Brian Pillman passed away at thirty-five years of age of arteriosclerotic heart disease. Following his football career, he spent two years in Stampede Wrestling before arriving in WCW. He only spent two years in WWE before tragically passing away. Eric Bischoff recently spoke about Pillman on 83 Weeks where he said the goal with Pillman was always to make a WCW return.
"Brian told me that he had a shot to go to WWF and I told him to go," Bischoff said. "Brian Pillman and I stayed in contact the entire time he was in WWF. He wanted to make sure that he can make his way back to WCW. That was his goal. Was he working me and just calling me while being on the road and maintaining a good relationship while checking in with me? Maybe, but we were able to maintain a good relationship while he was there."
The plan was to let the Loose Cannon persona play out in other promotions outside of WCW and raise the value of Pillman's name. Then he could come back to WCW and Bischoff would have more of a reason to pay Pillman the big money he was asking for.
"The agreement that Brian and I had was that let's play out this character out here in WCW and when it is time to go it's time to go. Go out and get yourself over either in ECW or WWF, wherever you end up and then let's bring you back and then I can justify the money that you wanted. That was it. There was nothing more or nothing less to it than that. It was a cooperative kind of thing.
"All we were doing at the point was letting it play out. That was all. Brian Pillman did not want to stay. We weren't going to get him over."
Bischoff knew he couldn't justify paying Pillman's price tag just by changing his gimmick on WCW's television product. Therefore, he let Pillman go rather than killing his character on television and releasing him later. Bischoff knew Pillman had something with his Loose Cannon moniker. The only problem was he had to get over elsewhere in order to really pull off his plan.
"He wasn't going to become The Loose Cannon and then qualify for double the salary that he was asking for," Bischoff continued. "There was nothing that we were able to do for him to justify doubling his salary, so the next option, I guess it that sounds stupid to the listeners. The next option would have been to bury him or cut him loose with five months left in his contract.
"I believe that idea would be even dumber, as opposed to saying, look, here's a guy I like. Here's a character that could work. Let's leave on good terms and let the storyline play itself out where he gets so crazy that I have to fire him so that there is at least logic to it, and if there's a way for him to get over to justify giving him the money that he wants, great! I would have been happy to do it because I like him and I believe in him. That was all there is to it."
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.