Charles Wright (born May 16, 1961), better known under his ring name The Godfather, is an American professional wrestler. He is best known for his tenure with the World Wrestling Federation throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and underwent several gimmick changes; the most notable were Papa Shango, Kama, Kama Mustafa, and The Godfather.
|Birth name||Charles Thomas Wright|
|Born||May 16, 1961|
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Nevada, Reno|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Baron Samedi|
Rocky Las Vegas
|Billed height||6 ft 6 in (198 cm)|
|Billed weight||330 lb (150 kg)|
|Billed from||"Parts Unknown"|
(as Papa Shango)
"The Red Light District"
(as The Godfather)
|Trained by||Larry Sharpe|
Among other accolades, Wright is a two-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, and a one-time WWF World 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.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Early career (1989–1991)Edit
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. 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.
In February and March 1990, Wright wrestled for the South Carolina-based promotion South Atlantic Pro Wrestling as "Baron Samedi".
Throughout 1990, Wright made appearances in Japan with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as "The Soultaker". During his appearances with NJPW, he often teamed with Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow. His opponents during his time in NJPW included Masahiro Chono, Masa Saito, and Riki Choshu.
In November 1990, Wright wrestled for the Catch Wrestling Association in Germany as "Rocky Las Vegas". In August 1991, he appeared with the Dallas, Texas-based Global Wrestling Federation as "The Soultaker".
World Wrestling Federation (1991–1993)Edit
Sir Charles (1991)Edit
In 1991, 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 never developed, and even when talking about it later Wright only remembers wearing robes he purchased from another wrestler to the ring.
Papa Shango (1992–1993)Edit
In January 1992, he was repackaged as a heel by the name of "Papa Shango", a horror-themed voodoo practitioner with an appearance reminiscent of the loa, Baron Samedi, and inspired after that character, which is from the 1973 film Live and Let Die. Full of cryptic rituals and an occult, culturally exotic presence, the supernatural character carried a skull to the ring billowing smoke and could control arena lights (supernatural arena lighting control heavily associated with The Undertaker gimmick, according to Wright had its origins with the Papa Shango gimmick), allowing for strange goings-on in the ring, and later could "cast spells" to cause opponents pain and to make them vomit from afar.
The Shango character debuted on the edition of February 8, 1992 of Superstars, defeating enhancement talent Dale Wolfe. Shango was then 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 signaled 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. However, the angle went nowhere, as Warrior challenged Randy Savage for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, with the rivalry never culminating. 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 Championship shot against Bret Hart on Saturday Night's Main Event XXXI, 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 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.
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." Bret Hart liked the character and Wright's in-ring work, but found Shango's storyline with the Ultimate Warrior – in which a voodoo curse was placed on the latter – to be perhaps the second-worst creative concept in WWF history (after the introduction of The Gobbledy Gooker). Hart reported that WWF executive Pat Patterson did not like the gimmick and was responsible for its termination.
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 bartending.
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.
Catch Wrestling Association (1994, 1995)Edit
As Papa Shango, he wrestled a summer tour for Otto Wanz' Catch Wrestling Association in 1994. In July, he had a shot at the CWA World Heavyweight Championship against Rambo, but lost. A year later on December 16, 1995, he returned as Kama to Catch and defeated Viktor Kruuger.
World Wrestling Federation (1995–1996, 1997–2002)Edit
Million Dollar Corporation (1995–1996)Edit
Wright returned to the WWF in January 1995 under the antagonistic heel gimmick of "Kama, The Supreme Fighting Machine", a scrappy and competitive shoot wrestler inspired by 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 bling, but remained in possession of the bling urn remnants until November 1995 when King Mabel seized it amid a feud with The Undertaker. 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 his departure, Wright had verbally agreed to join World Championship Wrestling to serve as the enforcer for the New World Order, but chose not to go to WCW after speaking to Ron Simmons. 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.
Nation of Domination (1997–1998)Edit
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". He was announced as the first member of Faarooq's faction the Nation of Domination. On the June 16 episode of Raw, Mustafa and Faarooq defeated Ahmed Johnson and The Undertaker. Mustafa became increasingly known as "The Godfather" of the Nation, a moniker which was the brainchild of Wright's wife and would become his official ring name in mid-1998. He stood with the Nation when Rocky Maivia became the leader shortly after Wrestlemania XIV, standing with Maivia, Mark Henry, D'Lo Brown, and later Owen Hart after he joined the stable in early May 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 "Hos", 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.
