Wrestler of the Day – April 13: Brian Pillman

Today we’re looking at someone who was way ahead of their time: Brian Pillman.

 

Brian started as a football player and spent some time in the Canadian Football League in Calgary. When his career ended, Pillman got into wrestling under Stu Hart. He started in Stampede Wrestling and here’s a sample from I believe 1987.

Brian Pillman vs. Jason the Terrible

Jason is a BIZARRE character in a Jason Vorhees mask whose handler talked about the stars and cosmos and astrology. It was incredibly effective and the guy was one of the top heels in the territory for a nice run in the late 80s. We’re joined five minutes in with Jason in control and dropping Pillman with a hard headbutt. Brian tries to fight back but runs into a hard clothesline as the announcers talk about how a rookie like Pillman shouldn’t have lasted this long.

A falling headbutt puts Pillman in even more trouble and a jumping back elbow drops him again for two. Jason misses a top rope splash and Brian hits that perfect dropkick of his followed by a cross body for two. Another dropkick to the back of the head puts Jason on the floor and sets up a BIG plancha from Pillman. Back inside and it turns into a brawl until the referee throws it out.

Rating: C. Jason wasn’t going to be anything big long term but he could have been a great monster ala the original incarnation of Kane. The promos were FAR better than the matches but Jason getting the title would have helped him out a lot. That and the fact that this was in Stampede where things were as basic as possible a lot of the time, making this WAY out of their comfort zone.

Brian was quickly in the NWA as Flyin Brian. One of his first big matches was at Clash of the Champions VIII.

Flyin Brian vs. Norman the Lunatic

Brian Pillman comes out with the University of South Carolina cheerleaders and starts fast with a quick suplex on the nearly 400lb Norman. The springboard clothesline puts Norman down on the floor and Brian hits a nice dive off the top. Back inside and Brian goes after the keys that freak Norman out, causing Norman to jump him from behind. A middle rope splash gets two on Brian and Norman slaps his overly large stomach.

Brian rolls outside and gets crushed against the post but avoids a second charge to get a breather. Back in and a missile dropkick puts Norman on his back. Brian actually slams and backdrops Norman down, only to have his cross body get caught in a powerslam for two. Norman whips him in but Pillman comes back with a crucifix for the pin out of nowhere.

Rating: B+. This match wasn’t even four minutes long but had more action than matches four times that long. Brian looked awesome out there with his high flying and Norman looked FAR better than you would expect a guy of his size to be capable of. Absolutely awesome match with some great action.

Pillman would get a shot at the US Title at Halloween Havoc and come up just short against champion Lex Luger in an awesome match. Here’s their also awesome rematch from Clash IX.

US Title: Brian Pillman vs. Lex Luger

Lex is defending. These two had a great match at Halloween Havoc so this has a lot of potential. Ross brings up another Iron Man tournament at Starrcade consisting of Luger, Sting, Flair and Muta. Those two tournaments would be the entire card for the show. Lex is by far the stronger of the two but Brian shoves him away to show off his own power to start. They run the ropes a bit before two dropkicks send Luger to the floor for a breather.

Back in and the champion takes him into the corner before hammering away with right hands. Brian jumps over him in the corner and knocks Luger right back to the floor. Luger stalls a lot but Brian chops away and surprises Luger by skinning the cat. A spinwheel kick puts Luger down again and he has no idea what to do. Pillman gets a close two off a missile dropkick and he wraps Luger’s arm around the post. He sends it into the barricade as well before putting on a wristlock in the ring.

Luger sends him into the corner and comes back with a belly to back suplex using the good arm before easily gorilla pressing Brian down. Another gorilla press slam drops Pillman on his face and Luger sends him to the floor. Lex stays on the back with a powerslam for two and a second powerslam stops Brian’s comeback bid. Pillman gets up with pure guts and fires off chops to take over. A high cross body drops Luger but also takes the referee down, meaning there’s no count. Luger uses the distraction to blast Brian in the head with a chair for the pin to retain.

Rating: B. Another solid match here with Pillman’s speed and guts messing with Luger’s game plan and keeping him off balance. Power vs. speed is one of the few combinations that is going to work almost every single time and Pillman was as fast as anyone in wrestling at this point.

