Darkness often falls upon all those who have crossed paths with ill doers. It also crosses path with those who made deals with those they likely shouldn’t have. To make a deal with the Devil is often shuddered at. In the case of the Boston Battler, Kevin Sullivan first embraced the Prince of Darkness during his time in CWF. During his time in Mike Graham’s Championship Wrestling Federation, the Army of Darkness was born. It was at that time when a cult-like following flagged him. Kevin Sullivan is the latest in our Seven Nights of Frights series.
A group so vile, so villainous to think that pure venom would spill from their very being. Their horrific and terrifying nature would play on that of the viewing audiences. This group included Luna Vachon, Purple Haze, Jake Roberts, Abdullah the Butcher, Sir Oliver Humperdink, The Lock, Bob Roop, and Mike Davis. The quintet made up the Army of Darkness.
Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste
Each character brought with them a fierce and ominous nature about them. As Purple Haze, ‘Maniac’ Mark Lewin would demonstrate those persona elements but with a more scathing edge as part of Sullivan’s faction. The late Mike Davis first gained prominence as part of Sullivan’s Army of Darkness in the early 1980s. Bob Roop had a strong amateur background, but he was completely reinvented when he joined Sullivan’s Army of Darkness. As Mayha Singh, he shaved half of the beard and hair on his head, adorning the shaved portion with face paint. The image in itself showed no regard for one’s appearance. It didn’t reflect any semblance of sanity. It wasn’t supposed to look rational.
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
This was typical of the faction; the irrational was the rationale. The fear became the norm. To take real elements of life that frighten men, women, and children to make it possible was even more remarkable to watch.
When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you – Amanda Hocking
One of the most intriguing characters added was that of The Lock. When Winona Littleheart first joined the National Wrestling Alliance’s Tampa territory, he came in as a woman named ‘Cindy Lou’. Lou was to have been friends with both Kendall and Barry Windham growing up. Kevin Sullivan abducted her and named her The Lock (because he had kept her locked up) and essentially enslaved her to him. Sullivan would strike her in what could be described as nothing short of violence against women. All the while remaining subservient to him. She would then sport a mohawk and dressed in rags, almost suggesting that she’d been neglected.
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
When Luna Vachon joined the faction, it wasn’t unlike that of ‘Cindy Lou.’ She came in as a reporter under the name of Trudy Herd. She was presenting Kendal Windham an award (notice the Windham theme here?), and a brawl took place. During this chaos, Sullivan struck Herd twice, leading her to what we came to know as Luna Vachon. The insanity that followed the striking of her, she shaved her head and replaced the shaved head with facepaint and an everlasting snear.
During an interview in 2004, Vachon wasn’t comfortable with some of the elements of the persona. For example, the claims that she had the Mark of the Beast on her (the three consecutive 6’s (666). As someone who was a Christian, to be called a ‘Demoncologist’ didn’t sit well with her. Would fans come to know Luna Vachon as she came to be known had this not happened? One can not be certain if another opportunity would have come up.
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain.
The final female member of the faction was Kevin Sullivan’s real-life love interest, Fallen Angel, the late Nancy Sullivan. In life’s cruel twist, it was unfortunate. It is unfortunate how someone that was a part of a faction that preyed on death would also meet that same cruelty in life. The Fallen Angel and The Lock would often bicker and fight with one another.
I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank.
During this time, Sullivan would engage in several feuds. Whether it was the likes of the Windham’s (including Blackjack Mulligan), Mike Graham, & Dusty Rhodes. Sullivan’s Prince of Darkness persona was also evident in International Championship Wrestling. Roop, Lewin, and Fallen Angel would all follow suit as his Army of Darkness. At one point, Sullivan would break a wooden chair over the head of Superstar Billy Graham (who was an ally) and beat him mercilessly. The chair shot didn’t only bust him open, but Sullivan proceeded to hang him from the top rope and beat him at the time as well.
“I took a lot from pop culture, and I knew, in essence, any story passed down is always the ultimate good against the ultimate evil. Good has to triumph, but it has to go through trials and tribulations along the way in order to be victorious. The twelve labors of Hercules, the Iliad, you know where he had to leave his family for seven years and go through all that, but when he came home, he made the ultimate comeback. I’ve always that to be the knight in shining armor, you have to slay a fire breathing dragon, not a salamander. It has to be where he overcomes a lot of problems.” via Pro Wrestling Stories
Superstar Billy Graham was an ally of Sullivan and the Army of Darkness. What isn’t shared, however, is where Sullivan’s journey into the occult began. How did it all materialize? At a time when baptist faith was so second nature in a community. To have some spread, the propaganda of being someone that represents the devil was unsettling. Sullivan had women in shackles (with one nearly naked) as slaves. He also had blood flowing off the faces of his opponents and would hang his challengers.
Several elements contributed to its birth and evolution. Whether it was the musical influences of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol or Metalica, the fiendish nature of Sullivan would get a reaction from the largely southern audience in attendance. It became important that it was so believable that even the talent that were part of the promotion thought it was legitimate than they have something special here. With a character that pushes the envelope the way in which Sullivan’s had it was almost certain that a particular moment within a feud went too far. It would, sure enough, be the hanging of Dusty that caused an uproar. – Kayfabe Memories
It was years ahead of the likes of very real cults such as those in Waco, Texas, under David Koresh. Sullivan’s Army of Darkness was not unlike the Charles Manson Family, well before the Army of Darkness. This faction tapped into an uncomfortable and sensitive area with claims of devil worship. Worship and claims that ‘Satan is his Manager’ created shock and worry. The use of serpents suggesting betrayal, much like those that invaded the garden of Eden.
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made…
It was evident that the largely religious nature of the fanbase at the time took exception with Sullivan’s group. Today a number of things that Kevin Sullivan did wouldn’t be welcomed. With a number of issues raised both politically and socially upon the treatment of women was frightening. When we consider the legitimacy of the Speaking Out movement and how even an on-camera persona could affect a viewing audience, it certainly is met with massive backlash.
However, like any great heel, if the idea is to evoke emotion from your audience, whether it’s liked or disliked, Sullivan proved that his ties to the ‘Darkside’ would haunt all that watched him. By embracing the Devil and comfortably ushering the use of a serpent, a group of talent whose direction was drawn to Kevin Sullivan is remarkable. While his stature may not have intimidated his opposition, all that surrounded him did. His control was as much psychological as much as it was physical. He was the power to make men much larger than him cower, and women fear for their very safety.
Through the years, the Army of Darkness has seen various incarnations and different promotions with varying degrees of success (circa Three Faces of Fear and Dungeon of Doom in World Championship Wrestling). Whether or not they struck fear in the hearts of those looking on previously remains to be seen. What can be assured is Kevin Sullivan’ danced with the devil and eventually let him take the lead?