The past year has been a rocky one for Vampiro. And a rock’n’roll one.
The Thunder Bay, Ontario native went from WCW golden boy to being fired, to being brought back in and given his biggest push yet. And he went from tagging up with the Insane Clown Posse to The Misfits.
The two bands provided two very different experiences for Vampiro, whose real name is Ian Hodgkison.
“I get along with both of them. The Clowns were good friends. But the Clowns, they’ve got their own agenda. They just banged heads with pretty well everybody in the office. That got them a bad rep, which got me a bad rep, which got me off TV for a long time,” said Vampiro a couple of days before the WCW Mayhem PPV in Toronto.
“The Misfits, on the other hand, when they came in, they made sure that everybody got T-shirts, records, they brought in vitamins … They hug everybody and they’re best friends with everybody. They made a good impression on the Turner people right away.”
Behind the scenes, he’s also great friends with Norman Smiley, with whom he wrestled for years in Mexico. “I get along with everybody. I’m even actually speaking with Konnan, if you can believe that. I don’t really have a problem with anybody right now, except Sting and [Lex] Luger. Sting for obvious reasons, Luger just because he’s an asshole.”
Sting, it seems doesn’t like Vampiro’s look. “I’m the new zombie, the new bad boy on the block. He’s not too thrilled about me painting my face white.”
Vampiro has also been made the fifth member of the Misfits, a long-running punk band. He said that he’ll be playing rhythm guitar for them, “just making noise.”
“I’ve played in bands pretty well my whole life,” he added.
Jerry Only, the leader and bassist for the Misfits is looking for big things from his wrestling buddy. “Vampiro’s joining our band. He’s going to play guitar. Not for the whole set, but maybe some songs,” Only told SLAM! Wrestling’s Alex Ristic. “He wrote a theme song that we want to record for him. The cool thing is he’s like a little brother. I’ve found a Canadian little brother which is so cool. We’re doing extremely well, so when we do come to Canada, hopefully it will be with some tag team belts around our bellies.”
Vampiro, however, is quick to point out who does what. “They’re going to be doing some things, but I’m the wrestler,” he said, adding that the relationship is “good for them, it’s good for me. But as far as getting down on the mat and bleeding, that’s my job.”
Only is realistic about coming in on the ground floor of pro wrestling, especially at age 40. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have big dreams. “I’ve found a vehicle to sell my product, and get in good shape at the same time, and go to another level. I’m very happy to be working with these guys. I go in there and bust my ass for them (WCW) every day. I listen to what they say, and I don’t answer anybody back. I’m on the bottom of the totem pole in the WCW right now. I get to carry everybody’s bags, but that’s how you earn the right to wear the belt. I’m signed for a year. All I have to do is stay in one piece and I should be able to get myself a belt.”
Vampiro and the Misfits will be doing more than just wrestling and making music together. They’ll be going to horror and comic book conventions, doing some co-merchandising, and maybe, if everything goes according to the plan, hosting a B-movie program on a Turner station, and playing parts in the potential George Romero Resident Evil movie. Only and Vampiro also taped an segment for MuchMusic’s LOUD metal program, to air in the upcoming weeks.
But even that isn’t all for Vampiro. He and his wife, whom he met in Mexico, are looking to move to Toronto from Thunder Bay to improve on the commute across the continent to work. Plus, Vamp said he’s writing a rock’n’roll wrestling vampire movie to pitch to director Robert Rodriguez, and working on a non-wrestling video game.
Wrestling’s still number one for Hodgkison, though, speaking of his alter-ego in the third person. “I think Vampiro’s my career, and Vampiro’s going to wrestle, Vampiro’s going to try to get into TV, music, video games and movies.”
Life in World Championship Wrestling has been an up-and-down experience for Vampiro. But he can joke about it now. “Looks like I’ve overcome the politics of WCW,” he laughed at one point during the interview.
“I was one of Eric Bischoff’s projects and pretty well everything that Eric Bischoff touched got let go,” he explained. “About six months before, when I was doing nothing, I was going to ask for my release anyways to go with WWF to work with Vince Russo. I was told he was a big fan and he really, really wanted me to be there. So the same week that he got hired by WCW, I was fired. I was supposed to start in ECW one week before the pay-per-view, and as I was basically heading out the door, WCW called with a new offer saying that it was a misunderstanding, that Vince Russo really, really wanted me there. He made it real clear to me that he really had a lot of plans for me. And if I stayed, I definitely be one of the mainstream guys, one of the headlining guys real quick. It looks like, little by little, that’s happening. I’m just very grateful to be with Terry Taylor and Vince Russo and Ed [Ferrera], Bill Banks, Bill Busch and all those guys. The old cliques certainly have no say about my destiny any more. Now that I’ve brought the Misfits in — and everyone thought that it was going to fall in my face, and it turned out to be one of the biggest things they’ve got right now.”
The whole firing and re-hiring was “really over-exaggerated on the Internet,” he said. “I guess there’s some guy called The Jackyl — I don’t know who he is — but he seemed to know more about it than I did. He really spread a lot of rumours, and so did the Internet. The fans just kind of went goofy on it.”
But to set the record straight, he did take a pay cut — and he’s happy about that. “It wasn’t so much a pay cut as it was restructured. So although the paycheque may be a lower quantity, there’s a lot of incentives built in — there’s a huge merchandising thing, every six months there’s an evaluation, and I have the opportunity to merchandise myself. It really worked out for the best.”
Jerry Only on being in the ring on a recent Thunder tagging with Vampiro:
“I got killed. I got choked to death by Meng The Merciless. Actually Meng is probably the most feared man on the face of the earth. Everybody there (WCW) is afraid of him. In Japan, he was a Yokozuna, and then they have this other thing over there, like Mortal Kombat, you fight almost to death, and he was champion there. He’s like a god in Japan. It was funny because when we got done getting killed, studs were coming off my jacket and hair was coming off my head. The guy just touched me. I said to Vampiro ‘Man this guy, all he did was lay one hand on me, and I totally came apart. He says “Well in Japan you’re a very famous wrestler now for having even stepped in the ring with that guy. And I says “You’re kidding me,” and he says “Nope.” Wow. Hello, I guess it was worth all the pieces of my body coming off.”