Where does one start with Brian Pillman's stunning character transformation?
Towards the end of 1995, the former Cincinnati Bengals player and Four Horseman member switched up his look, ditching the clean-cut pure athlete thing for an altogether edgier appearance, while also undergoing a serious attitude adjustment.
The high-flying sensation suddenly became wholly unpredictable and would regularly go "off-script", surprising fans and convincing them that while everything else might be fake, he was definitely real. Even his co-workers had no idea whether Pillman had actually lost his mind, or whether he was just acting, so convincing was his portrayal and dedication to the role.
Eric Bischoff, Kevin Sullivan, and a couple of others (Terry Funk, Dave Meltzer and Kim Wood) knew that it was a work, but they gave the impression that they too were bewildered by Pillman's antics. One person who didn't know it was a work was Bobby Heenan, who was grabbed by Pillman during a Clash of the Champions broadcast, causing the veteran manager and announcer to lose his cool and shout 'what the f**k do you think you're doing?' live on the air.
Pillman was working the boys in the back, the dirtsheets and, as it turned out, his own boss. After losing an 'I Respect You' Strap Match with WCW booker Kevin Sullivan (during which he broke kayfabe by sarcastically saying 'I respect you, booker man' over the house mic), Pillman was fired by WCW President Eric Bischoff.
Bischoff has since revealed that this was all part of the work and that he was 'firing' Pillman so that he could go to ECW and further develop the gimmick. Little did he know that Pillman legitimately wanted out of his contract so that he could sign a big-money deal with the WWF. Whoops.
Although things would get a whole lot more controversial in ECW and WWF, Pillman's 'Loose Cannon' beginnings were in WCW and his blurring of fact and fiction helped get people talking (and worried).