Nailed to Fame

There’s so much to Nail in the Coffin, it’s unfortunate how little of it there is. Through the eyes of Ian Hodgkinson – Vampiro to the pro wrestling world – Nail in the Coffin shows a man defeated by an industry. Beaten and broken. At times, even resenting fame and what success brought into his life.

Inside the pro wrestling world, egos clash. Scenes in locker rooms heighten tensions. Anger swirls. Real world feuds bubble up. Nail in the Coffin isn’t all insider stories; that’s a tiny part. Hodgkinson brings pressures onto himself, acting as a promoter, booker, and father, this while spending days barely upright as his joints fail.

Nail in the Coffin is about family, not wrestling

The success of Nail in the Coffin is distilling this figure into a complex if understood person in such a tiny runtime. A nice guy, but easily angered. A great father, but irritated when his limited family time is interrupted by popularity. By the end, it’s clear Hodgkinson would readily trade it all to earn back his parenting time.

Yet the ring calls to him. Broken necks and concussions don’t matter. This is all he knows, and there’s sadness permeating this documentary. A familiar sadness too, because pro wrestling’s idiosyncrasies lock these performers into an inescapable lifestyle; Hodgkinson’s story is not unfamiliar, if certainly his own.

Here’s a guy who, right at the moment he figured out who he was, found a way to deal with personal trauma through wrestling. Nail in the Coffin gives him room to open up, if not risking a deeper discussion about sexual abuse. He found his way to cocaine, pills, and other seedier things – even the mob and disgraced music act Milli Vanilli. Vampiro became a wild and eccentric character; Hodgkinson himself lived a less controlled life than the character being tossed onto thumbtacks.

Pro wrestling is an easy industry to hate. It’s entertainment exploitation that expects limitless dedication, yet readily tosses guys like Hodgkinson out, or in a cyclical cycle where they can’t leave; in Hodgkinson’s case, both happened. To be a dad and pay bills, he flies from Canada to Mexico every week. The documentary’s framework shows, even if Vampiro can barely brawl, the schedule doesn’t change. Travel, perform, travel, perform. Get hurt. Keep going. This, all to give his daughter any advantage he can, no matter the sacrifice to himself. Nail in the Coffin is about family, not wrestling, but once a part of the industry, those two things cannot be separated. An emotional, compelling tragedy for 90 minutes.


Sourced from a variety of places, from taped TV, live broadcasts, and new interviews, quality understandably jumps scene-to-scene. Taking only the “new” footage, that filmed specifically for this feature, Nail in the Coffin looks splendid.

Stellar sharpness draws out significant detail and definition. Texture excels consistently, helped by absolute clarity from a flawless encode. The slight noise appears added to give images a little grit and it works without fail.

Generally high contrast during interviews (especially those shot outdoors) gives everything an appealing, natural look. In stadiums during shows, the lights shimmer and glow. Black levels work at the same level. Bright color pleasingly saturates when needed to give the match clips added zest. Lucha Libre’s awesome costumes splurge on vibrancy.


Dolby Digital comes in both 5.1 and 2.0. Might as well go for the 5.1, even if it’s only for the opening company logos. They sweep around room and add some low-end for effect. After that, Nail in the Coffin spends its time comfortably in the center.

That’s not entirely fair. A slight ambiance inside arenas or restaurants brings some surround use. It’s minor. Regardless, clarity and balance hold firm throughout.


Additional interviews expand on the main feature, including speakers like fellow wrestler Chavo Guerrero who take up mere seconds of the documentary. Some behind-the-scenes of the sadly defunct Lucha Underground looks at Vampiro’s involvement, and an excellent mini-documentary of sorts (running around 12-minutes) looks at an event handled by Vampiro as he helps new talent.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Nail in the Coffin
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A look at pro wrestling through the eyes of star Vampiro, Nail in the Coffin tears down an industry by focusing on a man who can’t leave it.

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