Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flyin'" Brian Pillman

Brian William Pillman (May 22, 1962 – October 5, 1997) was an American professional wrestler and American football player.

Pillman developed throat polips at around 2 years old. They came back multiple times throughout his life, which resulted in him spending much of his youth in hospital. He underwent over 40 operations to remove it, leaving him with his signature raspy voice.

While attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Pillman played football for the Miami Redhawks as a linebacker where he set records for "tackles for loss". He went undrafted to the National Football League, joining the Cincinnati Bengals (his home town team) as a free agent in 1984 and later the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders in 1986. He also played for the Buffalo Bills in preseason action in 1985, but was the last player cut before the start of that season. His attempts to make the roster of the Bengals were covered in a series of articles in The Cincinnati Enquirer. During his football career, Pillman began taking steroids and painkillers in order to perform, resulting in him having problems with drug addiction for the rest of his life.

Following the end of his football career, Pillman remained in Canada and began training as a wrestler under Stu Hart and his sons. He debuted under his real name in 1986 in Hart's Calgary, Alberta-based Stampede Wrestling promotion.

Pillman quickly formed a tag team with Hart's son Bruce known as Bad Company. In April 1987, Bad Company won the Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship, defeating Ron Starr and the Cuban Assassin in the finals of a tournament. Their reign lasted until October 1987, when the titles were held up following a controversial ending to a match between Bad Company and their opponents, Jerry Morrow and Makhan Singh. Bad Company defeated Morrow and Singh in a rematch in November 1987 to regain the titles, eventually losing them to Morrow and the Cuban Assassin in July 1988.

While in Stampede Wrestling, Pillman used his girlfriend at the time, Beulah McGillicutty, to get him over as a face by seating her at ringside and having heel wrestlers taunt her so that he could rescue her.

In 1989, Pillman returned to America and began wrestling for World Championship Wrestling, where he was known as "Flyin'" Brian Pillman due to his athletic ability and variety of aerial maneuvers. He held the WCW United States Tag Team Championship with Tom Zenk and also held the short-lived WCW Light Heavyweight Championship, feuding with Brad Armstrong, Jushin Liger, Richard Morton, and Scotty Flamingo. Pillman later feuded with Barry Windham, who he harassed while dressed as the masked Yellow Dog after losing a retirement match (Pillman was eventually reinstated). During this year he may have had a daughter who is now 17 years old, and is living on her own in Saskatchewan.

In 1992, Pillman turned heel, forming a tag team with "Stunning" Steve Austin known as the Hollywood Blondes. In March 1993, the duo won the WCW World Tag Team Championship, which they held for five months. The team quickly became popular for their brash attitudes, pithy catchphrases and critically acclaimed matches with Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas. They also feuded with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, mocking their ages and parodying Flair's interview show "A Flair For the Gold," with their own "A Flare for the Old."

After the Hollywood Blondes separated, Pillman became a tweener, feuding with wrestlers such as Brad Armstrong, Eddie Guerrero, Alex Wright and Marcus Bagwell. In late 1995 at Fall Brawl 1995, Pillman formed a team with Arn Anderson, and began feuding with Ric Flair and Sting. At Halloween Havoc 1995, Flair betrayed Sting and reformed the Four Horsemen with Pillman, Anderson and Chris Benoit.

In 1995 he wrestled the first match on the very first WCW Monday Nitro defeating Liger.

Throughout 1995, Pillman developed his "Loose Cannon" gimmick, cultivating a reputation for unpredictable behaviour. He frequently blurred fact and fiction with his worked-shoots, and outed Kevin Sullivan as booker during the February 1996 Superbrawl VI pay-per-view. During a live episode of WCW Clash of the Champions, Pillman grabbed commentator Bobby Heenan by the collar, causing Heenan (who had a history of neck problems) to blurt out "What the f**k are you doing?" on air. Pillman was fired by WCW President Eric Bischoff in early 1996. In Eric Bischoff's autobiography he said that Pillman was fired for a reason.

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