Whatever Happened to The Commandant

The Commandant

Craig Wilson

Three years after apartheid ended in South Africa, the WWF debuted a South Africa supremacist group called The Truth Commision debuted led, initially, by The Commandant. Today we ask Whatever Happened to Robin B. Smith, the man that portrayed The Commandant.

The WWE loved gangs in 1997. We had the Nation of Domination – a black power movement, Los Boricuas – a Puerto Rican group, The Disciples of Apocalypse – a squad of bikers and, in the Truth Commission – a South African supremacist group.

That’s right, several years after Apartheid ended in South Africa with the election of Nelson Mandela as the country’s President, the WWE sought to keep its finger on the pulse but forming a white supremacist stable.

Foreign heels weren’t a new phenomenon so the creative department probably thought they were on to something. After all, we’ve had Nazi sympathisers such as Fritz Von Erich and Hans Schmidt, admirers of Russia such as Nikolai Volkoff, and supporters of Iran like the Sheik who declared his support for the Ayatollah.

At the start of the 90s we had one of the most controversial when, as America fought in Iraq, former all-American Sgt. Slaughter turned his back on the USA and pledged his support for Saddam Hussein.

So, with such attention-grabbing gimmicks as a basis for a foreign heel gimmick, the WWE created this stable in the USWA.

After being spotted by Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, Robin B. Smith made his way to the WWE where he wrestled as The Commandant and took leadership over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Robin B. Smith was born on February 28, 1955, in Cape Town South Africa. He would make his acting debut in 1987 in the South African film Scavengers. From then onwards he would appear in a long list of movies, mostly in South Africa although some bigger movies.

His stable featured Tank, a masked superstar who previously wrestled as Mantuar, Recon – who would become better known as Bull Buchanan and Kurrgan The Interrogator – a seven-foot monster.

In the USWA the duo of Recon and Kurrgan won the tag titles while Tank defeated Jerry Lawler to win the USWA Heavyweight title. Things looked promising for The Commandant and his troupe.

A move to the main roster duly followed with appearances on Saturday Night Shotgun before Tank was released and replaced by Luc Poirier, a French-Canadian journeyman, who became Sniper. It was Kurrgan, based almost exclusively on his physique, was the centrepiece of the group.

Unfortunately for The Commandant, his role was phased as the WWE wanted someone who could wrestle and take bumps. The WWE brought in Don Callis and named him The Jackyl, less of an army leader figure and more a cult-like leader with references made by the announce team to David Koresh.

The group were quickly relegated to facing the likes of the DOA and The Headbangers. Sniper and Recon stuck it out but Kurrgan The Interrogator dropped the Interrogator part of his named and joined the Human Oddities, alongside the Insane Clown Posse and several others including a now masked John Tenta, better known to WWE fans as Earthquake.

Robin SmithAs for Robin B. Smith, you rightly ask due to the title of this piece. He returned to the world of acting and appeared in 2006’s The Fall, a film about Los Angeles-based in the 1920s. His most high profile role came when, in 2009, he played Johan De Villers in Invictus, a film about a South Africa rugby team fighting to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

His IMDB page lists his most recent role, from where the picture on the left comes from, as Adriaan Blignaut in the film ‘Strikdas’ – a comedy film. Considering how poor The Truth Commission’s run was on the main roster, Smith’s departure probably came at the best time for him.

You can read all previous Whatever Happened to pieces here.

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One thought on “Whatever Happened to The Commandant

  1. Pingback: Whatever Happened to Kurrgan? | Ring the Damn Bell

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