In his just over two years in professional wrestling, Brian Pillman Jr has done an admirable job of not only honouring his father through his in-ring work but continuing to be an innovator through the entire industry of professional wrestling. Currently signed with Major League Wrestling, Pillman Jr is a member of the New Hart Foundation with fellow legacy Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Recently, Pillman Jr joined me to discuss the expectations that come with being a Pillman, if he considered wrestling under a different name, and more.
If he considered wrestling under a different name:
“Yeah, it was definitely a reality for me at first. I wanted to protect myself and protect my performance and my name, but as I was able to see, the right move was just to be myself. Some people recommended, Lance (Storm) recommended perhaps wrestling under a mask or trying to protect myself so I could get a few shitty matches out of the way, but at the end of the day, my first match was one of my best matches. So, I’m looking at it now and I’m thinking ‘man, I had a pretty god damn good match, kid!’”
The advantages and disadvantages of being a Pillman:
“I think it was both (an advantage and disadvantage). It was definitely both. It’s always an advantage because of the booking and being a positive draw. Every promotion I go to, they’re at least going to experience some kind of increase in draw or ticket sales, just by the nature of the beast y’know what I mean? There’s only one of me, there’s only one second-generation guy like me on the market right now. Whether you like it or not, fans are going to come pay to buy a ticket to see me, so by default, I’m booked. It helps to have that on my side.”
“But yeah, the expectations are high. The expectations have always been high. My first year or so was a lot of failures, a lot of going out there and finding myself. These weren’t some great matches, these weren’t some f***ing five-star classics. This was the story of a young guy following in the footsteps of his father that set a huge, huge expectation above his head, a huge shadow cast upon me.”
“But, as we see right now after about two years and some change into doing this, I’m starting to figure it out, (I’m) starting to have some really good matches, have some really good synergy with some different wrestlers, some really good storytelling, and I could never be happier with my career right now as it stands.”
Developing his in-ring style:
“I think just by being myself. I just always wanted to be myself out there. I’ve always been very interested in boxing and kickboxing and striking and stuff, and I’ve done a little bit of mat work in there too. I’m a very versatile person in real life, so I feel like I’m a versatile person in the ring.”
“I never wanted to have that expectation, because according to my dad’s friends, they said the name Flyin’ Brian is what killed him because he was always expected to do the most, he was always expected to fly. You gotta think, you work for this big company and your name is Flyin’ Brian. Anybody else that wants to fly is coming for your spot. If you’re the Flyin’ Brian of the company, you’ve gotta set the highest precedent for flying that they can see. It’s very hard, very hard to deal with those expectations, so I thought that maybe more of a rounded approach to things or an approach that I can really be myself and have a lot of fun in the ring and really confuse my opponents, while also having some innovative offence. I’m an innovator. I like to do different things. I don’t like to do every single move that everybody else does, and if I do, I like to do it my own way.”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any transcriptions used.