Brian William Pillman (May 22, 1962 – October 5, 1997) was an American Football player and Professional Wrestler from Cincinnati, Ohio who competed primarily for WCW from 1989 until 1996. He debuted in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion in 1986. He made his American debut in 1989 for WCW as "Flyin'" Brian Pillman. He and Tom Zenk defeated the Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin) for the NWA United States Tag Team Titles by winning a tournament. He defeated Richard Morton at WCW Halloween Havoc 91 to become the inaugural WCW World Light Heavyweight Champion, and would lose the title to Jushin Thunder Liger in December and regain it in February. He was a Face up until he turned in September 1992. This led to him forming the Hollywood Blondes with "Stunning" Steve Austin in early 1993. They would defeat Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas for the WCW World Tag Team Titles and held them until WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV. Pillman was injured and so WCW simply plugged Lord Steven Regal into Pillman's place for the match where the Blondes lost the titles to Arn Anderson and Paul Roma. Pillman got stuck in the midcard until he, Ric Flair and Arn reformed the Four Horsemen after Halloween Havoc 95, with Chris Benoit as the fourth member.
In early 1996, the Horsemen started a feud with the Dungeon of Doom. This led to the infamous Pillman-Kevin Sullivan Worked Shoot "I respect you, bookerman!" incident at WCW SuperBrawl VI, which was Pillman's final match in WCW. Right after this, he went on TV and cut a promo about how he wanted to be released from his contract. The whole angle, fully planned out by Sullivan and Pillman, had required them to work everyone, including the office, and it ended up working out too well, since, by the time Sullivan realized that the office wasn't in on the joke, Pillman had his release.
He had made one appearance in ECW, teaming with Shane Douglas in a losing effort against Ron Simmons and 2 Cold Scorpio in 1994. At ECW CyberSlam 96, February 17, 1996, he made his surprise return, claiming that WCW boss Eric Bischoff had fired him and, after getting the ECW fans on his side, completely turned on them, burying them as Smart Marks, then questioning the term itself, asking "What's a Smart Mark? A mark with a high IQ?"
Pillman jumped to WWE in the summer and mostly did commentary as he recovered from a bad ankle injury sustained in a car crash. As part of Austin's feud with Bret Hart, Austin infamously demolished Pillman's ankle by wrapping a chair around it and then using a second chair to hit the ankle and the first chair, leading to the invention of the term "Pillmanizing". Pillman later joined Bret's heel faction the Hart Foundation. This led to his feud with Goldust, which would, ultimately, be his final feud. He passed away on October 5, 1997 from a heart attack, the night of WWF in Your House: Badd Blood, where he was scheduled to face Dude Love (Mick Foley), in a match where, if Dude won, Goldust would get five minutes with Pillman.
"The Ticking Trope Bomb":
- Arch-Enemy: Kevin Sullivan in WCW, Stone Cold Steve Austin in WWF.
- Catchphrase: The Hollywood Blonds would end their promos by saying, "Your brush with greatness is over."
- Charlie Brown from Outta Town: The Yellow Dog, in summer 1991. At WCW Clash of the Champions XV, there was a Loser Leaves WCW match with Pillman and El Gigante vs. Arn Anderson and Barry Windham, stemming from how Sid had legitimately injured Pillman in the War Games match at WCW WrestleWar 91. Pillman lost the fall, and this gimmick was the result.
- Dented Iron: His accumulated injuries became very apparent near the end.
- Finishing Move: Flying bodypress, Air Pillman (Flying clothesline)
- Guttural Growler: Spoke with a noticeable rasp due to multiple childhood bouts with throat polyps, including an emergency tracheotomy.
- Mad Eye: Just look at the second picture.
- Obfuscating Insanity: The "Loose Cannon" persona, which was apparently very close to his real self, was a way for him to stay on TV even though he wasn't actively competing much due to his accumulated injuries.
- Parts Unknown: (As the Yellow Dog): "The Kennel Club."
- Person as Verb: To "Pillmanise" someone, involving trapping their knee with a steel chair and stomping on it, was named after him when Stone Cold Steve Austin famously did it to him.
- Power Stable:
- The Quisling: He was one of two Americans (alongside Jim Neidhart) in the Hart Foundation.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: At King of the Ring 1996, he said "I'm gonna rape, pillage and plunder this entire federation!"
- Red Baron: "Flyin'", "The Loose Cannon," "The Rogue Horseman," "The Ticking Time Bomb"
- Sanity Slippage: Just compare the two pictures. Even if he was obfuscating, something very significant happened between the first picture and the second.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Did this in his promos sometimes. In the promo in which he and Arn Anderson inducted Chris Benoit into the 4 Horsemen, he ranted about how Sting "regaled his obsequious lapdogs."
- Slasher Smile: Look at the second picture.
- Tag Team:
- (in Stampede): Bad Company, with Bruce Hart
- (in WCW): The Hollywood Blondes
- Troll: Oh yeah. From the "I respect you, bookerman!" incident to saying "It's all just a work...I'm not really the loose cannon" in ECW, few could truly work those who thought they couldn't be fooled as well as Pillman did.
- Wrestling Family: His son Brian Zachary, wrestling as Brian Pillman Jr., entered Lance Storm's school in 2017, debuted in CZW in early 2018, and by the end of the year moved to MLW. When the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down MLW, they let him work for AEW during MLW's hiatus where he tags with Griff Garrison as "The Varsity Blondes" as a tribute to his father and he eventually formally signed with them in 2021; he also works some indy shows. The elder Brian would have been the founder of a wrestling family years earlier, but his stepdaughter Lexi, who debuted as a valet in 2008, died in a car accident in 2009.