On November 24, 1983, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine faced each other in arguably one of the most brutal and bloodiest matches in wrestling history. In a match type that’s origins preceded it, their dog collar match was the fourth recorded one in existence.
It would be, however, the first dog collar match that would take place on a major televised event during Starrcade 83’.
Today, the match is known to more contemporary audiences as ‘Piper in Portland.’ The most amusing part of all of this is the match didn’t, in fact, happen in Portland. That said, Piper’s competed during the late 1970s in the Pacific Northwest, where the Dog collar match had first originated.
Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine –
The Year of The Ear
“They wanted Greg and me to have a match that was so brutal that people would keep coming back to see it.”
In a match emanating from the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina, as part of Starrcade 83’: Flair for the Gold, two men would battle in a match still talked about today. The feud between Piper and Valentine first began in April 1983.
During their legendary feud, the two battled previously in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, where they would compete for the United States Heavyweight Championship. During that match, Valentine would work over Roddy Piper’s ear in the process.
The Assault on the Ear of Rowdy Roddy Piper
The assault on his ear led to Piper losing, depending on the reports, between 50-75% percent hearing in his left ear. Valentine recalls beating on the ear of Roddy over and over again.
This match and injury to Piper’s left year is what made it the Year of the Ear. The focus throughout their feud is that Valentine is working on Piper’s ear repeatedly.
“I’d wake up in the morning, and the pillow would be stuck to my ear. It would drain every night. You weren’t allowed to go to doctors back then.
I would be pouring hydrogen peroxide into it, and it hurt so bad. But you weren’t allowed to complain.”
The pain Piper sustained repeatedly as he and Valentine continued to battle, knowing full well that Hot Rod was dealing with this pain leading into their brutal match.
Both men knew that the manner in which they would bring the fight to one another was unlike any other they had before. But the brutality they would unleash on one another would begin with the steel chain the dog collar was tied to.
The Havoc Caused By The Chain
Both men’s accounts of the chain, how it felt against their skin, its size, and what it did always remained with them years after their careers came to an end.
But then the two men would have their dog collar match. Their assessment of their tools of destruction would break down item by item, whether it was the chain or the dog collar.
“That chain was so heavy. It got taut and very tight from the beginning.
“You could see there were no pulled punches, and you were working with a truck tire chain where they wrap around. I mean, God, this chain was huge.” – Greg Valentine.
The sheer nature of the chain and how those involved were being struck repeatedly with a blunt object as massive in weight as it was in impact was remarkable. When considering the chain could be used to haul, the truck was used across the head and face of both men, only adding to the damage Piper had already sustained.
The Lasting Effects Of The Dog Collar Match
Then when considering the dog collar itself, its lasting effects, as it was nothing short of a nuce that would as quickly render a man unconscious, was also something that stuck with Valentine and Piper.
And while what happened during the matches is memorable, the memories they were left with from the dog collar after the match were equally as memorable.
And then, of course, the dog collar. The fur he (Piper) stuck it here (points to his throat).
– Greg Valentine on effects of the Dog Collar on him.
“I thought I’d give my neck a break with the sheep’s wool. But because I put sheep’s wool in it, after using that dog collar a couple of times, we both developed terrible rashes around our necks. I was putting baby powder on my neck, and Greg started wearing a turtleneck.”
Upon that faithful day, their battle was fierce and relentless. The clean mat would eventually be replaced with the blood-stained mat that would be synonymous with their battle.
With each blow heavier and harder than the next, Valentine and Piper would virtually bludgeon one another, nearly trying to incapacitate the other. Once it came to an end, and Roddy Piper was deemed the winner, the scars and memories of that match would live on in infamy.
Upon further review, Greg’ The Hammer’ Valentine would look back on the match decades earlier. The much older and grizzled former wrestler would reflect on this match and how difficult it was to take in.
“So, you know it was wild watching that. I watched it before, but I kinda stayed away from it because it’s such a brutal match. And we were so young and so dedicated, and Piper was such a great guy, and he let me, you know. I always work stiff, and he put up with it. And, of course, he beat me hard. (laughs)
But as brutal and violent as their match was, Valentine recalls the process in which both he and Piper helped build the animosity leading up to the match, making it so unique. With all great magicians, the greatest trick is the one often not shared. To the credit of both Piper and Valentine, they created a moment in time that will live on forever.
What was really unusual, people think that you plan all this stuff out. We did. We talked about it for 20 minutes. He (Piper) snuck over to my side of the dressing room in Greensboro Coliseum.
We were separated. Good guys over here and heels over there for 20 minutes. We talked it over just a few spots where we jerked a chain like that.
But in some cases, the two artists can paint the canvas at the moment, making the final product more special. Outside of a few memorable uses of the dog collar and chain, Piper and Valentine would beat one another from one end of the ring to the other, and onlookers took it in with sheer joy. To the victor goes the spoils; in this case, it would be Hot Rod.
The rest of it, swear to God, got all ad-lib, period. We didn’t even, we knew who was going to win, and he was going to go over. It was a U.S. title match, with my belt wasn’t on the line.
And it was really the whole thing. Plus, the finish was ad-lib too. We just, we went for it.
During the match, Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine locked their eyes on one another. As they continued to beat on one another senselessly, the belief of whether they could embrace the crowd’s reaction at that moment.
The answer is not necessarily a yes or a no. As Greg Valentine recalls, they could get a sense of the right thing to do and when to do it. It was these moments that made them so special.
It’s hard to listen to the fans when you’re looking at them and thinking it would match with a slower pace to it, but this is like constantly going.
So you’re not really, you’re not really listening to fans cause you know the fans are gonna explode with this thing too because he’s bleeding and I’m bleeding.
I’m beating on his ear, and it was just a brutal match. I don’t know how long it lasted. 45 minutes.
They were the right men, in the right place, at the right time. A pair that didn’t initially pick one another, as Piper has stated, created history with one another. Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine were two men that didn’t create the dog collar match but made history during these matches.
The Year of the Ear or Piper in Portland. Regardless of what fans will call it, what they won’t deny calling it was one of the most violent matches in professional wrestling history.