On yesterday’s date in 1999, my friend Brian C. Hildebrand passed away after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 37.
You knew Brian as Mark Curtis, a referee in WCW.
Brian was from Reserve Township, just like me. He lived on Mt. Troy Road, just like me. He loved pro wrestling, just like me. He ended up in WCW, just like me.
Pro wrestling was Brian’s lifelong passion. He refereed, and that became his niche. He’s in the conversation for best ever. But he wrestled, too. He managed. He bumped. He put up the ring. He worked backstage, and in the office.
Brian trained under Channel 11 “Studio Wrestling” legend Dominic DeNucci. What could be more Pittsburgh than that? (His class included Mick Foley, Shane Douglas and Cody Michaels.)
Tiny at just 5-foot-6, Brian was tough as nails. He was a scrapper. Witness the video below. A fan hit the ring, so Brian took him down and choked him out. A nickname was born: “The Shooter.”
No one in wrestling was ever more respected. In 1999, not long before Brian passed, a benefit was held at Rostraver Ice Garden: “Curtis Goes Home.” Performers from warring promotions WCW, WWE and ECW wrestled on the same show. Only Brian could have inspired that.The boys wanted to do it. Their companies allowed them. It was unprecedented.
Brian was a good man. I miss him terribly. Brian C. Hildebrand, RIP.