If you have are a pro wrestling enthusiast, chances are that you’ve heard the name Vampiro. I have been watching wrestling most of my life, and that name has been around since I can remember. My introduction to Vampiro was in WCW, and I’ve seen him in some form in numerous wrestling promotions since. Vampiro has been a mysterious character, but thanks to Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro, the face paint is stripped off, and the man behind the dark persona becomes vulnerable. The documentary tells the story of how Ian Hodgkinson went from hockey protégé to working for the mafia to being a Lucha Libre icon.
It kicks off with Hodgkinson, better known as Vampiro, working as a producer and agent for the AAA wrestling promotion in Mexico. Hodgkinson then talks about being a standout hockey talent as a Canadian teen. Struggling to find his identity, he was a troublemaker in school when Hodgkinson watched his first wrestling event on television featuring the tag team duo the Road Warriors.
He sold his hockey equipment to attend a live wrestling event in Montreal and begged for a job to work as a stagehand for the promotion. Just when he thought he had a foot in the door, things took a turn for the worse when he befriended a man by the name of Robert Martin. Martin was a guy that knew all the “bad” people. Martin introduced Hodgkinson to the mafia in Montreal, and he began working for them. It got to the point where if Hodgkinson did not leave Canada, he would be killed.
“…WCW signed Hodgkinson, which he says killed his wrestling career…”
At the age of 18, Hodgkinson would move to Los Angeles and found a job as a bodyguard for the lip-syncing duo Milli Vanilli. Oddly enough, this is where he would get the gimmick for his wrestling persona, Vampiro. He adopted the Milli Vanilli look and mixed it with punk rock. He took the new persona and went to Mexico, where Luchadores are looked at as superheroes. In the late 1990s, WCW signed Hodgkinson, which he says killed his wrestling career because of backstage politics.
The heart of Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro lies within the relationship between Hodgkinson and his daughter, Dasha. He was always on the road wrestling but never wanted to be. He would’ve rather been at home taking care of Dasha, but he had to pay the bills. Both of them tell their views of their father-daughter relationship, and it is heartbreakingly sweet. You can see how passionate and proud Hodgkinson is of being a father and that he wants to be a good father—but also wishes that he could do better by her. On the other side, you can see how their anything-but-ordinary life turned Dasha wise beyond her years.
Although many people in wrestling believe that showing the behind-the-scenes of the business could be the downfall of wrestling, I feel that this documentary positively helps the business. It humanizes a mysterious character and shows the struggles of wrestlers, such as trying to balance the home and the wrestling life, while just trying to leave the business on their own two feet. Ian Hodgkinson is a fascinating person, and never would I have guessed that he had such a crazy life. Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro is a must-see for any wrestling fan.
"…humanizes a mysterious character and shows the struggles of wrestlers..."