Posted in: Chair Shots Chair Shots Celebrates Black History Month: 28 Greats in 28 Days (Days 16-20)
Feb 20, 2013 - 10:23:17 AM
We’re in the home stretch of our month long look celebrating the history of the black wrestler, and I’m struggling with who to include in the final week of profiles. I know who we’re ending with, and I know who our second special guest will be spotlighting, but for the other six days there are still endless possibilities. One name that has come up in comments a couple of times has been New Jack. While I had not intended to include him, I’ll put it to you the reader. Should New Jack have a place in this series? Let me know in your comments below. Until then, let’s get to Day 20.
Day 20: Viscera
Nelson Frazier Jr. began his wrestling career in 1993 in both the USWA and the PWF. Teaming with his storyline brother Bobby, they were known as The Harlem Knights. It wasn’t long after their debut that they were signed by the WWF/E, and repacked as Mabel and Mo- Men on a Mission. They were instant faces, coming to the ring with their rapping manager Oscar. They were portrayed as agents of change, good role models for black men and women to clean up their act and be a positive influence on society.
They feuded with various team throughout the WWE, but their biggest feud was for the Tag Team Titles against The Quebecers. The two feuded for some time, with Men on a Mission eventually winning the straps, only to lose them back to the Quebecers two days later on a tour of England. The following year, Men on a Mission, the positive role models, turned heel, assaulting their manager. Mabel received a huge singles push after that, eventually becoming the King of the Ring in 1995. His push, which was very strong, included feuds with The Undertaker, and a WWE Title match with Diesel. The push was too much, too soon, and shortly after Mabel left the WWE at the beginning of 1996.
For the next two years, he wrestled in Puerto Rico, where he won the UHC Heavyweight Title for a month, as well as various other independent organizations before returning to the WWF/E in 1998. While always a big man, it was during this second run that Mabel was noticeably larger than when he left the WWF/E two years prior. During this run, he became involved in the Ministry of Darkness, the Undertaker’s band of minions, and was renamed Viscera. He wore contacts lenses, a bleached Mohawk, and a black bodysuit. For two years he was heavily involved in Undertaker’s storylines, and feuded with Mark Henry after he splashed Henry’s girlfriend at the time, the elderly Mae Young. He was then released in 2000.
After a couple of years off, and various independent appearances, including two appearances in TNA, Viscera was once again signed by the WWF/E in 2004. He worked briefly under his old Ministry gimmick, but soon changed his appearance totally, becoming the Vis “The World’s Largest Love Machine”. He wrestled in silk pajamas, making overtly sexual gestures in the ring, primarily to ring announcer Lillian Garcia. He teamed for a while with Val Venis, forming the team of V-Squared, but that team didn’t get much air time and eventually disbanded when Big Vis was sent to ECW in the supplemental draft.
He appeared as Big Daddy V, a hired gun of Matt Striker. As part of ECW, he feuded with The Boogeyman, Tommy Dreamer, and then ECW Champion CM Punk. At this point, his weight had ballooned up to an incredible 487 lbs., and quite frankly the WWF/E was worried about his health. He was taken off the air for a while to get in better shape, and during that time he was drafted back to Smackdown in 2008. He never did appear on television, as his health concerns were too much for the WWF/E and they released him shortly after his draft to the Blue Brand.
Viscera continues to wrestle on the indepent circuit, wrestling in the NWA, JCW, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Nu-Wrestling Evolution where he is part of a team with Charlie Haas known as The Road Killers. With so many gimmicks under his belt, he has wrestled as King V, Big Daddy V, Big Daddy Voodoo, and Viscera. Viscera wasn’t the best worker in the ring, but he was a huge part of the WWF/E’s Attitude Era, and was a menacing presence in the squared circle.
The debut of Men on a Mission in the WWF/E
Day 21 Trivia Question
We’re going back overseas to look at a British wrestler who gained great popularity in the United States. Who is he?
Day 19: 2 Cold Scorpio
One of the things that we haven’t seen much of so far in this series is the high-flying wrestler. Most of the early black wrestlers were large, grounded men who never really left their feet very much. Rocky Johnson threw a great dropkick, but other than that, you didn’t get a lot of innovative aerial moves, and rarely did you see anybody executing moves that you would expect to see out of a Mexican luchadore. Today however, we look at a wrestler that was more comfortable off his feet than he was on them, but make no mistake he could grapple with the best of them.
Charles Bernard Scaggs, otherwise known as 2 Cold Scorpio, started his career in 1985, wrestling for various independent promotions without much success. But in one of those promotions, he caught the eye of Big Van Vader, who appreciated Scorpio’s high-flying style and recommended he wrestle in New Japan Wrestling. Scorpio had good success in Japan, and translated his style to both Europe and Mexico, where he was able to compete with some of the best luchadores in the world.
