“This Cop’s Got Some Balls, But He Ain’t Got No Brains” — “Vampire Cop” (1990) — The Director’s Cut!

I wasn’t expecting to review three “cop” movies in a row, but they’ve all been so fun I keep going back to the well. Maybe next time I’ll do another.

Directed By
Donald Farmer

Version Reviewed
SRS Cinema DVD ©2017

Total Runtime
~1 hour, 16 minutes, 51 seconds

Synopsis
The words “Vampire” and “Cop” float in from offscreen. Blood forms on “Vampire”. A cheesy 80s rock song repeatedly warns us we’re now the prey of “the slow kill”, whatever that is (this song was commissioned while the film was in pre-production under its working title Slow Kill). Exterior shots of a big city are shown. I’m told it’s Pensacola, Florida. There’s a shot of a Domino’s Pizza. Who decided we needed that? A squad car flicks on its lights and pulls out of a parking spot. The squad car speeds down an overpass toward our point of view. This is followed by slow-motion footage of same.

Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

A guy in a leather jacket pulls off-road to accost a teen girl. The girl isn’t interested, but kindly walks up to his car and leans in far enough to be kidnapped. The guy drives her to a different section of road (I’m assuming the same road from the other direction, later referred to as an “alley”) and orders her out. He knows her by name all the sudden. “Traci, I’m getting a little tired of your shit. So why don’t you shut the mouth, and drop the pants.” he commands with a gun. He forces her down to the ground with a kiss. The wannabe rapist turns to see the silhouette of a man watching on, backlit by a pair of headlights. Plumes of smoke are puffed in behind the intruder. Without so much as a word, the shadowy figure (Ed Corbin as Ed Cannon) marches up and snaps the rapist’s hand off. Blood burbles out like a fountain. Oddly, there aren’t any sound effects to accompany the gruesome visual. The rapist screams twice and dies, or faints. The mysterious man opens wide, exposing a set of razor-sharp teeth. His eyes roll back in his head. He bites the guy’s throat. This must be the titular vampire cop.

These eyebrow close-ups are giving me Herschell Gordon Lewis vibes.
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

He’s lucky all he got was a snap on the wrist.
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Elsewhere, another cop sits in his car, adjusting an earpiece. His name is Newhouse. In the background, two people walk up a staircase. Newhouse’s demeanor, mustache, and stretched-out sleeveless shirt make him look like an alcoholic dad. Is anyone missing their dad? The mysterious neck biting man, whose name is now given as Lucas, leans in Newhouse’s window.

“Well, well, look who just pulled up.” Newhouse gripes. “You like to take your time, don’t ya? After all, this is just a bust I’ve been setting up for three months.”

“Hey, I want Geiger just as bad as you do.” Lucas laughs. I hate the way he says Geiger. “I just had a code 42…” he explains. According to policecodes.net, code 42 means aggravated rape, so that jibes. Nice attention to detail.

In the hotel behind them, an undercover detective meets with the fabled “Geiger” (Terence Jenkins). Geiger’s a German crime boss — the leader of the biggest drug ring in Florida. He also controls all the hookers. The undercover detective offers him $50k for a briefcase full of cocaine. But Geiger and his henchman Kurt are one move ahead. They rip the plant’s shirt off, exposing a wire.

“Hey, I’ve got backup outside.” the plant says with confidence. “They’ve heard every word of this conversation.”

Geiger doesn’t care. He commands Kurt to slit the guy’s throat. A moment later, he and Kurt shuffle out the front door, down the steps to their car unimpeded.

Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Lucas and Newhouse finally barge in too little too late – an astounding 54 seconds after their friend signaled for help. What the hell were they doing? They were right fucking there, a few spots away from the staircase. This has to be the most poorly executed sting operation in history, especially if it really was planned for three months. “Shit, Geiger must have known.” Newhouse groans at the sight of the person he caused to die. “Damn, the money’s gone!” he says next. “They still gotta be in here!” Wait. That doesn’t follow. Contradicting himself once again, he runs out the door to his car, which is now parked much further away.

