously, to sabotage myself and burn it down.

    How is it that no matter where I went

    I was still that kid

    wrestling in the backyard

    with so much more

    than fictional characters?

    How is it that I eventually found creative writing where, even in college, my only voice was the fictionalized one, crying out, from the page, instead of the trampoline?

    How many of us pray for intervention?

    How many of us get them, only to ignore them, push them away, not knowing how to process them?

    In 1984, Roddy Piper got his first intervention, and it was still with him, still burned into who he was, who he no longer wasn’t, as late as 2013.

    I want to say Roddy turned his life around in 1984 but what a task that is. It’s difficult enough, in this life, to make a genuine move with your body, to go from one place to another. But to have the awareness, the ability, to pick up your narrative, your identity, your habits, and your negative nuclear script, and to turn THEM around as you turn your physical self?

    That doesn’t happen every day.

    It didn’t happen with me in undergrad, and it didn’t happen with Roddy in 1984.

    Sure, Piper found wrestling. Piper found what he now calls family. But Piper knew one way to live, one way to be.

    It didn’t matter that he now had a daughter.

    Roddy Piper still only knew how to Roddy Piper.

    Behind the scenes,

    in 1984,

    behind that curtain,

    that was not yet rent,

    Roddy Piper was more havoc

    to the wrestlers around him

    than he was as the character on TV.

    “My life was extremely hard,” says Piper. “I’m not getting along with anybody.”

    In fact, Piper was getting into fight after fight after fight, with the people he worked with.

    (How long was that going to last in WWF?)

    And these fights?

    Says Piper: “They were mostly my fault.”

    “And we’re in this building…and I’m yelling, and I’m throwing chairs,

    and Adrian,

    comes up to me

    and he says,

    ‘Pipes! Stop it. Come here.

    I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you.’

    And he says, ‘You need to buy a house. You’ve never lived anyplace. You don’t have nothing. You never settled down. You got a baby. And you’re all over the place.’”

    Can you believe it?

    Within two months of that intervention,

    within two months of the word spoken

    by a best friend,

    Roddy Piper had a home.

    Roddy Piper had the home

    that we find him in

    in 2013.

    “And he was right,” said Piper. “Everything kind of calmed down.”

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the story ended there?

    But that’s the thing about story: it’s continual.

    And that’s the thing about the story of an individual: it’s continual.

    Until it’s not.

    Piper tells the story that I told in the last column. Adrian Adonis in Newfoundland. There were very high, rocky roads. There was a moose. There was swerving.

    And three out of four men in that car, one being Adrian Adonis, would not live to tell another story.

    At least not traditionally speaking.

    “Times got ugly,” said Piper. “After that. I wasn’t home. The industry was very difficult. I’d be on the road x number of days. At night time, when I wasn’t there,

    stuff

    would start

    to happen.

    My one daughter…she’d say that a man was looking at her.

    Colt saw shadows.

    I’m on the road.

    I’m getting this from my wife on the phone,

    and she was getting all

    just out of kilter.

    One night

    I’m coming home…

    I pull in the driveway

    and there’s my son,

    Colt.

    He’s just trembling.

    He’s so scared.

    And alls he can say is,

    ‘I saw a man in the house.’

    My son’s telling me that somebody’s inside my house.

    I came there

    to take care of

    this matter.

    There’s a huge

    fireplace.

    Two logs had

    come down.

    And the carpet

    in front of the fireplace

    was on fire.

    My house was burning down.

    I took care of the fire.

    and

    I look up

    and—

    like a reveal—

    it’s Adrian Adonis.

    It’s Adrian.

    Adrian

    looks at me,

    not screaming at me,

    he says, ‘Ay, Rod,

    take care of your house.’

    And then there was nothing.”

    Piper couldn’t move.

    “I, I, just stood there

    for a long time.

    I didn’t want

    to leave.

    I di…ha, ha,

    I didn’t want to leave

    the fireplace.

    I stayed there

    for the longest time.

    And I never seen him

    before that,

    nor since.”

    And then Piper points at the camera,

    at you,

    at me,

    and says, “Adrian Adonis was there.

    And that’s a fact.

    My house would’ve burned down.

    My brother was just taking care of me,

    as he had so many times before.”

    And Piper finishes through tears: “You can say whatever you want, but, uh, Adrian was my brother.”

    I’ve heard people ask,

    Is this a work?

    I’ve found I don’t even understand the question they ask. I think what they ask is whether Piper is acting, playing a character, like he did in wrestling.

    I’ve heard people ask,

    Is this a work?

    I’d like to ask them what in this life isn’t a work? Aren’t we all always working? Aren’t we all always being worked?

    Roddy Piper didn’t choose the family that left his house empty, left him house-and-homeless by the time he was 12 years old. Roddy Piper didn’t choose a life on the streets that one can only imagine.

    One might say he got worked.

    But neither did Roddy Piper choose

    a man named Adrian.

    Who would run to his rescue and teach him of home.

    Who would run to his rescue and help him save his home.

    *

    You can’t erase what you don’t know.

    Piper suffered an orphan mentality.

    Think about it:

    Piper had the money and the daughter,

    but he didn’t even have a mind

    to fathom

    having a home.

    And why would he?

    He had no blueprint for that.

    He had no lived experience that could speak home-making into his imagination.