He caught the eye of World Championship Wrestling in 1992, and again with the recommendation of Vader, signed a contract to debut as the mystery partner of Ron Simmons. Things weren’t all wine and roses in WCW however. In an interview, Scorpio said he regretted signing the contract almost immediately, wishing he had held out for more money. There was also the issue of being the “other” Scorpio in WCW, as their moneymaker Sting was known for having the Scorpion as a trademark. So of the “high flyers” of WCW were concerned as soon as they saw Scorpio hit his 450 Splash, as they were worried that he could hit moves they couldn’t ever think of performing.
"If I was blonde and blue-eyed, I'd probably be making a million dollars right now."
Scorpio found out first hand that being a black man in a major organization was going to be a challenge, especially one that was being run by Bill Watts. In the same interview, Scorpio stated that Watts was a “straight shoot snake in the grass kind of guy, but as prejudiced as everybody said he was.” Scorpio was released from his WCW contract in 1994, and soon found his way to the land of Extreme.
In ECW, Scorpio found the success he hadn’t found in WCW, having four reigns as TV Champion, and one reign as Tag Team Champion with his partner The Sandman. He feuded with some of the biggest names in ECW, such as Taz, Sabu, Shane Douglas, and Mikey Whipwreck. Scorpio’s style was right at home in ECW, but somebody else was calling, and Scorpio soon found himself entering the world of the WWF/E.
Two years after coming to ECW, Scorpio was offered a contract by Vince McMahon to join the WWF/E. It was there that Scorpio once again found himself playing a racially stereotypical character, as he was transformed into Flash Funk, being accompanied to the ring by dancers known as the “Fly Girls”. Scorpio looked like a pimp, make no bones about it. Flash Funk didn’t really catch on though, and eventually he reverted back to the Scorpio name and joined Al Snow’s JOB Squad. Scorpio left the WWE in 1999, but was signed again in 2006, working in development without ever making his way back to the main roster until his release less than a year later.
Since then, Scorpio has wrestled in Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan with his friend Vader, the TNA Extreme Reunion PPV, and as part of Team Extreme during Chikara’s 2012 King of Trios tournament. He has also appeared in Dragon Gate USA, the American offshoot of the popular Japanese promotion. While 2 Cold Scorpio never became a main event wrestler, he is certainly has one of the most innovative in-ring styles of recent times.
Day 20 Trivia Question:
I’ve been a king, a ladies man, and a character with a girl’s name. Who am I?
Day 18: Harlem Heat
One of the comments below asked if I was going to include certain wrestlers this month, and while one of them while be included, I unfortunately can’t fit in every black wrestler in history. That’s not to say that they each didn’t have their part in the history of black wrestlers in the business. I had a lot of wrestlers to choose from, and unfortunately some didn’t make my list. The most notable you will see missing is The Rock. Not only is his story too big to cut down to 700-800 words, but he’s also half-Samoan so I chose to leave him out. Today’s entry is brothers that started from nothing to become one of the best tag teams in wrestling history.
Booker and Lash Huffman, better known to the wrestling world as Booker T. and Stevie Ray, broke onto the wrestling scene in 1989. I first saw them when they wrestled in Skandor Akbar’s Global Wrestling Federation, where they were called The Ebony Experience. The GWF was as widely filled with stereotypes as any federation we have looked at so far. Not only was Booker and Stevie Ray’s team name based on their ethnicity, but one of the teams they feuded with for the belts, Iceman King Parsons and Action Jackson, were deemed the Blackbirds, again playing off their race. Other teams in the GWF were the Italian Stallions, The Rough Riders, and Bad Breed, all paint by numbers representations of Italians, cowboys, and bad boys.
But the GWF wasn’t the worst they’d encounter in terms of racially insensitive gimmicks. Booker and Stevie debuted in the mid-90’s in WCW as Harlem Heat. They were renamed Kane and Kole, and were originally brought in as prisoners won by Southern businessman Colonel Tom Parker in a poker game. They were led to ringside in wrist and foot shackles. Yes dear readers, Harlem Heat was originally portrayed as slaves of a white Southerner. Guess who was in charge of WCW at the time? You guessed it- Bill Watts. Let’s just say that it didn’t take long before the slave gimmick was dropped, as someone realized that portraying black wrestlers in the early 1990’s might be considered bad.