He and Lucas miraculously catch up to Geiger and tail him to a building that isn’t clearly shown (they call it a warehouse). But that’s where they lose him. “We’ll get ’em. You stay with the car. I’m going in on my own.” Lucas says.

Newhouse hitches his belt up and puffs out his chest. “In that place?” he asks. “How are you gonna find anything in that maze?!”

What maze? The warehouse? In what world does a warehouse qualify as a maze?

Lucas runs off.

“Crazy bastard!” Newhouse yells into the darkness.

Where’s my Old Style?
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Lucas lifts a garage door. He walks in. He walks out. While he does this, Geiger and Kurt slowly pull around a corner. They’re now face to face with the creature of the night. They floor it. Everything goes silent here. Lucas shoots at them four times. The gun makes no sound. He jumps out of the way. The drug dealers emerge, guns drawn.

Newhouse pops out from behind a wall. “Drop it, right now!”

Kurt blows him away. His gun doesn’t make a sound either. But then he shoots Lucas and we can hear that, so… what’s going on? Lucas returns fire, hitting Kurt. Geiger speeds off. Lucas eats Kurt.

This scene is kind of surreal, if for no other reason than it’s missing half the sounds you’d expect to hear in a real situation.

The next morning at the “police station” (i.e. a room with a desk in it), who should it be but Fuad Ramses himself, Mal Arnold! Mal is on the other side of the law this time, playing a Lieutenant, and he’s not happy about the way Lucas’ bust went. “Ever since that hotshot was transferred down here from Detroit, we’ve been playing the rules by his game, his plan… He knows I got his partner down here on a slab, right? Well, why isn’t he down here with all of us right now with some fucking answers?!” he shouts, slamming his fist on his typewriter. I love this part. If you watch Arnold’s face when he says “playing the rules by his game”, you can pinpoint the moment he realizes his mistake, hence why he tacks on “his plan” at the end.

I haven’t seen much of Don Farmer’s work, but I’ve noticed something about his approach. He liked to bring in at least one semi-infamous exploitation actor per movie to boost its credibility. He did it here with Mal Arnold, in Savage Vengeance with Camille Keaton, and in Red Lips with Michelle Bauer and Kitten Natividad.

The legend returns.
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Meanwhile, at his super-secret hideout, Geiger watches news coverage of Kurt’s death. The reporter mentions that “animal-like bite marks” were found on the body. Geiger logically attributes these bite marks to Lucas and decides to keep a close eye on him.

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
The next day, Lucas is awakened from sleeping upside-down like a bat by a knock at his door. A female reporter just lets herself in. Grabbing a shirt, Lucas asks “Who the hell are you? You know what time it is?”

“It’s 2 in the afternoon!” the reporter spits back in a bitchy, defensive tone, oblivious to the fact that she’s trespassing, in a cop’s house no less. She introduces herself as Melanie Roberts (Melissa Moore, Sorority House Massacre II). The call letters she gives for her station place her in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I don’t think that’s right. She admits that she followed Lucas home and mocks him for sleeping all day, even after he says he works night shift. She continues overstepping her bounds by snooping into his bedroom, pressing for details on Newhouse’s murder, and smoking without asking. Lucas is the most patient man ever. He agrees to meet her for dinner that night.

The amount of wood paneling in Lucas’ home, by the way, makes me uncomfortable.

Back at the hideout, I think, a guy in a bathtub tells a black-haired hooker named Lisa that he wants to have a threesome with her and her friend, but I don’t believe him cos his voice is really gay. The shot transitions with a fang-shaped wipe.

Next, it’s Melanie’s turn to be intruded upon. Someone sneaks up on her for 3 minutes, 45 seconds while she tans on a beach at her beach house. All we hear in this time is a gentle hiss. The shots from the creeper’s point of view are in slow motion, making this vain attempt at suspense even more monotonous. The creeper turns out to be Traci, the girl who was saved from the aggravated rape.

“[My rescuer] had fangs, like a wolf or something.” Traci confesses. “And then, he just bit the boy’s neck… He just bit the boy’s neck, and the boy died.”

