Salt of the Earth
Click here for previous edition: The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Ringmaster edition.
Click here for previous edition: The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Savio Vega Chronicles.
Click here for previous edition: The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin: The King of the Ring.
Click here for previous edition: The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Hitman. (Part one)
OCTOBER 27TH, 1996 - SUPERSTARS
On this episode of Superstars, Brian Pillman conducts an interview with Steve Austin in the ring. The commentary as well as Brian Pillman put over the fact that these two have been friends a long time and have even held the tag titles in the past.
Austin brings up some video footage of Pillmans excitement when Bret Hart returned on Raw the previous week as well shaking Brets hand. The atmosphere changes and Austin calls Pillman a crippled freak before saying how he carried Pillman during their time together.
Austin then attacks Pillman after being triggered by Pillman calling Bret "The best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be". He hits him in the damaged ankle with his cane before wrapping a steel chair round it and stomping on it.
The debut of the "Pillmanizer"
NOVEMBER 3RD, 1996
They did an angle on WWF Superstars where Steve Austin destroyed Brian Pillman's ankle to write him off TV because Pillman had to get another surgery done on it. His ankle didn't heal properly from the previous surgery so they had to re-break it and start the healing process over, so it'll be at least 6 more months before he can wrestle again. As for Austin, after taking out Pillman, they had Austin on Raw threatening everyone and even facing down the police. "Austin is working really hard to get his character over and it seems to have broken him out of the pack into a genuine headliner."
Credit: Wrestling Observer
NOVEMBER 4TH, 1996 - MONDAY NIGHT RAW
In one of the most controversial episodes of Monday Night Raw, Stone Cold Steve Austin targets Brian Pillman at his home. The show starts off with Kevin Kelly at Brian Pillmans home and they would continue to go back and forth to Pillmans house throughout the show.
Kelly interview Pillman about a quarter into the show. Pillman shows off his excellent microphone ability in this whole segment. Vince cuts in and asks Pillman if he feels like a hostage in his own home and Pillman then pulls out the 9mm as the scene cuts to a commercial.
When we come back, Austin is beating up some jobbers outside Pillmans house, he even tries to drown one of them before he attempts to get into Pillmans home. They cut back to the arena and continue with the show.
Half way into the show, Austin smashes his way into the house through a side door. Pillman, looking like a crazy man, points the gun at Austin and then they lose the satellite feed.
Conveniently, at the end of the show, they get the satellite feed back. Pillman is being restrained by his friends as Kevin Kelly confirms no one has been shot. Suddently, Austin comes out of nowhere and Pillmans friends drag him out whilst Pillman is screaming for them to get out of the way so he can shoot him as the show ends.
NOVEMBER 11TH, 1996
In what will either be remembered as a groundbreaking storyline or an act of total desperation, WWF ran an angle where Steve Austin broke into Brian Pillman's house and Pillman held him off with a gun. Dave says it was based on a scene from the movie Cape Fear (I mean, maybe...?). Even though the matches that aired during the show were taped weeks ago, the angle was filmed live to keep it from leaking out. Dave recaps the angle (it was filmed at Brian Pillman's actual house and the 2 "friends" that Austin beat up outside the house were actually students from a local wrestling school). The angle ended with Pillman cursing on the air, which wasn't edited out of the later west coast feed, so Dave thinks USA must have given WWF approval to air it (USA Network is struggling across the board in ratings too on all their shows and they're probably even more desperate than WWF to do something for shock value to pop a rating).
Credit: Wrestling Observer
NOVEMBER 18TH, 1996
Reaction to last week's Steve Austin/Brian Pillman gun angle has been mixed. Some reaction has been extremely positive, with some calling it the most compelling hour of wrestling television ever (although in the segment-by-segment numbers, the Raw rating actually dropped so it couldn't have been that compelling since people were switching over to WCW during the end of it). Others were offended, with some even calling on the USA Network to cancel Raw. USA responded by distancing themselves from the angle and issuing an apology and promising nothing like it would ever happen again. WWF initially only apologized for the language used (which was a shoot, Pillman and Austin just got carried away and dropped some words that they shouldn't have on live TV) but they didn't apologize for the angle itself. Later, on Livewire, Vince McMahon appeared and apologized for the angle after a week of taking heat from USA over it. Austin and Pillman also called in, with Pillman apologizing for his language. After spending a week airing it repeatedly on all their syndicated shows (which shows they weren't really that sorry), WWF finally promised that the footage would never appear on WWF TV again and on Raw, they barely acknowledged it. In replay showings during the week, they blurred the gun out.
Credit: Wrestling Observer
Click here to read the next instalment: The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Hitman. (Part two)