This was a documentary that, up until quite recently, I didn't realize even existed.
While Vampiro was a standout star in Mexico in the 1990's, his U.S. success story was quite brief, most notably a run during the dying days of WCW. Doesn't exactly strike one as a noteworthy career that needed documenting.
But Vampiro - Angel Devil Hero is less about wrestling and more about an interesting personality who happens to have gained fame in the wrestling industry.
The documentary, released in 2008, has very good production values. Not only is the image quality decent (many independently-produced wrestling docs tend to be of the 'filmed using a Sony Handicam' variety), but there's a nice punk rock soundtrack that gives the film a professional feel to it.
The story the documentary tells? Wouldn't say it's quite as professional. Or perhaps 'confusing' would be a better term. We begin with Ian Hodginkson (Vampiro's real name) stressed over a new promotion in Mexico that he was about to launch in 2006.
While he had the talent and ideas to get the group off the ground, the sponsorship money wasn't coming in quickly enough. A common-enough problem among wrestling promoters not named McMahon or Carter.
After a brief introduction, we're taken to Dublin, Ireland, in a scene that occurs chronologically before he creates the promotion. In this scene, Vampiro has a European tour to finish and who meets him at the airport but a very young Sheamus "S.O.S." O' Shaunnessy, who later went on to later WWE fame as.... Chavo Guerrero. Okay, fine, smartass - it's Sheamus; happy?
I have to admit, it's pretty damn cool to see a younger Great White with a buzz-cut hairstyle, and averting his eyes shyly when answering questions to the camera. We even get to see the run-down shack he grew up in as a child, fella!
But before we get too far with that scene, we're taken back to the new promotion, with Vampiro threatening to get money from drug dealers and money launderers to fund his show. I'm not making that up; it's actually what he said he was doing.
Then we're in Montreal talking to his teenage partner in crime and his wrestling trainer. Then back to the indy show. Then Germany. Then Mexico, where his friend Norman Smiley explains how Vampiro can be a bit of a dick. Then back to the indy show. Then Vampiro's childhood home in Thunder Bay, Ontario (a city about 14 or 15 hours northwest of Toronto, for point of reference).
My point is, the constant back and forth is both exhausting and confusing. This isn't Memento; it's supposed to be a documentary about a wrestler! By the end of the documentary, you really don't care whether Vamp fails or succeeds with his new promotion, which is unfortunate.
What's also unfortunate is that, in Vampiro, you have a very interesting, complex person that should have been a relatively easy story to tell. A rebellious teenager who looked like a dead-ringer for Billy Idol back in the day; later became a bodyguard for Milli Vanilli (yes, seriously); moved to Mexico and became one of the biggest non-Latino names to even compete in the country; arrived in WCW; toured the independents and eventually tried to start his own promotion.
Instead, you hear more about Vamp's alleged criminal activities over the years and don't even get a mention of his WCW run (which was really his only major U.S. exposure). They certainly talk about his run in Mexico, but some clips of his time there would have been nice. Vamp's personal issues are interesting enough, but at the same time.... as a wrestling fan, you're left wanting much more.
Would I recommend this DVD? Probably not. It's well-produced, and seeing Teenaged Sheamus is a rarity, but you'd probably have to be a hardcore Vampiro fan to really get true value from the documentary.
Angel. Devil. Hero.