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  October 7, 1997

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Pillman's death followed strange behavior
By MICHAEL PLATT -- Calgary Sun

  Friends of dead wrestler Brian Pillman said the former Calgary Stampeders linebacker was acting strangely the day before he was found dead in his Minnesota hotel room.

An autopsy performed yesterday offered no answers and it could be days before new tests determine how he died.

But a referee who was with Pillman on Saturday during a match in St. Paul said he was acting out of character.

"I was at the matches with him," said Eddie Sharkey.

"He came to the matches real early, and he seemed fine -- but the last time I saw him, he was just staring into space."

Sharkey said Pillman had been sleeping on the floor of the dressing room during the broadcast, "which was kind of unusual."

Professional wrestlers often have a hectic travel schedule, Sharkey said, but they don't typically nap during matches.

The medical office in Bloomington, Minn., the city where Pillman died, said more tests are needed to determine the cause of death.

Pillman, a 35-year-old World Wrestling Federation star, was found dead Sunday afternoon in his hotel room.

Police would not say if they suspected foul play.

Pillman -- known as Flyin' Brian -- was a member of Calgary's Hart Foundation, a close-knit wrestling clan which includes Brett Hart and Owen Hart.

Stu Hart, patriarch of the foundation, said Owen and Brett were on tour with Pillman when he died.

"Owen told me Brian didn't get up to catch the bus to St. Louis the next morning," said Hart.

"He asked someone to check the room and that's when they found him."

Hart said his whole family has been floored by the death of Pillman, but said he suspected Pillman's wild lifestyle may have finally taken its toll.

"We are all shocked, but sometimes these young guys like to experiment and see how much abuse they can take," said Hart.

"Maybe he went too far."

Pillman had drug problems in the past. He was arrested for drunk driving and illegal possession of prescription drugs by Cincinnati police in 1993.

The drug charges were later dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Pillman had also been plagued by an ankle injury he suffered when a vehicle he was driving overturned in Kentucky last year, leaving him in a coma for a week, according to Bruce Hart, who trained Pillman to wrestle in Canada.

More on Brian Pillman

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