Due to the unexpected death of Brian Pillman I have rearranged the schedule on Ervin Griffin's Sting History in order to run the following article which highlights the career of "The Loose Cannon". The Sting articles will continue after this three part series is finished. Solie's Vintage Wrestling wishes to extend to the Pillman family our heartfelt condolences on their tragic loss.
"Fly On Brian": The Story Of Brian Pillman
by Ervin Griffin Jr. and Matt Benaka
On October 5, 1997, Brian Pillman (known to wrestling fans as "Flyin' Brian", "Air Pillman", and "The Loose Cannon") was found in his hotel room dead on the afternoon of In Your House: Bad Blood. In this short series, I will try to recap and recall a great career that was Brian Pillman's.
His career began in 1987 in the Calgery Stampede area. He was playing football for the Calgary League but shoulder injuries forced him to retire. He somehow met with some members of the Hart family and they convinced him to try wrestling. With Stu Hart as his trainer, Brian began wrestling in 1987 with great success. He would often team with Bruce Hart as "Bad Company." I have never seen them in action but I have it on good authority that they were pretty tough. They would enjoy two reigns as Stampede International Tag Team Champions between late 1987-until sometime in 1988.
Moving onto 1989, Brian felt it was time to leave Stampede and seek his fortune elsewhere. In the spring of 1989, he entered the NWA and was well recieved. After a series of impressive wins during the summer, Pillman boldly challenged then-NWA US Champion Lex Luger for a match at Halloween Havoc '89: Settling The Score. Many people (including yours truly) didn't give Pillman much of a chance against the man that was (and still is IMO) the most awesome US Champion of all time but Pillman nearly defeated Luger. In fact, Luger was one the run, at least, twice during the match. But Luger, being more experienced, used an old Eddie Gilbert manuvear to down Pillman. Still, it was a sign of a star on the rise.
In early 1990, Pillman began competing in tag matches again. This time, his partner was Tom "Z-Man" Zenk (older fans might remember his tag team with Rick Martel as The Can-Am Connection in the mid-80's). The team entered a tournament for the NWA United States Tag Team Titles. They made it to the finals against The Freebirds (Michael Hayes/Jim Garvin) and scored an upset for the titles. They would reign as champs from January 1990 until May 19, 1990 when The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton/Stan Lane) defeated them in Washington, DC. After this loss, Pillman and Zenk would only team occasionally. Pillman would also find himself in one feud after another the following year. He feuded with Sid Vicious and Barry Windham for most of 1991 until he entered a tourney for the WCW Light-Heavyweight Title. He won that tournament by defeating Rick Morton at Halloween Havoc '91 in Chattanooga, TN. Pillman would go on to a classic feud with Jushin "Thunder" Liger over this championship. Liger won the title on December 26, 1991 in Atlanta, GA but Pillman would regain the title on February 29, 1992 in Milwalkee, WI at SuperBrawl II. Pillman would remain champion until June of 1992 when Scotty Flamingo (aka Raven) defeated him for the title.
After this loss, Pillman would show signs of a possible heel change. A change that I will cover next time.
If you would like to speak to Matt or myself about this article, Matt's e-mail address is email@example.com while mine is firstname.lastname@example.org
Still Playing: Run, Blade Runner, Run: The Story Of Sting
Coming Soon: Diary Of A "HitMan"
Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis. Many of his previous articles are available in the
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