“It’s time once again, to come on board the Hooooooooooooooooooooo train”.
For more than 11 years, and under various guises, Charles Wright had a prominent part on WWF/E television. To many, Wright is best remembered for his Attitude Era gimmick of The Godfather but going further back, in the previous guise of the voodoo practitioner Papa Shango, and as a member of both The Million Dollar Corporation and The Nation of Domination. He’s been involved in many memorable skits including making The Ultimate Warrior vomit, melting The Undertaker’s urn and offering wrestlers use of his hos in exchange for them forfeiting the match.
In this ‘The Many faces of‘ post, we look at CharleS Wright’s stint with the WWF/E.
Beginnings & Papa Shango
After being encouraged to enter wrestling owing to his size and tattooed look, and a short stint in the USWA and Japan, Wright was signed by the WWF – at the suggestion of his friend The Undertaker in 1991. He debuted as ‘Sir Charles’ in a series of house show matches but the gimmick didn’t amount to much.
It was when he debuted on WWF television, in early 1992, as Papa Shango that he was able to make a name for himself. Shango carried a skull to the ring that billowed smoke and he could control arena lights, allowing for strange goings on in the ring. Later his character could “cast spells” to cause opponents pain and to make them vomit from afar.
He was almost instantly thrust into the spotlight with an appearance, albeit a botched one, in the main event of Wrestlemania 8. Making a late entrance, he hit the ring and, with Sid, double teamed Hulk Hogan until The Ultimate Warrior made the save. This set up a feud between Shango and Warrior through much of the summer but was dropped as Warrior fought Macho Man for his WWF title. Shango would later get a title shot of his own against Bret Hart in the fall of 92 but would soon drop to the lower card in early 93 with his last televised match being a loss to Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
The Million Dollar Corporation and The Nation of Domination
After another stint with the USWA, including winning the Unified World Heavyweight Championship for a second time, Wright returned to our screens. It was initially mooted that he would return under the Papa Shango gimmick and that would be used in part to explain the change in Bob Backlund’s career – that Shango has cast a spell on him.
Instead, this idea was shelved and in early 1995 he returned as Kama “The Supreme Fighting Machine”. The gimmick was that he was a shoot fighter and he soon joined Ted DiBiase’s ‘Million Dollar Corporation’ stable shortly after his debut.
He became an immediate part of the stable’s feud with his real life friend The Undertaker and he would go on to steal his urn at WrestleMania XI then having it melted down and formed into a necklace. He would lose the urn back to The Undertaker at Summerslam 1995 and was then taken off TV and departed the company in early 1996, after a brief return to compete in the Royal Rumble.
In 1997 Wright was again asked to return to the WWF and once again it was supposed to be under his Papa Shango gimmick. Again this was dropped, owing more to the introduction of another supernatural character in Kane. Wright reprised the Kama gimmick but with less emphasis on shoot fighting and joined the now all-black Nation of Domination as they waged war on the white Disciples of Apocalypse and the Latino Los Boricuas.
The legitimately tough Wright would compete in the rightly much maligned ‘Brawl for All’ tournament and, like others, suffer an injury as a result. In the summer his gimmick would alter greatly with the addition of “ho’s” joining him at ringside. Once the Nation of Domination split for good at the tail end of 98, his ‘Godfather’ persona would grow to new levels. He would offer the ho’s to opponents in the hope of them forfeiting the match and soon found himself in a run with the Intercontinental Title and was set for a programme with Owen Hart until his tragic death.
The WWF soon drew the ire of the Parents Television Council, who claimed that the WWF programming was unsuitable for prime time television – they had seemingly missed much of the previous few years’ television. The WWF unsurprisingly turned this into an on-screen gimmick and formed Right to Censor, a conservative group of wrestlers led by Steven Richards.
The Godfather faced Bull Buchanan,the group’s first member, with the stipulation being that if Buchanan won he would renounce his former ways, which he duly did. Wright then began wearing a shirt and tie to the ring (as was part of Right to Censor’s gimmick), became known as “The Goodfather”, and teamed with Buchanan, with the duo going on to win the tag team titles.
The Godfather character then had a short revival in 2002. Wright claimed to have gone “legitimate” and formed a legal escort agency. While this run lasted around for a few months it never caught on to the same extent as it did previously and he was soon sent to SmackDown where he turned heel.
The Godfather’s final two appearances saw him reunited with the hos as he interrupted the “wedding” of Billy and Chuck, which helped lead the tag team into admitting that the entire gay marriage angle was a sham designed to garner media attention. The Godfather appeared again the following month on Raw during the Raw Rouletteevent, where he offered a night out with the hos to the victor of the match between Jerry Lawler and Stevie Richards.
In December 2002 Wright was released from the WWE and retired from wrestling, returning to Las Vegas to manage Cheetah’s, a gentleman’s club. Since then he has made a number of sporadic appearances in the WWE, most recently a very brief spot in this year’s Royal Rumble match.
If you enjoyed this post you can check out the should check out a similar post on Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs that can be found here.