The Godfather (1998–2000)Edit
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 "hos" – in reality girls from local strip clubs, actresses, or up-and-coming female wrestlers (Victoria and Lita were the best-known wrestlers to play the role, while Ivory was offered the role but was discouraged from accepting by Luna Vachon). 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 on the April 12, 1999 episode of Raw Is War. 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 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)Edit
On the July 24 episode of Raw, Godfather faced Bull Buchanan, member of Steven Richards' ultra-conservative stable Right To Censor, 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 to dress in a formal white shirt and tie, and became known as "The Goodfather". At SummerSlam on August 27, Right to Censor defeated Too Cool in a six-man tag team match. On the September 11 episode of Raw, Goodfather and Buchanan defeated the Acolytes. After the match, Val Venis attacked the Acolytes, joining the group in the process. At Unforgiven, Right to Censor defeated the Acolytes and the Dudley Boyz. At No Mercy on October 22, Goodfather and Buchanan entered into an elimination tag team tables match, which was won by the Dudleys. The next night on Raw, Ivory was announced as the newest member of the group. Goodfather and Buchanan won the WWF Tag Team Championship from the Hardy Boyz on the November 6 episode of Raw. At Survivor Series, Goodfather and Buchanan teamed up with Edge and Christian, to face the Hardys and the Dudleys in a losing effort. At Rebellion, the duo retained the titles against the Hardys. They lost the titles to Edge and Christian at Armageddon in a fatal-four-way tag team match also involving K-Kwik and Road Dogg and the Dudleys.
The Goodfather entered the 2001 Royal Rumble match on January 21, 2001, at entry number 14, but was swiftly eliminated by The Rock. At WrestleMania X-Seven, Goodfather, Buchanan and Venis were defeated by the APA (formerly the Acolytes) and Tazz. Also at the event, Ivory lost the WWF Women's Championship to Chyna. On the April 26 episode of SmackDown!, Right to Censor lost to the Brothers of Destruction on a 4-on-2 handicap match, after all other members walked out on Richards mid-match. Goodfather would continue to team with Buchanan, until the June 17 episode of Sunday Night Heat, where they lost to the Dudley Boyz. The last time Wright would be seen on television was where he along with Buchanan and several WWF superstars attacked invading WCW wrestlers Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire on an episode of SmackDown!. For the remainder of the year, the Goodfather was completely absent from WWF programming.
Return of The Godfather; departure (2002)Edit
The Godfather, under his old gimmick and with his "ho's", returned at the 2002 Royal Rumble competing in the Rumble match. He failed to win however, as he was eliminated by Chuck and Christian. During the next six months, Wright competed in several television matches, usually on Raw, Heat and SmackDown!'s sister show Velocity. Godfather wrestled his final match on the June 8 episode of Velocity, defeating Hugh Morrus. On the October 7, 2002 episode of Raw he made an appearance in a match between Jerry Lawler and his former Right To Censor teammate, Steven Richards in which the winner would get a night with the Godfather's ho's. This would be his final appearance on WWE programming for the next three years as Wright was released from the WWE in December 2002.
Late career (2002–present)Edit
In 2005, Wright appeared at WWE's Vengeance pay-per-view, interrupting Viscera's marriage proposal to Lilian Garcia in order to show Viscera what he would be missing out on if he asked Lilian to marry him. Viscera dropped the proposal and dumped Garcia for The Godfather's hos.
In 2007, Wright appeared for WWE 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 reappeared on WWE television during the McMahon family portrait during Raw's 15th Anniversary on December 10, 2007, where he let Hornswoggle join 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 "The 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 which was won by Lacey von Erich. Two days later, Pimp Fatha wrestled his last match on the tour and was defeated by Sean Morley.
In January 2012, Wright won a battle royal at Pro Wrestling Superstars in Los Angeles.
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.
On the January 6, 2014 "Old School" edition of WWE Raw, Wright made an appearance alongside numerous other legends and Hall of Famers.
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 on January 22, 2018, at Raw's 25th anniversary show, in a backstage segment with his former teammate Mark Henry, and his real-life wife. Later that year, Wright reprised both his Godfather and Papa Shango personas on the House Hardy Halloween special airing on the WWE Network on October 28, 2018. Wright appeared at the WWE Raw Reunion show on July 22, 2019.
Professional wrestling style and personaEdit
According to Wright, the Papa Shango character uses paint because Vince McMahon said his face did not match his body. During his last WWE appearances, Wright did not appear with girls. According to him, it was done because times had changed and the character was phased out.
Wright attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he was an offensive tackle on the football team. After leaving professional wrestling, Wright moved to Las Vegas where he managed the Cheetah's strip club. He married Denise Wright in September 2000, they have four children together. He has been married 2 times previous .
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- United States Wrestling Association
- Vendetta Pro Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation / WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
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'All of a sudden I turn on the show and I see Virgil in my spot that they were talking about me doing.'
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'You know who came up with it? My wife.'
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'...so we started bringing in actresses'
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'The Goodfather & Bull Buchanon defeated the Acolytes at 2:36 when Buchanon pinned Farooq with the axe kick; after the match, Val Venis attacked the Acolytes with a chair and joined the RTC.'
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- Ross, Jim. "Rental Car Woes.. Football.. Bar-B-Q (of course) and Your Comments." JR's Blog. JRsBarBQ.com. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Charles Wright on Instagram: "20 years ago today, I married my life soul mate. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Denise Wright your still smoking HOT!!!!!!!"". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
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- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 1999". Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
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