The Styles Files: The Loose Cannon
Once again, it is time to look into my personal collection of photos - some dating back to before the birth of the Original ECW in 1993 - for The Styles Files.
In the mid-1990s, wrestlers like Steve Austin and Mick Foley were first underutilized in WCW and then either fired or they simply quit out of frustration. In 1996, Brian Pillman found himself in this very position and made a handful of appearances in ECW before signing with WWE.
To try and break through the clutter that was the WCW talent roster, Brian Pillman abandoned his all-American, clean cut, Flyin' Brian persona and became the Loose Cannon (a term I borrowed when I quit WWE Monday Night RAW on May 1 of this year). Brian started this transformation during an "I Quit" Match against one of my all-time favorites, Kevin Sullivan. At one point during the match, Brian simply quit wrestling and said to Sullivan, "I quit, Booker Man." "Booker" is the antiquated pro wrestling term we used to use for the matchmaker, which Sullivan was for WCW at the time in addition to being a wrestler (always a recipe for failure by the way). So in essence, in the middle of a live televised wrestling match, Brian Pillman convinced fans and WCW co-workers alike that he was crazy by seemingly exposing what went on "behind the curtains" of the sports-entertainment business.
My problem with what Brian was doing is that he never let up with his crazy act, even when he was not on camera. In the Original ECW, we didn't have a state-of-the-art production facility like WWE has. ECW was produced in the finished basement of the home belonging to the parents of one of our two camera men/editors/producers, Ron Buffone. One morning, following one of our infamous all night, sleep deprivating, life sucking, production marathons, Mr. and Mrs. Buffone (who are two of the sweetest and loveliest people I have ever known), discovered that Brian had deficated on the floor, rather than in the toilet. Obviously, Brian was trying to convince of all of us in ECW that he was indeed crazy. The problem was, all of us who worked for ECW were actually somewhat crazy and thus, saw through Brian's act...and were outraged. Brian had actually crapped on the floor of the Buffone house and justice would have to be dealt swiftly and with Extreme prejudice. Who would get the contract? Tazz, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, The Sandman? The ECW inner circle was salivating.
However, something then happened which quickly transcended petty sports-entertainment grudges and immediately saw Pillman embraced once again by ECW as Brian Pillman had a near fatal auto accident. Brian continued to make appearances for ECW as a crazy, wheelchair-bound villian with dozens of pins and screws protruding from his reconstructed leg (that is when this photo was taken). Shortly after his leg was healed (or so we all thought), Brian Pillman signed with WWE and was the focal point of some of WWE's most memorable television moments with the likes of Steve Austin and Bret Hart.
Unfortunately, Brian's injuries were so severe that he really should not have returned to the wrestling ring at all, and soon, he was forced to end what was on track to be a Hall of Fame career. Brian certainly could have remained with WWE as an on-camera, must-see TV personality but fate had other plans for Brian Pillman.
In my humble opinion, Brian Pillman was one of the most well rounded and innovative performers sports-entertainment has ever had and I am honored to have worked with him in ECW.
The Loose Cannon on DVD: Who is Brian Pillman?
Styles Files on Heyman