Man of a Thousand Deaths

Ricky Banderas popped up on my radar during his time with the short-lived Lucha Underground promotion where he wrestled as Mil Muertes. I was immediately taken by his intimidating presence and impressive physique. His character was a luchador riff on The Undertaker. He had casket matches, employed dark magic, and surrounded himself with death imagery.

With the recent release of PANDEMONIUM, I’ve been thinking a lot about wrestling and horror, times and places where they’ve intersected. I can think of few cooler examples than the Man of a Thousand Deaths. The above video depicts one of his resurrections. We’ve got some spooky necromancy images and a super-sexy Salina de la Renta foreshadowing of his debut in Major League Wrestling, where (as far as I know) he’s currently signed. Super-cool stuff.

Hitman

I finished reading HITMAN, the autobiography of Bret Hart, earlier this week. Those who will tolerate my talking about wrestling know that he was my favorite worker. Even when he turned heel in 1997, I still secretly wanted him to win. I recognized even then (I was 13) that the man was an artist. He knew how to tell stories. He had a way with words. His matches looked like real fights.

HITMAN came out in 2007 or 2008, but I put off reading it due to its length. Plus, I wasn’t really into wrestling at the time. I cycled out of it, going all in on musical endeavors from 2003 to 2010. I didn’t start watching wrestling again until 2015, and a lot of it started with revisiting some of Bret’s promos. Some critics say he was never a good talker, but I don’t know; he had a down-to-earth, working-class character that I always vibed with, and still do.

The book, at 546 pages, is quite a doorstop, and it spans his life from a childhood growing up with eleven siblings and a wrestling promoter father to the unceremonious end of his career after a botched kick to the head from Goldberg.

I’ve talked at length with Kelby Losack and J. David Osborne about spoilers and that we kinda, not so secretly, love them. In a memoir of a wrestler whose career I’ve followed, spoilers were inevitable. I knew how it would all end. I knew his little brother Owen would die in a terrible in-ring stunt. I knew all about the Montreal Screwjob. I knew about the way Bret’s career would end.

And yet, I couldn’t stop reading. I honestly believe that a truly good artist could have the surprises in their work ruined without adversely affecting the enjoyment of the work.

HITMAN is such a book. Bret writes with the same down-to-earth, working-class sensibilities he brought to his wrestling persona. He writes with an honesty I long to see in everything I read.

I know that every time I talk about wrestling I alienate my audience, but seriously, if you want a well-written, heartbreaking and insightful book, you could do a hell of a lot worse than HITMAN.

Nightmare Freddie

Freddie Krueger (real name Doug Gilbert) best known for his time in Southern wrestling promotions and overseas in Japan. His most notable gimmick was as Freddie Krueger or Nightmare Freddie where he cosplayed as infamous slasher movie villain Freddy Krueger from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise. As far as I know he is still active, despite debuting in 1986, and won a championship as recently as 2018.

With the recent release of PANDEMONIUM, I’ve been thinking a lot about wrestling and horror, times and places where they’ve intersected. Really cool to see an iconic movie character become so iconic in the business. The video above is a highlight reel of some of his matches. The song, I believe, is his entrance theme from his time working in Memphis.

Jason the Terrible

Jason the Terrible (real name, Karl Moffat) is a wrestler who cut his teeth in legendary Canadian promotion Stampede Wrestling. He’s most notable to me for his persona, which was a strange amalgamation of Jason Voorhees (the mask), Leatherface (he sometimes carried a chainsaw), and Michael Myers (the jumpsuit). As a fan of slasher movies, his existence brings me tremendous joy. I wonder what his career would’ve become were it not cut short by injuries sustained in a car crash.

With the recent release of PANDEMONIUM, I’ve been thinking a lot about wrestling and horror, times and places where they’ve intersected. I can’t think of a better instance than the career of Jason the Terrible. The song during the highlight reel I’ve linked is “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” written by shock rock icon Alice Cooper and featured in the film FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES.