Growing up in South Carolina I watched a lot of WCW as a kid. I can still hear the “tune in at 6:05 on superstation TBS.” One of the most underrated wrestlers of all time, in my opinion, is Brian Pillman. Whether in WCW with Steve Austin or Tom Zenk as a tag team or as a singles star facing off against Jushin Thunder Liger. Pillman delivered in every character he played as well as in the ring every time he set foot into it. I was hesitant to write about Pillman after Owen but I was asked to write the Brian Pillman chapter after someone read the Owen Hart chapter. So here we are a few months prior to Bret Hart leaving the WWF on October 5th, 1997 the night of In Your House: Badd Blood Brian Pillman didn’t make it to the building for his match against Dude Love. Instead, he was found dead in his hotel room and on a night that already saw a five star classic for the main event you wonder how much better it could have been if we got Brian Pillman vs. Mick Foley on the undercard. I now deliver to you the “what if” chapter of Brian Pillman.
Instead of Pillman having his unfortunate passing that night what if he made it to the building and was able to overcome his addictions. On this night at In Your House: Badd Blood he would have taken on Dude Love in the undercard of this PPV. Pillman had lots of injuries in his WWF run which many believe ultimately led to his unfortunate passing. The month prior Pillman had defeated Goldust at In Your House: Ground Zero, however, their rivalry was in full force. Remember this feud had included Marlena becoming Pillman’s personal property for thirty days as well as eluding that he was the father of their daughter and weeks of sexually inferred nights with Marlena. This feud was intense however Pillman was scheduled in a match against Dude Love with Goldust being handcuffed to the ring post so that he could not interfere. Here Goldust would have gotten out of the handcuffs and Goldust would cost Pillman the win against Dude Love and the feud would have continued.
According to Terri Runnels herself, the original idea after was to have a wedding angle on Raw with Goldust and Marlena coming back together. During the wedding when it was announced “If anyone see’s why these two shouldn’t be joined together speak now” and Pillman would have returned and left Goldust a bloody mess. With Marlena now pronouncing her undying love for Pillman and leaving with him in a blood-soaked dress. While I didn’t have it written this way watching this feud back it certainly makes sense that Marlena would now join Pillman as the next night Goldust and Marlena split anyway and Marlena started managing Val Venis weeks later.
Survivor Series 1997 which has already been talked about in the first chapter of the book in regards to Bret Hart is where we are now. Which would have seen the absolute finality of this feud with Pillman defeating Goldust in a no disqualification match. In this match, we would have seen Goldust absolutely destroy Pillman during the match as well as getting some revenge on Marlena. Marlena would probably hit Goldust with a low blow. Ultimately Pillman would have found a way to pick-up the victory after a ruthless match in Montreal. This would lead to Goldust moving on and becoming “The Artist Formally Known As” Goldust and Pillman moving on from him as well.
In Your House: Degeneration X would have been up next and leading up to the event they had a Light Heavyweight Title tournament to crown the first-ever WWF Light Heavyweight Champion. This was in response of course to the popular Cruiserweight division in WCW that was helping WCW kick WWF’s butts in the ratings every week. Knowing this and knowing Pillman, who had worked the Light Heavyweight style in the past, was now an established gimmick with Marlena. I believe Pillman would have gone to face Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Championship at the PPV and could have possibly stolen the show. While the WWF division never fully got off the ground I believe it was due to a poor foundation with Taka and Brian Christopher being the first real feud of the division. Here Marlena would have interfered in the match and helped Pillman become the inaugural Light Heavyweight Champion.
Now with an established star in Pillman anchoring the Light Heavyweight Division, we would roll into the Royal Rumble PPV where of course Steve Austin would be winning the rumble match. At this PPV we would see both Taka and Pillman in the Royal Rumble match however not in a singles match for the title. Pillman would eliminate Taka after Marlena would distract him from the outside and Pillman would go on to be eliminated by Steve Austin towards the end of the rumble match.
After the Royal Rumble Pillman would refuse to give Taka another shot at the title because he hasn’t earned that shot. Week after week Pillman would defeat other Light Heavyweights on Raw to prove his dominance over the division. However, would not give Taka the title shot because he has already beaten Taka. Pillman would oblige that if Taka could beat Brian Christopher at the No Way Out of Texas PPV he would grant Taka a title shot. At No Way Out of Texas Taka would go on to defeat Brian Christopher to become number one contender while Pillman would sit at the commentary table and then attack Taka after the match.
Leading up to Wrestlemania Marlena would lead Taka on to believe that she is actually in love with him. However, Pillman actually being behind it all along and trying to use her to get into Taka’s head, so that he would be distracted for his match against Pillman. This would go on for the entirety of the Wrestlemania build and now the stage is set Wrestlmania Brian Pillman vs. Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Title. These two guys could have certainly put on the match of the night and certainly the best Light Heavyweight match the WWF would have seen to date. Pillman would call for Marlena’s interference however she would not interfere and Taka would hit the Michinoku driver on Pillman defeating him to win the Light Heavyweight championship.
The next night on Raw we would see a rematch for the Light Heavyweight Championship and Taka would defeat Pillman clean. After the match, Pillman would be upset that Marlena left ringside and demand that she come back out only for her to return with Val Venis. This would lead to a Val Venis and Pillman feud centered on Marlena. Of course, Pillman would ultimately lose at Unforgiven: In Your House against Val Venis. I don’t see this being a long feud, rather this be a feud to help Val Venis become further established and get a big win over a proven star. Also, I think at this time Bret Hart, Bulldog, and others would have been reaching out to Pillman and trying to bring him over to WCW.
From there I could honestly see Pillman packing his bags and heading back to WCW, the company would have certainly been in some need for firepower once the Austin train left the station. Also the mid-card would have been loaded with HHH, Owen Hart, The Rock, and Ken Shamrock and the main event picture would have had Austin, Undertaker, Mankind, and Kane. Pillman likely would have been lured back to WCW with a nice guaranteed contract as Pillman was a guy who was about the money and he had a gimmick he could step right back into in WCW. Also, Pillman would have had a better opportunity in WCW where he could have worked with guys like DDP, Raven, Booker T, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero and not be seen as below them.
This concludes chapter three: The Loose Cannon. I’m sure of the three chapters that have been written to this point this will be the most controversial as it doesn’t bring Pillman into the main event ever. While the other two see much happier heights Pillman wouldn’t see the success that Owen Hart would have seen in WWF in the year 2000 or Bret Hart would have seen in this same year. So as always send me your comments, your feedback and your ideas for what you believe would have happened. As always reach out to me @awesomephinatic and let me know who you would like to see next. Until next time be awesome.