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RIP Brian Pillman - 20 years


tiger_rick
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Had it in mind to start this for a few weeks and been prompted by the announcement of Liam O'Rourke's book in the "Wrestling books" thread.

At the time it didn't really resonate with me. I think mostly because the WWF narrative seemed to be to mark it and move on very quickly. There wasn't the sort of tribute show we'd see to Owen or Eddie G. That 10 bell salute at the start of the PPV and then it was business as usual. It was weeks before I realised that horrible Melanie Pillman interview from the following night was even genuine. I wasn't sure it wasn't an angle at the time. Until the PowerSlam came out with the obit on the cover.

Most of my Pillman love has come in retrospect. At the time of his death, I knew him mostly from his run in the WWF - which was underwhelming due to his injuries and I'd seen a few bits of him in WCW either on Worldwide on ITV or on one of the few tapes I had. Remember the Galoob figure too.

He was such a great loss. He was finished as a regular wrestler but but could turn his hand to anything else brilliantly. A great talker but also a smart worker. He knew where the money was and how to play the game. The briliance of the loose cannon stuff is under-rated these days. The character was great enough but the manouvering was better. Sparking a bidding war between two smart promoters and getting a $400k+ deal while injured. He was a clever bloke.

I hate the last quarter of 1997. I hate the marginalisation of the Hart Foundation, the way Bret's WWF career ended and especially the loss of Pillman. Ironically on a night when Shawn and undertaker had one of my top 5 favourite matches ever. The rest of that quarter can fuck the fuck off though.

RIP Brian.

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For me he had the best look ever during his rogue Horseman stage and onwards. He genuinally looked like a rock star, not someone playing a rock star like Ziggler. And this was 20 years ago. 

He was ahead of his time throughout his career. The 1991 Pillman would have been  very comfortable during the 1996 Cruiserweights. The 1997 Pillman would fit any era. 

His death sorta makes his Legend grow. 

Should have handcuffed himself to the posts during The Superbowl.

Still watch his entrance during that sizzling 10 man tag.

Edited by Porkchopcash
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1997 was when I tuned out of wrestling, and didn't come back until mid-2000 - I don't think there was a specific incident, just that I was a young kid, and something else caught my eye. Maybe my brother telling me it was Fake And Gay finally sunk in.

I don't even really remember Pillman from the first time around watching the stuff - I only really caught B-shows and highlight packages, so may have not seen him, or he may have not resonated with me at all, or whatever. But when I started going back and watching stuff, Jesus, he stood out more than anyone.

He was believable, and just fucking brilliant. He became, in retrospect, one of my all-time favourites...there's not really anything I can say about him that hasn't been said a thousand times, but he should have defined the Attitude era, it was like it was purpose-built for him, only he wasn't around to see it. I might watch the Canadian Stampede tag match tonight.

 

As an aside, couple of years ago we got  new trainees at CIWW - couple of sixteen year olds. I got chatting to them, and I tend to ask what they want out of wrestling, and we give them a bit of freedom to try and think up gimmicks/characters just to get a feel for where they're coming from. Both of them said they wanted to be a character "like Dean Ambrose", and I had to explain to them why that definitely wasn't going to happen. I mentioned it to one of the other guys, and he said, "Ambrose is to them what Pillman and Raven were for us"; the slightly unhinged, crazy, but cool anti-establishment guy that, as a 16/17 year old fan wanting to be a wrestler, you'd absolutely want to try and emulate. What a fucking downgrade, though - Pillman to Raven to Dean Ambrose.

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My fondest memories of Pillman were of Flyin' Brian going from whitemeat light heavyweight babyface to white hot heel in the thrown together tag partnership with fellow (at the time) also-ran Stunning Steve Austin and their much too brief tenure as the tag team of the 90s until Dusty spit them up for committing the apparently heinous crime of getting over. I used to absolutely hate them when I was a kid, but hate them in the way you're supposed to hate the heels, over time I realised just how great they were. I remember them being in the WWF around the same time and how different the loose cannon was. A feud between the two with that chemistry could have done gang busters. Conversely how awesome could it have been for Austin & Pillman to have been a collective thorn in the McMahons' side?

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Flyin' Bryan was my favourite wrestler when I watched WCW on ITV during the early 90s. For an 8-year old, he was about as exciting as you could get as a wrestler without having to cover him in facepaint and tassels. I stopped watching WCW when he turned heel (but have since watched in retrospect) and was delighted to see him turn up in WWF in 1996. Sadly, as Rick says he was pretty buggered by that point and I couldn't understand why he wasn't in there wrestling and flying about (not being clued-up on things).

Watching back over the years- turning up in ECW, his ahead of time edgy stuff in WWF and his shit hot in-ring performances in WCW- he's one of my favourites to watch for sure. Always entertaining, that's one thing I'm sure most can agree on.

Love the Pillman/Zenk VS Midnights matches. When I became a bit obsessed with tag team wrestling 10 years or so ago, they were amongst my favourites.

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Hard to believe it was twenty years ago. 

I was always a fan of Brian Pillman, ever since his flyin' days. To me, the late 1995 period when he appeared to going into business for himself up to the "I respect you bookerman" was his best period. As BomberPat said, he was believable. 

I was shocked when I picked up PowerSlam Magazine and reading that he had turned up in ECW threatening to whip out his johnson. For an impressionable younger version of me, who had a thing for the bad boys and rebels of rock music, Pillman was instantly my favourite wrestler, replacing Shawn Michaels who to me, had lost his edge and started hanging around with old man Jose Lothario.

Sadly his WWF run, despite Canadian Stampede (collective effort) and the start of the fun little run with Dustin and Terri never really became what I thought it would be (Altough in hindsight, it may not ever had lived up to my own expectations). 

After his death, the episode of Monday Night Raw in which Melanie was interviewed was perhaps the worst and most uncomfortable segment in the Attitude era.  I am unsure if this was Vince's idea or if Melanie was up for the idea, but it was wrong from the start. Different era, I suppose and I cannot (thankfully) see something like that happening again. 

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I can’t say I’ve really seen much of Brian Pillman. I’ve seen him in the odd match in old WCW/WWF stuff on the award-winning WWE Network, but I didn’t start watching wrestling until a bit after ‘97.

What essential matches of Brian’s would people suggest watching?

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20 minutes ago, Your Fight Site said:

I can’t say I’ve really seen much of Brian Pillman. I’ve seen him in the odd match in old WCW/WWF stuff on the award-winning WWE Network, but I didn’t start watching wrestling until a bit after ‘97.

What essential matches of Brian’s would people suggest watching?

His bouts with Liger at Superbrawl 2 and Badd at Fall Brawl 95 are two really good matches.

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20 minutes ago, Uncle Zeb said:

Not a credit to the wrestler per se, but the WCW Worldwide ring announcer's cry of "Flyiiiiiiiiiiiiin' Briaaaaaaaaan" is one of my all time favourites in wrestling. Couldn't tell you for sure who it was though.

Gary Michael Cappetta?

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