Melanie tries to coax a description out of Traci, but Traci is unable, or unwilling, to give one.

“He look like a man.”
Credit: Mad TV, Shout Factory TV, YouTube

Traci theorizes that whoever saved her was a good man who just wanted to help. Like Dexter Morgan, it seems Lucas only takes out his bloodlust on criminals. Does that make it right? Who cares? Melanie offers to let Traci stay with her.

The gay guy is still in the tub. A second prostitute dangles her titties in his face to “unshrivel” his penis.

Lucas is sleeping upside-down once again. He wakes up and answers his phone — a weird thing to do cos it’s not even ringing. Coincidentally, someone is on the line.

It’s Lisa the black-haired prostitute, placing a phony call for help. Lucas dutifully responds. When he gets there, Della, the hooker with the big swangin’ titties, plays dead. Lucas moves in to administer CPR, and Della starts kissing him. Lisa puts a gun to the back of Lucas’ head. “Geiger’s gonna be real happy to see you, baby.” she says, sounding proud of herself. Before turning Lucas in, the women decide to have sex with him. Lucas pretends to go along with it, then exsanguinates Della. Lisa just kind of sits there and tells him to cut it out. She finally gets up and shoots him three times. Lucas bites her too.

It’s common courtesy to fang before you bang.
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Because of this, Lucas shows up fashionably late to his dinner date with Melanie. She notices the holes in his shirt and asks if they’re bullet holes, to which Lucas replies “Yeah, well, I was wearing a vest!” A waitress walks into view. Lucas orders a “very rare” steak. When the waitress asks what he wants to drink, the camera comically zooms in on Melanie’s neck. “Nothing.” Lucas says, snapping back to reality.

While discussing the case, Melanie comes to an unlikely conclusion. “It almost sounds like there’s a vampire in the city.” She excuses herself to get cigarettes and checks Lucas’ reflection in her compact. All she can see is the back of his chair!

At the hideout once more, Geiger slaps the shit out of Lisa, demanding to know how she let Lucas get away. “Don’t you understand? I shot him. He just kept coming. I couldn’t stop him.” Lisa pleads, showing her boss the bite marks on her neck, which are on the wrong side.

Lucas and Melanie go back to her place to fuck. They have sensual, non-thrusting movie sex for nearly five minutes. There’s no sound here either.

Melanie wakes up to find Lucas gone. She answers her non-ringing phone. It’s Geiger. He asks for a chance to explain his side of the story, stating he’s never dealt drugs and doesn’t know why the police always implicate him in crimes. Melanie agrees to meet him alone for an interview at a marina. Geiger gives her a brief statement proclaiming his innocence, which she reads on the air the next day. At the end of the segment, Lt. Ryan responds with some not-so-kind words.

She’s keeping people abreast of the daily news.
Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

After watching the broadcast, Geiger decides the best course of action is to abduct and kill Ryan, which he does with a chainsaw. That’ll sway the public’s opinion!

Hey, remember the gay guy? Well, he’s still bathing. Lisa and Della decide to put an end to it once and for all. They walk in and feast on his throat. I’m not sure why they bother killing him when they’ve got bigger bones to pick with with Lucas, Raymond, and Geiger, but, whatev (Geiger lets another henchman named Raymond (Academy Award winner Ray McKinnon as R.J. McKay) rape Lisa).

Melanie runs into Lucas and brings him home to talk. She introduces him to Traci, who he already knows all too well. Traci runs out the front door in shock. How ’bout a thank you, Trace? He saved your life, after all. Melanie starts putting the pieces together. She realizes Lucas is the one who’s been killing people and gets upset. Is she really that surprised? By this point, she’d figured out he was a vampire.

Just then, Geiger and Raymond break in. Who will survive the ultimate battle of wits that ensues?

I won’t spoil it til further down, but I will say the movie ends like The Howling, with a news anchor transforming on camera, followed by a fang-shaped wipe. Brilliant.

