Are you a fan of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, the greatest professional wrestler of the modern era? If so, you will be glad to hear that PenguinPutnam books has just released In the Pit with Piper: Roddy Gets Rowdy, an autobiography from the grappler who almost ended the careers of such degenerate scum as Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Hulk Hogan.

The book begins with Piper's underprivileged childhood in western Canada, where he struggled to make ends meet without money, education, or parents. By the age of fifteen he had stumbled into the mat game, wrestling in the desolate northern tundra for a handful of lumberjacks and getting beaten by more established stars.

Before long, Piper was able to rise to the top of the Los Angeles wrestling circuit via his persona as a smirking, obnoxious villain who race-baited the local Mexican audiences. You'll love the part where he plays the "La Cucaracha" on his bagpipes!

Over the course of the book, Piper moves from territory to territory, including Portland, Charlotte, Atlanta, and the WWF. With each stop his legend grows larger and we are treated to more tales from the good old days of pro wrestling. Some of these include:

•RP wrestles a live bear! (the other wrestlers played a little prank by putting honey in his trunks before the match.)
•RP is the victim of a practical joke by the great Freddie Blassie!
•RP's comes down with a venereal disease after "grappling" with a groupie named "The Wombat."
•RP is disgusted by Mr. T's lack of wrestling knowledge in Wrestlemania.

Another interesting aspect of the book is Piper's theory of the Sickness, the psychological disorder that drives wrestlers to push themselves so hard they end up killing themselves via drugs, suicide, or physical abuse. According to Piper, many of his so-called "fraternity brothers" have succumbed to this Sickness, and little has been done by promoters and others in the business to prevent it. Wrestlers seem to have little power before the promoter: no union, no medical benefits, no pensions. Many of them destroy themselves in the ring during their short careers and then have nothing to show for it.

Of course, the best part of the book is Piper's reminiscing about the good old days of pro wrestling before it became the big business that it is today. Prior to the mid-80's, professional wrestling was a regional sport, with dozens of small federations promoting their matches within strictly defined geographical boundaries. It was considered taboo for one promoter to put on an event in another's territory. Piper's travels through this dysfunctional archipelago are the stuff of legend.

My only complaint about the book is the short shrift Piper pays to certain topics and the feeling that he is not always shooting straight with us. He glosses over his bizarre childhood in a few pages, tantalizing with a few facts and leaving us wanting more (for example, he says he grew up the only white child on an Indian reservation in Saskatchewan and then never mentions it again.) He also seems to be somewhat schizophrenic about the worked ("fake") vs. shoot ("real") wrestling world. For most of the book, he lets us in on the truth: that the storylines and finishes are pre-determined. Occasionally, though, he reverts to his old-school wrestling persona and talks about beating the crap out of this opponents in the ring, or getting beat up himself. This schizophrenia is both frustrating and endearing.

In the final analysis, In the Pit with Piper is a must have addition to the wrestling autobiography canon. I highly recommend you buy this book and relive the days when the Legend Destroyer cut down the fans' heroes with total abandon.

Jinx Project Rating: 4 stars (out of 4 stars)