Pillman would get some gold as he and the Z-Man teamed up to win the United States Tag Team Titles. Here’s a defense from WrestleWar 1990.

US Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Brian Pillman/Z-Man

The Birds are challenging here. They get sent to the floor immediately and the champs steal their clothes and dance around as Badstreet plays in the background. Funny moment. The crowd is all over the Birds. They weren’t much in the ring but they were heat machines. Today is Flair’s birthday according to JR. We finally get going with Brian vs. Hayes. Brian knocks him around with a clothesline and Garvin fluffs his hair.

Speaking of Garvin here he is and he gets Z-Man. Z takes him down with a headlock but misses a dropkick. Garvin, ever the Rhodes Scholar, ducks his head and gets kicked in the face. Back to Brian for another headlock. Hayes comes back in and things are going slowly to start, implying that they have a lot of time to work with. Sunset flip with a great jump gets two for Pillman.

Z-Man works on the arm and goes into a Fujiwar Armbar to Hayes. Back to Garvin who loses any advantage that Hayes had gotten on Z-Man. Pillman comes in as the fans seem a bit distracted. Hayes comes in and hooks a sleeper (sleep hold according to Ross) as JR talks about Paul Boesch, the promoter of Houston Wrestling for decades, demonstrating this hold in the second World War.

Brian escapes and sends him into the corner but charges into a great left hand to put him down. Brian rolls through a cross body for two. Back to Garvin as this is going a lot longer than I was expecting it to go. Since Garvin can’t manage to keep Brian in one place he makes the tag to Z-Man. Z-Man puts the Z Lock (sleeper) on Hayes but Garvin comes off the top for the save.

Garvin hooks a chinlock as this match has gone well over fifteen minutes so far. Now they mix things up with a Hayes chinlock. After 18 minutes, we’re told this is a rematch from the finals of the tournament where Z-Man and Pillman won the titles in the first place. Z-Man gets a small package for two. Hayes is like enough of that and goes back to the chinlock. JR thinks Hayes looks like Alice Cooper. Terry wants to know if Hayes knows who Buffalo Bill is.

Hayes goes up and kind of steps off with no significant contact being made. Back to Garvin as this needs to end really soon. Who decided to give the Birds over twenty minutes? Top rope fist gets two for Hayes after a non-tag. Bulldog gets two as Pillman breaks it up. Back to the chinlock #4 but Zenk drops him with a DDT of his own.
There’s the tag to Pillman and the fans care more than I expected them to. Pillman cleans house but Hayes brings in a title but Pillman comes off the top with a cross body as the title is being taken out to retain the titles.

Rating: D. Technically the match was fine but MY GOODNESS this ran long. It clocks in at almost twenty four minutes which is just far too long. Pillman and Zenk can easily go that long but the Birds were already through their whole set of stuff at about 10 minutes in. The solution of course? Go 14 minutes past that. WAY too long and if you cut this to like 12 minutes it’s probably an okish match.

We’ll skip Pillman’s time teaming with Sting and company to face the Horsemen and get to early 1992 and an incredible series of matches against Jushin Thunder Liger. This is considered one of the best matches ever in WCW. From SuperBrawl II.

Light Heavyweight Title: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Pillman

This title is famous for two things: A guy named Scotty Flamingo holding it (he would change his name to Raven in about a year and a half) and this match. This match is considered to be right up there with Bret and Owen as the best PPV opener of all time. You have to keep in mind that the styles here were just not seen at this time. Everything was mat work and a clothesline off the top was a big time move.

If you know anything about these two, you know what’s coming. They start very fast and hot before slowing it down a bit but you can tell the fans are noticing them. They mention that K. Allen Frey is the WCW President at this time. This was his first and only PPV as he was let go because he was making good TV shows. They were far more exciting and fast paced, and since no one wants to be excited, Frey was out and Bill Watts came in.

His best idea was this: if you work hard, you get a bonus. Seriously, THAT was considered a bad idea. Everything was about cost cutting back then, as they even got rid of the mats at ringside, It also produced some of the most boring wrestling of all time, but hey, who cares that buyrates and attendance were both down? WE ARE SAVING MONEY!!!

