Before this history lesson you must first indulge in some primo visual and verbal aggression. Sullivan in his Nasty Savage shirt wearing glory (Starting at 0:12) and severe ring psychology. UPDATED 1/3/13: "video has been removed by the user" what in the NAME OF ABUDDAHDEIN" are you doing, man?!? Anyway, here's this.
Boston-born (and heavily Boston accented) Kevin Sullivan was a wrestler with an atypical phyisique who started in the usual territory work in the late 70's and early 1980s. He began in the hot territory of Georgia Championship Wrestling which along with Florida, Memphis, and Portland were loaded with talent. His Obsessed with Wrestling (the Metal-Archives for wrestling!) profile says he once used the names Kevin Caldwell and Johnny West which were likely generic names when he jobbed in the beginning stages of his career. However, he made his TV debut in 1970 jobbing for future World Class/Mid-South-era manager Skandor Akbar (the only man on TV with both a Texas accent AND an Arabic name).
Later Sullivan worked various N.W.A. territories in San Francisco, Sacramento and L.A. In San Francisco - they taped the shows at a studio run by UHF station, KBHK-44. He worked as a heel with Bob Roop, his future partner and Army of Darkness member in Florida. Later he showed up in Memphis where he worked with Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart who was a huge part of Memphis wrestling along with such legends as Jerry Lawler, Jimmy "Boogie Woogie Man" Valiant, Jim Cornette, and even some guy from Vero Beach named Terry Boulder was there. Other parts of his early grappling resume read like a typical worker of the time - employed by promotions from West to East to Central and back. More of these details are found at Online World of Wrestling
I first heard of Sullivan through reading Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the wild tales of his satanic gimmick and bloody matches he had with Dusty Rhodes and Blackjack Mulligan. Wrestling, like metal music held an aura of mystery in this kayfabe/pre-internet era. Since the smaller territories were limited in television exposure, fans in different regions traded VHS tapes, made fanzines, newsletters. In turn they would put ads for trading or zines in the classifieds of the bigger newsstand wrestling magazines. This way fans in different territories could watch wrestlers from out of their area or out of the country (ex: Japan, Mexico, UK, Australia). Former ECW star Tommy Dreamer talks about this in his interview on Colt Cabana's podcast.
In 1985, Sullivan was thanked on the debut of Florida power thrashers Nasty Savage's debut LP. Plus, Sullivan, Lok and Luna's images appear in at least 2 of the photo collages from this LP and the 2nd LP Indulgence. Images of Nasty Savage's mayhemic metal along with the The Army of Darkness' mayhemic wrestling were etched deep in my brain early on. Naturally, I put them at the top of this blog.
The origins of his "Prince of Darkness" gimmick was a mix of his travels in Singapore and other parts of South East Asia and various early MTV videos. In multiple interview's Sullivan's mentioned Billy Idol's "White Wedding" video and basically and "rock music" were his influences. Though he did say that the names of the Army of Darkness members came from a mix of music and mysticism. (This stable of wrestlers and managers came ten years before the Evil Dead sequel. Regardless, I'd like to see how the two sides would match up).
Army of Darkness line up (dunno the exact dates but I know "Superstar" Graham was in the first incarnation in 1982):
Mike "The Dream Davis - named for his short-lived Dusty Rhodes knockoff gimmick within the Sullivan vs. Rhodes story arch.
Nancy "Fallen Angel" Sullivan (later Nancy Benoit)
Unclear on the details/rumored Army members: Alice Cooper, Roddy Piper, Incubus, the Saint, Rev. Black (no idea who these 3 are).
More of Sullivan's career details are in this really cool shoot interview from Brutal Truth TV. Part 1 goes into how the press hyped his satanic gimmick even though he never said the word "Satan" or"devil". In contrast to a direct idea of evil, Sullivan would mix in references to climbing the 13 steps, being tied to the tree of woe and one eyed ladies who gave him "cosmic cookies".
"My thing was mystical...people knew what I was saying but I wouldn't (outright) say it (satan/satanism)". - K.S. from Brutal Truth TV interview. More history on this gimmick.
"How did the "devil worshipping" gimmick evolve? He talks about how it was all over music at that time, like Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Billy Idol, etc. and figured that he could get the redneck fans to believe he was really a devil worshipper. He said that if you can get the boys in the back to believe it, it's usually good enough to convince the fans. The only time they went too far was when Dusty hung him on TV. He said that the vignettes with this gimmick were well done and didn't go too far. He takes credit for most of the ideas but that the production was all Dusty (Rhodes)." - Kevin Sullivan shoot interview video review from Kayfabe Memories.
Now a visual tribute to a number of his career highlights.
Early 70's & Late 70's babyface era.
Slightly funky (yet oily) Memphis territory era from probably '79-'80. With "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart and Wayne Ferris (later aka: The Honky Tonk Man).
Hyponotizing glares & a sales graph on his head? Sir Oliver Humperdink on the right.
My 'lil Army of Darkness tribute including my old 'zine Marketing Ploy. Also, note the great "salesmanship" by the Starlog & Apter mag writers.
Even more of the proto-Black Metal corpse paint vibe:
^ Why of COURSE I had this on my wall!
Proto-Black Metal meets "The Warriors" Baseball Furies.
Original Army of Darkness-era L to R: Superstar Billy Graham, The Creep Show (?!), The Lok, Kevin Sullivan and Nancy "Fallen Angel" Sullivan.
Mixed emotions from the Army foreshadowing a controversial angle to come...
and now for something far more interesting than the Presidential debates...
Perfect for yer punk/metal flyers or album covers. Jus' let 'em know you saw here it first.
High weirdness by PhotoShop.
Holding power over "Maniac" Mark Lewin aka: The Purple Haze.
As King Missle would say - "this is it, this is mystical shit".
Possibly later-Army of Darkness era with the pink/purple & black.
Invoking occult powers while modeling the latest in summer wear
Lok and Luna - the Daughters of Darkness who were in the later era-of the Army of Darkness. They sang back up on Nasty Savage's "XXX" (from Indulgence). Luna was the daughter of ring legend Paul "Butcher" Vachon and niece of Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon.
Bone necklace sportin' Sullivan with a very normal looking Jake "The Snake".
Sullivan doing a "Blackout"-era Scorpions gimmick alongside his short lived Florida protege, Kharma aka: Cousin Luke of mid-80's WWF.
Finally, here's a great WCW promo from 1996 that continues the mystical-occult vibe with the ever reliable King Curtis (aka: King Curtis Iaukea) at his side.
UPDATE 1/3/2013: The Return....