Brian Pillman Jr. was just 4 when his father, the legendary Brian Pillman, passed away. His father has influenced generations of young kids and teenagers that have become great adults. Nevertheless, Brian played football in college and seemed not to want to walk in his father’s footsteps.

And, in 2017, he started his training with Lance Storm in the same Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where his father trained. He made his in-ring debut in January 2018, worked with CZW and many indie promotions, until MLW signed him by the end of 2018. When he first came in, he was mentored by his father’s World Championship Wrestling rival Kevin Sullivan. He would soon turn on Sullivan and join forces with Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr., son of the legendary British Bulldog, creating the New Era Hart Foundation. They quickly became MLW World Tag Team Championship.

Now on his own, wearing Bengal print trunks like his father, Brian Pillman Jr. is looking to follow his own path to championship gold, fame, and fortune in the sport. Employing a combination of aerial attacks and aggressive physicality, he is an explosive combination, which provides plenty of challenges for his adversaries. Like MLW adds, “As disciplined as he is, he’s also not afraid to cause chaos.”

SteelChair Magazine had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Brian Pillman Jr. during Mania weekend. We talked to him about his path with MLW, the influence of his father on the wrestler and the man he has become, the Hart Foundation, and what the future holds for him in MLW.

You’ve been with MLW for a little bit more than a year once and in the business for 3 years. Why did you choose MLW?

“It was just really the right time. I just started my career, and it was an opportunity to work for a company at a high level, with high-level production and high-level opponents so early on in my career. I was just kind of riding that momentum, and my gut feeling told me that it was a great opportunity, that I should definitely not pass it up, and this was my natural pathway in the business of professional wrestling. To me, it was the most organic decision I have ever made. It was very important for me, and my career to improve and dues will pay off in the long term.”

Did the fact that Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr were already in the company influence your decision to sign with MLW?

“With Davey Boy and Teddy, I wasn’t aware that they were going to be a part of it until everything went down. Once I got there and saw what we were able to create, it was a real win-win opportunity there because I got to be with my brothers in The Hart Foundation, and we got to create some very historic moments. It was awesome.”

In MLW, you chased the World Heavyweight title first, now you work in the Middleweight category. Why this change?

“It made more sense with my size and my stature, being that I would be able to help out a team, I would be able to compete like more competitively for the Middleweight title than the Heavyweight title. It might be at more of a disadvantage as far as that is concerned. With the Middleweight title, I can lose weight, and I could be in an advantage physically, especially against guys like Myron Reed, that is built like a twig, super skinny, super agile, super acrobatic, but I have a physical advantage in the Middleweight title. For me, it’s a realistic goal, and it’s a goal that would honour my father because he was the first Cruiserweight champion (WCW Light Heavyweight Championship in 1991). It’s one of those cool things where it all goes together.”

What are your goals in MLW? What are your plans? Who are the wrestlers you are looking forward to wrestling?

“MLW is just the beginning. People are going to realize that I’m one of the biggest stars in the business, and MLW is going to highlight that. I’m going to be a huge face for them. I’m going to be able to carry a title for them. It’s going to be a very good ride with MLW. I’m really excited for the future. I’m excited to finally obtain the Middleweight title. I don’t think that’s going to fade my hunger. I’m on the course for the Heavyweight title as well, perhaps beat Alex Hammerstone for the National Openweight Title as well.”

How would you describe your relationship with MLW’s CEO, Court Bauer?

“Court has been nothing but great to me. Court is definitely a guy that has had a creative hand in creating who I am, in sort. And it’s a wonderful life. Ever since I sat down and had dinner with him, we’ve started this journey, and it’s been a great journey. I’m looking forward to seeing what more is to come, and what the future holds. I know that I’m a huge contender for the Middleweight title now. That’s very important to me.”

MLW is an incredible platform for young talents, but also confirmed talents in the business. What is the atmosphere in the locker room?

“It’s great because we have such a strong foundation of veterans, so any issue that needs to be resolved is by the pure experience that we have. We have one of the most talented, exclusive rosters, one of the most exclusive rosters in the world, so it’s important to have that kind of, that learning tree when it comes to the wrestling, that can be resolved. When it becomes like a drama situation between a couple of wrestlers. Usually, the older guys know how to resolve these things. It’s a blessing to have them.”

MLW has a system of tapings. What are the pros and cons of taping the episodes in advance?

“The advantages are, well, it’s a two-way street. We have a lot of content produced in a short amount of time to have a healthy hour-long show, without having to film each week. The disadvantages come with the work rate and the pay. There’s a lot of time between them. I would like to be working for MLW each week, so because the money is spaced out so much, I gotta stay on the indies and hustle. It would be nice to have more of a full-time schedule, and I think with the way things are going, MLW is in a really good position to do it because they have been doing so well. I’m hopeful for the best and that we can continue to grow as one of the top wrestling companies there is. I know I wouldn’t have signed with them if they weren’t. They are definitely one of the top companies out there.”

Do you think MLW can be your home for a long time? 

“As far as they want to work with me, and my increasing demands for the fans, because I know there’s a lot of promotions out there. At the same time, I’m not saying I wouldn’t re-sign with MLW and be there for quite some time. That’s a very important company in this landscape, and I feel it’s my best to make them one of the biggest companies for a long time, so it definitely doesn’t stop here, that’s for sure.”

How was it to wrestle in Mexico with MLW? It was your first time there. 