_________________________

Vampire Cop was filmed on 16mm in 1989 in Pensacola, Florida. Additional scenes were filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. This is actually the first movie Don Farmer filmed on 16, but it may as well have been shot on video. It’s nearly identical in tone to his 80s SOV efforts Cannibal Hookers, Demon Queen, Scream Dream, and Savage Vengeance. It was made for about $15,000. Well, this version was.

The main backers were a couple from Tennessee — Max & Faye Chesney. Farmer was referred to them by a person whose office he walked into at random. The Chesneys gladly agreed to give Farmer $9,000 on the condition that he cast their daughter (Traci) and film at least one scene at their mother’s home in Pensacola, Florida.

The funny thing is that Farmer filmed the required scene in front of a blank white wall, which he could have done anywhere. There’s nothing about the wall that differentiates it from other walls, which, to me, defeats the purpose of moving production to the sunshine state in the first place. Farmer explains all this in the audio commentary, but I feel like he undersells how peculiar the circumstances were.

Credit: SRS Cinema DVD

Fellow low-budget filmmaker Tim Ritter (Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, Killing Spree) is also listed as producer, but Farmer sounds surprised to see his name in the credits, so I’m guessing he wasn’t too hands-on.

Like most SOV movies, Vampire Cop is full of questionable artistic decisions. For one, it shows numerous replays of scenes that in some instances happened only four minutes earlier. I’m not sure whether Farmer was padding the runtime or genuinely thought we would be this forgetful, but in my heart of hearts, I know it’s the former.

On top of that, it switches to slow motion so often, at such random points, the effect loses meaning. There are shots of characters standing still and opening their mouths in slow motion. Tell me what the purpose of that is — besides, of course, padding the runtime some more.

And lastly, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s missing a bunch of sound effects and/or music, leading to long stretches of silence. You never really notice how important those two aspects are until they’re gone.

Farmer acknowledges in the commentary that he went a little overboard with the slow motion, but offers no explanation for the missing audio.

There are also parts of his story that go unexplored. At one point, Geiger hatches a plan to produce an army of vampires. However, he abandons it instantly. Later, Lucas is forced by his boss to re-team with a new partner, but never does; that’s the last time we see the guy. What’s more, the ending is jarringly jumpy. One second, Lucas and Melanie are sitting on her couch. The next, Geiger and Raymond have Melanie at knifepoint. There’s a single shot of a car tire between.

The most glaring problem, though, might be the inconsistent conversion of Lucas’ victims. Only 60% of them turn into vampires. The others simply die. How can this be? What factors are at play here?

As you can imagine, none of this makes for a very good movie, but all of it makes for a fun movie. If you lean toward bad/cult/weird, you’ll love Vampire Cop. I can’t recommend it to horror fans. If you’re looking for genuine thrills, you won’t find them. If you’re looking for special effects, you’ll find two.

I didn’t realize when I bought this flick on DVD that it actually exists in two forms. Neither make a whole lot of sense. The “director’s cut” is the version Farmer shopped to distributors, whereas the “original” version released to VHS (included here as an extra) omits every shot with emulsion scratches (static vertical lines) and features new scenes filmed in 1990 at the behest of Atlas Entertainment Corporation, including a “hot bod” bikini contest, gratuitous sex scene, interview with a bat specialist, and back-alley mugging. The real reason AEC insisted on adding these scenes, Farmer asserts, is so they could say they spent more to produce the film than he did, thus gaining ownership. The director’s cut runs 5 minutes, 56 seconds shorter in total. There are positives and negatives to each version.

The original, for example, has a bigger body and boob count. Another mark in its favor is that the sting operation is better edited to make Lucas and Newhouse look less incompetent. On the other hand, it contains even more questionable artistic decisions. Melanie is repeatedly shown writhing in bed, as if dreaming the first twenty-five minutes, and Lucas is made out to be more of an anti-hero by biting an innocent hooker.

An obvious continuity problem arises when Melanie points out that Lucas didn’t eat at the restaurant, even though they skip their dinner date in that version, and a laugh is had when Geiger excuses Raymond to secure the perimeter and Raymond just falls off the face of the earth, never to be seen or heard from again because they excluded his death scene.