They hit a leglock for a few seconds and then are like screw this nonsense. They pop up and Liger runs at the corner and hits a moonsault to get a big OOO from the crowd. Two months after this that would have ended the match on a DQ as top rope moves were banned. Apparently the leglock that had them chanting boring isn’t as intriguing as a moonsault followed by a dropkick. What do they know?

They’re just the people buying tickets to the shows. Liger sets for the Surfboard and the crowd reacts to it huge. For 5000 people, this crowd is awesome. We get a George Michael’s Sports Machine reference. He passed away on Christmas Eve. Without him, you likely wouldn’t have SportsCenter.

Pillman misses a knee and Liger works on the knee to give us some psychology. And note: it’s the knee he worked on earlier, giving us some continuity. He throws on a figure four to a great pop. They get into a big slap fight which is amusing. Crowd is WAY into this. Pillman goes to the floor thank to Jushin and Liger jumps to the top and puts him down with a sweet looking front flip. Pillman comes back in with a springboard clothesline after they fight over a suplex on the apron. Brian follows that up by suplexing Liger over the top to the floor. This is very high impact and fast paced. Now they’re just throwing out the high spots which works well as a contrast to the leg work. It’s turned into a high spot match and that’s fine.

Like I said, you have to remember that this kind of thing is just completely unheard of as no one has ever seen anything close to this. Pillman hits a hurricanrana and then a DDT. The pace is just ridiculous for the time. Liger misses a top rope splash after a suplex and Pillman does a weird pinning combination for the title. More or less he looked like he was going for a camel clutch but hooked his feet under Liger’s arms and rolls over so that Liger goes with him and then bridges back for the pin. He raises Liger’s hand afterwards and they share the standing ovation.

Rating: A+. EPIC match. This was just completely off the charts compared to what people were used to. These two worked their themselves to death and had a classic. After about ten minutes of this seventeen minute match, they just went completely nuts out there and were flying all over the place.

Later in the year Pillman would turn heel and not like respect that much. Who better to beat respect into him than Ricky Steamboat?

Ricky Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman

This should be awesome. Pillman is a heel here and would hook up with Steve Austin soon. The fans have no problem cheering for Steamboat so the crowd is back to normal. Steamboat chops him to start and hits a shoulder for two. Pillman throws him over the ropes but that doesn’t work on the Dragon. Steamboat plays possum and rams Pillman’s face into the mat to take over. Dragon busts out the armdrag/bar combination and takes over.

Pillman gets backdropped and slammed a few times, so he pokes Steamboat in the eyes to take over. See? Being evil does pay off. Steamboat is like screw this getting beaten up and chokes Pillman over his head. Brian blasts him in the back of the head when Steamboat has his back turned to take over. The headscissors gets two for Pillman and he chokes away a bit on the ropes. The Dragon blocks a superplex but jumps into a dropkick for two.

Pillman is getting frustrated because he can’t put Steamboat down so Ricky hits a Russian legsweep to put both guys down. There’s a sleeper and the Dragon is in trouble. Steamboat falls into the corner to ram Brian’s head into the buckle to escape. Pillman starts running but he catches Steamboat coming back in with a knee lift. A cross body off the middle rope gets two for Pillman. Steamboat goes up and hits a top rope sunset flip for two. Pillman counters but Steamboat counters the counter into a sunset flip for the pin.

Rating: B. This is what you call a fast paced wrestling match between a talented face and a talented heel. To put it short, the idea worked. They worked very well together as you would expect them too, with both guys looking crisp the whole way through and the crowd reacting well to it. Good stuff here indeed.

Pillman and Steamboat’s feud would continue, albeit with partners. From Slamboree 1993.

Tag Titles: Hollywood Blonds vs. Dos Hombres

This is in a cage. This is one of those angles that is so full of backstory it’s unreal. Ok so who in the world are Dos Hombres. Well they’re “luchadores” in masks. However, they’re introduced as Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas. Now one of them is Steamboat. The other however, isn’t Shane Douglas. It’s actually Tom Zenk. So in other words, we have a guy portraying Shane Douglas portraying a luchador who everyone “knows” is Shane wearing a mask.

