Charles Wright had one of the more standard introductions to the wrestling industry. He was discovered while bartending and his physique and tattoos made him perfect for wrestling – especially in the late 80s when the look was all that mattered in so many territories. After a short stint with Jerry Lawler’s USWA where he won the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, he moved on to the WWF.
His first gimmick in the WWE was as Papa Shango; a voodoo character who would, like, burn guys alive and stuff after matches. As a kid, it was terrifying. As an adult, it’s sort of in the “hey, this is sort of racist to make a Black guy a voodoo priest.” I distinctly remember, though, Shango making Ultimate Warrior throw up and bleed from his head. That gimmick, though, was killed when Shango missed his cue to do a run-in on Hogan/Sid at WrestleMania VIII, helping cement it as one of the worst matches of all time.
Soon thereafter, the voodoo gimmick was dropped and a new, supreme fighting machine was born.
At first blush, Kama seems to be the most harmless of the Charles Wright gimmicks. Kama wasn’t a pimp or a voodoo demigod or pimp. He was just a guy on a motorcycle who beat people up for fun. He was the Supreme Fighting Machine. They never even mentioned that he was a Black guy. He wasn’t Soul Fighter #2 or Jive Jabber Leroy Punch-A-Lot or anything. He was a legitimate badass on a bike.
I remember being so excited for Kama because of the vignettes, making it like he was a legit martial arts master. I was so excited to see Kama vs. Shawn Michaels in the King Of The Ring qualifier in 1995 and everything. The problem was that Kama wasn’t that good in the ring. I don’t know how good of a martial artist he actually was but he rarely showcased it. He sort of wrestled like he was permanently concussed and I’m not sure his knees ever worked. But dammit, I wanted to be a fan.
In some ways, Kama is the most racist of all of the gimmicks because it didn’t have to be racist at all. It was racism plucked out of field of normalcy and it didn’t need to exist.
It all started at WrestleMania XI. Kama had joined Ted DiBiase’s Corporation – which was really underrated as a faction especially if you look at how much they kicked Lex Luger’s ass at Survivor Series – and one of their members, King Kong Bundy, was facing the Undertaker. The match was a bowl of sh*t. But the story here was that Kama came to the ring and stole Undertaker’s urn, which was his source of power, of course.
Okay, we’re still in totally normal wrestling feud territory – until you realize that only Black guys like Mabel, Mr. Hughes and Kama stole the urn but whatevs. Then things get weird. Kama kept talking about melting the urn and it was dastardly as hell. Still, okay, not bad.
He shows up wearing the summonafu*cking urn that he melted into a gold chain. Why? Because Black. Because naturally Kama needs a gold chain to go with his stereotypically Black mastery of the martial arts and motorcycle advocacy. It just didn’t make an ounce of sense but it had to just happen I guess.
Kama was just one of the big guys who Undertaker would feud with during his holding pattern before Mankind would show up and give us something to care about. Their actual casket match was trash, but the highlight on the WWE Network was Paul Bearer introducing himself to the fans of “Coliseum Home Video” before cutting his promo. By the end of the match, Taker hit the tombstone and rolled Kama into the casket, retrieving his gold chain in the process. Same thing happened to Migos, I think.
Kama would eventually join the Nation of Domination because of course he did, transforming to Kama Mustafa. That naturally led to him being a pimp who would truck out various prostitutes to the ring every week. Obviously, that made him one of the most popular mid-carders in wrestling history because women amiright?
So relax, roll up a phatty for this pimp daddy and stay tuned for part 2 as we delve into the Godfather.