Hometown: ‘The Orient’
Glory Days: 1994-95
Fun Fact: Debatably Kwang’s biggest claim to fame was being the only hidden character in the WWF Raw video game. He could only be found on the Sega 32X version though.
Bio: It’s safe to assume that most people think ninjas are pretty cool, right? Well, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes famous wrestling promotions – and movie directors – fuck things up for everybody. Long before Al Snow’s rotation of masked characters and WCW’s Super Giant Ninja, WWF fans were introduced to Kwang.
Full name Kwang The Ninja, our supposedly Asian friend demonstrated his mad ninja skillz in a series of promos prior to his debut. These included your stereotypical martial arts poses and breaking building supplies with his bare hands. I know, sounds lame, but don’t worry because Vince McMahon was in full hyperbole mode to put him over. Speaking of Kwang, Vince said; “a sort of ninja type karate guy… I think his name is Kwang.” The enthusiasm didn’t end there. Speaking during Kwang’s debut singles match, Gorilla Monsoon said; “is that a traditional ninja get-up?… most of the uniforms I’ve ever seen were black.” The term dead on arrival springs to mind, but maybe he did better once the bell rang…
No, no he did not. For starters he lost on his debut. Granted this was during the 1994 Royal Rumble Match, but lasting less than five minutes, eliminating nobody and being one of the seven men chucked out by Diesel is hardly a great start. To the singles ranks and finally, a bit of success. Like most baddies back in the day, Kwang established a mini winning streak, albeit entirely accumulated against jobbers. Managed by Harvey Wippleman, our ninja friend was able to display an arsenal of kicks, chops and spitting green mist at people. In all fairness, his finishing move – a Superkick – was debatably better than Shawn Michaels’. The difference was that Kwang would whip his opponent off the ropes for increased impact.
So with a collection of victories against no-name talent – and wrestling Tatanka to a no-contest – under his belt it would have been surprising to see Kwang enter the WWF Title picture… but life’s full of surprises. On the April 18th 1994 episode of Raw, Kwang faced Champion Bret Hart for the richest prize in the game. He lost, obviously, but apparently this match contributed to the highest rated episode of Raw to that point. So, how was Kwang rewarded for supposedly helping the company reach this milestone? He was jobbed out of course. Shortly after his defeat to The Hitman, Razor Ramon knocked him out of the King of The Ring tournament at the qualifying stage. Shortly after that he fell to The Undertaker on an episode of Raw. In fact, Kwang lost every match he ever had against a name talent – save for one victory over glorified jobber Bob ‘Spark Plug’ Holly when he was still called Thurman ‘Sparky’ Plugg.
This all sounds a bit pathetic – and it was – but a year after his debut Kwang did claim a victory of sorts. Having lost to Doink The Clown at a Superstars taping, our man managed to eliminate him from the 1995 Royal Rumble. It was around this time that Harvey Wippleman quietly disappeared from Kwang’s side and we started to see less and less of WWF’s resident ninja. His green mist also turned red around this time, or he developed a severe chest infection. The mystery man’s last two outings saw him accidentally hit his partner, Hakushi, enroute to defeat against The Smoking Gunns. As a result Kwang faced Hakushi in a singles match, and lost… convincingly. This seemed to represent a passing of the torch, with Hakushi representing a miles better – and miles more appropriate – representative for Japan on WWF television. Within weeks of Kwang vanishing without a trace a Puerto Rican man with the exact same body made his WWF debut. This was just a coincidence obviously, because the masked man Kwang was from Asia, not Puerto Rico…
All previous ‘Icons of Wrestling’ can be read here.