Brian Pillman was a professional wrestler.
Pillman was short and had a very light frame for a wrestler, so his
movement into a high-flying style was natural--upon entering World Championship
Wrestling, he was known as "Flyin' Brian Pillman". One of his best
early matches came in 1992, when he and Jushin Liger had an incredible
match at WCW Superbrawl II that is considered one of the best Pay-Per-View
opening matches ever.
He continued in that fashion, winning the WCW Light Heavyweight Title
on several occasions and generally being one of the more entertaining people
to watch in that federation, until 1993. Then, he formed a new heel
tag team called the Hollywood Blondes with "Stunning" Steve Austin
(best friends in real life)--you might know him better as Stone Cold
Steve Austin. Their popularity skyrocketed immediately, and they
established themselves as the most dominant tag team in WCW within a few
short weeks, demolishing opponents and establishing their catchphrase,
"Your brush with greatness is over." The more the bookers tried to
bury them, the more they succeeded. In the end, they were practically
forced to put the WCW World Tag Team Titles on Pillman and Austin not because
they wanted to (because they had no intention of actually pushing the team),
but simply because of the overwhelming reaction they were receiving.
The team was broken up by the bookers soon after to prevent all this unauthorized
"success" from getting out of hand. The pairing is generally remembered
for causing some of the early bitterness that would lead to Stone Cold
Steve Austin's later success in the WWF.
Pillman suffered an ankle injury in 1994 that effectively grounded him--his
days of high-flying, high-impact wrestling were over. To compensate,
he developed a new character--the "Loose Cannon". He was, in a nutshell,
supposed to be a nutcase. He'd attack the cameraman, announcers,
his own teammates, just about everyone--flipping from cool and calm one
moment to completely whacko the next.
One of the more surreal moments in this transformation came when Pillman
moved into a feud with Kevin Sullivan, who was booking WCW at the time.
Sullivan and Pillman also legitimately didn't like each other. The
two met and agreed to promote the whole feud as a "shoot" as opposed
to a "work"--they were going to pretend they were legitimately trying
to hurt each other whenever they fought. Furthermore, they decided
not to tell any of the other wrestlers involved in the matches they
were going to do this. If you can see this leading to problems,
raise your hand. During one tag team match in particular, the other
two participants (Arn Anderson and Hugh Morris) became legitimately
concerned that the two were going to kill each other and tried to drag
them out of the ring. Anderson reportedly went ballistic backstage
when he was informed that the two had just been acting and had planned
this without telling anyone else. In another incident, Pillman attacked
commentator Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, who appeared to be very rattled
and had to leave the broadcast booth for a minute to regain his composure--as
if he didn't know that Pillman was planning such a thing. Whether
this was scripted or not is not entirely known
Pillman's WCW contract expired in 1996, and he left for Extreme Championship
Wrestling. He stayed there only a few months, but he further developed
the "Loose Cannon" persona--most notably holding a real infant in front
of him to shield himself from a punch from Shane Douglas. This
was obviously staged and the baby was never in danger, but it was still
more than a little disturbing to watch.
Brian suffered another injury in 1996 due to an auto accident, practically
crippling him and effectively ending his active career. He started
with the World Wrestling Federation soon afterwards, feuding with former
partner Stone Cold Steve Austin without ever fighting a match.
Since Austin was a heel, Pillman was forced to try to play the "Loose
Cannon" role while being a babyface, which didn't work out too well.
The angle is mostly remembered for the infamous "Pillman gun incident",
in which Austin stalks Pillman and his family at Pillman's house, and Brian
pulls a gun on Austin before all hell breaks loose and the picture goes
to static momentarily. The gun is never fired, and the implication
was that the weapon was forced from Pillman during the commotion.
It is one of only two times a gun has been drawn on WWF television in recent
memory (the other being when Austin "captured" Vince McMahon the following
year after being fired in the storyline), and is something the WWF would
sorely like to forget they were ever stupid enough to do.
Brian Pillman sadly pased away on October 5th, 1997, in his hotel room
in Bloomington, Minnesota. The autopsy determined his death was from
natural causes, specifically because of a heart condition he was unaware
of. It was aggravated by painkillers he was taking because of his