One surprise for me, reading SL&H, was Brian Pillman. When the authors began fleshing out his story in chapter 12, I kept waiting for a name I recognized to be attached to him; the authors tend to introduce wrestlers by their given names and progress through their progressively more famous stage names. But no, this was just Brian Pillman, nobody I recognized; if we've read about him earlier this semester, I must not have retained it.
Which would be surprising, because this guy is scary. An origin story worthy of a superhero--in and out of hospitals as a child, seemingly supernatural ability to withstand pain--someone with a less-than-ideal body who was nonetheless driven to athletic achievement (and an amusing story about a woman, a chin-up bar and gravity boots). I read eagerly, wondering, who is this guy? When will he "become" someone I've heard of?
But it just got stranger. The cocaine, the "weakness" for single moms, his ex's suicide, the car accident of undefined cause...the authors describe this last as "the ultimate con. The man who's fooled his fans and friends into believing he had a death wish had nearly gone ahead and done it" (167). But it was the story of the Pillman-Austin angle that really stuck out for me.
First, it seemed to have nothing to do with wrestling, having moved almost entirely off-text into the expanded universe of WWE lore. That said, it sounded, well, scary. I don't assume I would have thought it was very plausible, had I been watching, but this guy was reputed to be crazy, right? And, to hear it described in prose, Stone Cold was playing up his own craziness very well. That Vince actually seemed to break character ("a publicity stunt has gone too far and our hope is that nobody has been hurt") just seems to lend authenticity (169).
Does anyone remember actually watching this? It's one of the more surreal things I've read about this since we started the course. Even this far after the fact, I found it a little hard to swallow.