There have been a lot of wrestlers who have been taken away from us way too soon. The list of pro wrestlers that die at an early age is sadly a list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Brian Pillman is one guy who is on that list, but the saddest part about it is that he had the stuff to become one of the all time greats. Yes he wasn’t the biggest guy and his voice would make John Laryngitis sound like a Gospel Singer by comparison, but nobody can deny the talent that Pillman had. Between his time as a football player and becoming a pro wrestler, all you can say is not too shabby for a guy who not many gave much of a shot at living into adulthood considering the throat problems he had since he was a kid.
In WCW, long before there was a Crusierweight Division and Luchadores were introduced, Pillman set the standard for being a high flyer. The matches between Pillman and Jushin “Thunder” Liger were the equivalent of Super Crazy vs Tajiri. He may not have been the biggest of guys, but he was still able to hold his own against guys the likes of Sid Vicious, Danny Spivey or Mean Mark Callous. He didn’t win those matches or beat those guys, but was able to hold his own nonetheless. As good as he may have been as a face, he seemed to get the job done as a heel just as well if not better. A fine example of that was in tag team action when he teamed with at that time “Stunning” Steve Austin to form The Hollywood Blondes.
Certain tag teams help define what a heel tag team should be like and The Hollywood Blondes were definitely in that category. Their promos as well as their in-ring ability were great and growing up, I couldn’t help but laugh at the “roll camera” gesture that they were known for. If there was any complain that I could have had about the team, it’s that they were split up way too soon. I suppose the silver lining in that instance is that Pillman did go on to become one of the Four Horsemen, but that was before he was released from the company and we began to see the birth of what would grow into “The Loose Cannon” when he went to WCW. By then, the microphone had gotten to the point where Pillman having a microphone in hand was more deadly than his fists.The guy was able to piss off so many people, that he nearly started riots with his promos. That would of course lead to Pillman signing with the WWE and in the segment with his “press conference” and signing the contract and following that with going off on everybody in the room, this is what lead to the birth of “The Loose Cannon.”
Thanks to a car accident and procedures he had to have done on his ankle, we didn’t get to see Pillman in the ring all that much. There were memorable moments with him regardless. Austin “crippling Pillman’s ankle” and debuting “DTA: Don’t Trust Anybody” along with the infamous Stone Cold breaking into Pillman’s home where Brian was waiting with a gun in hand, claiming that if Steve showed up that he was going to blow him straight to hell. Pillman was 35 when he died and it was reported that it was due to some unknown heart condition and it was announced live on PPV that Pillman had passed on during the pre-show before the PPV. It was one of the most sad and tragic things to hear on a PPV, falling in second just behind the tragedy of Owen Hart.
During the last few years of his life and his career, Brian Pillman displayed an ability to get a reaction from the crowd, whether it was for him or against him. He knew how to play to the crowd and when he was a heel, he displayed a trait that only the truly good heels are known to have. He knew how to piss off the crowd and get them to hate him. But also his style was different in terms of his approach. Pillman wasn’t afraid to curse and wasn’t afraid to tell somebody to “Shut the Hell Up!” or to call them a “Son of a Bitch” and if you go by Shotgun Saturday Night, wasn’t afraid to throw a fan over the railing and kick the ever-loving crap out of him. It was just the way that he was because when you’re “The Loose Cannon,” your job is to be unpredictable and to be ready to snap within half a second. Some feel that even if Pillman hadn’t died at 35, he wouldn’t have made it to become one of those wrestler that die of old age. Maybe, but the again, people didn’t give him a shot of growing up with the health problems he had growing up, whose to say that he wouldn’t have beaten those odds too. There are some guys who you look at and just think that there will never be another like them. There will never be another Ric Flair. There will never be another Rowdy Roddy Piper. There will never be another Undertaker and there will never be another Brian Pillman.