In my opinion, the worst thing about the original is that it introduces too many characters. The director’s cut has enough to keep track of.

I think I prefer the director’s cut. It’s the first version I watched, it feels more cohesive and straightforward (key word being more), and above all else, it has two extra Mal Arnold scenes. Removing even one second of Mal Arnold is a grievous, unconscionable offense. Shame on you, Atlas Entertainment Corporation.

Overall, the SRS Cinema disc is a great buy. As I’ve already said, it comes with both versions, an informative commentary track by Don Farmer, trailers for House Shark, She Kills, Night of Something Strange, and volumes 1 & 2 of the Donald Farmer Collection, plus a cool if inaccurate cover. I love Joe Bob Briggs, but his quote from the back of the box is misleading.

Twelve breasts. Twelve dead bodies. Multiple neck fanging. Double vampire sex in a bathtub! Joe Bob says check it out!

This quote was achieved by removing multiple sentences without adding ellipses. But that’s not what I’m getting at. The version he based his review on, the original, only has ten breasts, and at no point do Lisa and Della have sex with the guy in the bathtub. The body count is also debatable. Here’s what you get in that version:

VICTIM #

NAME

BREASTS?

1

Danielle

n/a

Nikki

2

Joey (rapist)

3

Perez (plant)

4

Newhouse

5

Kurt

6

unnamed hooker

7

Della

8

Lisa

n/a

Melanie

9

John (bather)

10

Lt. Ryan

11

Geiger

12

Geiger (vampire)

13

Donald Farmer

As for the director’s cut…

Body Count
12, including Geiger’s second death as a vampire.

Bod Count
4 breasts.

Overall Enjoyability
4 shots of Domino’s Pizza out of 5.

I Got My Copy From
Srscinemastore.com.

Recommendations
Las Vegas Serial Killer (dir. Ray Dennis Steckler, 1986) because there are long stretches of silence in that one as well.

So, Where is This Blind Melon Album?

Back in 2018, Blind Melon – sadly, solely remembered for their 1992 mega hit “No Rain” – announced they were heading into the studio for the first time in a decade. Since September of the year after that, they’ve released four new singles through digital platforms, in support of an upcoming album. The recording of new material not only commemorated the tenth anniversary of their comeback album For My Friends, featuring the supremely talented replacement vocalist Travis Warren, but also coincided with screenings of the documentary All I Can Say (now available to purchase on Blu-ray), assembled from untold hours of video diaries left behind by original lead singer Shannon Hoon, who passed away at the height of the band’s popularity.

The current lineup consists of three of the five founding members — Christopher Thorn (guitar), Rogers Stevens (guitar), and Glen Graham (drums). Returning is Travis Warren (vocals), and rounding out the group is newcomer Nathan Towne (bass). Towne is a bandmate of Warren’s from one of his numerous side projects, Texas Lights. Notably absent is founding bassist Brad Smith.

Speaking with Greg Prato, author of the Shannon Hoon biography A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other, Thorn said “Brad is doing Brad for now, that is all I can say about that. We’re kind of working that out right now and he seems to be busy doing other projects. We’re really excited about writing and he didn’t have the time. We just have been writing without him at this point.”[1]

For what it’s worth, someone posted an unsourced response from Smith on Blind Melon’s forums and dated it 8/13/2019: “Those guys completely betrayed me and kicked me out of the band without warning before the recent shows. The irony is that I named the band and wrote the songs that made us famous.”

Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail.

Fans may remember that Warren was actually dismissed from the band* the same year For My Friends hit shelves for being “hard to get ahold of” and “not protecting his voice” (I’m paraphrasing from memory, from second-hand forum posts). However, he was welcomed back to the fold in 2010.

It was always my suspicion that Warren’s bandmates were covering for an out-of-control drug problem, not unlike Hoon’s. These suspicions were all but confirmed in 2018 when Warren took to Facebook to announce he’d turned his life around by adopting a strict Paleo diet, casually sneaking in that he’d also stopped abusing heroin, meth, and prescription medications (full text here).

