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This Week in Wrestling: The Death of Brian Pillman

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On October 5, 1997, the wrestling world lost Brian Pillman. Known to many by his aliases, Flyin’ Brian and later ‘The Loose Cannon’, Pillman had a storied career spanning nearly every major wrestling promotion of the 1990’s. After getting his start in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, Pillman quickly made his way to WCW where he became well-known for his acrobatic in-ring style. He was somewhat successful in this role becoming a fan favorite to many, mostly attributed to his exciting move set.

After Pillman turned heel, he ditched the “Flyin Brian” character and teamed up with another superstar on the rise in Steve Austin. The team would become known as The Hollywood Blondes and quickly rose through the ranks to become one of WCW’s hottest teams, even going so far as to feud with The Four Horsemen.

Pillman’s true claim to wrestling fame came later in 1997 when he developed a character known as The Loose Cannon. Catering to the more “knowledgeable insider” fan, he would utilize the worked shoot to sheer brilliance, causing even the wrestlers themselves to question whether Pillman was playing a character or genuinely out of his mind. He played this character across 3 different promotions; WCW, ECW, and WWF. Some of Pillman’s most famous moments as The Loose Cannon include: threatening to “whip out his johnson” and urinate in the ECW ring, the time he wrestled a giant pencil, and this list would be incomplete without mentioning ‘Pillman’s got a gun’.

Pillman suffered a leg injury that limited his in-ring ability for the remainder of his career, though he tried against all odds to compete in the ring regardless of his setback. Sadly, Pillma, was found dead in his hotel room on October 5, 1997. He was only 35. The official cause of death was attributed to a heart attack brought on by: an undiagnosed heart condition, cocaine found in his system, and other illegally prescribed supplements given to Pillman to help with his injury.

There’s not much to be said about Pillman’s legacy that hasn’t already been said a million times. He was a great in-ring wrestler with a mind for the business that came 20 years too late. Luckily for fans, such as myself, who weren’t alive or a part of the viewing audience when Pillman was in his prime now have the privilege of seeing these moments in their entirety on the WWE network. On a lighter note, Pillman’s son Brian Pillman Jr has recently begun training to become a professional wrestler with the goal of continuing in his fathers footsteps.

Christian is an avid wrestling fan who began watching in the summer of 2001. His passion for the business starts and ends with the history of the sport. He loves holding discussions with fellow fans about their opinions on events in wresting history spanning all promotions and time periods. He currently has plans to co-host a podcast with fellow FightBoothPW contributor Brandon Miller (@brandonpsmc). If anyone would like to reach Christian, they can email him at cwaughh16@gmail.com or his Twitter account @cdubb106

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