Why I Love Wrestling: Papa Shango

For the first post in Why I Love Wrestling’s look at Halloween-esque characters, we start with a one year experiment that flopped hard. (though not for lacking of trying on Shango’s part) Charles Wright, the former bartender and future Godfather, was a bartender before becoming a wrestler. He was convinced to join wrestling ranks after being seen tending bar by a few of the wrestlers filming scenes in Over the Top. (which is a great fucking movie btw) He trained, wrestled for Jerry Lawler, and was signed to WWF/E. After making a few appearances as Sir Charles on house shows, Wright was repackaged as Papa Shango, a voodoo shaman. Now, truth be told, when he debuted in 1992, I thought he was awesome. The WWF at the time was full of characters and here was a guy who was very different than most of their roster save The Undertaker. Here was a guy who came to the ring in full voodoo priest dress complete with top hat and smoking skull. He was not very good in the ring and he really didn’t need to be. That wasn’t what the company was selling at that point. (remember this is the time of Hogan as champ so…) And to his credit, Wright ran with it. In interviews he would look as if he were half possessed by some spirit. He would curse his opponents during matches. Hell, he would even control the lights during his entrance. It was no more silly or outlandish than any other character they had at the time. His use of curses though seemed to be the beginning of his own end.

At WrestleMania VIII, Shango was scheduled to run in on the championship match between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice. He was however, late to the ring causing the finish of the match to be changed on the fly. Instead of Shango causing a DQ finish and then fighting off a returning Ultimate Warrior, Sid’s manager had to cause the DQ and Shango to fight Warrior on the outside for seemingly no reason. Warrior was then scheduled to have a high profile feud with Sid Justice. The only problem was that Sid had failed a drug test and was let go from the company. So no problem right? Just insert Papa Shango and have that finish from WrestleMania mean something. So Shango started casting spells on Warrior causing black goo to drip from his head during an interview and even going as far as to make him vomit after a match. (oh the humanity…) But then, in the middle of their build, Warrior challenged Randy Savage at Summer Slam while Papa Shango defeated Tito Santana in a dark match. Shango and Warrior were scheduled to have a match in the latter part of 1992 but then Warrior was released. (the official reason was malarkey, he was a homophobic, bigoted asshole and doesn’t deserve a lick of respect but that’s for another post) This left Shango with nothing to do unfortunately and he was released in June of 1993.

Charles Wright would eventually hit upon a successful gimmick as the Godfather of the Nation of Domination Kama Mustafa and eventually as the pimp The Godfather. He had a good run winning the Intercontinental and Tag Team titles before retiring. He has made a few appearances since and every time gets a big pop from the crowd. (bringing along his “Ho Train” certainly doesn’t hurt) Not a bad career for a man who started off as a horribly racist, short sighted, cheesey voodoo shaman. Again, twelve year old me thought he was super cool. Adult me just kinda shrugs. But what did you think of Papa Shango? Check out a few clips below and hit me up on twitter or instagram, @geekadedan, to let me know.

Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan was once the most feared and respected luchador in the world until the "Great DDT Disaster of '85" where Dan unfortunately DDT'd his opponent so hard into the ground that he opened a gate to the underworld that let unholy things into this world. After that, Dan refused to wrestle anymore but he's found new life writing and talking about his favorite hobbies here at Geekade. He pens the weekly Why I Love Wrestling series, co-hosts The Stone Age Gamer Podcast, expertly pairs video games with beer, and much, much more. Dan is a personality that Geekade simply would not be the same without.

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