There are weeks in our (patent pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week Series, where finding an applicable indy comparison is just so easy. Davey Boy Smith? Nigel was the perfect choice, and could have easily teamed with Davey’s son in the E. #BatistaWeek? The Big O just jumped out of the indies and right into my word processor, and onto the site. But Brian Pillman?
It’s hard to think of anyone to put at Pillman’s level. It’s not that he was a 5-star athlete, or someone who you could always look to for a 5-star match. It wasn’t even the Loose Cannon gimmick for which most fans seems to remember him. With Pillman, it felt real. He was able to do what so few these days are able to make fans do—suspend our disbelief, and accept what we are watching as real.
Even now, fans look back at Flyin’ Brian and wonder: was this guy batshit crazy, or just a fantastic worker and actor? Is this legit, or am I just falling for an elaborate work?
There’s only one guy on the indies, who I can think of, that’s ever made me feel that way. That man is Teddy Hart.For those who recognize that name, I’ve probably triggered some painful memories. There were some painfully awkward promos in the New York/New Jersey area, featuring absurdly over-rehearsed rhyming lines. Once, he even broke character and begged fans not to leave.
Then there was the debacle that’s come to be known as “The Teddy Hart Incident.” After a steel cage match (which he lost) Teddy went into business for himself – doing unplanned backflips and dives off the top of the cage, and puking in the ring. If you watch the video, you can see some FURIOUS wrestlers reacting in the moment, and then-ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Look it up. The video’s not on YouTube right now, but search for it. Everything you find will blow your mind.
There was the time he talked about training CATS for pro wrestling. No, really. That’s a thing Teddy Hart pitched, believing it’d be a good idea.
And don’t forget his attempts to enter the world of (almost) reality TV.
The sad thing with Teddy is that he’s actually pretty talented in the ring. He came up with Harry Boy Smith (DH/David Hart Smith) and TJ Wilson (Tyson Kidd) and has just as much talent. He’s got the body. He’s got the skills. But he’s not going to make it to the big time in American pro wrestling.
Moreso than the loose cannon persona, that may be where he’s most like Pillman. Both men had all the talent in the world, with the look and the résumé to boot. Pillman died. Teddy’s still with us, but he’s been fired by our friends at Titan Sports—twice. You’ll see me working for Gabe’s promotions before Teddy is welcome back. Corporate ROH isn’t an option. Mexico has been, but his old tag partner Jack Evans has done far better south of the border than Teddy has…anywhere. In fact, Teddy’s reputation has probably cost Jack by associations, more than he’ll ever realize or admit.
With Teddy Hart, like Brian Pillman, you have to wonder: how much of it is a work? Is he just this crazy? And whether he is or not, imagine how much more he could have been?