Model Year Wrestler – 1991 Brian Pillman

One recurring feature I would like to do on this blog is to take a wrestler and do a quick look at what he or she did in a given calendar year.

pillman Today let’s look at 1991 Brian Pillman. He started the year with a ton of promise and was a star of the five star War Games match at WrestleWar. Despite that, Sid Vicious nearly killed him with a power bomb, hitting Pillman against the cage ceiling and dropping him on his head. Flyin’ Brian was back a week later working tags with Brad Armstrong.

Pillman was winning house show matches in early ’91 and was involved in a hot feud with Barry Windham, to whom he lost a taped fist match at SuperBrawl. It was a shame that match got 6 minutes which was about the same length as the ridiculous entrance for Oz. In the following weeks, Pillman would get a couple of shots against Flair for the world title and against new TV champ Steve Austin.

And then it would go to hell with one of the more annoying Dusty Rhodes booking tropes: the guy in the mask. Pillman lost a loser leaves town match at Clash 15 to Arn Anderson and Windham and returned as the “Yellow Dog”. There was a 12 year old in Woburn, MA who was pretty pissed off by this, I can assure you. He floundered in tags and bounced from opponent to opponent; his feud with Windham was derailed by Ric Flair’s departure. Windham took Flair’s place in the main event at Bash ’91 leaving Pillman without any direction, sadly a recurring feature of his WCW career. He would have been a better opponent for Luger as they had great matches in 1989 and Luger’s heel turn would have meant more in a face vs face match.

Pillman would beat Richard Morton at Halloween Havoc to win the WCW Light Heavyweight tourney. The problem with this is it cemented Pillman as “too small” to compete for the world title even though he was the same size as Bret Hart or Randy Savage. He would beat Johnny B. Badd at Clash 17 in November but had little competition in the division (Mike Graham? Come on!) until a Japanese star in a cool mask would come to American and rock our world. Jushin Liger beat Pillman for the Light Heavyweight title on Christmas night in the Omni in Atlanta and they had a series of house show matches to end the year.

Much like the rest of his career, Pillman was always enjoyable in ’91 but was derailed either by booking, bad luck, or both. What a shame.

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