The Rotten Ink Arena doors are open and as you can see, it’s really spooky in here as fog is all over and Halloween decorations are hanging all around as this “R.I.W Wrestling Legend” update is about a wrestler who had the power of voodoo on his side and who could put curses on his opponents and make fans look on in fear! And I am of course talking about Papa Shango who terrorized the WWF as well as a few indies in the early 90’s and who is going to be coming down this aisle with his smoking skull and will shock, scare and entertaining this packed house. And while he grab some candy corn and spooky punch from the snack bar and find our seats I am also here to say that from time to time in the month of October we will have some “R.I.W Wrestling Legend” updates about these spooky themed wrestlers. But as you can see, the house lights are going down and the smoke is pouring in so that mush mean Papa Shango is on his way to the ring and our update is about to start.
Charles Wright started his pro wrestling career in 1989 and was trained by Larry Sharpe and came from background of working for bars and would first start working for Jerry Lawler in the USWA and go under the name The Soultaker and would even capture the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship title his rookie year and held it for two weeks. While working for USWA he would also get chances to work a few matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling and this helped him learn more moves and skill sets. The Soultaker would also start working other smaller indie feds during this time and by 1991 he would get the call to come work for the WWF. And when first working for the WWF in Dark Matches and House Shows as Sir Charles and was not a character with a future. But in 1992 Sir Charles would become Papa Shango a voodoo master who would chant curses, wear face paint to make him look like a skull, would carry a skull that would smoke and he even could control the arena lights. Kids in the crowd was scared of this creepy guy as he would be pushed fast from the start and would get wins over name mid-carders and would also be pushed in big stories as he would feud with Ultimate Warrior that had him curse the Warrior and cause him to bleed and vomit black goo. He would also get a WWF World Heavyweight Title shot against Bret Hart at Saturday Night’s Main Event XXXI and even entered the 1993 Royal Rumble. But while he started out being a big heel for the company he quickly found himself falling down the card and loosing matches against names like Tito Santana and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. And by mid 1993 Papa Shango would be faded away from TV and the WWF. But he would be sent back to USWA by WWF as the two companies worked together and Papa Shango would win the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship title for a second time. And would even in 1994 wrestle for the German company Catch Wrestling Association as Papa Shongo would go for the company’s world title but would loose. Papa Shango would fade away due to Pat Patterson not being a fan of the spooky character. But during his short run he would have some big matches against some big names like The Undertaker, The Road Warriors, Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Big Boss Man, British Bulldog, Kamala and Bob Backlund to name a few. Papa Shango really did scare the kids in the crowd and even some adults was spooked by his voodoo ways but his time to scare was short.
In 1994 Papa Shango would be no more and in 1995 Kama “The Supreme Fighting Machine “ would appear and be a shoot fighter who loved to fight and would feud with The Undertaker and even steal the Dead Mans urn and turns it into a gold necklace and would join the Million Dollar Corporation a stable of heels lead by Ted DiBiase. And Kama was a short-lived character that would be gone by 1996 after entering that years Royal Rumble. Kama Mustafa would return to WWF in 1997 and would no longer have the nickname The Supreme Fighting Machine and would be apart of the Nation Of Domination stable that was lead by Ron Simmons and would have fellow members over the years like The Rock, Mark Henry, D’Lo Brown, Owen Hart and PG-13. And after a good run with the stable he in 1998 would become The Godfather a pimp who would have hos come to the ring with him and the fans would love him and his larger then life persona. The Godfather would be a very popular mid-carder who would be in the WWF Intercontinental title picture from all the way up to 2000 and would even capture the title once. In mid 2000 The Godfather would become The Goodfather and would stop his sleazy ways and join the stable known as Right To Censor and would capture WWE Tag Team Gold along with partner Bull Buchanan. In 2002 he would return to The Godfather character with his ladies and all. But by the end of 2002 he would be let go from the company. From 2005 on The Godfather would make special appearance off and on for the WWF via Royal Rumble matches and even backstage segments. And even in 2007 Charles Wright would start working the Indies as well as doing conventions and at many would be both Papa Shango and The Godfather. In 2016 The Godfather was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame and still remains a beloved semi retired wrestler.
