The SmarK DVD Rant for Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon (Part One)
– I have of course been dying to get my hands on this one.
– We start early in Brian’s life, with the story of his vocal cord problems that led to a series of operations. This led to his trademark raspy voice.
– A career in hockey leads to a career in football instead, where everyone told him he was too small to play, so he compensated with weight training and apparently threw up before every game. So I guess Droz’s gimmick wasn’t so unique after all.
– Of course, Jim Ross jumps right into the college football discussion, as Pillman dominates but doesn’t get drafted, so he again jumped into strength training and made the Bengals as a walk-on, doing suicide charges at opposing quarterbacks. However, he couldn’t overcome the size factor, so after an ankle injury he switched gears again and trained with the Hart brothers in Calgary. This leads to a discussion of football players who became wrestlers. Putting Mongo into the same group as Ernie Ladd and Wahoo MacDaniel is a little insulting.
– We get some clips of Stampede, as Pillman made his name as a high flyer and studied tapes like a maniac, at which point JR brought him into WCW. Pillman’s style was of course far ahead of the time in WCW, as it was very lucha-based years before that became the norm for the business.
– A hot match with Lex Luger in 1989 leads to a push for Pillman and partner Tom Zenk, although it doesn’t last long and leads to another singles push for Pillman as lightheavyweight champion, a title that didn’t end up meaning much. It did, however, lead to a series of match with Jushin Liger that took Pillman to the next level as a worker and gave us one of the best opening matches in PPV history at Superbrawl II.
– So we meet Melanie Pillman, and even get clips of their private wedding. Geez, this company owns EVERYTHING. Do they have the secret JFK assassination video somewhere in that library, too?
– Back to tag teams again, as Pillman and Steve Austin form the Hollywood Blonds and nearly revitalize tag team wrestling before WCW screws it up, as usual. They had a series of ****+ matches against Rick Steamboat and Shane Douglas and then stole the show from Ric Flair and the Horsemen, so of course they were split up at their peak and sacrificed to get Paul Roma over. We get clips of their appearance on Flair’s show (“Uh, that’s not a statue, that’s double A”) and then “A Flare For The Old,” which was even funnier.
– Jim Ross sums it up: Paranoia + Politics = Disaster, and the Blonds go bye. Dusty claims to have championed them, and notes that it was the OTHER old-timers who cut them off. Austin of course has lots to say on the subject.
– So we skip a couple of shitty years for Pillman, and in 1995 he turns heel again and joins the Four Horsemen at Halloween Havoc in an awesome angle. His character starts to get crazier, becoming Brian F*ckin’ Pillman and morphing into the Loose Cannon. Classic stuff like Heenan’s f-bomb and the Bookerman angle follow. The thing with Sullivan is probably one of the most complex works ever dreamed up. The explanations from the people involved are a little vague, but suffice it to say that Pillman got so deep into his character that he ended up working himself in the end.
– So Pillman gets “fired” from WCW, which to everyone’s surprise leads to him getting fired for real. The surprise also extends to WCW, who assume that their public release of him was just a work. He shows up in ECW and threatens to “whip out his johnson and piss on this hellhole,” thus building his legend. However, at this point his psychotic character starts to take over his life and he begins his downward spiral.
– With a giant WWF contract looming, a DUI Pillman totals his Hummer and screws it all up, essentially ending his in-ring wrestling career.
– So it’s off to the WWF in 1996, as the ankle doesn’t heal properly and they do a famous angle with Austin breaking his ankle to explain another surgery. This of course came to be known as “Pillmanizing” the ankle, and sets up a bizarre angle on RAW where Austin stalks Pillman to his house and Brian pulls a gun on him. This was hugely controversial at the time, but seems pretty tame now. The network absolutely flipped out over the whole thing, as you’d expect. Ratings-wise, it did nothing to help, so I’d classify it as a failure.
– Pillman returns in what should have been a babyface turn, but Austin was now so over as a face himself that it turned Pillman heel again, and thus he joined the Hart Foundation in 1997 and reinvented his career again. However, he came back too soon on the fused ankle and was in constant pain because of it, limiting him in the ring and leaving him in the announce booth instead of the ring. Frustration with that role led him back to the ring again, as Pillman worked through horrible pain and could hardly even take bumps anymore.
– We get into a discussion of his pain medication abuse, as everyone admits that he had a problem, but it was understandable why it would happen. Jim Ross is so worried that he orders a drug test, and Pillman gets paranoid about his spot in the company. He gets depressed and suicidal, and people note that he didn’t want any help.
– His final storyline saw Pillman forced into a dress in a feud with Goldust, before stealing Terri away from him. The angle was to pay off with Terri turning on Dustin as Pillman’s new manager, but life intervened.
– So the morning of the Badd Blood PPV in October 97, Pillman is late, and is found dead in his hotel room. Sadly, by this point there aren’t many people surprised by that development. We get clips of the tasteless interview with Melanie from the next night, as the poor woman was barely functional and they stuck her on live TV. That was definitely one of the low points for Vince McMahon as a human being.
– We get closing comments from everyone, including Brian Pillman Jr, who is probably destined for a push in wrestling with that name.
– Animal gives us a story about Pillman vandalizing his rental car.
– Austin relates the story of his first meeting with Pillman, and then talks about how Brian would want to be remembered.
– Bischoff talks about Pillman living the gimmick and scaring hotel employees as a result.
– Jim Ross talks about Pillman actually managing to work Vince McMahon at a TV convention, and then tells an absolutely hilarious story about Pillman’s proudest moment in the business, which he then shared with JR. I won’t even spoil it for you.
– Radio guy Bill Cunningham talks about what a tribute for him would be like.
– Mick Foley talks about how his first match in WCW was with Pillman, which set him off on the right foot.
