The Godfather (wrestler)
Wright in Wrestlemania 32 Axxess
|Birth name||Charles Wright|
May 16, 1961|
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
|Residence||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Spouse(s)||Denise Wright (m. 1984)|
|Professional wrestling career|
Rocky Las Vegas
|Billed height||6 ft 6 in (198 cm)|
|Billed weight||330 lb (150 kg)|
Parts Unknown, as Papa Shango|
Las Vegas, Nevada, as The Godfather
|Trained by||Larry Sharpe|
Charles Wright (born May 16, 1961) is an American semi-retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his tenure with the World Wrestling Federation throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, where he performed under the ring names Sir Charles, Papa Shango, Kama, Kama Mustafa, and The Godfather. Among other accolades, Wright is a two-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, and a one-time WWF Tag Team Champion (with Bull Buchanan). He headlined Saturday Night's Main Event XXXI, against Bret Hart for the WWF Championship.
Wright was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2, 2016, under the Godfather gimmick.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Training
- 1.2 United States Wrestling Association (1989–1991)
- 1.3 World Wrestling Federation
- 1.4 Return to USWA (1993–1994)
- 1.5 Catch Wrestling Association (1994)
- 1.6 Return to WWF/E
- 1.7 Post retirement appearances (2002–present)
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Championships and accomplishments
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Professional wrestling career
Wright first entered professional wrestling after being noticed tending to a bar by wrestlers during the filming of the movie Over the Top. The wrestlers involved gave him the advice that, with his large body type and unique (tattooed) look, he should try seeking out Larry Sharpe and his Monster Factory to get into the business.
United States Wrestling Association (1989–1991)
Eventually Wright parlayed his training into a job with Jerry Lawler in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) with the gimmick the wrestlers from the bar had given him and took the name The Soultaker, taken from one of the tattoos on his arm. Even with his admitted limited skill set, he was given the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship on October 23, 1989 and held it for about two weeks.
During his time in the USWA, he would also tour in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1990.
World Wrestling Federation
Debut; Sir Charles (1991−1992)
After brief stints in Japan and other American independent promotions Wright was brought in to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) at the suggestion of his friend The Undertaker. He made his first appearance on May 28, 1991 at a WWF Superstars of Wrestling taping in Tucson, Arizona. Wright competed there and briefly at house shows as Sir Charles, a play on both his real name and the nickname of National Basketball Association player Charles Barkley. The character was hardly used and wasn't able to be developed, and even when talking about it later Wright only remembers wearing robes he purchased from another wrestler to the ring.
Push; Papa Shango (1992−1993)
In January 1992, he was repackaged as Papa Shango, a voodoo practitioner with an appearance reminiscent of the loa, Baron Samedi. The character debuted on the edition of February 8, 1992 of Superstars, defeating enhancement talent Dale Wolfe. The character carried a skull to the ring billowing smoke and could control arena lights, allowing for strange goings on in the ring, and later could "cast spells" to cause opponents pain and to make them vomit from afar. Shango was thrust into the spotlight almost immediately, running in on the Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice main event at WrestleMania VIII. Shango actually missed his cue to run in, hitting the ring late. The finish was supposed to be Sid getting disqualified because of Shango breaking up the pinfall attempt by Hogan after he hit the big leg drop. However, due to Shango getting to the ring late, Sid was forced to kick out of the legdrop to save the angle. Sid's manager, Harvey Wippleman then jumped on the apron, and the referee signalled for the disqualification at that point as Shango was just getting to the ring. The Ultimate Warrior then returned to the WWF by running to the ring and helping Hogan against Sid and Shango.