Papa Shango almost made two big returns to the WWF over the years but the plans just never seemed to work out. Like in 1994 a plan was in place that would have Papa Shango be the one who put a voodoo spell on Bob Backlund to explain his crazed heel turn, but they decided to bring Charles back as Kama The Supreme Fighting Machine. And in 1997 they had plans to bring back Papa Shango and even update his look and character and once more he was instead Kama on his return. I am not going to lie as I would have loved to have seen either of these returns happen as I feel that the WWF did not fully do Papa Shango justice as the character was really cool and was a favorite of mine in the early 90’s and his feud with The Ultimate Warrior was one I enjoyed. And on a side note I still think WWF could bring back Papa Shango even now and have him involved in a story with The Fiend, and he could even have a none wrestling role and it still would work. But check out the first two pictures below to see what Papa Shango would have looked like in 1997 if he had returned.
Growing up a wrestling fan I have always liked the creepy and horror themed wrestlers and Papa Shango was one of my favorites as how can you go wrong with a wrestler who looked creepy and would put voodoo curses on his opponents and scare the hell out of the kids in the crowd. I mean he would make black goo pour from peoples heads, make them get sick and puke up that same black goo, he would mess with the arena lights and even set peoples feet on fire! He even once put the black goo curse on Mean Gene Okerlund and caused his arm to have pain and drop the microphone as the goo ran down his arm. And I always marked out for his matches against the likes of The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior and Kamala. And I even had his Hasbro figure and would play him in the video games on the Sega Genesis. And in these modern times it seems that Papa Shango is finally getting some respect and love as the character was loved by many and hated by many when he first appeared, and now it seems like more people have discovered just how awesome the character was and how much potential he had as they really could have used him as a monster heel and could have had him in the World Title picture. If you can see Charles Wright at a convention at times you can get photo ops and he will dress as Papa Shango complete with smoking skill prop! I should also note that when Papa Shango disappeared off WWF TV I was pretty bummed and when he showed back up as Kama I was disappointed as while I like Kama and The Godfather the best gimmick in my eyes for Charles hands down was Shango. While he is none active for the most part from in ring action I for one hope that he does return at some point to the WWF as I think they could do some cool stuff with him in the over all story arch of The Fiend.
We are now at the point of this review were we will be taking a look at the DVD set and review some of the matches on the discs like always between 4 to 8. I want to thank Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing for having this set in stock and also want to thank Papa Shango for his hard work in the world of wrestling. I also want to remind you that I will only be breaking down randomly select matches from this set and will be breaking down the match and will be rating the matches on a 5 Star rating system. I also only choose from Single matches, as I want to break down his matches that showcase his style. Here is what the stars mean ½ Means a really terrible match, * Means a bad match,** Means a below average match, **1/2 Means a good average entertaining match, *** Means a good match, **** Means a great match, ***** Means an epic match. So if you are ready, let’s step into the ring with Papa Shango.
Best Of Papa Shango
Match 1: Papa Shango vs. Tatanka
Shango jumps Tatanka from behind just as the bell rings and unloads some punches and throws Tatanka into the ropes but misses a dropkick, given Tatanka a chance to fight back with some massive chops. Papa Shango takes the chops for a short time but once more takes control of the match and even delivers a big jumping head butt that knocks Tatanka down, and allows Shango to keep up his assault and even choke the Native American superstar on the ropes. Shango then gets Tatanka in a nerve hold trying to make him submit and he really digs it in with all his size and power, but as the fans start cheering Tatanka starts to war dance and use his elbows to Shango’s gut in order to break the hold and take the momentum of the match. Tatanka climbs to the top rope and drops a chop to the head of Shango, and is able to get a two count. Shango goes outside the ring and grabs his voodoo stick and tries to hit Tatanka with it as sparks shoot out of the top of it and the referee has seen enough and disqualifies Papa Shango and gives the match to Tatanka. This was a good solid match that was sadly a very lame ending as both guys were being pushed at the time so they just did a DQ ending so neither had to take a pin. The match for the most part is all brawling styles mixed with some moves and a dash of rest holds. While the styles of Tatanka and Papa Shango did not blend all that well they both did a great job to make the best of the match that the fans at the arena seemed to enjoy as they popped for Tatanka throughout. It was also nice to see Papa Shango try and pull off a dropkick and Tatanka’s top rope head chop looked good. And also the commentators did a good job of putting both men over in skill as well as Shango’s gimmick. Over all a good upper mid-card match that had Shango trying to use his voodoo to win and it backfiring and causing him to loose by DQ.
Match 2: Papa Shango vs. Kamala
Before the bell rings Papa Shango shows Kamala the smoking skull, and as Kamala stares at it and the bell rings Shango makes the skull shoot fire from the top and this scares Kamala who tries to leave the ring and is only being stopped by his manager Slick. Shango then attacks Kamala from behind and even starts biting him, and splashes him into the corner. When Shango whips Kamala into another corner and tries for a splash again Kamala is able to move and makes a comeback complete with a chop to the top of Shango’s head. Kamala misses a big splash and Shango is able to once more take control of the match and attacks the eyes of Kamala and then starts choking him on the ropes. Shango keeps up the attack on Kamala and tosses him out of the ring, and then starts to attack his manager Slick. Kamala sees the attack on his manager and gets back into the ring and is able to save him and then the two go outside the ring and get counted out. First thing I have to say is that Kamala’s selling of looking at and being freaked out by the smoking skull is fantastic! Kamala is such an under rated wrestler and his comedy aspects are great when he wants to be funny. This match is pretty much a brawl as Shango and Kamala throw punches and hit basic movies like body slams and yet for some reason it really works as both guys have gimmicks that mesh well and they play off each other so well. In fact when selecting the matches for this update, this was the one I was most looking forward to. Neither men throw out any moves that standout or are that impressive, but the comedy between the two is what makes this match work so well. I was a little disappointed in the count out ending though. To sum it up, I would have liked for this match to go a little longer and would have had one of them winning the match. And Shango is the prefect heel in the match as he uses dirty moves and trues his best to scare his opponent silly.
Match 3: Papa Shango vs. Mr. Perfect Curt Henning
Papa Shango jumps Curt Henning as the bell rings and lays in some big punches, and then tosses Henning out of the ring. Shango even rolls out of the ring and attacks Henning before he can even get back into the ring and even once he is able to get back into the ring. Henning makes a comeback and dropkicks Shango out of the ring and then goes out after him even ramming him into the post. Once back in the ring Henning and Shango exchange hits and moves each trying to cut the other off from getting to much momentum. Shango ends up getting Henning in a headlock and cheats to get leverage by putting his feet on the ropes and almost puts Henning asleep with the hold. But Henning is able to get out of the hold and land some big clotheslines, and after a missed move Shango is put into the Perfect Plex and Henning gets the win. This is a good match as Curt Henning was one of the all time best and he was able to work well with the style of Papa Shango who throughout the match looked like a major threat. Henning also really sells for Shango well and makes him look like the monster heel they were building him up to be. The ending was great and having Henning quickly hit the Perfect Plex was a great way to give Henning the win and also not damage Shango in the process. Over all this was a really good match and again have to stress just how good Henning was at this time in making everyone in the ring with him look like a true superstar.
Match 4: Papa Shango vs. Repo Man
Before the match its clear that Repo Man is a little scared of Papa Shango as is many of the young kids in the crowd. As soon as the bell rings Papa Shango is all over Repo Man and throws and batters him around the ring before getting an arm bar and working over the wrist joint of his opponent. But Repo Man is able to make a comeback and after a few bit punches he uses a clothesline to take Shango off his feet. Repo Man then gets an arm bar of his own and starts working over the arm of Shango who gets out of the hold by picking him up and body slamming him hard to the mat, and locks in a chin lock on Repo Man who is clearly in lots of pain. Shango breaks the hold and pushes Repo Man into the corner and starts biting him as the referee yells at him. Repo Man tries to make a small comeback but is cut off and after a double clothesline Shango gets mad and grabs his voodoo stick and shoots sparks into the face of Repo Man who in turn grabs his rope and hook and the referee disqualifies both me and neither get the victory. What a strange match for the WWF to have as both men are heels and the fans have no idea who they should cheer as they both work a brawling style with each throwing big punches and hitting your most basic wrestling moves. And because they wrestle a semi same style the action in the ring was solid and it was clear that Shango is who was being pushed and he is in control for most of the match. And Repo Man does a great job of selling as well as acting scared of Shango, and on the other side Shango does a good job of selling for Repo man when he makes his comebacks. But like before the finish is a little of a letdown as once more is a DQ as both men grab weapons and the referee has seen enough and throws it out, it should have had a clear winner of the match. This is a weird booked match but at least a very entertaining one.