It wasn’t the drugs, guys, I swear!

In hindsight, it seems like the OGs were trying to distance themselves in case history chose to repeat itself. My point is, if Warren was able to patch things up, this probably won’t be the end of Brad Smith in Blind Melon.

There haven’t been many updates, if any, on the status of the album since June. Is it close, or further away than ever? What’s taking so long? I know the pandemic screwed everything up, but, still… it should have been done by now. In the time it’s taken Blind Melon to crank out this album, Warren’s released two of his own.

Here’s what they’ve given us so far. Whether or not these tracks make the album remains to be seen. I’m kind of hoping they don’t, so we can have twelve to fifteen more new ones.

“Way Down and Far Below”
written by Travis Warren

I love the dark country-type vibe on this one. An early version appeared on Warren’s YouTube channel before being reworked by the band. It has since been removed.

* * * * *

“Too Many to Count”
written by Christopher Thorn

An obvious song about Hoon and Thorn’s feelings of helplessness over his death. The line “let your black heart fade” brings to mind a quote from the Blind Melon episode of VH1 Behind the Music. “He really was at… just… such a low point.” Thorn recalls. “I remember he told me, like, he had a black heart, and he just felt like a bad person. I was like, man, what are you talking about?”

* * * * *

“Fence”
written by Travis Warren

Some really relatable lyrics, especially the lines “feels like the laws of gravity surrounding me got flipped upside-down; everything’s falling all around except for me I’m stuck in this town”. Musically, I’d say it sounds right at home on the Soup album.

* * * * *

“In The Very Best Way”
written by Christopher Thorn

My favorite of the four, I think. It certainly has the best energy. With phrases like “the big fall out” and “fair weather friends”, it’s obvious who this one’s about.

* * * * *

trailer for All I Can Say

I want to blubber like a baby when the melancholic piano version of “No Rain” starts up at 1:57.

* * * * *

So what do you think? Are you excited? Underwhelmed? What are your favorite Blind Melon and/or Blind Melon-related songs? Leave a comment below.

*Warren fired back at the band with a song titled “Blind Man” released through his MySpace page. I remember liking it a lot. If you know where to find it, let me know. Warren has a frustrating habit of uploading really great music then taking it down, never to be heard again. He did the same with a Lookout Kids song titled “Burn it Down”, or something to that effect.

References
1. Prato, Greg. “Blind Melon Predicts No Rain in NYC.” Long Island Pulse. April 18th, 2018. Web.

Wrestling in Review (2020), Pt. 2

Now that that no-good-dirty-rotten jabroni mark 2020 is finally gone, it should be kind of fun to reflect on what happened in wrestling, the stuff that went down since I made my first post, as we gaze starry-eyed to a new year of unknown disaster. Did I miss anything? What do you remember most from these last ~seven months that seemed to both drag on forever and flash by in the blink of an eye? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading. And while I’ve got you, Happy New Year!

“Let’s have a little history here. Let’s give the people a little show.”
—Don Callis
Credit: Impact Wrestling

WWE announced its most profitable quarter ever, raking in $43.8 million in total profits.

WWE released Rob Gronkowski before having him wrestle any matches.

NXT revived the old In Your House pay-per-view concept for its June 7th TakeOver event. They also brought back The Great American Bash and Halloween Havoc as TV specials.

For some reason, WWE felt the need to promote Randy Orton and Edge’s WrestleMania rematch at Backlash as the “greatest wrestling match ever”. Their hyped-up encounter went 45 minutes and far exceeded most people’s expectations, including my own. I’m going on record right now as having loved it. During an apparent re-shoot of a move, Edge tore his triceps.

Without explicitly saying “I’m retiring”, the Undertaker announced his retirement on episode 5 of the WWE Network-exclusive series Undertaker: The Last Ride, bringing an end to his legendary thirty-two-year career. He bowed out at Survivor Series, on the 29th anniversary of his debut with the company.