Now that probably requires an explanation too. Steamboat and Douglas had been tag team champions and feuded with Brian Pillman/Barry Windham. Windham had to leave for some reason so they substituted in Steve Austin and made the team the Hollywood Blondes. They eventually won the titles and held them for like six months. Oh and these are UNIFIED tag titles, because the NWA thinks people still care about them because the NWA is stupid.

Anyway, the new champs beat the former champs time after time. They were scheduled to face Dos Hombres, some new team from Mexico, in what was supposed to be a squash. However, Dos Hombres started fighting like Douglas and Steamboat to the point that everyone said yeah that’s Steamboat and Douglas. They were even introduced by those names. Anyway, the thing is that Douglas had been fired and in the non-title match it was Brad Armstrong under the mask. In this match which is for the titles, it’s Tom Zenk. Got all that?

Despite this being in a cage they have to tag which gets annoying fast. Steamboat and Austin start but it’s off to Pillman very quickly. Yeah that’s Steamboat. You can tell those chops anywhere. Pillman can’t put him into the cage and there’s an armdrag. Off to “Shane” who is way too skinny to be who he’s portraying. There are two guys in suits that keep getting shown and I don’t know who they are.

Both “Shane” and Austin block head shots to the cage but Austin goes in back first just a bit. Both guys hit the ropes and Austin gets backdropped. Not much of a cage match here but a pretty good wrestling match up to this point. Austin eats cage in the first good shot into it. Back to Steamboat (I think) against Pillman who takes over. Yeah there’s an armdrag so it’s “Shane” who got tagged in.

Gorilla press puts Pillman’s back into the cage. Off to Austin who can’t do much because his back hurts from going into the cage. He gets caught in the Tree of Woe but from the top of the cage instead of the corner. The challengers do the camera thing that the Blondes are known for in a funny bit. Austin gets down and takes over again. I have no idea which Hombre is in there.

Middle rope elbow gets two for the future rattlesnake that has hair here. The Blondes have to hide the use of a towel. In a cage match? Pillman comes in and jumps into a boot to put both guys down. I think that’s “Shane” in there but I’m really not sure. They’re full body suits so you can’t tell them apart at all other than mannerisms. Austin cuts off the tag at the last second and we keep at it.

“Shane” gets a dropkick to send Austin into the cage. Oh yeah that’s a Steamboat shot from the apron. Austin blocks another tag with something like a spinebuster. Larry says that Austin can be a legend if his body holds up. Holy prognostication Larry! Rocket Launcher sends Brian into “Shane’s” ribs and they both down again. There’s the tag to Steamboat who cleans house. Austin tries to hide and there’s the Flair shot from him. You figure out what I mean by that and why the audience laughed at it.

Everything breaks down and Steamboat takes the mask off. He climbs the cage and takes out BOTH Blondes for two with a huge cross body! AWESOME! Even the bell goes off inadvertently and I can’t blame them. Steamboat DDTs Austin for two and does the same to Pillman. Stereo dropkicks get two. In a rushed but kind of sweet ending, the Hombres get the champs in opposite corners and whip them together but Pillman reverses and sends Steamboat into Austin who hits a Stun Gun to retain.

Rating: B. Good match, although I’m really not sure why it was inside a cage. Anyway, the point is that this was solid stuff as the Blondes were totally awesome throughout their entire run so this was pretty much an automatic good match. Zenk is good in the ring but he was in over his head with these guys. The backstory is a mess but it was still a breath of incredibly fresh air after watching the legends go at it for an hour.

The Blonds would defend their belts against a fairly famous combination at Clash XXIII.

Unified Tag Team Titles: Ric Flair/Arn Anderson vs. Hollywood Blonds

This was set up with the Blonds making fun of the challengers with a parody of Flair’s A Flair for the Gold interview segment called A Flair for the Old. The Blonds are defending and this is 2/3 falls. Anderson pulls Pillman down by the hair twice in a row to start before hammering him with left hands to the head. Brian tries to jump over Arn in the corner but gets dropped throat first on the top rope. Austin gets the tag and makes fun of Arn’s gut before walking into an elbow.