Shortly after that, Sister Sherri (Martel) took over the managerial duties of Harlem Heat and that’s when the team really took off. It wasn’t long before they were feuding with teams such as the American Males, the Stud Stable, Stars and Stripes, and the powerhouse teams of Lex Luger and Sting, and the Steiner Brothers. For quite some time, Harlem Heat was portrayed as tweeners, caught in the middle of a love affair between their manager Sherri, and their former manager Col. Tom Parker. During all this craziness, they managed to rack up seven World Tag Team titles before eventually dropping their belts to the Outsiders of the nWo. They beat up Col. Tom Parker, cementing their face turn.
It wasn’t long after that Harlem Heat was put on the shelf, as Stevie Ray sustained an ankle injury. During his time off, Booker continued to wrestle as a singles star (a story for another day). Upon Stevei Ray’s return, he joined the nWo (along with almost everybody else during that time). In mid-1999 Harlem Heat reunited, and went on to win another three Tag Team Championships, but the reunion wouldn’t last long as by the end of 1999 the team would disband after a disagreement over their new manager Midnight.
After losing a match to Midnight, Stevie Ray left Harlem Heat and formed Harlem Heat 2000 with Big T. (Ahmed Johnson) and Kash from the No Limit Soldiers. In a crazy storyline, not uncommon for WCW at the time, Booker T. wrestled Big T. for the rights to use the letter T after their name. Yes, they fought over a letter in the alphabet. Booker T. lost that match and ended up just going by the name of Booker until he and Kidman defeated Harlem Heat 2000 at Uncensored. This marked the end of Harlem Heat as a tag team, but it began the rise of Booker T. as a huge solo star. In the history of tag teams, Harlem Heat rightfully holds their place in the upper tier of great teams.
Day 19 Trivia Question
I started wrestling in Japan due to a recommendation from Vader. Who am I?
So far in this series we’ve had “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd and “Big Cat” Curtis Hughes. Today, we have another “Cat”, just one that wasn’t all that big. What he lacked in size, he made up for in charisma, but it was his connections that got him to the dance in the first place.
Day 17: Ernest “The Cat” Miller
Ernest Miller had a very successful karate career prior to his life in professional wrestling. After competing, he became a karate instructor, and that’s where he met Eric Bischoff, the current head honcho of WCW. Miller was training Bischoff’s son Garrett (yes that Garrett) and caught the eye of Eric as a potential money maker for WCW.
Miller debuted in WCW at Slamboree 1997, with little training under his belt in the world of professional wrestling. He came to the aid of Glacier, who was being attacked by Wrath and Mortis in their ongoing battle of good vs. evil Mortal Kombat style. Miller ended up teaming with Glacier, before eventually turning on him, cementing his heel turn, and in strange fashion increasing his popularity immensely.
While his in-ring career was taking off, it was his association with Eric Bischoff that was causing some tension backstage. Miller was being watched over by the head of the company, a luxury that many of the guys didn’t have.
"There ain't nobody just going to come out and say, 'Wow, this guy's good. Let's get him in here.' You had to know somebody," Miller explained. "Let's face it, one of the qualifications that make you a wrestler, what do you have to have to become a wrestler? There's no guidelines. They give you a chance -- 'We think this guy right here can fit in.' They give you the opportunity to help you make it. If you take advantage of it, hey that's good. You've got it easy because you got in this way, how the hell did they get in? I don't have problem because the guys in the locker room know that the only way that you can get in is if you know someone, and somebody wants to open the door and let you in. You could be best friends with Hogan, or your dad could be Dusty Rhodes."
Miller eventually took on a cocky on-screen persona, dancing to the ring in ruby slippers, celebrating his victories in James Brown fashion. This led to an on-screen confrontation, where James Brown was specifically brought in to confront Ernest Miller. In true WCW fashion at the time, Brown was paid an incredible amount of money for a brief five minute appearance.
Miller was with WCW at the time of Vince McMahon’s buyout, and had a brief run with the WWF/E. He appeared in the 2004 Royal Rumble, dancing to the ring to find a prone Randy Orton and Chris Benoit. Instead of using this to his gain, Miller continued to dance until Orton and Benoit recovered and threw him over the top rope. He stayed with the WWF/E for two years before he was released in 2004.
It was recently however that Miller’s name came back into prominence as Brodus Clay debuted in the WWF/E using Ernest’s old music and catchphrase “Somebody better call my momma.” When asked about Clay using Miller’s music and catchphrase, he was quoted as saying:
“I haven’t watched it. I’ve nothing against him, he’s working for a company. I feel like someone told him to do it. He’s trying to make it work. Many fans have said he’s not as good as me and it made me popular without being on the TV show. It’s a little more than dancing. I was an athlete, I could wrestle. WWE had so many people afraid of their jobs, they never let me develop into what it could be. People like this guy out there dancing and saying call my momma, but he’s not the original. I could’ve made it work so in other words, I’m a little pissed off about it.”
