Welcome to the latest installment of CREEM’s cocktail column, Born to Booze, where we celebrate running away from our feelings. In this installment, our resident bartender/ musician, Kirk Podell (Subversive Rite, Anti-Machine, Neo Cons), gets in the ring with Vinnie Stigma, a man who’s had both a band and—more important—a drink named after him. Now Vinnie’s knocking heads in the squared circle and bringing the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of fringe cultures—hardcore and wrestling—together at last.

Of all the things that come before a guitar solo in a great song—whether it be an impassioned yell or an unmistakable drum fill—nothing gets anyone with two ears and a heart as amped up as hearing the word “STIGMA!” It’s basically a sign of quality, like a Michelin star.

I wandered into Queens Brewery in Ridgewood, NYC, a few weeks ago to get a drink and witness hardcore legend, guitarist for Agnostic Front, and onetime serious (to me, at least) United States presidential candidate Vincent “Vinnie Stigma” Capuccio enter a new venture as an amateur wrestling manager for Outlaw Wrestling.

Boy, let me tell you, he’s up to the task.

“My buddy Kevin Gill has been running this thing for years,” Vinnie told me on the phone the next day. “He’s an old hardcore dude, and what can I say, the scenes are kinda the same!”

He wasn’t wrong. The line to get into this thing felt like I was paying at the door to be eventually punched in the face during Maximum Penalty. Except inside there was a ring set up in the middle of the floor with folding chairs and benches surrounding it, some of which were occupied by NYHC legends, Queens natives, and various punks strewn about. This was the crossover wrestling/ punk equivalent of the party scene in After Hours, with every man, woman, and child eagerly waiting for Stigma to make his debut as the Jimmy Hart of New York hardcore.

“Roger [Miret] and I used to take Freddy [Madball] to all the WWF stuff in the ’80s at Madison Square Garden when I was his legal guardian. We moseyed backstage somehow, and we all got to meet Andre the Giant,” Stigma told me, with the pride and wonder that any of us would feel watching our own lil’ future frontman of Madball toddle up to the towering Frenchman. “Freddy’s hand wrapped around his whole pinky. He must have been 8 at the time, I’ll never forget it.”

The entire event that night in Ridgewood was like a 1980s B-movie fever dream. Tag teams of Puerto Rican wrestlers beating up teen amateurs, people in psychedelic panda suits (I assume they weren’t actual pandas) getting their asses kicked, a wrestler named Manbun Jesus who inspired chants of “Let’s go, Jesus.”

“I really wanna manage more of these guys,” Stigma told me. “They have so much passion and have been doing this for so long. I’m hoping we can bridge the scenes and create the ultimate event.” The wrestler Stigma’s managing is Nelson Erazo, a.k.a. Homicide. The dude has been getting bloodied in the ring since 1994 and is a former Ring of Honor World Champion and TNA Tag Team Champion, in addition to dozens of other accolades. Having Stigma take the lead feels like another big step. The way they interacted in the ring was electric, with Stigma running around, high-fiving and talking shit, shaking hands and yelling just like Burgess Meredith in Rocky.

As the match progressed, it suddenly took a turn with Stigma himself brawling, United Blood-style, on behalf of his protege. The fight culminated with Stigma flying off the ropes, helping Homicide win. At that moment in the evening, the entire crowd lost it. You would have thought Hulk Hogan had entered the building.

Stigma then grabbed the mic and lip-synched “NY Blood” from the Stigma album New York Blood featuring Vinnie Stigma. (Y’know, just in case you forgot who he was.)

After the dust and blood had settled, Stigma and I chatted and took some photos. I asked if he wanted to have a drink before the night was over.

“I would, but they can’t make a Stigma here.”

What’s a Stigma, you might ask? (Don’t worry. I asked for you.)

“Vanilla vodka, cranberry, and ginger beer—it’s delicious. I’ll call you in the morning.”

As sweet and strong, heroically bracing (I like cranberries, okay?), and timeless as the man it’s named after, the Stigma will be the last thing you call out to the bartender, right before your brain turns into the guitar solo from “Power.”


The Stigma drink
Photo by Joe Jagos

2 oz. vanilla vodka (or a fistful)
10 oz. cranberry juice (or enough to look like the bloody floor of a wrestling ring)
1 bottle of ginger beer

1. Take 1 highball glass, smash it over your opponent's head
2. Grab second highball glass and fill with ice
3. Pour vanilla vodka into glass, pour a secondary shot
4. Spit out secondary shot in eyes of opponent.
5. Add cranberry juice to highball, throw additional shot onto forehead to re-create the Crimson Mask
6. Pour out a 3-count (or more) of ginger beer to finish off your opponent
7. Drink until submission

Thanks for reading CREEM. This article originally appeared in our Summer 2023 issue. If you prefer to read in print, grab a copy here and subscribe to never miss another one.



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