Now, usually that wouldn’t sound like something sensible to do.
Luckily, there was nothing sensible about “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman.
With this seminal gimmick, Pillman turned the wrestling world on its head with his series of “worked shoots” that fooled both the fans and the wrestlers backstage.
This included referring to Kevin Sullivan as “Bookerman” during a match in WCW, revealing his status as the head of creative in the promotion, and attacking commentator Bobby Heenan during a match with Eddie Guerrero.
This wild persona was one of the most memorable of all time.
It could have taken him to incredible heights, had injuries not wrecked his career.
Brian Pillman Tricked Eric Bischoff Into Releasing Him
Brian Pillman’s “Loose Cannon” persona was making waves in pro-wrestling, and “Flyin’ Brian” wanted to take it to the next level.
The plan between Pillman and Bischoff was for him to “fire” Pillman on WCW Nitro, much to the despair of the fans.
This would build to his return as an “anti-hero”, making Brian Pillman an even bigger star in the eyes of the WCW fans.
However, in order to work everybody, he managed to convince Eric Bischoff to fire him for real.
While the core WCW fans saw his firing on TV, Pillman wanted to work the “smart” fans, who knew about the inner workings of the wrestling business.
However, the tricky thing was that Pillman didn’t want to come back to WCW. He knew he was being held down by the likes of Hulk Hogan (who he lost to in his last WCW match), and would never be able to progress past the mid-card in WCW.
So, Brian Pillman convinced Eric Bischoff to fire him for real, working both the fans and the wrestlers backstage.
As it turned out, he was also working Bischoff, and promptly signed for ECW after his termination was completely.
This was a huge blow to WCW, who had just lost one of the best characters in wrestling history, all because their boss got worked by the “Loose Cannon” himself.
…Or did he?
Eric Bischoff Claimed The Whole Thing Was Planned
Despite it being widely reported that Brian Pillman tricked Eric Bischoff to release him from his contract, the former WCW boss denied any notion of that being the case.
During an episode of the “83 Weeks” Podcast, Eric Bischoff revealed what really happened (according to him) with Brian Pillman’s WCW release.
The former WCW Champion revealed that the whole idea was planned, and he always intended to release Brian Pillman after his “Loose Cannon” gimmick.
Bischoff denied any idea that he was tricked into it, but just couldn’t afford to pay the raise that Pillman wanted at the time (despite the huge contracts given out to former WWE stars).
“The agreement that Brian and I had was: ‘Let’s play this loose cannon character out here in WCW, and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Go get yourself over, you know, either in ECW, WWF, wherever you end up.”
“And then let’s bring you back, and hopefully, when we bring you back, I can justify the money you want.’ That was it. There was nothing more, nothing less to it than that, and it was a cooperative kind of thing.”
Whether you believe Pillman or Bischoff is up to you. Bischoff is known to stretch the truth to make himself look better at times, so take his story with a pinch of salt.
But equally, Brian Pillman’s entire gimmick leading up to his WCW release was about tricking everybody into thinking it was real.
This would just be another extension of that, which would make more than enough sense to believe Bischoff’s tale about Brian Pillman’s WCW release.
If you use any quotes from this article, please give a H/T to Atletifo for transcription.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.