If you’re a fan of our Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro column, you recognize that header image. It’s from the infamous “Rowdy Roddy Piper in Alcatraz” vignettes, in which Piper locked himself in an abandoned prison to prepare for Hollywood Hulk Hogan, got weirdly sexual with a pole on a boat and then lost and got his ass kicked.
If it’s still not ringing a bell,
On an episode of Neal Pruitt’s Secrets of WCW Nitro, a podcast I should’ve been a guest on six months before it debuted, the former WCW producer talked about the Piper in Alcatraz segments and revealed a surprising fact about the mast-humping: Hot Rod almost died doing it.
From the podcast, with a transcription hat-tip to 411:
“Piper was fired up about [his upcoming match with Hollywood Hogan]. He’s so fired up in fact, that he gets on to the front of the ship and hangs on to the mast. He’s saying ‘Hogan, I’m comin’ to get you! It’s just a matter of hours until we see each other face-to-face in the ring!’ We videotaped that part, and then he looks at us and goes, ‘Neal, I don’t know, I didn’t like it’. At that time, the captain of the ship comes up [and goes], ‘what in the hell are you doin’, hangin’ off that mast? That mast could have easily broken off! Don’t you know how old these ships are? If you would have fallen down in that water, it’s about 60 degrees. You wouldn’t last but a couple minutes!’
“[Now] if you’re standing there – on Alcatraz – and you’re looking at the water, it is rushing away from San Francisco towards the golden gate bridge…where all the sharks are waiting for you. I can see why about nobody escaped from Alcatraz. Piper goes, ‘Neal, I really think we need to do that again.’ I had to go knock on the [captain’s] door, and say ‘captain, can you come out here a second?’ I said, ‘ok Piper, here’s the situation. You’re saying that you wanna do another take. The captain has just told us that if you fall overboard, and you go into that water, you could die in a matter of minutes. There’s no turning this boat around very easily to get you back. You’re willing to take that risk to get a better take?’ We pointed the camera at Piper and he said, ‘yep, I am’. The captain just looked at us like, ‘you guys are nuts.’”
While it might surprise you to learn that moment was improvised, it won’t shock you to learn that literally everything else about it was improvised, too.
“I called up Alcatraz the day before, and I said, ‘hey everybody, we’re real excited to come over and do the video after everybody goes home. We’re really ready to do it with Roddy Piper, he’s so excited to go to a cell. So how’s everything going over there? Y’all ready for us?’ [They said], ‘uh…we forgot one thing’. You never want to hear that as a producer. I go, ‘what’s that?’ They said, ‘the staff that were gonna be in the video…they’re not gonna be here. They have to go to a wedding’. Oh. My. [Now] we’re talking about one of the most exclusive islands – after hours – not having people that were dressed up to looked like [prison guards]. We were like, ‘we gotta think of something real quick!’”
Good to know that with that level of talent, location exclusivity and production power, the prestige vignettes for your pay-per-view main event featuring two of the biggest stars in the history of the industry will be forever remembered as an hilarious joke, right? At least we never had to write the headline, “Roddy Piper dies trying to have sex with a boat.”