by Jeremy Cundiff
1. Papa Shango In The Attitude Era? What?
Thank you for your bandwidth. You don’t remember me, but I’m responsible for such classics as 6 Great Matches You’ve Never Seen and as being the jaded old prick on the roundtable discussions. Oh, and I e-fed in my spare time. But before I took off from writing about real wrestling about a year ago, I started a second series. And I hate leaving shit unfinished. So let’s finish this.
We all know that pro wrestling is pre-determined. We also know that plans don’t always go the way we, well, planned. This series is a look at five CONFIRMED plans that didn’t go as planned, and what might have happened if the plans did go as expected.
Ah, 1997. Don’t you miss it? I know I do. You know who might not miss it? Charles Wright. In that time period in between Kama Mustafa, the Supreme Who-The-Fuck-Cut-Yo-Hair-Son Machine and The Godfather, he was simply Kama, another black dude in a stable of black dudes whose gimmick were that they were black dudes. That’s right, The Nation of Domination.
As Charles Wright said in this I Met a Wrestler interview full of awesomeness, The Nation of Domination in 1997 was a wonderful place where he and Faarooq had to babysit two rookies, Mark Henry and The Rock, and protect them from the baddies in the locker room. All the meanwhile, Ahmed Johnson was breaking the script so much that if Steelhorse Vachon was around back then, Ahmed would be in prison. Thankfully, Ron Simmons put a stop to that in true Ron Simmons fashion. But none of that almost happened. Instead, we almost got Papa Shango 2.0…
“A lot of people don’t know this, but Papa Shango was going to return in 1997. It was going to be a more gritty, realistic version with a mask instead of paint. They created the costume and the new entrance. But what happened was, the decision was then made to do Kane. I guess they felt there wasn’t enough room for two dark, supernatural characters, and so I became Kama Mustafa and they put me in The Nation. I’ve still got some 8×10 promos of me in the new mask and gear.”
Those 8x10s aren’t online yet, so here’s the best I can do.
So what if Papa Shango showed up at, say, WWF Bad Blood: In Your House? Well, I see several things immediately that would ripple shit apart, even without delving into the awesomeness that could have been. Number one, no Kane. This means no humanization of The Undertaker through that “burning down the funeral home” angle, which frees the big man up for, oh I don’t know…dropping the WWF Championship to, thus avoiding the Montreal Screwjob? Just a thought. It also means something else: that guidance Rocky Maivia and Mark Henry needed? They might not be getting it. Mark Henry still took years to develop into a decent talent, despite being a very good person behind that curtain. But what could have happened to The Rock? Would The Rock have even happened? Would he have been swept up in the backstage politics? Would he have been sick of it? Could we have seen The Rock in WCW? Could we have seen The Rock in the NWO? Could we have seen The Rock jump ship two years later, and be an even bigger player? Could The Rock have left wrestling altogether?
We just don’t know. And maybe it’s for the best that Rock got some good advice from a good dude…who later made a decent name for himself getting away with pot references every week.
But we knew what was up.
“I got away with talking about weed so openly on TV because the network executives had no idea what I was saying. They didn’t understand the slang. They had no idea what a ‘fatty’ or a ‘blunt’ was, so I was able to say all this stuff and they had no clue. My friend in Cypress Hill said he was amazed at the shit I got away with.”
Photo 1: onlineworldofwrestling.com
Photo 2: en.wikipedia.org
Categories: Wrestling Lists