In the season premiere of Dark Side of the Ring, we were introduced to the life and death of Brian Pillman. Pillman’s story was one of extreme tragedy. He began as a promising young talent that could have gone far in the industry but personal problems hindered that.
The first episode of the season was part one of two about the story of Pillman. It left us with a lot to unpack in the life of Brian Pillman. Let’s take a look at 5 things we’ve learnt from Part One of the life of Brian Pillman.
1/ Firstly, it was great to see appearances from those who had worked with Brian throughout his life. Seeing interviews from Jim Cornette, Steve Austin, Jim Ross, and Eric Bischoff was a great insight into the behind-the-scenes life of Pillman.
For those of us who did not know much about the Loose Cannon, it was great to see what kind of effect he had throughout his career. Hearing stories from men like Cornette, Ross, and Bischoff gave us an insider’s perspective into the potential of Pillman. All three of those men were bookers/ writers during Pillman’s tenure in their respective federations. They were all behind pushing Pillman to the moon and this shows us how far Flyin’ Brian could have gone.
Having Jericho narrate the episode was also a nice touch. He had a history with Stampede wrestling and being trained in the Dungeon so he and Pillman had that connection.
2/ Building on the appearance of Steve Austin in the episode it was interesting to hear about the backstory between the two.
Austin and Pillman formed the Hollywood Blondes tag team in WCW, which became an incredibly successful tag team. At the time WCW has nothing for either man and they were both able to take this tag team and make them one of the best heel teams in the company.
There was also greater insight into how Pillman became the Loose Cannon. Despite their ability to get themselves over with nothing WCW refused to push the two, even breaking up the tag team for no reason. This highlighted a greater problem surrounding Pillman’s career. He would consistently get himself over only to suffer a burial. This jaded the young man who wanted to reach great heights in wrestling.
3/ Another interesting story about his breaking into the wrestling industry was where this took place. After having an unsuccessful run in the NFL Pillman went to Calgary to play for the Stampeders in the CFL. This turned him towards Stampede Wrestling and Stu Hart. Hart was the patriarch of one of the most storied wrestling families in history.
Pillman was taken into Hart’s Dungeon and shown the ropes of professional wrestling. It was there that he learned his craft and how to become a great professional wrestler. This upbringing gives some great perspective into how Pillman became one of the better technical wrestlers in the world.
4/ The last great thing that we learned from his wrestling career was just how intelligent the man was. After realizing that he would not reach the heights expected he was able to work Bischoff to give him a legitimate realize from WCW. Bischoff expected that this was a work between the two but we soon figure out that Pillman was using this release as leverage when negotiating with ECW and WWE.
We also learn of a story where Pillman introduced himself to Vince McMahon by acting as a huge mark, asking him for a picture, etc.
Doing these two things plus acting like a lunatic when he was in the ring gave Pillman his Loose Cannon moniker. In a time when many fans had become smart to the wrestling industry, Pillman was able to break the fourth wall as none had in the past. People inside and out of the industry truly thought that Pillman was crazy. This was a masterstroke by the man as he became one of the hottest commodities in wrestling.
5/ As much potential as Pillman had in wrestling the episode did show us the turmoil that was his private life.
Pillman had multiple children with multiple women during his life. His infidelity put an incredible strain on his relationships. You saw this from the interviews with his sister and children. As much as Pillman was a great Dad to his children his repeated cheating drove a wedge between members of his family that some would never recover from.
The worst of these wedges occurred when his third wife and he decided that they were going to fight his second wife, Richelle, for custody over his previous children. Now, depending on who you believe in the episode this was either pushed by his third wife or himself but the result was still tragic. After a phone call with Pillman’s wife, at the time, Richelle grabbed a gun and committed suicide. This was a tremendous blow to Pillman, who blamed himself for the incident.
As much as Pillman had all the potential in the world to be a great wrestler the tragic events surrounding his personal life were hard to watch. It showed us how the troubled life of Brian Pillman led to his destructive actions.