"Shoot”, that means an unplanned, unscripted occurrence in terms of professional wrestling, aka “Real”. The term “Work” means anything planned to happen, “Fake” Why am I telling you this? Because this review is for the new documentary Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro. For those who don’t know Vampiro his real name is Ian Hodgkinson. He is a professional wrestler who rose to fame in Mexico and to some extent here in the states in WCW during the famed Monday Night Wars. He still wrestles on occasion but mainly acts in either a booking (setting up matches aka screenwriter) or commentator. This documentary focuses on his wrestling life but primarily on his relationship with his young daughter. Think the movie The Wrestler, only parts of it are real. Yes, parts.
This doc starts out great. We see Vampiro working in the backstage capacity at the AAA TripleMania 25 event. One of the best events in wresting history in my opinion. For wrestling fans this is gold, as it is real, and if you are familiar it was an event littered with issues. We see Vamp worrying that Johnny Mundo is starting his promo to soon, and little stuff like that. But we also see him dealing with bigger issues. A drunken wrestler (Jeff Jarrett) flinging tortillas into the crowd, and getting into verbal altercations backstage. Another wrestler injuring an opponent on purpose (Sexy Starr, a favorite of mine) and more. It’s a very great look behind the curtain of the world of wrestling.
We learn about Vampiro’s background (Which has been debated for years) growing up in Canada and traveling to Mexico where he incorporated the log hair, tattooed, punk look and became a Lucha Libre icon. For many years he was one of the largest stars in Mexican wrestling, right behind Konnan. He became very popular with the ladies as well, offering a new look they had not seen before. He traveled back to the states in the late 90’s and worked for Ted Turner’s WCW company during the height of wrestling popularity. Bringing his unique look and style as well as incorporating the punk band The Misfits, and later the rap group ICP into his gimmick. He was a top tier guy, but never made it to full main event status there. When they folded he travel back to Mexico and found a home as a commentator for what was, in my opinion, the greatest wrestling promotion ever Lucha Underground.
Vampiro became a teacher, a mentor, and more to many of this generations younger wrestlers. He also over the course of these years has suffered countless injuries. Riddled with arthritis, multiple concussions, Vampiro has essential, weather he likes to admit it or not become and old man at the age of 53. Aside from taking a toll on his body, its taken a toll on his personal life as well, and that’s where this doc comes to life.
Vamp has a daughter named Dasha. As professional wrestlers travel all of the time he was not around as much when she was growing up. Now as a young woman he is trying to reconnect, rebuild past relationship issues with her. They don’t have a bad relationship, there is just a great deal that was absent. Vamp is a single dad now and spending all the time he can with her. Its very touching to say the least. Say what you want about Vamp, and believe me a lot of wrestlers have nothing good to say, something this doc leaves out, but he’s a hell of a dad. Its not fake or put on for the camera, its real, and it’s the heart of this story. Watching Vamp tell her how he doesn’t like to physically wrestle anymore but still does as its what he knows is a very touching scene. In fact all of the scenes with the two are fantastic. See Vampiro’s story is not a cautionary tale, but it is depressing. Here is a guy who gave his body and mind to a sport he loves and now both are not in great shape, but he continues to do it. He shares all of this with her and its actually very heartwarming. As a parent I can relate to Vampiro. He is walking the line of being not only a father, but a friend as well to his daughter. A line that is a tough one to walk, but it can be done. And he is doing it perfectly. Making up for lost time, and building on the future. It’s a great story that would have been fine stand alone.
The wrestling element is here, well because Vampiro is a wrestler, and wrestling fans are going to be the core audience. But if your not a fan. Never watched, don’t know who Vamp is, this is still a very good story about a man doing right for and by his daughter. My only criticism is the pacing. The doc jumps all over the place, with very little continuity in between. The open of all the craziness at TripleMania open the documentary hot, but it would have really been during the last act of the film to really send everything home. Some wrestling fans may be mad that this is one sided, as Vampiro has provided some interesting “Shoot” interviews over the years, and this does not really touch on some of his more “interesting” stories, nor does it talk to the people who dislike Vampiro and blame him for bad things in their career. To give you an example of how influential he was in his heyday, I have read multiple autobiography’s of wrestlers, and they worked in Mexico or WCW during the late 90’s Vamp always gets at least 5 pages devoted to him. No this is more of a story of a man and his daughter reconnecting with wrestling as a backdrop. Its being compared to the movie The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke for good reason. I can tell you that Nail in the Coffin is better. Watch it as soon as your able to.
Overall 4 out a 5 Stars!