After WrestleMania, Sid and the Warrior were scheduled to begin a feud. However, Sid had previously failed a drug test and was let go by the WWF. The feud was then re-written with Shango instead of Sid, where he would cast voodoo spells on his opponent. Despite numerous segments being shown on television every week (Warrior vomiting, inexplicably bleeding,...), the angle went nowhere, as Warrior challenged Randy Savage for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, apparently forgetting about Shango. Meanwhile, Shango defeated Tito Santana in a dark match at the event. When Shango was finally set to have a match with Warrior in November 1992, Warrior was released from WWF. However, Shango received a WWF World Heavyweight Title shot against Bret Hart on Saturday Night's Main Event, but was unsuccessful. Wright's final PPV appearance as the Papa Shango character was at the 1993 Royal Rumble (where he was eliminated in under 30 seconds). He would appear in another pay-per-view dark match against Tito Santana at WrestleMania IX, with Santana getting the victory. Shango was seen infrequently on WWF television afterwards, and following a loss to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in a 1993 King of the Ring qualifying match, he made two final televised appearances against enhancement talent in June and July 1993.
Reaction to Papa Shango character
Wright's Papa Shango character was pilloried by fans, being voted the Worst Gimmick and the Most Embarrassing Wrestler in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards for 1992. Fin Martin of professional wrestling magazine Power Slam, in a 2013 article, wrote: "Shango and his curses were a total embarrassment. Fans exhaled loudly each time he appeared on screen. Shango bombed, and deservedly so." Former opponent Bret Hart considered Shango to be possibly the second-worst idea in WWF history, after the Gobbledy Gooker. He said in 2014: "I remember watching [Shango] going, 'Ugh, that's awful. That's everything that pro wrestling should never try to be. That's fake'... I think Vince [McMahon] knew, when he did it."
Return to USWA (1993–1994)
At the same time as he was wrestling as Papa Shango in the WWF, the WWF had a working agreement with USWA. As part of the agreement Papa Shango was sent to wrestle in USWA, where he won the Unified World Heavyweight Championship for a second time. Winning the title actually upset him, as he felt it was only done to sell to the predominantly black crowd, and after complaining to management he dropped the belt to Owen Hart. He left the company soon after and returned to bar tending.
Catch Wrestling Association (1994)
Return to WWF/E
During the autumn of 1994, there were rumors that the Papa Shango character would be brought back to participate in a storyline involving Bob Backlund, wherein Shango's voodoo spells would explain the traditionally good-natured Backlund's erratic and villainous behavior. This didn't come to fruition. Wright would eventually return to the WWF in early 1995 under the gimmick of Kama "The Supreme Fighting Machine", a shoot fighter inspired on Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Kimo Leopoldo. Shortly after his debut, he joined Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation stable. He became an immediate part of the stable's feud with The Undertaker, stealing the Undertaker's signature urn at April's WrestleMania XI then having it melted down and formed into a necklace, only to lose it back to him at August's SummerSlam. He was taken off of television in the fall of 1995, and after an appearance in the 1996 Royal Rumble match, Wright left the company again.
Shortly after leaving, Wright had verbally agreed to join World Championship Wrestling to serve as the enforcer for the New World Order, but then mysteriously never heard from WCW afterwards. Wright then learned that WCW signed Virgil to be the NWO's enforcer by watching WCW Monday Nitro at home with his wife, and that they had signed him for less than what they offered Wright. Wright stated that while he was bitter by this episode, it allowed him to create The Godfather character, and as a result was one of the few WWF talents to stay loyal to the company during the Monday Night Wars.
The Nation of Domination (1997–1998)
Wright was asked to return in 1997, with the original plans being for him to revive the Papa Shango character. Instead he returned as Kama, now billed under his full name, Kama Mustafa, with less emphasis on his shoot fighting background. He was placed into the Nation of Domination, which was in the process of becoming an all black group and on the verge of feuding with the all white Disciples of Apocalypse as well as the all Latino group Los Boricuas; the latter two groups were part of the Nation of Domination at one point and all three feuded with each other as part of a "gang warfare" angle the WWF came up with. Mustafa became increasingly known as "The Godfather" of the Nation, a moniker which would eventually become his official ring name in 1998. He stood with the Nation when Rocky Maivia became the leader shortly after Wrestlemania XIV, standing with Maivia (who officially became The Rock around that time), Mark Henry, D'Lo Brown, and later Owen Hart after he joined the stable in the summer of 1998.
In 1998, The Godfather (known to wrestlers as a genuine tough guy) competed in the WWF Brawl for All; which was a strictly voluntary boxing / shoot fighting competition, eventually won by Bart Gunn. On a July 27 episode of Raw is War, Wright debuted his "Hoes", during a tag-match, with Nation member Mark Henry against the Legion of Doom.
