Eric Bischoff has spoken out about the infamous incident between Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan and Brian Pillman at WCW Clash of Champions 32 in 1996.
Battling Eddie Guerrero in the mid-card, Pillman – who was developing his Loose Cannon persona – began to act weirdly and rolled to ringside where he taunted fans. However, after riling the paying public, the star then set about Bobby Heenan on commentary, tearing his jacket in an unplanned segment.
Having already suffered a severe neck injury in a wrestling match several year prior, Heenan became fearful for his safety and lost control live on air yelling at Pillman, “What the f**k are you doing?” Gaining control of his belongings, a visibly upset ‘Brain’ stormed from the announce position and up the aisle where he calmed down and eventually returned to his position.
Now, Eric Bischoff has taken to his 83 Weeks Podcast to discuss the incident which came as a shock to everyone involved and stated that it was good television, not polished like WWE’s product is today:
“This situation with Heenan is another example of…this was a bad situation so I don’t want to sound like I’m encouraging this type of thing, I wouldn’t encourage it I’m just pointing out this is what happens when live TV isn’t perfect. This is what happens when Brian Pillman, in this case, went into business for himself and decided in the heat of the moment in the passion of the moment that he was going to go after Bobby, probably not remembering or possibly realising that Bobby had neck issues – and they were severe. They occurred in a match that took place in Japan a long time before – but they were still severe issues that Bobby was fearful of. He didn’t want to be paralysed. Either because he didn’t remember it or didn’t know it…and Brian would have never physical-physical with Bobby without having a conversation with him first, but going out and grabbing his jacket and maybe pulling him in to protect him from Eddie or whatever he was going to do, that’s something most announcers would be comfortable doing if they didn’t have a broken fricking neck.
But that’s what happened and Bobby really reacted. It was an honest reaction, “What the f**k are you doing?” I heard that. I actually had to go back and listen to it a second time to make sure I wasn’t hearing wrong. We probably had a five second delay or a seven second delay so we might have been able to cover that, but watching it back you clearly heard it. And as you pointed out, Bobby, his anger, his fear more than anything really showed. Camera was on him, they did what they should have done, they’re capturing it as it’s happening and Bobby came back. But if you watch Bobby throughout the rest of the night, every time somebody got near the announce table, as saw Bobby saw them coming in his direction on goes the jacket and he goes around. Soon as they left the announce table arena Bobby came and sat back. So it clearly had a big effect on Bobby but it’s live TV and it’s unfortunate and its real fear on Bobby’s part because it’s a real injury, but it made for good television.”
At the end of the bout, Brian Pillman would defeat Eddie Guerrero with a flying crossbody and a hook of the tights but was released from the company later in the year in order that he could develop the character in the much more anarchic ECW, with the understanding that he would return at a later date.
Pillman did not return to WCW and instead headed to the World Wrestling Federation prior to his untimely death in 1997.
Credit for the interview: 83 Weeks Podcast