COMMENTARY | Roddy Piper is such a professional wrestling legend that he still occasionally appears on WWE programming after all these years.
Usually, Piper shows up as a babyface to conduct a Piper's Pit segment to promote a big, upcoming WWE pay-per-view match. But in 2003, Roddy Piper returned to the WWE in the role that made him famous in the mid-1980s; as a heel. In the twilight of the WWE Attitude Era, Piper was a hard-drinking, villainous mentor to Sean O'Haire. Although most wrestling fans remember this WWE storyline as one final program between Piper and "Mr. America" Hulk Hogan, a 20-year-old wrestler with an amazing backstory was also a participant.
For any young wrestler to get an opportunity to work with legends such as Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan in the WWE is a dream come true. But for Zach Gowen, it had to mean so much more. 12 years earlier, Gowen was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, doctors were forced to amputate his left leg. However, this obstacle never stopped Gowen from chasing his dream. On May 15, 2003, Zach Gowen found himself in a wrestling ring on WWE Smackdown.
While Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire were double-teaming Mr. America, Zach Gowen ran into the ring with an American flag to defend Hulk Hogan. However, Piper and O'Haire easily subdued Gowen, who looked like a fan from the crowd. As WWE security tried to pull him from the ring, Piper pulled the other way and tore off Gowen's prosthetic leg. As a lifelong wrestling fan, this is still one of the most shocking moments I've ever witnessed.
Zach Gowen worked in the WWE for most of 2003. He was in Hogan's corner when he defeated Piper at a pay-per-view. Eventually, Gowen even wrestled in the WWE. He earned a WWE contract by defeating Big Show with his patented one-legged moonsault. Besides working with Roddy Piper, Zach Gowen also had memorable WWE feuds with Vince McMahon and Brock Lesnar. I was in attendance the night Lesnar (kayfabe) threw Gowen down a flight of stairs in the New Orleans Arena.
After Zach Gowen left the WWE late in 2003, some casual wrestling fans may have lost track of his career. However, his WWE departure did not end his dream of being a pro wrestler. In the last 10 years, Gowen has worked for a number of top wrestling promotions, such as TNA and ROH. And just recently, I saw him on cable television in New Orleans, as part of a rapidly growing wrestling promotion known as TCW.
Traditional Championship Wrestling is a hot wrestling promotion, primarily running shows in the south. However, TCW is expanding its reach throughout the United States and now appears on the Pursuit Channel, as well as local television in 29 different states. Its weekly television show can be seen on its website, tcwwrestling.com. As a diehard wrestling fan, TCW is on my list of must-see TV.
Zach Gowen is only 30 years old and he looked great in TCW. Gowen has had a rivalry with Greg Anthony in TCW that has spanned two years. The highlight of this angle saw Gowen hit Anthony with his prosthetic leg when the referee wasn't looking to pick up a win. Eventually, Anthony got revenge on Gowen, but it took three men to do so. This only helped the legend of Zach Gowen grow in the eyes of most TCW wrestling fans.
Whether appearing under the bright lights of the WWE or working for other promotions, Zach Gowen continues to be an inspiration for wrestling fans all around the world. And I'm sure Roddy Piper enjoyed putting over someone like Gowen instead of Hulk Hogan for a change.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Roddy Piper
- Zach Gowen
- Hulk Hogan
- WWE Smackdown