Rowdy Roddy Piper is a busy man. He’s finishing off his book, promoting a show in May in Oregon, pushing a video on his web site and preparing to introduce comedian Norm MacDonald at a concert.

Yet he takes the time to talk about one of his heroes, one of the men who shaped his wrestling career — Johnny Valentine.

Johnny Valentine. Courtesy Bob Leonard

Piper is turns it down a notch, and is reflective when talking about Valentine, who died Wednesday.

“The man said one sentence to me that I based my whole career on,” Piper told SLAM! Wrestling. “He said, ‘I can’t make you believe that professional wrestling is for real, but I sure the hell can make you believe that I am.’ Not to take that out of context, as far as ‘I’m a tough guy.’ That’s not what he was saying. He was saying that when Johnny Valentine gets out there, he’s snug, he’s tight and he can back up kind of what he says.”

Piper understands that today’s wrestling business is different, with more more high-flying and crazy moves. Few wrestlers are grounded the way that Valentine was, grounded in both his in-ring style and his believability.

In fact, it was ‘The Hammer’ that grounded Piper. “Johnny Valentine gave me that little piece of philosophy and, at that time, I learned instead of working with Chavo Guerrero and the lucha libre, he told me, ‘Get your feet on the ground and start acting like a fighter.’ That became Rowdy Roddy Piper.”

The Rowdy One travelled down the roads with both Johnny and his son Greg during his career, and knows the ins and the outs of the family. And while father and son didn’t see eye to eye on everything, their styles were similar in the ring.

At February’s Cauliflower Alley Club banquet in Las Vegas, it was Piper that had the honour of presenting Sharon Valentine with a cheque for the final part of the $5,969.00 raised by the Club members to help out the Valentines with medical bills.

It is something that he wished that he didn’t have to do. “It’s a travesty to take up a collection for a man of that esteem.”