Match 5: Papa Shango vs. Marty Jannetty
From the start of the match Papa Shango out powers Marty and gets him into the corner and starts throwing punches and even works over Marty’s eyes. Shango makes a mistake and tries to axe handle hit Marty who is able to jump kick Shango in the face. Shango then challenges Marty to a test of strength, but Marty is to smart for him and just as they are about to lock up he gets Shango in an arm bar, Shango gets out of the hold and they pull off a chain of moves against each other and Marty ends up back to having the arm bar locked in on Shango. Marty ends up knocking Shango out of the ring and goes out after him, but Marty misses a move and hits the guard railing and this gives Shango the chance to stomp on Marty outside the ring, and then tosses him back into the ring and drops an elbow and stomps on his face and then tosses Marty back out of the ring. Marty gets back in and rolls up Shango for a pin, Shango kicks out and hits Marty with a massive clothesline and is only able to get a two count on the Rocker. Shango starts arguing with the referee and Marty roles him up for a one count. Shango then starts punching Marty who bounces off the ropes and rolls up Shango again and this time gets the three count. What a good match that had to solid mid-card draws entertaining the fans as Marty of course worked a fast pace as Shango brought the brawling style. The two really worked well together and the quick surprise pin was a great finish for the match as if gave Marty a win and also didn’t make Shango look weak in defeat. The crowd was behind Marty and he does a great job of playing the crowd and getting them involved in the match. And the fans do not like Shango as they boo for his moves. Over all really a good quick match and both guys look great and both guys work well together and made for an entertaining match.
Match 6: Papa Shango vs. The Undertaker
The bell rings and The Undertaker and Papa Shango stand in the middle of the ring face to face and stare each other down and the electricity is filling the arena and Shango makes the first move and grabs Taker by the throat and backs him into the corner. But Taker then grabs Shango by the throat and backs him into the corner. Once the choke is broke Taker starts landing good hits on Shango and even walks the top rope and clubs the arm of Shango who tries to make a comeback but is body slammed for his attempt, but taker misses a dropping elbow and Shango is able to knock Taker out of the ring who lands on his own feet, but Shango will not let him into the ring. Once Taker gets back in the ring and behind the referee’s back Shango uses his voodoo stick to shoot sparks into the eyes of Taker who falls out of the ring blinded and Shango goes out after him and starts pounding on him and hits him with a chair and even throws him into the steel steps. And once back in the ring Shango continues to beat up on Taker who keeps sitting up and after a serious if big elbow drops Shango waits to see if he rises, and as the manager of The Undertaker Paul Bearer lifts the urn he carries into the air The Undertaker sits back up and hits Shango with a leaping clothesline and then choke slams him and gets the three count and the win. This is a match that features two of the best wrestling gimmicks that were in the WWF at the time as both had horror themes and these two should have had a much bigger feud than they did. I mean imagine a story that had Papa Shango using voodoo to control The Undertaker and turning him into a heel, and Paul Bearer having to figure out a way to get Taker back, but that for another topic. The match is slow passed as both work a brawling style but their styles cause very similar mix very well and The Undertaker does a great job of selling for Shango even when sitting up like Michael Myers from the Halloween movie series. While Shango does great selling and watching The Undertaker as you could tell he wanted to bring him down. The Undertaker walking the top rope in a movie that is now called Old School is great and got a pop from the crowd. In fact the crowd was really into this match and it was clear they wanted The Undertaker to win. The stare down between the two at the start of the match was great and really set the mood for the match and when Shango landed all those elbows and watched to see if Undertaker would sit back up was great creepy heel stuff. A great entertaining match as I enjoyed the story telling in the ring as well as the slow moving brawling action, really do wish these two got a longer and more flushed out feud.
