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Wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s wild night in Fresno

Wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gestures to the crowd after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the Induction Ceremony in Universal City in April 2005. Piper died Friday, July 31. He was 61.
Wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gestures to the crowd after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the Induction Ceremony in Universal City in April 2005. Piper died Friday, July 31. He was 61. AP

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the revered professional wrestler who died Friday, will be forever linked to Fresno after a 1986 appearance that ended with the kilt-wearing star and his cohort, “Cowboy Bob” Orton, in jail after a rampage through downtown.

Charges were dropped against the two after the wild night and Piper and Orton, along with fellow wrestler Don “The Magnificent” Muraco, left Fresno the next day for an event in San Diego. But the incident left an impression on the city and apparently on Piper, who recounted the events on a wrestling talk show.

The Fresno Bee’s Louis Galvan wrote the story about what happened for the Feb. 14 edition of the paper.

After a wresting event at Selland Arena, the three showed up at Old Fresno Hofbrau too late to make last call. Piper got into an argument with a patron, whom he bounced off the floor. The three fled in a rented car, which they abandoned after it became stuck on railroad tracks at Tulare and G streets in Chinatown.

A short time later, Piper and Muraco returned to what is now the DoubleTree by Hilton, where they were greeted by about a half-dozen officers. Piper was arrested on a charge of public intoxication.

Also arrested for being drunk was Orton, who was naked and standing on a fifth-floor balcony challenging officers to fight.

The officer who made the arrest was Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, then a sergeant.

“I happened to be the one who put the cuffs on Cowboy Bob,” Dyer said.

He said when officers went to the fifth floor, “He answered the door in his cowboy boots and not much else. I was lifting weights a lot back then and he said, ‘Oh, another weightlifter...I eat weightlifters for breakfast.’

“We Tasered him and he pulled the darts out and said, ‘Now you pissed me off.’ We went inside and had a conversation and managed to de-escalate the situation.”

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