Miller has done some film work in recent years, including a prominent role in Mickey Rourke’s “The Wrestler,” as The Ayatollah. He was also said to be in the running for the role of George Foreman in an HBO biopic. While Miller never made it past mid-card status, his impact is still seen (and heard) today.
I’m going to be away for a couple of days, but my buddy Zzzorf will be posting the columns for me, so never fear the series will continue. Thanks in advance Zzzorf.
Day 18 Trivia Question
We were once The Ebony Experience. Who were we?
Day 16: Mr. Hughes
Welcome back everybody. I hope you’re enjoying the series so far. I’m going to send out a cheap plug for the continuing nXt tournament in the Columns Forum. Round 4 has started, and it is Pro Appreciation Week. My rookie, Dannokaboom, is staging a major comeback, currently sitting in fourth place, so if you get a chance to go check out what’s going on there, I’m sure they’d all appreciate it. The winner will be your next Main Page columnist, so you’ll see one of them soon. So today, we look at a man that made his mark in professional wrestling as a hired enforcer.
Curtis Hughes is another in a long line of football players who made the transition to professional wrestler. After playing college ball for Kansas State, Hughes decided to change course, learning the professional wrestling craft at the hands of Bob Geigel and Sonny Myers. Hughes debuted in 1988 in the AWA, and in fact is one of those professional wrestlers that had a run in all of the major organizations (AWA, NWA/WCW, ECW, WWF/E).
One of the reasons I chose to include Mr. Hughes in this series, is because from the time he started in the business, to present day, he was using recycled gimmicks (or nicknames) to make his mark. Hughes started out as “The Big Cat” Curtis Hughes, playing off the persona of a legend we’ve already looked at, Ernie Ladd. When he wasn’t wrestling as “The Big Cat”, Hughes was better known for being the enforcer or bodyguard for such wrestlers as Chris Jericho, Triple H, and Shane Douglas. But again, Hughes’ gimmick was a retread of a gimmick first used by the Big Bossman, when he wrestled under the guise of Big Bubba Rogers. Both dressed in street clothes, wore Fedora’s, and basically portrayed hired guns for some of the top stars in the business.
Despite the fact that Hughes’ gimmicks were eco-friendly, he managed to have a pretty successful career. His last run in the WWF/E was as the bodyguard for Chris Jericho, a time that Jericho wrote about in his book “Undisputed.” Read for yourself Jericho’s thoughts on his pairing.
“I didn’t care for him from the start. He loved to talk shit about how good he was. He constantly bragged about how his sunglasses never came off during his matches….like that was somehow the secret to becoming the next Lou Thesz. Combine that with the fact that Hughes was also narcoleptic- he would fall asleep at any time and once did in the ring mid-back drop- and you can see that I had a real dandy of a bodyguard.
Another thing that bothered me about Hughes was that our ring attire didn’t match. I was wearing flashy rave shirts and leather pants, while he wore cheap black jeans and a ratty black t-shirt. So I gave him one of my blue sparkly shirts and told him to cut the sleeves off. I thought he might get the hint and buy a new wardrobe, but he didn’t.
He just fell asleep.”
After his last run in the WWF/E, Hughes worked the independent circuit and became the Head Trainer for Atlanta’s World Wrestling Alliance. At his heaviest, Hughes weighed close to 400 lbs., but through the years, and his dedication to training and teaching up and coming wrestlers, Hughes got his weight down to 250 lbs. He went on to continue his work on the indy circuit, and eventually made headlines in 2007 in Memphis Wrestling by calling Jerry Lawler a sell-out for no-showing a match against Hulk Hogan. Lawler’s hands were tied at the time, due to the WWE’s legal stance on the match, having Lawler go against a non-WWE wrestler in Hogan.
The feud escalated, with Hughes physically assaulting Lawler’s real-life girlfriend Renee. The two met a few weeks later, with Hughes pretending to apologize for his actions, getting on his knees begging forgiveness. He low-blowed Lawler, getting himself disqualified, and punched Renee in the face. It was a touchy feud, using violence against women to get Hughes a ton of heat, and it worked. Hughes continues to wrestle on the independent circuit, looking slim and trim. He was never an innovator, and some may even say he was a duplicator, but Mr. Hughes carved himself a niche in wrestling history.
Day 17 Trivia Question
I had a role in the Mickey Rourke movie “The Wrestler”. Who am I?