    I think, deep down, all of us are orphaned when it comes to some idea, some need, some part of us we seek to reconcile.

    But none of us can do this alone.

    Roddy Piper had Adrian and Adrian said buy yourself a home.

    And Roddy Piper bought himself a home.

    And you know, and I know, that this story isn’t over.

    But the telling is over

    for now.

    *

    It’s 2013,

    and Roddy Piper

    has had a home

    on this earth

    much longer

    than the generation

    of wrestlers

    who have passed on

    from this home.

    It’s 2013

    and Roddy Piper

    can no longer feel

    at home

    in the home

    that Adrian told him to buy.

    It’s 2013

    and Roddy Piper

    can no longer feel

    at home

    as the man that he is.

    Roddy Piper can no longer feel

    at home

    in the narrative

    that paints him as survivor.

    It’s 2013

    and Roddy Piper

    is home,

    with his immediate family,

    and yet,

    Roddy Piper

    is all alone.

    It’s 2013

    and Roddy Piper

    has invited

    a medium

    into his home

    because more

    of his people

    more of his

    home

    has passed away

    than are alive

    on this earth.

    *

    Should we hurt

    when a wrestler hurts?

    Better make up your mind,

    because it’s 2013,

    and Roddy Piper

    is hurting

    right now.

  2. #2
    Great read, man. One of the best in awhile...I find mediums to be the most loathsome people alive but not Piper. I have no doubt Piper had a truth he was drawing from...I believe he loved Adrian like a brother....great emotional real read man

  3. #3
    The Brain
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    I'm a highly empathetic person. It's pretty much impossible for me to watch people in pain, physically or emotionally, without being deeply affected. This makes being a wrestling fan really difficult at times, because you can't turn around without being confronted by the cost of the industry we all love. Generations of men and women who died too young, or grew old and ragged before their time, or were left behind by those they knew and loved.

    The more I learn about Piper, the more I understand why he always seemed to burn the candle at both ends. I can't remember if he said so explicitly or not, but I have a memory of him being amazed he lived as long as he did. I'm not saying he wanted to die. But for a man like Piper, with every nerve exposed and rubbed raw, it must have been exhausting beyond words at time to inhabit that body, that mind, that space.

    I have cried for wrestlers, and will again. I cringe when they do things that may cost them their health and shorten their lives, even as I marvel at their daring and their passion, even as I respect their choice to live their lives as they chose.

    It's a difficult balance, to say the least.

    Wonderful piece, Mystic. This really hit me deeply. I hope there's more to this, it feels like there is more to say.

  4. #4
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    Ben -- thank you for the read and feed. I'm with you. Piper-Adrian runs deep. Hell of a story, and it just demonstrates how hard you have to work to find the true narratives that are not master narratives. This is not an oft-told story, but fuck if it's not a through line in the life of Roddy Piper.

    mizfan -- I love this line from you: "I cringe when they do things that may cost them their health and shorten their lives, even as I marvel at their daring and their passion, even as I respect their choice to live their lives as they chose." So much truth here. So much truth in contradiction. I hope this column isn't the end of the story. I'm fighting for it not to be, but I'm fighting, so there is a contest going on over it.

  5. #5
    I don't have much for feedback other than to say that this was chilling and very powerful. Hell of a read. Very difficult subject to brooch but you did an incredible job.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    When the Mystic shares his Underground experiences, I seem to be drawn by a magnetic force and compelled to read every word, no matter the time of day.
    So it is, in these early morning hours, that I'm once more feeling a swelling in my chest and a buzzing in my brain, learning about Roddy Piper and his friendship with one Adrian Adonis. This story is one I would never have found or known to look for on my own.

    I believe Piper saw Adonis that night, although I would be inclined to call it a God-incident, rather than a coincidence or a self-induced vision.
    I believe that God works through the people around us, that there are messages and truths to be gathered and acted upon, if we are alert enough to watch for and discern them. So, there's no question, especially given the way you've presented this, that Adonis was a life-changer for Piper. While he may not have known it, Adonis was a medium for the message that gave Piper's family stability, strength and a home.

    A HOME is a gift that transforms our very being and gives it life.
    We are always seeking home because we are not solely from this world, but beyond it.
    So I completely get it when Piper says he is home and yet he is not home. This is the essential yearning of the soul that desires to return to its maker.
    Make of that what you will and know that the quest for HOME is real, as real as the need to build HOME in the present.

    Check out all the Cool Points columns here.
    LOP's resident nXt guy
    CF since 2013

  7. #7
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    Skul -- thank you for feeding regardless. It is difficult. You can see there are different uptakes in the comments (which is cool) but this is a complicated subject and it's not one we practice talking about, so it's kind of learn-as-you-type.

    J Cooooooooool, my man - Love that first paragraph, as I connect with it. It's not a story I knew for more than twenty years of my wrestling fandom and, yet, look how all-consuming it is, in some ways, to the life and career of Roddy Piper. Those last two paragraphs make me long for a me I used to be. I can't say if I'd want to be him again full-time, but I know I wish I could be him some of the times. It's partly what has me writing this, feeling this, connecting with this...

    Home can get so far away.

    So far away we forgot what it was like to be

    inside.

    Thank you for speaking good news from a foreign land.

    You might see your own words again, J Cool.

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