Match 7: Papa Shango vs. Bret Hart
This is match is for the WWF World Heavyweight Title. As the bell rings Papa Shango starts landing clubbing blows to the back of Bret and takes control for a moment, but then Bret is able to pull off a monkey flip and hits some big punches and goes for the pin after a flying body press, but only gets a one count and with the kickout Bret is thrown to the outside, Bret slides back in and hits Shango with an atomic drop and then clotheslines Shango over the top rope as the fans go crazy, as Bret dives out and lands a big punch to the downed Shango. Once back in the ring Shango is able to take control of the match when he whips Bret chest first into the turnbuckle, and then start beating up Bret with punches and moves and even gets Bret into a massive bear hug, Bret escapes the move by biting Shango on top of his head, but Shango keeps the momentum in his favor and shows just how powerful he is, and then goes for a never hold on Bret. And anytime Bret tries to make a comeback Shango uses his power to cut it off and stop it. Shango misses a top rope elbow drop and Bret takes over the momentum of the match and keeps hitting Shango with moves and going for the pin only for the Voodoo Man to kick out. But Bret is able to get Shango in the Sharpshooter and Shango gives up and this gives Bret the win. This was a great WWF title match and like always Bret Hart gets a great match out of his opponent with this one being Papa Shango. Bret does a great job of not only flawlessly pulling off his moves, but also makes Shango look like a top heel contender for his title and like the true superstar he is gets the fans really into the match. Shango as well does a great job of hitting massive moves and stays on Bret making it look like the title is in jeopardy of switching hands. And even in loosing Shango still looked strong throughout the match. A really good match and shows that Papa Shango could work with every style of wrestler on the WWF roster at the time as he could work jobbers as well as top of the federation like Hart and have good matches with them all.
Match 8: Papa Shango vs. Bob Backlund
From the start of the bell Backlund is able to use his speed and technical style to trip up, out maneuver and take down the much bigger Papa Shango who ends up talking the momentum when he beats Backlund in a test of strength. Bob is able to gain control again and this time shows Shango that he as well has power. But Shango is able to land a massive backbreaker and take Backlund down, and then the two battle outside the ring with Shango being the one in control and rams Backlund’s back into the apron, and even back in the ring Shango keeps up the attack keeping Backlund down with a headlock. Even when Backlund is able to use an arm drag to get out of the headlock Shango keeps up his attack not giving him a moment to catch his breath, and after pounding on him locks in another headlock and cheats to get leverage by putting his feet on the ropes. Shango lets go of the hold and starts to torture Backlund a little more, but the veteran out smarts Shango and is able to roll him up with a small package and get the win via pinfall. This was a good match that was for the most part very one sided as Papa Shango was in control for most of the match and just beat the heck out of Bob Backlund and event used submission moves to try and wear the old veteran down, and Shango looked like a beast doing so and really got the fans worked up as they were on the side of Backlund. And speaking of Backlund he does a good job of selling for Shango, getting the crowd to cheer and his for his age at the time showed that he had speed. Bob Backlund was super skilled in the match and while he and Shango have very different in ring style the match comes off very good and both come out looking like the superstars they are. Also should note this was a match of the past meeting the then generation of WWF wrestling.
Papa Shango was one of my favorite heels in the WWF in the early 90’s and is truly one that I wished would have stuck around as he could have had good matches and feuds with many of the wrestlers at the time and the years after he was gone. I mean I would have loved a full feud with The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and later Mankind and Vader. While Papa Shango might not be the most skilled wrestler of all time his gimmick, look and skills made him a stand out for me and he was one of the best horror themed wrestlers at the time only behind the likes of The Undertaker. But as you can see the ghosts, goblins and vampires have started to fill the Rotten Ink Arena for the after midnight monster bash so I think that’s our cue to leave, but before we do I would like to tell you that our next update will have us hanging out with Horror Host Icon Sammy Terry as we celebrate Halloween! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a wrestling match or two and as always support your local indie wrestlers. I wonder if the Great Pumpkin will show up for the next update?