“It was fantastic. I love Mexico and the Lucha Libre style. I love Luchador wrestling. It was really cool to experience that and to work that high-level. Also, to be able to say I am advancing at a different style is really cool, to be an international experience, it adds to my repertoire.”

You wrestled for RevPro in the UK last year. Would you like to come back to wrestle in the UK?

“I would like to come back another time, absolutely.”

Both your father and you had the chance to wrestle the Legend that is Jushin Thunder Liger. Tell me about this experience.

“That was amazing because, to know that my father’s story was so influenced by him, sharing the ring with Liger was like a dream come true. Everybody would tell me, you have to do this, you have to watch this, you should have this match, but I really wanted what was best for the business. I don’t want to be selfish about it, I mean, I don’t want to have the match because people wanted me to. I wanted to do it because it was the right thing to do, and we ended up having a really cool tag match. I was able to connect with Jushin on a couple of things. He really had a lot of respect for my father, in the way that he carried himself and presented himself with me. I’ll be forever grateful for that.”

Many second or third-generation wrestlers may be afraid to be in the shadow of their fathers and grandfathers. For you, like for Davey Boy Smith Jr., your father is very important. To what extent did he influence you as a wrestler and as a man?

“Everything he did was intense. Everything he did was with a hundred percent intent. He didn’t rein it in, he died for the sake and the love of the business. For me, that’s one of the most valiant noble causes there is, to go out on your back so I’ve learned that undying passion for wrestling is the only way that I’m ever going to succeed, the same way that he did because he had a very, very strong passion for it. That’s all I need to take. There’s a million things that you take from his career, but the most important thing is the passion that he had.

I learnt a lot about his life reading the book “Crazy Like A Fox” by Liam O’Rourke. It talks about the different stages he went through to get to where he needed to get to, that’s helped me learn about who I am as a man because I never had him here to tell me all those stories, tell me all, those ways and those things the way that he had over time. In a way looking at on his career and looking at the different media that was about him and the different things that I can learn, I’m kind of learning about myself in a way too, and it’s really helpful in that way. Many of the people who read the book truly believe in its truth and credibility. I owe a lot to Liam for writing that book on him.”

Your father was in many ways a Hart by the heart because he trained in the Hart dungeon, do you feel the same?

“I wouldn’t say I’m exactly like my father was before he passed away. I would say the Hart family has done me a service of letting me in with open arms. They really accepted me into the family. It’s been a long time coming that I’ve had to prove myself, I couldn’t just come in and claim to be part of their family without proving it and without earning it. I’m just glad that I could do the same, and I’ve worked very hard on that.”

For me, during The Hart Foundation time, your father really was a member of the Hart family.

“He definitely was a family member, and that’s the thing, wrestling is one big family. He always treated wrestling with that same family kind of mindset.”

Brian Pillman Sr, pic courtesy of WWE

Killer Kross said multiple times he is a huge fan of your father. In which wrestlers of the current generation can you see some Brian Pillman in?

“I definitely see a lot of him in Kevin “Killer” Kross. I definitely see a lot of him in a lot of different wrestlers, but I think Kevin’s really pulling off his own unique persona. I think he’s taking some things out of my father’s books. I think Teddy Hart also reminded me a lot of my dad in many ways, with his unpredictable nature, but a lot of people have learned a lot from his career, and they’ve drawn a lot of comparisons. There’s a lot of people that have a pretty awesome persona because of the path my father took, he really paved the road for that type of character to get into wrestling, and many people pay tribute to him with that credit.”

With Davey’s dad being inducted into the Hall of Fame, some voices have raised to say we want to see Brian Pillman into the Hall of Fame. Would you like this to happen? 

“Now that they are going to induct Davey Boy, I think they will start taking care of everybody else. I think my father being in the Hall of Fame would be an honour and a tremendous cap to what he did that’s long overdue.”

What are your thoughts on the crazy situation in the business the virus has made emerge? 

“It’s unreal. I’m not sure what to believe anymore. There’s so much news, so much mass media, and hysteria going on that it’s really hard to sort it out. I’ve been trying to just stay away from the negativity right now.”

Do you think what is happening now is going to change the perspectives of the wrestling business? For example, Ethan Page put his Body Guy Extravaganza up for free on YouTube.

“It’s all about doing your part and trying to stay positive in these trying times. Ethan Page has definitely been a force for good in the business for quite some time. He’s definitely no slouch when it comes to doing his part for everybody.”

Last question, why the mullet hairstyle, very 80s?

“It is a throwback, for sure, to the guys that paved the way for us in this business. It’s also a throwback to my father, who had the mullet hair and all the great guys that did it. A part of me is paying my respect to the people that pathed the way, but it’s also a way to pay tribute to my father. A lot of times the mullet helps keep the hair out of your face for the better of the situation, so (laughs).”

Follow Brian Pillman Jr on Twitter @FlyinBrianJr.

MLW Fusion airs on BeIN Sports in the USA, and on Fite TV and MLW YouTube Channel worldwide.

“Crazy Like a Fox” by Liam O’Rourke is available at Book Depository and Amazon.

Very special thanks to Mr. Deathman. All pics and videos courtesy of MLW, Harry Aaron/MLW, and Basil Mahmud

By Steph Franchomme

News, Reviews, Social Media Editor, Impact Wrestling Reviewer, Interviewer Well, call me The Boss... And French...

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