Never Forgetting Our Family Members, Roddy Piper and Steve “Dr. Death” Williams
– Dr. Mike Lano
I’m ashamed I can’t remember today when we lost Steve Williams, but was thinking today about what a pussycat, nice, supremely ethical and great friend Steve always was to me. He was the first of my many long-time friends who stood up with me to oppose the husband/wife cheating crooks at that 2007 Cow Palace “Wrestling Fanfest” fiasco to try to help the boys/girls of the biz cheated by these thieves and their accomplices.
It was a 3 day deal, Friday to Sunday night with a lot of quality people there. For starters, the PWG and ROH promotions with all their insanely talented athletes. Total legends young and old. And sadly the only people who got paid were the TNA stars who came in. Bill Banks who represented them at the time on behalf of TNA, wisely demanded all money be paid as cash well in advance of letting the Dudleys, Steiners, Shark Boy, Abyss, Gail Kim, Melissa Anderson, etc. go there to work and do the all-day poloroid/autograph thing. Although the Dudleys/Team 3D were owed additional money by said husband/wife duo no one had ever heard of before or since, when they fled on the second day with ALL the money meant to pay the wrestlers and the separate MMA athletes when they took off for the Nevada state lines with the cashboxes meant for both. Meaning all money collected to that point was stolen by these creeps who had made names starting with “Chris and Jasmin Salisbury aka Cramer aka Kramer, etc, etc.” Lots of aliases.
This memorable shot was taken there of Steve and another brother in RP I’d known since January of 1976 when he debuted for my homebase Los Angeles/HWood wrestling territory Mike Lebell office promotion at our annual 22 man battle royal spectacular (which I think debuted the same year as nearby Roy Shire/SF territory/Cow Palace’ 18 man battle royal spectacular.) I’ll never forget the times I had to drive Roddy, sometimes with the insanely talented and insane Lonnie “Moondog” Mayne, in my old Pontiac Catalina after a show either to LAX or Burbank Airport so they could make Shire’s towns, tv, etc. They were the two top headliners for two territories at the same time which was unheard of. I think only Pedro Morales/Pepper Gomez and later Kenji Shibuya/Massa Saito were tag champs in BOTH territories at the same time which was historic, but they weren’t in the main events each show, as Piper and Lonnie were for both L.A. & S.F. at the exact same time. The only difference was they were the lead heel duo (usually facing the Guerrero family) in our L.A. office, while they were feuding up in S.F. with face Lonnie taking on heel Roddy, usually for Shire’s U.S. championship lead title strap.
Steve and Roddy obviously had different styles, but a lot of similarities between them. Roddy was one of our last surviving king of the territories before we lost the circuit divisioning, but of course headlined for the NWA and later WWF. Steve was brought in much later by Bill Watts I believe, was lead face champ in Watt’s superb UWF/Mid South and later NWA itself, and even some WWF time both famous and infamous. Both had battled cancer (in Piper’s case he defeated Hodgekin’s Lymphoma first before Steve’s laryngial cancer began, I think due to years of smoking and beers, I could be wrong). Both had worked in Japan. Piper with his famous NJPW tour, and Steve as an AJPW legend as a singles Triple-Crown winning champ and also his amazing championship tag duo with fellow UWFer in Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy.
Both did so much for the biz and for this world as human beings. Roddy died a year ago in August and we still think of him daily. All the wild road stories. Steve the same way. I gotta call Kevin Sullivan. He was so close to both of them. Guys, you are totally missed I’m sure by everyone. Wonder whatcha talkin’ ’bout up there?
Article & photo by Dr. Mike Lano