The fans want Flair and get what they ask for to a HUGE ovation. Ric comes back with a vengeance and hammers away on Austin in the corner before bringing Pillman in over the top and chopping him in the corner. Arn pulls Austin to the corner and wraps his leg around the post a few times. Ric rips at Austin’s nose and asks who’s the old man now. Austin bails to the floor but takes Flair down to the mat. That goes nowhere at all as Flair comes back with some hard chops in the corner.

Arn comes in again to crank on a wristlock followed by the hammerlock slam. Flair gets another tag and stays on the arm but throws in a forearm to Pillman. Back to Anderson as Ric and Brian nearly get in a fight on the apron. The distraction lets Pillman choke Arn with a towel to take over and the champions are in control. Brian rakes the eyes as well before Austin drives knees into Arn’s back. The Blonds make some quick tags to keep control as the fans want Flair again. Arn clips Austin in the jaw and scores with a DDT to put both guys down.

A double tag brings in Pillman to face Flair, but Brian clipped Arn’s knee right before the tag. Flair hits an atomic drop on Brian and knocks Austin outside with a back elbow. Arn is still down as Austin comes back in for a cheap shot on Flair. Ric doesn’t seem to mind as he sends Austin outside again and hits a quick forearm to Pillman for the pin and the first fall. Buffer messes up and says we have new champions as we go to a break.

Back with Flair going off on Brian in the corner with chops and punches. He knocks Steve off the apron with another chop but Pillman sends Flair out to the floor in a big crash. Steve suplexes him on the floor (once again covered by mats) and Brian rams him into the barricade. We get a Flair Flop on the floor butt Anderson comes over with a chair to chase Austin off. Back in again and Austin superplexes Ric down for a close two. Ric shrugs off some shoulders in the corner and comes back with chops but Austin drops him with a forearm to the back of the head.

Pillman loses a chop battle and they both go down off shoulder blocks. A double tag brings in Anderson whose knee looks fine now. He punches Austin in the ribs and kicks him in the side of the head before getting two off a spinebuster. The Blonds double team again though with Pillman clipping the knee one more time to give Austin two. They stay on the leg with some old Flair tactics but Arn comes back with some headbutts.

Flair shouts encouragement from the apron as Austin takes the leg out again and puts it in a basic hold. Arn tries to crawl to the ropes but Brian makes the save. Pillman puts on a half crab but Arn does a push up to escape. He actually hits an enziguri to take Brian down, only to have Austin drag him back to the corner. Pillman goes up but dives into a boot to the jaw, FINALLY allowing the hot tag to Ric. He comes in and cleans house by throwing Pillman to the floor (the referee was clearly looking at it but doesn’t call a DQ) and setting up the Figure Four on Austin, drawing in Barry Windham for the DQ.

Rating: A-. It’s a very solid match with an old school style to it that the Horsemen could work as well as anyone else. This feud would continue with Paul Roma being substituted for Flair so Ric could go after the World Title. The titles don’t change hands because the deciding fall was on a disqualification rather than a pin or submission.

It’s now back to singles matches as Pillman is facing his old rival Jushin Thunder Liger in the first match ever on Nitro.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Pillman

This is a rematch of a masterpiece that opened SuperBrawl II in 1992. Liger is just coming back from a broken leg so he might be a bit rusty, meaning he’ll be better than 95% of the wrestlers in the world. Naturally, they start off hot with both guys jockeying for position. This is another one of those pairings where it’s hard to mess it up. Eric is pitching the company like no other which is fine here as it might be the first show for a lot of viewers.

Liger gets an early two off a moonsault press and it’s off to an early chinlock. Brian comes back with chops in the corner and a bad looking middle rope hurricanrana for two. We’re two minutes into the match and Mongo and Heenan are already calling each other names. This could be a really long night. We get the surfboard submission from Liger which is a move that I always mark for. Bobby has a great line: “I never go surfing. I always have people do it for me.” I love that. McMichael is trying but he’s just lost out there. For the life of me I have no idea why they thought he was a good idea.

