Another month, and another legend taken too soon. That was my initial thought when I got the e-mail from a peer alerting me to Rowdy Roddy Piper’s passing, at the age of 61 on Friday.

Way too soon.

I grew up a wrestling fan, and while I know at times Piper identified as a heel, I never really saw him as one. None of my memories of him paint him as a villain, in spite of at one point being given the label of number one villain. I got to see him in a number of angles, doing what he did best-working his tail off. Especially later in his career, when his appearances were more of a big deal, those bagpipes could pop a crowd like few other entrance themes could. They would give me goose bumps, and very likely still would today.

If there was one drawback to the Rowdy One’s career? It was that he never got to call himself a world champion on the grandest stage. Yes, he main evented some of the biggest shows in wrestling history. Yes, he fought some of the biggest names in wrestling history. Yes, he is in the Hall of Fame. But he never got to hold the gold they all aspire to hold. He didn’t allow that to define him, however. As beloved as he became, you’d have thought the man had been a multi-time WWF/WWE champion, but he never was. Some men, it would seem, are born to be superstars, and never is a belt needed. No one better personified that than Piper.

If Hogan was the preeminent wrestler of his era (and no one denies that), men like Piper and Rhodes could be seen as the polar opposite. Hulk lived by his 24 inch pythons, his imposing physique. Piper was never going to win a pose-down, but everyone knew he had a temper, he was a master of mind games and the man could fight. He was someone who, because he relied on everything else but muscles, had so much to offer and was able to bring so much to his matches.

And, let us not forget that this is a man who had roles in a number of movies, in an era where WWF wrestlers didn’t have a company owned movie studio, or the leverage of a partner like NBCUniversal. There was no Rock, and Hogan had a few hyped films, but little commercial success. But Piper was a veritable thespian by comparison.

For someone who never did hold the big gold, his career is filled with accomplishments and memories, and he made an indelible impression on so many he worked with over the years. As I still struggled to comprehend that Piper is gone so soon, just a couple months after Dusty, I can only think that God wanted to have himself some good wrestling matches, because he just got himself one heck of a tag team.

RIP, Rowdy Roddy Piper. You will be missed.