A much more emotional second episode comes our way in the story of Brian Pillman. After seeing the heights he got to in the first episode we get into the personal demons that plagued the Loose Cannon. The episode was a hard one to watch as we got more into the events surrounding his car accident, his subsequent death, and the fallout from those tragedies.
Below we will look at five takeaways from the fall of Brian Pillman.
1/ The second episode details the history of Brian Pillman’s run in WWE. After his horrific car accident, he was still able to sign with WWE, even though they knew he was hurt. This put the company in an awkward position as they had to work around a performer who was limited in what he could do. Luckily, Pillman was a genius in all other avenues of professional wrestling so there were other things that he could do.
Pillman would be worked into an angle with long-time friend Steve Austin. Austin was on his way up the card at the time and this looked like an opportune moment to elevate Pillman. The promo’s between the two was electric and led to a very interesting moment on Superstars. Being that Pillman was going to need further surgeries WWE decided to have Austin “break” his ankle with a cane and chair shots. Pillman sold the beatdown beautifully and the desired result was achieved. Pillman now had reason to continue his surgeries while not being able to enter the ring.
2/Pillman’s time in the WWE was also constantly surrounded by controversy. While he embraced the Loose Cannon gimmick there were a few specific occasions where Vince McMahon and WWE were seen to push the envelope too far.
With edgier content being the norm at the time WWE decided to have Pillman pull a gun on Steve Austin during an interview. The interview was taking place at Pillman’s Cincinnati home and while Austin was breaking into the house Pillman pulled a 9mm gun and pointed it at Austin. It was an angle that went too far and this was compounded even further when Vince McMahon apologized for it the following week. This marks the first, and only, time that Vince apologized for an angle on air.
A second occasion of going too far for WWE, in regards to Pillman, was the interview following Pillman’s death. On an episode of Raw Vince McMahon thought it a good idea to interview Pillman’s wife and ask some deeply personal questions. This received backlash from insiders, the boys and fans alike. It was a despicable act by the chairman and one that some have never forgiven him for.
3/ What was also amazing to see in the Brian Pillman story was just how bright the mind of the Loose Cannon was.
After his car accident, there was talk from many of the boys that it was a work by Pillman. Stories were coming out of the locker room that Pillman was having plastic surgery done to look like HBK. This was done so he could play an evil Shawn Michaels in the ring.
There were also thoughts that the car accident was a work in and of itself so that Pillman could leverage more money from WWE or WCW.
Both of these are ridiculous as the car accident was real and life-threatening to Pillman but this goes to show how brilliant the man was. He had convinced the wrestling world that he was so crazy that they truly believed he would go to any length to get over.
4/ Outside of the wrestling world the second-biggest story coming out of episode two was the tragic car accident that nearly killed Pillman.
While he was driving home Pillman fell asleep at the wheel and drove his car off the road. Not wearing his seatbelt, Pillman was flung from the car and landed yards away. He was in such bad shape that he needed to be airlifted to a local hospital where he had 6 doctors work on his smashed-in face. It took several surgeries and various steel plates to reconstruct his face.
He also suffered a shattered ankle during the crash that would put his wrestling career in jeopardy. Despite Pillman telling friends and family that he would return to wrestling, most doctors were of the mind that he would never be able to return to the man in the ring that he was.
It was because of all these surgeries that the pill addiction began. Pillman was in constant pain and he would relieve this by taking pain medication until he wasn’t in pain anymore. This led him down a path that he would never be able to recover from.
5/ The dependency on pain medication led to the fateful day when Jim Cornette was informed of Brian Pillman’s death.
The day of the In Your House: Bad Blood PPV had arrived and by 5 pm all talent was required to be at the arena. Pillman was the only no-show at the time and when Cornette called the hotel Pillman was staying at to find out what was going on he was informed of what happened. Brian Pillman had been found dead in his hotel room of heart disease, he was 35 years old.
It was a tragic end to a life that had so much potential. The pressure of supporting his children, along with those children’s mothers, drove Brian to become a man he didn’t want to be.
Hearing stories from J.R and Austin specifically about their attempt to turn Brian on a different path was heart-wrenching. Both men cared for Brian and saw the path he was headed down. Despite their attempts to help him, Pillman went down the path anyway. Seeing the emotion from both men and their regret made for an incredibly hard watch.
Even though the life and death of Brian Pillman were marred in tragedy the silver lining came at the end of the episode with his son. Brian Pillman Jr. has followed his father’s footsteps into the world of professional wrestling and has made quite the name for himself. Here is hoping that his career shines bright.