Liger sends Pillman to the floor for a flip dive off the apron and Pillman is in trouble. Pillman comes back with a suplex to the floor and a big cross body off the top to put Jushin down again. Back in and Liger crotches Pillman on the top for a hurricanrana, good for two. These two were WAY ahead of their time out here as the Cruiserweights wouldn’t rise to prominence for over a year.

Jushin goes up again but jumps into a dropkick for two. Not that it matters as he comes back with a powerbomb for a near fall, followed by another hurricanrana for the same result. Brian comes back with a tornado DDT and counters a German suplex into a cradle for the surprise pin.

Rating: B. This is an idea that would work for WCW for years to come: take two talented smaller guys and give them about seven minutes to fly all over the place and ignite the crowd. It sets a good pace for the rest of the night and gives the fans the energy they need as we head into the more important stuff later on.

Less than two weeks later, Pillman would open Fall Brawl 1995 in a #1 contenders match for the US Title.

Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd

This is the number one contender match for the US Title. Badd was constantly opening shows, but this match is special as you’ll soon see. Those Frisbees are really stupid though. His intro takes like 3 minutes after the bell rings, just for him to throw stuff to the fans. Yeah it’s annoying as all goodness. And then Buffer talking about both guys takes even longer. Is wrestling such a hard thing to do?

Pillman gets booed actually. That’s most odd. They feel each other out to start which is a fine way to start so there we are. They start off with some solid stuff which is always a perk. This is a pretty fast paced match so far which is a good sign. Heenan cracks me up by saying that Badd is like Sting’s cocker spaniel because Sting trained him. We have a Bobby the Brain Heenan For President.

Heenan of course bashes him, but says he would appreciate a donation. Heenan is on fire tonight. They go to the mat again which is hurting things a bit. They plug Nitro tomorrow which would be the third show in history. That’s very odd indeed. We go to a wide camera shot which makes sure not to let us see the camera side, which I would bet is about 10% full.

Tony offers some insight by saying the far leg is the leg that is furthest away. Yep I love him too. Pillman goes heel here by throwing a punch. He would soon snap and go full heel but more on that later. Badd gets a weird submission hold where his feet are under Brian’s shoulders and he’s pulling back on his arms. That would hurt like heck I’d think. Brian is getting booed more and more.

See what something simple like just a straight punch can do? Brian hits the floor as this is getting good. A springboard legdrop gets two for Badd. It’s kind of sad that the fans are just wandering around when there’s a solid match going on because that’s what they’re so used to from WCW. That can’t be a good sign. With Badd on the floor we have five minutes to go. The over the top rope rule continues to be changed every show as Badd suplexes him over.

And now he jumps over the top to take Brian out as they crank it up again. Johnny goes for a double axe from the top but jumps into a dropkick with four minutes to go. Brian gets a Tombstone with 3 minutes left. Even the WCW crowd is into this so how much does that tell you about this match?

And we hit an armbar with 2 minutes to go. Ok then. And now Brian does the same. That’s kind of stupid. There’s a minute left and we’re in a rest hold. Yeah that’s brilliant. Badd gets his big punch with 20 seconds left but Brian is in the ropes. A springboard clothesline gets two for Brian and we’re out of time. The fans boo the heck out of that.

BUT WAIT!

There must be a winner, so we go to sudden death! It’s one fall to a finish so the sudden death term is kind of pointless but we get more of a good match so there you are. Heenan has never heard of this. Really? We go to the floor and it’s a slugfest. Badd uses the same dropkick counter on Brian that got used on him earlier. And that is what you call psychology.

We get a double count which is idiotic given the must be a winner idea. Heenan says no one has tried the one thing that could win: a pipe wrench. I love that. Pillman gets a sleeper which is smart after over 20 minutes of hard wrestling. We talk about the main event where Heenan seems to fantasize over someone turning on Hogan. A sunset flip off the top gets a LONG two for Badd. Crucifix is countered into a back slam.

