Flyin’ Off the Handle: The Planned Brian Pillman Programs that Never Happened

Brian Damage

Injuries prevented WWE fans from getting to see the real Brian Pillman when he joined the company in the mid-90s. It was in the WCW that Pillman really hit the heights of his wrestling career. Today on the blog, we look at several planned storylines that never materialised.

Brian Pillman went by many different nicknames during his wrestling career. Whether it was “Flyin’,” “Loose Cannon” or “The Ticking Time Bomb,” Pillman made the best out of every one of his gimmicks. Promoters and bookers had, at times, a love-hate relationship with Pillman. Especially, towards the end of his life when the lines between fiction and reality with him were blurred.

The genius that was Brian Pillman had every wrestling promotion wanting him. So many plans were made for him in different organizations…but an unfortunate accident and his untimely death changed those plans and they never occurred. On October 5th, 1997, Brian Pillman died in his sleep before the WWF’s ‘Bad Blood’ pay per view. His death was indeed a shock and left a void throughout the wrestling world. Today, we look at some of the proposed angles and storylines that were planned for Brian Pillman in WCW, ECW and the WWF during the time when Pillman was the hottest free agent in pro wrestling…

In 1991, while in WCW, there was the idea of Pillman forming a tag team with newcomer Owen Hart. The tag team was to be called ‘Wings’ due to both wrestlers being high flyers. The team was put on hold for weeks because Pillman was nursing some injuries. The decision was ultimately made to keep Pillman a singles competitor and build a light heavyweight division around him.

Owen Hart stayed with WCW for just a brief time after that and mainly wrestled against preliminary talent. Hart left WCW and returned to the WWF while Brian Pillman went on to become the inaugural WCW Light Heavyweight Champion.

In 1996, Pillman was beginning his “Loose Cannon” gimmick in WCW as a member of the Four Horsemen. As Pillman’s character was slowly descending into madness, Arn Anderson was finding it harder and harder to keep him controlled. It eventually led Arn to slap Pillman across the face live on Monday Nitro in front of everybody. It was supposed to be the catalyst to a much bigger storyline within WCW.

The plan was for Pillman to splinter off from the Four Horsemen led by Arn and Ric Flair and start his own Horsemen group. A younger group of Horsemen that would consist of Chris Benoit and rumors of guys like Steven Regal and possibly Chris Jericho. The two Horsemen factions would then feud for the rights to the Horsemen name and legacy. Of course, that never came to be, because Pillman wound up convincing Eric Bischoff to “fire” him to make his gimmick more believable.

While working his loose cannon gimmick, Pillman showed up on ECW television in February of ’96. Pillman would tear into Eric Bischoff in a worked shoot but then turned on the ECW fans and its roster of wrestlers. The idea was to set up a feud between Brian Pillman and ‘The Franchise’ Shane Douglas. Everything was set up for a match to take place between the two, but in real life, Pillman fell asleep behind the wheel of his jeep and got into a very serious car accident.

Pillman was ejected from his vehicle because he was not wearing a seat belt and that was said to have saved his life. He completely destroyed his ankle in the crash and suffered several other internal injuries as well. Pillman would be in a coma for over a week before waking up. His match with Shane Douglas never came to be.

Brian Pillman eventually went and signed a guaranteed contract with the WWF. His career was totally changed from a high flyer to a more ground game wrestler. His final feud was against Goldust as we have touched on in greater detail in another post. The end result was to have Goldust wife Marlena turn heel and become Pillman’s valet/manager. Sadly, Pillman died before any of that came to fruition.

A few of these ideas were really fascinating to me. A high flying tag team with Owen Hart, a Four Horsemen group led by Pillman, a feud with Shane Douglas in ECW and a heel Marlena with her real-life ex-boyfriend Brian Pillman. Who knows how any of these ideas would shape out if they went through with them. One thing is for sure, Brian Pillman was the right kind of man to pull them all off.

One thought on “Flyin’ Off the Handle: The Planned Brian Pillman Programs that Never Happened

  1. Those ideas all sure sound good to me too, especially a Pillman-led Horsemen group. I guess a version of this minus Pillman did eventually happen in WCW with the Radicalz.

    Pillman was just never the same after that jeep accident, which really hindered Pillman’s true potential had he been able to retain his high-flying style. As others have said, had he been 100% healthy, or close to it, I don’t see why he couldn’t have had a program with Austin during his first championship run.

    Liked by 2 people

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