Brian Pillman Jr. is the son of the late Brian Pillman, and he is getting his biggest break in wrestling after signing with Major League Wrestling. Pillman, along with Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr., have combined to form a new-age Hart Foundation in MLW.
His father was a legend in wrestling, competing for WWF, WCW and ECW, but he died suddenly of heart disease at age 35 when his son was only an infant. Pillman Jr. spoke with Sports Illustrated and shared his story, from running away from home, to finding a place in pro wrestling, and finally connecting with his father.
Justin Barrasso: There is the immediate connection between you and your father because of your name and look, but unfortunately, you lost your dad before you had a chance to build a relationship.
Brian Pillman Jr.: My story is very real. I grew up without a father. I grew up with a mother addicted to painkillers. I moved out of the house when I was 13. I went to stay with my best friend Paul Sperandeo. His mother took great care in feeding and raising me during this time. My aunt Linda and Uncle Mike were also doing everything they could to help.
There is a chip on my shoulder, and the way I wrestle, give promos, and present myself in the ring is all coming from my heart and a story that is very real. This is my time to shine.
JB: Has the wrestling business provided a connection to your father?
BP: The connection with my father and wrestling is worth talking about. As much as people like to draw those comparisons between myself and my father, there is no way or possibility that I was able to mimic my father growing up. So any similarities are purely genetic.
I am not, in any way, trying to be who he was. All the time, I hear people say, ‘You should be the ‘Loose Cannon!’ I’m 100% being myself. I’ve embraced a style of wrestling similar to his, but it naturally blends with who I am and what I’m presenting.
JB: What specifically about MLW makes this opportunity so special? The fellow talent? The chance to work with Teddy and Davey? The people behind the scenes?
BP: It’s truly a combination of all three. When I first saw the poster of us being billed as the Hart Foundation, I got goosebumps. Getting the chance to share a locker room with young talent like MJF and legendary veterans like John Hennigan is a dream come true and really enhances my development in the sport.
Major League Wrestling is my very first television opportunity. I’d never worked TV before, and I do not think there was a better time until now to put myself out there. MLW is presenting me exactly the way I wanted to be presented in public.
JB: MLW CEO Court Bauer has you working with Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr. in the new Hart Foundation. Is your goal to manage, wrestle, or do both?
BP: My goal with MLW is strictly to show the world that I am a star and someone worth following. Don’t follow me because of my name, follow me because I’m just a natural. I’m naturally charismatic, I’m naturally someone you want to see perform.
JB: Have you enjoyed working as a part of the Hart Foundation? What makes Teddy and Davey so great? And is it difficult to make an impression as Brian Pillman Jr. when your look is so similar to your father? Or has that helped garner attention?
BP: It’s been an awesome ride so far. Now it is definitely hard to outshine Teddy and Harry, but I think that pressure will push me into my ultimate role. And my look helps me 100 percent.
JB: Your father’s legacy has only grown since he passed away in 1997. Has it been difficult to follow in his footsteps?
BP: I’m following in his footsteps. Legacy wrestlers, we have a lot of expectations, but not every time do they show promise. For every Cody Rhodes, there are 20 legacy wrestlers that don’t make it.
It is a very tough challenge to climb through the shadows of your father. My father was so unique, and what made him so unique was his personality and his look. I’m not going to copy my father and do what he did—I haven’t even studied his work. When people draw comparisons, it’s natural.
JB: In a roundabout way, your father gave you a home in wrestling. Do guys in the locker room share stories about your father?
BP: I get to hear awesome stories all the time, and that’s my biggest benefit of being in this business—having an indirect relationship with my father, one that I never had.
JB: Bret Hart has discussed that connection between legacy wrestlers; have you experienced it?
BP: There are so many legacy wrestlers that come from all different walks of life and backgrounds, but we all generally have in common that the business has affected our childhood and upbringing in one way or another and we all bond through that.
JB: What is the next goal for you in MLW, and why should wrestling fans make sure they watch you every Friday on beIN Sports?
BP: The biggest goals of my life, let alone my wrestling career, have been set in MLW.
My goal to become a better wrestler starts with MLW and my goal to become one of the most sought-after talents in wrestling starts with MLW. Most importantly, my first Television title reign will start with MLW, and I will make history every time I step into an MLW ring with the gold around my waste.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.