This is a great match in case you can’t tell. Hurricanrana from the middle rope, which was an epic move at the time, gets just two for Badd. Tornado DDT, Pillman’s finisher, just gets two. We go BACK to the floor where Badd hits a somersault plancha over the top which he nearly misses and Pillman is out. He goes for a slingshot splash but Pillman gets the knees up for a block. We’re over 35 minutes into the broadcast and we’re still in the opener.

The overtime has been a solid match in its own right after a great opening 20 minutes. They get back in the ring and freaking FLY off the ropes about three times each before both go for cross bodies but Pillman lands on Badd’s knee so it’s almost like a backbreaker which is enough for the pin to blow the roof off the place. Well as much as that small of a crowd can do at least.

Rating: A. GREAT match. This is what two young guys can do when they’re given a ton of time and can show off. This is pretty easily Badd’s best match ever and it’s one of Pillman’s best. Somehow though, that’s not even Brian’s best PPV opener. That’s hard to believe. Find this match as it’s worth watching.

Pillman would head to the WWF but destroy his ankle in a car wreck. He would wrestle anyway, joining the newly formed stable the Hart Foundation as people who were very pro Canadian. This is the apex of their feud with America, from In Your House 16.

Hart Foundation vs. Goldust/Legion of Doom/Ken Shamrock/Steve Austin

Most of the Americans are booed, but Austin is treated like a bunch of ants at a picnic. The Hart Foundation’s entrance on the other hand is a sight to behold, with each member getting a louder and louder ovation until Owen’s music stops. Bret’s reception is louder than everyone else’s and that’s before his music even comes on. The Harts are a unit, all clad in leather jackets and looking like they’re ready for war.

The match starts with the only possible combination of Austin vs. Bret. They slug it out with Bret taking over and pounding Austin down into the corner to send the crowd even further into a frenzy. Austin comes back with right hands and might as well be pummeling Santa Claus. Bret hits a headbutt and clothesline before raking Steve’s eyes across the top rope. Austin kicks Bret low to slow him down and stomps on him in the corner before slapping on the Million Dollar Dream. Hart climbs the ropes for a rollup for two, which is the same way he beat Austin at Survivor Series.

Bret drags Austin to the corner for a tag off to the raw power of Jim the Anvil Neidhart. Austin takes him down with a Thesz Press and right hands before bringing in Shamrock to easily kick Neidhart down. Pillman comes in to break up an ankle lock attempt so Shamrock takes Neidhart down with ease again. Brian comes in legally now to bite Shamrock’s face and fire off chops in the corner. A backbreaker puts Shamrock down again so Pillman grabs his hand and slaps the mat, claiming a submission victory in a funny bit.

Ken comes back with a nice belly to belly suplex and it’s off to Goldust vs. Owen. Goldust scores with a backdrop but Owen comes right back with an enziguri to take over again. The fans are all over Austin here, even though it’s Hawk in to beat Owen up. A top rope splash gets two but Hawk misses a dropkick, allowing Owen to put on a Sharpshooter. Anvil makes the save, only to have Bulldog come in with the delayed vertical suplex and the powerslam but Goldust makes a save.

Bret comes back in (crowd erupts) to face Animal and gets up a knee in the corner to slow Animal down. Off to Goldust who is immediately tied up in the Tree of Woe and quintuple teamed, drawing in the rest of the Americans for the save. Owen comes in legally but misses a charge into the post, allowing for the tag off to Animal. Owen is fine with that and hits an enziguri followed by a missile dropkick to fire up the crowd even more. Animal will have none of that and counters a hurricanrana into a powerbomb.

The Doomsday Device hits Owen but Anvil makes the save, drawing in all ten guys for a huge brawl. In the melee, Austin wraps Owen’s knee around the post and hits it with a chair before beating up Bret and Owen’s brother Bruce, who is sitting with the rest of the Hart Family in the crowd. Things calm down with Anvil vs. Austin as medics come out to check on Owen. Neidhart sends Austin into the corner for a big beating and Owen is being taken to the back.