The Nation lasted until around September 1998 and officially disbanded in October 1998 when Henry attacked the Nation's leader The Rock.
Intercontinental Champion (1998–2000)
After The Nation split up, Wright had his most successful run with the company under the hugely popular persona of The Godfather. The Godfather character would be constantly surrounded by "hoes" – usually girls from local strip clubs. He would offer his opponents the right to use these girls for "any purpose" if they would forfeit the match to him. The gimmick was highly popular with audiences, and he defeated Goldust for the WWF Intercontinental Championship in April 1999. He was Owen Hart's scheduled opponent for the title at Over the Edge; Hart was fatally injured during a live stunt prior to the match's time. The Godfather was scheduled to lose the title to Hart's character, "The Blue Blazer," that night. The Godfather would instead lose the title to Hart's tag team partner Jeff Jarrett a week later. On the March 16, 2000 episode of WWF SmackDown, he picked up the biggest win of his career, when he defeated the WWF Champion Triple H, due to interference from Shane McMahon and Big Show.
Right to Censor (2000–2001)
As Wright was working the Godfather gimmick the WWF began airing WWF SmackDown! on UPN, drawing the attention of the Parents Television Council (PTC), which claimed the WWF and their programming was inappropriate for prime time television. One of the PTCs complaints was the Godfather's pimp gimmick, and during the ensuing controversies the WWF higher ups began imposing restrictions on what he could say and do, hurting his popularity. During this time The Godfather became something of a tag team specialist, forming teams with Val Venis, Mark Henry, and D'Lo Brown.
With the WWF in general being hurt by the PTC's attention, they decided to mock the controversy by creating Right to Censor, a conservative group of wrestlers led by Steven Richards. The Godfather faced Bull Buchanan, Richards' first group member, in which he agreed to give up pimping if he lost. Buchanan defeated The Godfather, who promptly joined the stable and renounced his former ways. He began wearing a shirt and tie to the ring (as was part of Right to Censor's gimmick), became known as The Goodfather, and began teaming with Buchanan. The duo won the World Tag Team Championship one time before the stable disbanded as the Invasion storyline began.
Return of The Godfather and departure (2002)
The Godfather had a short revival in 2002, claiming to have gone "legitimate" and formed a legal escort agency. It lasted around four months, but never caught on in the way the original did. Shortly after the 2002 brand split, he was sent to SmackDown! and turned into a heel by dropping the hoes and feuding with Val Venis for a short time. In April 2002, The Godfather who believed to be frustrated after not getting drafted, came out during the "dark match" portion of SmackDown! to attack Val Venis and told the fans to "Stick it!", which got him suspended from May to August 2002.
The Godfather's final two appearances reverted him back to his old persona, with the Ho Train in tow. He interrupted the "wedding" of Billy and Chuck on September 12, 2002, which helped lead the tag team into admitting that the entire gay marriage was a sham and just an attempt to get media attention. The Godfather appeared again the following month on Raw during the "Raw Roulette" event, where he offered Jerry Lawler and Stevie Richards a night out with his Ho Train to the victor of their match. Wright was released from the WWE in December 2002 and briefly retired from professional wrestling.
Part-time appearances (2002–2015)
In 2005, he appeared at Vengeance, interrupting Viscera's marriage proposal to Lilian Garcia in order to show Viscera what he would be missing out on if he asked Lillian to marry him. Viscera dropped the proposal and dumped Garcia for The Godfather's hos.
Wright next appeared at the Theodore Long and Kristal Marshall wedding ceremony on the edition of September 21, 2007 of SmackDown!, where he tried to convince Long and Ron Simmons to go back to the old partying days they had. After they refused, Godfather left the ceremony with his Ho Train, and was accompanied by every male wrestler in attendance and commentator John Bradshaw Layfield, leaving only Mr. McMahon, Jonathan Coachman, Hornswoggle, Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, Michael Cole and several Divas behind.
