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“Rowdy” Roddy Piper Dead: WWE Hall of Famer Dies at 61

Rowdy Roddy Piper
WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper, once one of Hulk Hogan's biggest rivals, has died at 61  

WWE fans are mourning the death of wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The Hall of Famer died of "natural causes," his rep confirmed to Us Weekly on Friday, July 31. He was 61.

"Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night," his rep, Jay Schachter, told Us in a statement. "I am shocked and beyond devastated. He was an amazing man and a true friend. He was one of the most generous, sincere, and authentic people I have ever known. This is a true loss to us all."

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Piper, born Roderick George Toombs, was one of WWE's biggest villains in the 1980s. According to his WWE bio, the Scottish wrestler's main foe was Hulk Hogan, whom he battled on several occasions throughout the '80s.

Piper took a break from WWE to pursue acting in the early '90s, but he returned as interim president in 1996. A little less than a decade later, in 2005, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Not long after that, Piper was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. As of November 2014, he'd been in remission for more than five years — though the cancer still haunted him at times.

"I'm doing okay, but about a year ago, I was driving home and I couldn't breathe and almost passed out," he told Hillsboro Tribune last fall. "I was trying to ignore it, but I had a blood clot in my lung and spent some time in the hospital. I need to start being careful. I'm not sure we’re invincible anymore."

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Still, Piper remained a colorful presence on the WWE scene as recently as this month, when he appeared on The Rich Eisen Show to talk about his former nemesis Hogan, whose WWE contract was terminated just last week amid reports that he'd used a racist slur.

"With Hulkster, I don't agree with all his choices, but I don't hear people saying all the great things he's done," Piper told Eisen on July 24. Of Hogan's critics, he added: "I think everybody needs to get a life." 

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Piper is survived by his wife, Kitty, and their four children.

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