In mid-June, Twitter was flooded with allegations of sexual misconduct aimed at people in wrestling. In response to it all:
•WWE fired Jack Gallagher, Ligero, & Travis Banks, and suspended Joe Coffey
•Impact Wrestling fired Joey Ryan, Dave Crist, and Michael Elgin
•Dave Lagana resigned from NWA
•AEW sent Jimmy Havoc to counseling and/or rehab
•Chikara shut down

On a similar note, AEW suspended Sammy Guevara for jokingly saying he’d “rape” Sasha Banks four years prior, before he was even employed by them.

There was an outbreak of Covid-19 in WWE. The total number of people who tested positive was said to be as high as thirty. Among those who did and went public with their results were Renee Young, Kayla Braxton, Adam Pearce & Jamie Noble. Before the outbreak, WWE was actively instructing people not to wear masks.

On night one of Fyter Fest, Taz took a shot at WWE’s lax approach to the virus in a promo directed at AEW World Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley, whose wife is Renee Young: “You’ve been tested at home, not once, but twice, and you’ve been negative on both. And if you decided to get your ass here next week, you would get tested again here in AEW, cos Jon, as you know, we don’t run a sloppy shop.” It should also be noted that AEW and NXT had their own minor outbreaks.

Impact Wrestling fired its reigning world heavyweight champion, Tessa Blanchard, for refusing to fly in or send promos during the lockdown. She reportedly held the belt hostage, demanding $150,000 to give it back. Her stepfather, Magnum TA, disputes this amount.

On July 13th, Monday Night Raw drew its lowest viewership ever — 1.56 million people — until December 14th, when it did even worse — 1.53 million people.

WWE renamed its July pay-per-view Extreme Rules: Horror Show™, then changed it again to The Horror Show at Extreme Rules™ and booked a match on the card between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio in which the only way to win was to “[extract] the opponent’s eye”[1].

The Motor City Machine Guns, Eric Young, Doc Gallows (FKA Luke Gallows), and EC3 made surprise returns to Impact Wrestling at Slammiversary. Heath (FKA Heath Slater) and Karl Anderson also appeared.

A group including The Rock bought the XFL for about $15 million.

Shane McMahon returned to WWE TV as the host of “Raw Underground”, a recurring segment on Raw where wrestlers fought, but for real, but not really for real, in a ropeless ring in a basement or warehouse. There was nothing at stake and the segment felt pointless. After only seven episodes of Raw, it was scrapped altogether.

On August 3rd, a group of masked activist-types firebombed a generator outside WWE’s Performance Center. Later that week, they returned to wreak havoc, cutting the ropes off the ring with a chainsaw. On September 21st, the five core members of the group debuted in Bane masks, calling themselves Retribution. They declared war on WWE, stating they “refuse to suck up to an entitled regime”. Believe it or not, WWE’s response was to offer them contracts, so they could pay them to take down their company. “[Now] they can do anything, anytime, to anybody!” Tom Phillips tried to explain, like they weren’t already. The five members — lamely named Mace, T-Bar, Slapjack, Reckoning & Retaliation — signed their new contracts while hypocritically condemning the rest of the roster for collecting paychecks from WWE “like whores”. They went on to lose their first match. Two weeks later, Mustafa Ali revealed himself as their leader. He also admitted to being the anonymous SmackDown hacker from months earlier, tying up that loose end. Under his guidance, the faction lost its next match…

“When you sell your soul to a corrupt machine, you become corrupt.”
—T-Bar
Credit: WWE

