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  October 11, 1997



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The business killed Brian Pillman
By BRET "THE HIT MAN" HART -- For the Calgary Sun

  A lot of guys live for this bizarre business.

That might not be their intention, but they fall in love with her and by the time love turns to a familiar seductress, they're addicted. Addicted to the action and the admiration.

Accustomed to a lifestyle where the miles behind you in the morning deceive you into thinking you're unaccountable for what you did last night.

There's no off-season, no time out, valor gets attached to martyrdom.

You look for ways to endure the physical pain of a broken body and hope you don't become so numb that you end up with a broken spirit. In the ring, you're a superhero and you search down deep inside to make that strength real. It's dangerous to forget that even Superman had his kryptonite.

Guys come into this business with a dream that they'll hang around for a few years and make the quick bucks but then they find out it's Hotel California, "You can check out any time you like but you can never leave."

They can't make it on the outside anymore. And some die on the inside. Fatalities in the ring are rare. They die alone in the little, square room they slept in a thousand miles from what used to feel like home.

Loneliness is a greater pain than all your toughest fights.

The boys and the crew checked out of the hotel near St. Paul, Minn. last Sunday and each of us travelled all the way to the arena in St. Louis before anyone even asked, "Where's Brian?"

We didn't even know we'd left him behind. It's been almost a week since my friend Brian Pillman died in his sleep. It amazes me that the wrestling fans and reporters are anxiously awaiting the results of the autopsy to find out what killed him. Exactly which pain medicine was it, how much did he take? What weakened the heart of a 35-year-old athlete enough so it stopped beating? Trying to figure out the little details distract you from having to look at the big picture. The business killed Brian Pillman and it could have been any one of us. That she got Brian is especially sad since he fought so hard at life when he beat cancer as a kid. And since he left five kids with no father.

I don't think it's necessary or appropriate to summarize Brian's life and career in the space of a column.

When my own time comes, I hope the reports will say more than just my win/loss record in the ring and that they'll talk more about my wins and losses in life.

I've tried to let you all get to know me better than just my stats. I won't insult Brian by minimizing him into a bunch of statistics. Of course, he was a damn good wrestler -- he came right out of the infamous Hart family dungeon!

If you want to see the best of Brian Pillman, the wrestler, go and get yourself some tapes of Bad Company or The Hollywood Blondes or how Flyin' Brian fought Ric Flair to a time limit draw years ago.

If you never got to know the best of Brian Pillman, the person, the thing that stood out most to me about Brian was his wicked sense of humor. It isn't easy to make a bunch of road-weary guys who have "been there, done that" laugh -- and Brian did. Then again, they say clowns have the most pain inside.

The next time someone asks you why you watch wrestling cause that stuff isn't real -- those guys don't get hurt, do me a favor: Tell them those guys do get hurt -- and sometimes they die out there.

Brian never got the chance to call home last Sunday, so he went to sleep not knowing that his wife Melanie is pregnant. They say for each door God closes, that he opens another one. Brian is flyin' with the angels now. Good bye, brother. Leave some passes at the gate.

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