Having dealt with, and known people who’ve dealt with, Piper professionally, he was a mixed bag. His insight into ring psychology and protecting oneself within an often cutthroat business was always top notch, but his recollection or telling of facts and dates was, to say the least, something you had to keep on top of.
For example, the book includes Piper’s traditional story that his first pro match was a quick loss to Larry Hennig, which was not the case. He also tells of a prank being played upon him in his Madison Square Garden debut that led to him being immediately dropped by Vince McMahon Sr, when in fact he wrestled at the venue twice more that year.
There are also plenty of details which don’t quite stack up, such as him recalling being infuriated during his boxing match with Mr T by the commentary lines of Susan St James, which would have been difficult to hear given the announce position was nowhere near ringside.
Other stories are plausible but difficult to verify. For example, Piper claims he was booked to lose a house show match to the Undertaker by pinfall but protected himself by taking a tombstone on the arena floor, feigning injury and being counted out and removed on a stretcher. The match certainly happened, though it seems a stretch that bookers would even bother to ask Piper to take a pinfall loss on a house show at this point given he was notoriously picky about such finishes.
Still, there’s plenty of engaging content here, particularly for those who only know Piper from his main WWF run: it’s 130 pages before he even arrives in the company so there’s all manner of detail on his Los Angeles, Portland and Carolinas runs.
The best parts, however, are not the what but the why. Piper frequently explains the thinking that led him to become a superstar despite having neither the size nor the appearance of many of his top-line peers. As well as covering how he got over with an audience, he also details how he made himself valuable to promoters while making sure they did not take advantage of him. Even in today’s vastly different world, there’s much to learn here.
Piper was most certainly a unique character and, for better and occasionally for worse, this book is a true reflection of that.