– Onto the footage, as we get a Bad Company interview from Stampede in 1988, as Pillman laments Kerry Brown’s newfound gayness.
– Pillman’s XXX Files from RAW in 1997 sees him humiliating Marlena in a series of edgy skits.
– The Gun Incident from RAW in 1996 is shown in full.
Stampede International Tag titles: Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman v. Rip Rogers & Kerry Brown
As with most Stampede matches, we’re JIP. Pillman gets a hot tag and dominates the heels, and goes up with a flying clothesline on Rogers for two. Sideslam and he goes up again with a HUGE flying splash for two, but Brown saves. Kerry comes in and tosses Pillman behind the ref’s back. Back in, Rogers gets a snapmare for two. Double slam and kneedrop by Brown gets two. Double suplex gets two for Rogers. Pillman leapfrogs both in a neat spot, but gets taken down by Rogers again and they head to the top. Superplex by Rogers allows him to head back up again, but Bruce shakes the ropes from his corner and allows Brian to make the hot tag. There’s a spot you don’t see often. Rip misses the hot tag behind his back, and Bruce quickly finishes him with the lariat to retain the titles.
(Bad Company d. Midnight Cowboys, Bruce Hart clothesline — pin Rip Rogers, **1/2) Hart and Pillman were always solid in the ring.
US title: Lex Luger v. Brian Pillman
From Halloween Havoc 89. Pillman was not regarded as a heavyweight threat at this point, and this changed that perception. Luger tries to overpower Pillman to start, pounding on him in the corner and slamming him, but he turns his back after tossing Brian and gets jumped as a result. Pillman throws chops and backdrops him out of the corner, setting up a dropkick that sends Lex running. Pillman follows him with a baseball slide and they brawl outside, as Pillman throws more chops before they head back in. Air Pillman freaks out Luger, as he runs away again to avoid it and Pillman chases him before getting caught coming in. Lex takes over with power again, pounding Pillman down and beating on him in the corner. Bodypress out of the corner gets two for Pillman, however, and he goes to the armbar and works on that for a bit. Luger tries to power out, but Pillman is tenacious and hangs on. Luger bullheadedly stays with power, knocking Pillman down, but Pillman fires back and goes back to the arm.
Luger keeps with his gameplan, pounding Pillman down, but Brian gets a crucifix for two and goes back to the arm again. Luger forces him into the corner and charges, but misses and Pillman goes up. Flying splash misses by a mile and Lex takes over, finally outwaiting Pillman and finding the inevitable mistake. Faceplant and hotshot sees the heel crowd switching over to Luger’s side, as Luger clotheslines him and then stalls too long, allowing Pillman to chop back. Another clothesline puts Pillman down again, and then Lex adds one from behind when Pillman staggers up. Now that’s the Lex who used to be pretty cool. Delayed suplex gets two. He drops a couple of lazy elbows and dumps Pillman, then beats on him on the apron for good measure.
Pillman fights back in with a sunset flip for two, and this time when Luger goes back to the clothesline, Pillman ducks and Luger ends up on the apron. Back in, Pillman makes the comeback, but tries to play Luger’s game with power moves and gets atomic dropped as a result. Luger puts him on top and tries the superplex, but Pillman gets another sunset flip for two. Pillman keeps coming with chops and a running elbow, and Air Pillman gets two. Neckbreaker and he goes up again, this time whiffing on a missile dropkick. Luger takes advantage of another high risk mistake, and finishes with a stungun to retain.
(Lex Luger d. Brian Pillman, stungun — pin, 17:05, ****) Good underdog story told here, with Pillman using his aerial stuff to offset the cocky Luger, but making one mistake too many and losing as a result.
US tag title tournament finals: Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk v. The Freebirds
Hayes starts with Pillman and gets bodypressed for two, and Pillman follows with a sunset flip for two. Garvin comes in and walks into an armbar, and another sunset flip gets two. Back to Hayes, but Pillman rolls him up for two and brings in Zenk. They work on the arm of Hayes, and Zenk blocks Hayes’ attempt at a sunset flip and stays on the arm. Zenk reverses a slam attempt for two, and the Freebirds stop for some stalling. Garvin comes in and gets dropkicked, and the Freebirds bail and stall again. The crowd informs them that they suck, and I don’t disagree.
Back in, Hayes justifies the chant by hitting the chinlock on Zenk, but Pillman comes in against Garvin and gets a backdrop. The Freebirds regroup again, and Hayes finally punches Pillman to block a rollup, and Pillman is YOUR face in peril. He takes a beating on the floor, and then does his trademark railing bump, which commentator Terry Funk gleefully notes “should ugly him up a little bit.” Back in, Garvin gets a knee for two, and Hayes bulldogs him. Instead of covering, he brings Garvin back in, and Garvin stupidly goes up and gets dropkicked off as a result. Hot tag Zenk, who powerslams Hayes and Garvin and gives them a double bodypress for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Zenk is left alone, but heel miscommunication allows Zenk to get the pin and the titles.
(Zenk & Pillman d. The Freebirds, Zenk bodypress — pin Garvin, 9:03, **1/2) Perfectly acceptable tag wrestling, although the tag title loss to the Midnight Express at Capital Combat 1990 was like 18 levels of awesome above this and should have been included instead.
Back to the promos again, as we finish with the Flare For The Old skit from 1993 (with Pillman playing Flair by wearing a mop on his head) and a feature from 1995 WCW TV about his life.
So it’s a good documentary, although they did skirt around the drug issues a little bit and didn’t really go into the politics and bullshit from his WCW run as much as you’d like. But hey, one **** match on the first disc with many more to come on the second isn’t half bad thus far. Stay tuned for the second part, as I cover the other disc of matches, many of which rule.