Wright made a short appearance as The Godfather at the 2013 Royal Rumble as entrant #17. He was eliminated immediately by Dolph Ziggler. Wright made an appearance on the January 6, 2014 Old School edition of Raw alongside numerous other legends and Hall of Famers.
Hall of Fame (2016)
Post retirement appearances (2002–present)
Since his retirement in 2002, the Godfather has returned to wrestling a few times for one-night appearances with his Ho Train.
In late 2009, Wright returned to wrestling to take part in Hulk Hogan's "Hulkamania: Let The Battle Begin" tour of Australia. On November 21, Wright, using the new ring name Pimp Fatha, teamed with Nick Dinsmore to defeat Rock of Love (Billy Blade and Kadin Anthony) in a tag team match. On November 24, Big Daddy Row Row defeated Pimp Fatha and Sean Morley in a three-way match. Two days later, Pimp Fatha defeated Heidenreich. After the match, he hosted a bikini contest between three of his hoes. Two days later, Pimp Fatha wrestled his last match on the tour, and defeated Morley.
Wright made a rare in-ring segment along with his longtime friend Val Venis and Dexter Verity in Future Stars of Wrestling, where he promised to bring his hoes if Venis and Verity would have succeeded defending their tag team titles.
In September 2013, Wright resumed wrestling on the independent circuit. In spring of 2014 Wright made two appearances for Preston City Wrestling in England, as Papa Shango working against local star Bubblegum on both nights. In October 2014 at Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) Halloween Hell, Wright teamed with his old partner, Val Venis to face the team of then-ECCW Tag Team Champions Jordie Taylor and Daniel Adonis and the team of Ladies Choice and Eric Locker in a three-way elimination tag team match, but unsuccessful.
He appeared January 22, 2018 on RAW's 25th anniversary show, in a backstage segment with his former teammate Mark Henry, and his real-life wife.
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #353 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- United States Wrestling Association
- Vendetta Pro Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation/WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Vermillion, James (February 17, 2010). "Papa Shango". WWE.com. WWE. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
- "The Godfather's OWOW profile". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
- "Cagematch profile".
- "Papa Shango". WWE.com. WWE. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Powell, John. "Papa Shango haunts The Godfather". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- Charles Wright (2007). Shoot Interview with Charles Wright (DVD). RF Video.
- "USWA Unified World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- Dee, Louie (October 25, 2005). "Rank-a-mania is running wild!". WWE. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "TV Shows > WrestleMania 23 > History > WrestleMania VIII > Main Event". WWE. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Saturday Night Main Event – Nov. 8, 1992". WWE. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
- Martin, Fin. "Q&A". Power Slam. Issue 230/November 2013. p.12.
- Oliver, Sean (director) (2014). Timeline: History of WWE - 1992 - Bret Hart (DVD). Kayfabe Commentaries.
- "The Godfather profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Ted DiBiase bio". SLAM! sports. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "SummerSlam 1995 results". WWE. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "WWF/WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "WWWF/WWF/WWE World Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Jeremy & Bubba Blanchard Vs. D'Lo Brown & The Godfather". YouTube. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Mike McAvennie. "Tragedy at the altar". WWE. Retrieved September 21, 2007.
- David, Stephens (January 6, 2014). "WWE RAW Results - 1/6/14 (Old School RAW, WWE Legends)". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Ryan, Pappolla (February 22, 2016). "The Godfather to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame's Class of 2016". WWE.com. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- "Cagematch match listings, page 1".
- "Dexter Verity, Val Venus, and the Godfather Promo at EXW/FSW". Retrieved August 24, 2013.
- Caldwell, James (September 26, 2013). "Vader & former WWE Developmental son taking bookings, Godfather full-time again, more". PWTorch.com. Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
- Ross, Jim. "Rental Car Woes.. Football.. Bar-B-Q (of course) and Your Comments." JR's Blog. JRsBarBQ.com. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Chillin' in The Godfather's office Going one-on-one with Charles Wright". SLAM! WRESTLING. February 26, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
- "Charles Wright (wrestler) Bio". In.com. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling information Archive. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
- "2014 Vendetty Awards". Vendetta Pro Wrestling. Retrieved April 25, 2016.