Vampiro

Despite his name translating to “Vampire” in Spanish, the Canadian-born Vampiro was never a supernatural or mythical entity. Instead, Ian Hodgkinson used his vampiric and gothic appearance to appeal to the demographic of wrestling fans in the 90s. Funnily enough, the gimmick wasn’t ever supposed to work.

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Photo credit: WWE

Promoters at Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, Vampiro’s first break into the wrestling business, took the man as a joke. Tattoos, coloured hair and an affinity for black clothing and makeup weren’t commonplace in Mexico at the time, and the appearance alone made him the laughing stock of the locker room. To everyone’s surprise, however, the audience ate Vampiro up. The women in attendance gawked at him, despite him only throwing a few punches, kicks and headbutts in his first couple matches with the company. Having your character stand out in wrestling is everything, and Vampiro definitely stood out. 

 

By 1998, six years after his debut in CMLL, Vampiro joined WCW. Being the number one professional wrestling promotion in the world at the time, WCW was ingrained in Western pop culture. As is the case with any medium, professional wrestling becomes trendy as it goes through boom periods. Crossovers with other mediums are customary in order to expand the promotion’s outreach or to merge the audience’s interests. Think Bad Bunny in WWE or American Top Team in AEW. It’s not a stretch of the imagination, then, to picture a professional wrestling fan in the 1990s taking an interest in Vampiro, considering how he would combine the world of wrestling with pop culture. 

 

During his first year with the company, Vampiro formed a group called “The Dead-Pool” with horrorcore legends, the Insane Clown Posse, and grunge music icon and hardcore wrestler, Raven. And yes, I just used the words “legends” and “Insane Clown Posse” in the same sentence, wanna fight about it?

 

Though the stable didn’t last long, it put new North American eyes on Vampiro. Eyes would be on him once again when he brought punk rock legends, The Misfits into WCW and created a team with them as well. Vampiro matched their iconic look, donning the “devil-lock” hairstyle and more horror-esque face paint. 

 

After an angle with Sting that concluded in Vampiro setting “The Icon” on fire, he once again teamed with the Insane Clown Posse in a feud with another pop-culture tie-in character, “The Kiss Demon.” Vampiro would feud for the United States and Hardcore championships a number of times before being written off due to injury, and his contract played out until WCW’s folding in 2001.

 

Vampiro would tour the wrestling world for the next 17-years, taking his name to the likes of AJPW, AAA, TNA, XPW, JCW, and finally, Lucha Underground. Though he was more of an on-air personality than a wrestler in LU, a fantastic deathmatch against Pentagon Jr., meant that yet again, Vampiro gained a newer fanbase intrigued by his character’s mystique. 

 

Vampiro was just “cool,” for lack of a better term. He never actually did anything to indicate that he was a “horror” wrestler, but his ties with horror culture always made him a fan-favourite. The Misfits and the Insane Clown Posse were essentially horror acts in their respective rights, alongside being some of the most popular alternative musicians of their eras. By having Vampiro emulate their appearances and form factions with the groups, fans were able to connect with him, as just as they were, he was a fan of the macabre, alternative and darker ends of Western pop culture.