There is another positive to working everyone in sight. WCW announcers and production people reacted in very realistic ways to the angle, instead of ridiculing it, as they do even the most serious angles-like when Bobby Heenan laughed as Ric Flair tried to poke Hulk Hogan’s eye out with a high heel.
Casual fans may not know what a “booker-man” is, but they know something very odd happened in the last couple of weeks at WCW and that Pillman was fired. This makes it much more probable that they’ll buy the angle. And of course this thing is tailor-made for the ECW-style “New Marks.”
The serious problems lie in the very execution of the angle. By making this angle realistic, WCW is sending the fans the direct message that the rest of their stories are phony, ill-concealed drivel-which, of course, they are.
The worst effect, though, is the ripping away of trust that any management team must maintain with their employees.
Despite what some wrestling people-who believe that everything from UFC to the NFL to the New Hampshire primary is a con-might tell you, everything in life is not a work. When WCW has to convince its employees that contract negotiations are on the level or they will be treated fairly in other ways, it may find that its efforts fall on deaf ears. It’s hard enough to maintain the trust a company must have to thrive because the nature of the wrestling business without further muddying the waters.
And the extremes that WCW went to in order to get this angle over beg an intriguing question…
Would Eric Bischoff have had someone turn off the lights on the Lakeland, Fla. Nitro so he could accuse his hated rivals at Titan Sports of industrial sabotage on the air?
The most ironic part of all may be this. WCW really did fire Brian Pillman without cause. They are paying him as they must while he works elsewhere. Pillman’s contract expires in April. He hasn’t signed a new one.
Pillman, like any good con man, neither trusts nor respects his partners in the work. He has no loyalty to WCW. WCW would be extremely foolish to let a wrestler who used them to revive his career get away before reaping the benefits. Brian Pillman himself has great negotiating leverage. For the right deal, he could turn the con on Sullivan and Bischoff and take his brand spanking new badass character over to the WWF and help Vince McMahon stick it to the boys at TBS.
Then Brian Pillman would truly be the new Bruiser Brody.