Pillman comes in but gets dragged over to the American corner and taken down by a Stunner. Bret makes the save by wrapping Austin’s leg around the post and blasting it with a fire extinguisher. He throws on the Figure Four around the post until Hawk makes the save but the damage has been done to the leg. Austin is able to tag in Hawk but Bulldog crotches Hawk on the top rope to take him down again. Austin limps to the back again, leaving us with just four guys per team in the match.

Neidhart and Animal have a test of strength with Jim taking over and driving Animal into the Hart corner for a tag off to Bret. The original Hart Foundation (Bret and Neidhart) take over on Animal to give the crowd a nostalgia pop. Shamrock comes in again and grabs Bret’s leg but just stands there, allowing Pillman to sneak in with a clothesline. Shamrock grabs the leg again but Bret gives him a stern lecture from the mat, which actually makes Ken let him up. I wish I could make that up.

Bret sends Shamrock to the floor where Pillman throws him over the French announce table. Back inside and it’s Bulldog slugging Shamrock down in the corner to send the crowd right back into a frenzy. Ken hits him low, allowing Goldust to come in with a bulldog to the Bulldog, but Pillman breaks up the Curtain Call. Goldust goes up but gets crotched, allowing Bulldog to superplex him down.

Austin stumbles back out to the ring and it’s a double tag to bring in Bret vs. Stone Cold. Bret is sent chest first into the buckle and suplexed down for two, only to come back with a DDT. A backbreaker and the middle rope elbow are good for two and it’s off to a sleeper hold. Austin jawbreaks his way to freedom but has to have Animal save him from the Sharpshooter.

Now it’s Austin putting Bret in the Sharpshooter but Owen comes back out for the save. Owen comes in legally but gets clotheslined out to the floor and stomped against the barricade. Austin goes after the other Hart Brothers at ringside but Bret makes the save and sends Austin back inside so Owen can roll him up for the pin, sending the roof into orbit.

Rating: A+. Do I really need to explain this one? Not only is it a great match with everyone working very hard, but it’s a great story and the perfect way to blow off the feud. Austin could have been in there with any four guys, but the match ended perfectly and gave Owen a big rub in the process. Excellent match and the best multi-man tag match of all time.

And now one final singles match, from In Your House 17.

Goldust vs. Brian Pillman

Goldust jumps Pillman before he gets in the ring but Brian comes back with chops in the ring. An atomic drop and clothesline put Pillman down and Goldust rains down right hands in the corner. Pillman comes back with an elbow to the face but stops to chase Marlena around, allowing Goldust to catch him in a drop toehold into the steps. Back in and they chop it out again as Jerry implies Marlena has been with half of the locker room. Pillman’s bulldog is countered by Goldust crotching him on the top rope, sending Brian up the ramp.

That’s not enough for Goldust though so he chases Pillman up the ramp and suplexes him down onto the steel. Pillman gets crotched against the post for good measure before Goldust starts going after the leg. An elbow drop gets two on Brian and Goldust rams him into the buckle. The bulldog is countered again and Lawler is thrilled for some reason. Pillman stomps away and puts on a reverse chinlock to slow things down again. Goldust fights up and drops Brian with an electric chair but both guys are down.

It’s Pillman up first but he’s crotched for the third time with this one being on the turnbuckle. Goldust knocks him off the top and into the barricade, allowing Marlena to get in a slap of her own. Back in and Pillman blocks a superplex but misses a missile dropkick. Goldust loads up the Curtain Call but the referee gets knocked out in the process. Instead of staying on Brian, Goldust goes to check on the referee and Marlena gets on the apron with her loaded purse. In an old wrestling cliché, the purse is intercepted by Pillman and he knocks out Goldust for the pin.

Rating: C-. This was just ok but the ending was never really in doubt. The story made much more sense if you put Marlena with Pillman for the thirty days and it ended if Goldust won here. Pillman was in bad shape at this point due to a horrible ankle injury but he managed to get by well enough here. More on that later though.

Brian Pillman was a guy that was incredibly ahead of his time. Had he debuted in the mid 90s cruiserweight boom, Pillman would have been right up there with Mysterio as one of the best in the world. The fact that he have as much success as he did as a tag wrestler showed that he had far more skills than just flying around. His charisma made him even better and one of the most entertaining performers of his era.

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