Marty Jannetty confessed to killing a man on Facebook, also implying he may have killed more: “I was 13, working at Victory Lanes Bowling Alley, buying weed from a fag that worked there, and he put his hands on me. He dragged me around to the back of the building. You already know what he was gonna try to do. That was the very first time I made a man disappear. They never found him. They shoulda looked in the Chattahoochie River.” In reply to a comment asking “are you okay?” he elaborated. “Yes, that was a billion years ago. Plus, I have the satisfaction of knowing that BITCH ass ninja never got to do another kid like that.” As a result, the Columbus Police Department of Georgia announced it was looking into the matter. Speaking with Boston Wrestling Sports, Jannetty stressed that he acted in self defense, beating the man – who he called “Bob” – to death with a brick. In September, he backtracked, claiming the whole thing was part of a storyline. In October, however, he backtracked again on The Hannibal TV, stating it was in fact true and that he only said it was part of a storyline to get the police off his scent. “I hit him in the head with a brick. It was laying right there.” he told host Devon Hannibal. “I say a brick, it was a piece of concrete… Evidently, I hit him too hard and he died right there… Me and my nephew poured gas on him and burned the body up.”[2] Yikes.

TNA legend Abyss made his first-ever onscreen appearance in WWE on the August 14th edition of SmackDown as AJ Styles’ bumbling assistant, Joseph Park.

An interesting documentary titled You Cannot Kill David Arquette came out detailing the Scream star’s return to pro wrestling.

Velveteen Dream disappeared for two months. Speaking with CBS Sports, Hunter Hearst Helmsley explained that Dream’s absence, which coincided with allegations of sexual misconduct, was due to a car accident. He did, however, emphasize that he looked into said allegations and “didn’t find anything”[3]. Many fans were dissatisfied with this answer.

AEW became the first major American promotion to re-allow fans at 10-15% capacity.

On August 21st, WWE moved Raw, SmackDown, and pay-per-views to the Amway Center in downtown Orlando, which they filled with virtual fans and referred to as “Thunder Dome”.

Eddie Guerrero’s biological son Dominik Mysterio wrestled his first match at Summerslam, losing to Seth Rollins.

That same night, Roman Reigns returned from a self-imposed 5-month hiatus. He aligned with Paul Heyman, turned heel, and recaptured the WWE Championship a week later at Payback.

At AEW All Out, Matt Hardy fell eight to ten feet off a scissor lift, missing two tables, hitting the back of his head on concrete. He appeared to be unconscious or dead for at least forty seconds, but was somehow cleared to continue the match, which he won.

Earlier in the show, Matt Sydal (FKA Evan Bourne) made his big debut in a “Casino Battle Royale” and immediately botched a shooting star press, his finishing maneuver.

Road Warrior Animal passed away at 60 years of age.

The Orange County Department of Health announced that it would investigate all three of WWE’s wrestling venues as Covid-19 “hotspots”. WWE responded by proudly stating only 1.5% of the 10,000 tests they’d administered up to that point had been positive, indirectly admitting that as many as 150 of their employees — sorry, I mean “independent contractors” — had gotten the virus. Oof.

WWE instructed all talents to close down their Twitch, Cameo, and OnlyFans accounts. Zelina Vega was fired for refusing to do so.

WWE was sued by its shareholders for misrepresenting its dealings with The Beautiful and Progressive Kingdom of Saudi Arabia™ (in reference to the “airplane incident” following Crown Jewel 2019) and settled out of court for $39 million.

Pat Patterson passed away.

Sting debuted in AEW on a special edition of Dynamite titled Winter is Coming.

Later that evening, special guest Don Callis helped Kenny Omega cheat to win the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. The pair appeared on that Tuesday’s Impact, signaling the beginning of a partnership between the two companies.

Ironically, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s youngest son Brett pled guilty to embezzling millions of dollars.

Randy Orton set fire to The Fiend in a “Firefly Inferno” match, then RKO-ed him and did it again, ostensibly killing The Fiend.

Brodie Lee (FKA Luke Harper) passed away at 41 years of age.

References
1. Zak, Brad. “Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins – Eye for an Eye Match.” WWE. July 6th, 2020. Web.

2. The Hannibal TV. “Marty Jannetty Explains Alleged Molester Killing.” Online video clip. YouTube. October 3rd, 2020. Web.

3. Brookhouse, Brent. “Triple H Addresses Velveteen Dream’s Return to NXT TV, Says Absence Was Due to Car Accident.” CBS Sports. August 17th, 2020. Web.