Brian Pillman is quintessential ‘Dark Side of the Ring’ story

Evan Husney might simply see “Dark Side of the Ring” having a unique identify.

The VICE docuseries, which tackles some of professional wrestling’s most colourful, notorious and sophisticated characters and tales, has geared toward giving the most trustworthy portrayal of its topics by offering a deep have a look at influences on the individual we see on display and the conditions of their actual life happening round it.

“I do think what we try to do with the show is humanize these individuals,” mentioned Husney, the present’s co-creator. “It’s almost like the show should be called ‘Human Side of the Ring’ because it’s like what we do with interviewing family members is taking these larger-than-life characters of the ring that we grew up watching, but we’re trying to ground them and show they are people just like everybody else.”

It’s what makes Brian Pillman, the topic of the present’s two-hour Season 3 premiere (May 6, 9 p.m., VICE) the “quintessential” story for “Dark Side of the Ring.”

The episode chronicles Pillman’s profession and the sophisticated dynamic at residence driving him. Pillman, whose son Brian Jr. is a wrestler, had youngsters with completely different girls however created one huge household and noticed his ex-girlfriend Rochelle commit suicide throughout a heated custody battle. His youngsters delve into their strained relationship with Pillman’s ex-wife Melanie over the years and the function of Brian’s sister, Linda, performed in holding issues collectively for his children.

“It was very much about the family wanting to — at least Brian Jr. — tell the true story of his father,” Husney mentioned.    

Just as Pillman was about to money in huge on his “Loose Cannon” persona, his prescription meds led to him falling asleep at the wheel, leading to a devastating Hummer accident in April 1996. It shattered his ankle and face, leaving him a shell of himself bodily by the time he reached WWF (now WWE) in June 1996. He died of a coronary heart assault in his resort room on Oct. 5, 1997 at the age of 35.

“It really checks a lot of boxes for us in terms of what we like to explore,” Husney mentioned. “We like to explore where does someone’s real life stop and where does the wrestling character take over. Brian made this crazy ‘Loose Cannon’ persona that I think did bleed into his real life and I think that is one of the more fascinating aspects — phenomenons, as you will — in this business.”  

Pillman rose to fame as athletic good man “Flyin’ Brian” earlier than turning into half of the famed Hollywood Blondes tag group with Steve Austin, who was interviewed for the documentary. Trying to interrupt out, Pillman grew to become the “Loose Cannon” in WCW in the early ’90s. He labored his gimmick so properly in and out of doors the ring – in an try to garner the most profitable contract he might from both WCW or WWF in the center of the Monday Night Wars to help his giant household – that even many of the wrestlers thought he had gone loopy.

One of the legendary tales round Pillman is that he “worked” then WCW President Eric Bischoff into giving him his launch so he might play WCW in opposition to WWF in contract negotiations by making Bischoff imagine he was in on it. Bischoff denies he was “worked,” discussing on the present how he and Pillman noticed it was a method for him to grow to be a much bigger star so he might give the wrestler the sizable contract he needed from WCW.

Brian Pillman indicators autographs at Willie’s restaurant for Jenny and Janie Poe of Milford on Jan. 1, 1990.

The episode — narrated by Chris Jericho — leaves it open-ended, however Husney doesn’t put something previous Pillman. He mentioned “Dark Side of the Ring” didn’t get to delve closely into how well-read and educated Pillman was about the world of con males.

“There is a movie called ‘House of Games’ by David Mamet, which is a movie all about how this woman gets embroiled with these con men and she’s learning the trade of con men, she’s gonna do a big book about it, but she turns out in the end — spoiler alert — that she’s the one being conned from the whole start,” Husney mentioned. “So I think when Brian saw that, that’s what really inspired him. So when you hear things like that, it’s like probably, OK, he probably did feel the best way to get over Eric was to make him believe he’s part of it.”

Pillman is one of 13 matters “Dark Side of the Ring” will cowl this season, together with The Ultimate Warrior, The Dynamite Kid, Luna Vachon, the WWF steroid trials, the notorious Plane Ride from Hell and the WCW/NJPW Collision in Korea present.

This may even mark the first time the sequence must cope with dueling documentaries. A&E is additionally profiling Warrior in collaboration with WWE. Husney felt it was becoming {that a} determine as polarizing as Warrior would get two completely different viewpoints on this life and legacy. He and fellow co-creator Jason Eisner had been in a position to interview Warrior’s first spouse Shari Tyree and did their greatest to humanize him.

“He’s probably one of the first figures in my life that I had to kind of debate it, my own fandom for this person,” Eisner mentioned. “We almost tried to show what made the Ultimate Warrior. What was going on in his own life and his own upbringing that made him the person he became.”

While Warrior was a topic the followers pushed for, the steroid trial of 1994 with the U.S. authorities that just about introduced down Vince McMahon and the then-WWF was far completely different. It was a subject they’d at all times needed to suit into the present, however was extra formidable to get the entry they wanted to tug it off. After Husney and Eisner proved themselves with the first two seasons, they had been about to speak with Jerry McDevitt, the legendary lawyer for McMahon and WWE, about the trial. He is one of the first energetic folks inside WWE to speak about the firm’s enterprise. Husney hopes it results in extra interviews prefer it.

“This is kind of a real company perspective that our shows hadn’t really had before, which is exciting,” he mentioned. “I hope though that it really opens more doors for us to be able to get more stories from the company perspective because it’s something we haven’t been able to do up until this point. I certainly would like that. There are a lot of people over there that have stories to tell.”

One of the most well-known wrestling tales is The Plane Ride from Hell, a WWE flight from the United Kingdom that included Ric Flair disrobing, loads of combating and Michael Hayes dropping a ponytail. It led to firings, lawsuits and was a black eye for the firm in 2002. While many of the wrestlers and WWE staff on the airplane have informed their model of the story in numerous codecs, “Dark Side of the Ring” goals to have a look at it for extra than simply the locker room hijinks that occurred.

“It’s been the story that’s sort of been seen as this sort of hilarious, almost this over-the-top Martin Scorsese ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ sort of moment,” Eisner mentioned. “But when you hear from some of the people who worked on the plane, their perspective, it really grounds it and you realize how truly nightmarish [it was]. The term ‘plane ride from hell’ shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Eisner and Husney hope their work continues to garner the belief of folks in the wrestling enterprise and their households to permit them to inform the most full tales doable. They felt the entry they’d for this season was a step in the proper path.

“We never want to be exploitative,” Husney mentioned. “We by no means need the subject material that we’re speaking about simply to be for the sake of our TV present. We wish to have some function to look again at these harrowing occasions.

“So with that, we were able to open the door with Steve Austin and Jerry McDevitt and some other folks to get them in the fold. I just hope from here that just keeps growing and we can have these even more honest conversations about things.”

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