Below is an excellent lengthy article on the wrestling career of Vampiro during his stints in Mexico. Topics include how 'drawing money' often has absolutely nothing to do with hugh spots, flips, bumps or even match quality...the effects increased television exposure has on house show business...and the all too prevalent problems young wrestlers face day in and day out. Highly recommended.
Courtesy of Slam Wrestling
Vampiro comes out of the shadows
Even the most fanatical wrestling fan may not know the name Ian Hodgkinson. But that hasn't stopped other Canadians from following him into the heart of darkness
By MARK KEAST - Toronto Sun
It was another evening of orchestrated chaos, and by that we mean everything went according to plan. Standing outside the Arena Naucalpan, in a suburb dominated by industrial plants 25 kilometres northeast of Mexico City, a young wrestler named Matt DeRosa from Markham leans up against a taxi. We're down a side street, late at night, and anyone who has been to Mexico City will tell you it isn't a good place to be hanging out.
It's the City of Vice. A Wal-Mart of drugs, firearms and smuggled goods. Hundreds of $20 prostitutes. Cops on the take. Kidnappings. The largest, darkest alley in the world, as someone described it.
Nonetheless, we're in pretty good company. DeRosa, 25, an imposing figure, is wearing, among other things, a black, hooded mask. Only this is no ordinary mask. DeRosa is a luchador, a pro wrestler looking to make his mark in a country where wrestling ranks second to soccer in popularity.
In Mexico, lucha libre (meaning "free fight") is not just flamboyant entertainment, it's viewed as actual sport, with traditions and heroes respected with hallowedness comparable to hockey in Canada.
"Being Canadian and coming here, you have to follow traditions," he said. "It might not mean a lot back home, but it means a lot here."
DeRosa, who took home about $100 US for his night's work, trained for a few weeks before he came here, did some pro wrestling in places like Puerto Rico, but is looking to make the grade in Mexico.
The mask is the most recognizable feature of lucha libre, and has a unique place in Mexican culture, a throwback to Mexico's Aztec ancestors, the religious leaders and warriors who donned them. Those wrestlers who wear masks in the ring, and it's not all of them, don't dare take them off in public. It allows them to protect their real identities while taking on a character in the ring. The greats of the past, El Santo, Blue Demon, heroes to the Mexican people, were buried in those masks.
Mrs. DeRosa didn't raise any dummies. Matt isn't going to mess with tradition, in a sport and in a country where on occasion the crowd's passion boils over to violence, and a gun is pulled, or someone gets stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver, or someone gets a fist to the side of the head.
DeRosa has heard the stories.
"I walked in with it on," he said. "And I'll walk out of here with it on."
DeRosa's schtick this night was the character Steelman, but the secret was soon out -- he was a stand-in. We're waiting on the real Steelman, a Torontonian named Manny Clausi, who is inside trying to get his suspension lifted after wandering into the crowd during a match and began throwing chairs around.
"I start riots, that's what I do," said Clausi, who is known more in these parts for his older gimmick, the Canadian Bulldog.
On the surface, Canadians seem well represented on the Mexican wrestling scene.
Chris Jericho and Val Venis of World Wrestling Entertainment also apprenticed here. But look behind the red curtain and you'll find only a few foreigners, or extranjeros. This is a tough business to break into in an even tougher city.
That's what makes the story of Ian Hodgkinson so surreal.
Hodgkinson is the Colonel Kurtz of Mexican wrestling. He came here full of ideals but soon got swept up the river, lost in a jungle of drugs, sex and excess.
DeRosa says he looks up to Hodgkinson, a drifter, rock star wannabe from Thunder Bay who blew the doors off lucha libre, and admires much of what he has accomplished.
Only time will tell whether DeRosa becomes a Cpt. Willard and escapes or is swallowed up by the madness that surrounds the sport.
For Hodgkinson, the City of Vice was a utopia he stumbled on by accident and a place where he became a hero to the Mexican people.
With his heyday of the 1990s in the past, foreigners inside and outside wrestling circles, and wrestlers in Toronto, now know him more by reputation.
"Hodgkinson was an absolute phenom (in Mexico)," Clausi said. "He basically busted it wide open down here. I don't know if you know that."