Latest posts by Sam Panico (see all)
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During our last installment, we discovered the vampiric ring denizens of Mexico. This time, we’re going to grab a spray bottle of holy water and load our fanny packs up with crucifixes as we go in search of more ‘rassling Nosferantus!
The 1990s/2000s promotion 100% Lucha, based in Argentina, seems to be the bastard son of Titanes en el Ring with a more WCW Nitro-esque flair. With a six year lifespan, the promotion even gave birth to a few movie spin-offs and action figures. They had their own resident evil vamp in Molok el Vampiro, who had a bevy of batty beauties that followed him to ringside. He looks more like Bobby Liebling of doom metal giants Pentagram than Bela Lugosi, but let’s give him some credit for rocking out that sick spandex spider-laden ensemble!
Travelling to America and the abortive SciFI Network relaunch of ECW, we find Kevin Thorn. Once known as Mordecai, a religious zealot character poised to feud with the Undertaker before strangely being phased out, he reappeared with a new valet, Ariel, as part of The New Breed, an upstart team of rookies who would routinely defeat the ECW Originals. The new ECW was a bust for many reasons — it was a few years too late, the biggest stars of the past were often booked to lose, SciFi/SyFy asked for fantasy characters that the fans rejected — but Thorn had an interesting look and he and Ariel seemed to make for an intriguing couple.
Ariel, or Shelly Martinez as she is now known, went on to be part of The Search for the Next Elvira, as well as appearances in several independent horror films and work as a correspondent for MoreHorror.com.
But when it comes to the most well-known American vampire wrestler, Gangrel would be the go-to ghoul. Born David Heath and trained by the famous Malenko family, Gangrel started as a black masked member of the tag team The Blackhearts known as Destruction. His first vampiric appearance was on WWF TV in 1994, when they showed his marriage ceremony to Luna Vachon in a segment entitled “Wedding to a Vampire.”
Heath wrestled as The Vampire Warrior in USWA (Of course! Memphis!) and was named the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year for 1993. Five years later, he was hired by the WWE and became Gangrel, with the name taken from the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. Gangrel had one of the greatest ring entrances in wrestling history — he literally rose to the stage in a circle of fire, drinking the blood of his victims. And when he found Edge and Christian to be his teammates as The Brood, things really got vampy. They’d attack their victims with a blood bath, ala the first Blade movie, and were also part of The Undertaker’s ultra-creepy Ministry of Darkness faction.
After leaving the Ministry, the Brood feuded with Michael Hayes and The Hardy Boys, with Gangrel turning the Carolina boys into The New Brood. It was short-lived, however, Gangrel soon left the WWE, although he’s returned several times. And if you like the work of Rusev, thank him, because he — along with Rikishi — trained the Bulgarian bully.
Gangrel’s been super active in the indies and has had quite an out of the ring career, too. In 2007, he signed a deal to direct 12 films for a company called the “New Porn Order,” using his Vampire Warrior name (of note, he also used the ring name Lestat the Vampire) and his debut film was to be called Miami Rump Shakerz 2. He also appears as a prisoner in The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), or so Wikipedia says.
Finally, I’ve discovered a few vampiric footnotes in Japanese wrestling, with Tracy Smothers having gone under a hood as Golden Vampire XIII, Tomokai Honma’s nickname of Vampire Chicken and a strange tale of “The Fashion Plate of Wrestling” Freddie Blassie. One could write an entire library of books on Blassie, but this nom de plume came from his propensity to bite his opponents. To get over on one of his first trips to Japan, Blassie bought a file at a hardware store and walked off the plane filing his teeth into sharp fangs so he could more effectively bite into the skin of his Japanese competition. From his legendary in-ring career to insane appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and a starring role in Andy Kaufman’s Breakfast with Blassie, there will never be another Fred.
Do you know of any more wrestling vampires? Please share in the comments below — I’d love your help! And if you have any comments — good or bad — share them as well. Next time, we’ll see what happens when Jason leaves Crystal Lake for the confines of the wrestling ring!