Posted in: Chair Shots Chair Shots Celebrates Black History Month: 28 Greats in 28 Days (Days 21-25)
Feb 25, 2013 - 11:03:35 AM
Welcome back Chair Shotters! When I first started putting together my list, I knew I wanted to add someone who could very well be the next big star, and not just in terms of black wrestlers, but in general. I knew who I wanted, but I just didn’t know enough about him. Luckily for me, one of LoP’s mainstays did, so with the help of Hustle, today we’re going to spotlight one of tomorrow’s brightest stars, Uhaa Nation.
Day 25: Uhaa Nation
We've looked at the past.
We've looked at the present.
Now, it's time to look at the future.
I've referred to Uhaa Nation as the "future of wrestling" on multiple occasions, and I stand by it. You can search far and wide, but the number of wrestlers you'll find on the indy scene with his combination of size, speed, strength, and athletic ability can be counted on one hand. In fact, if you broaden your search and include names on the WWE and TNA rosters, as well as throughout Japan, Mexico and all of Europe, you can still count the total number on one hand. We're talking rarefied air here, ladies and gentlemen. For the sake of reference, the man is listed as being 6'0" and 240 pounds, so for all intents and purposes, he's the same size as John Cena. Being John Cena's size and having strength is fine and all, but being John Cena's size and effortlessly pulling off standing moonsaults and standing shooting star presses? That's ridiculous. It's the kind of thing you don't see very often, and when you do see it, it blows your mind.
The man started training in August of 2009 (with the help of Curtis "Big Cat" Hughes aka Mr. Hughes). Now, I realize that not everyone is great when it comes to their math skills, but that means he has only been wrestling for three-and-a-half years. On top of that, one full year of that time frame saw him on the shelf, recovering from a torn patella tendon. That gives him a total of two-and-a-half years of actual in-ring time. That means his God given talents and physical attributes will only help to enhance his in-ring abilities as he continues on his journey. If you want to put that side-by-side with other people, Seth Rollins is one of WWE's newest stars, and he has been wrestling for seven years now. Dean Ambrose? Nearly nine years. Roman Reigns can be comparable, as Reigns signed his WWE developmental deal nearly three years ago, and had no wrestling experience prior to that, instead spending a few years playing football. I would be willing to wager that you'll see news, at some point, that WWE signed Uhaa Nation to a deal. Obviously, WWE would want to help build for their future, and signing top names from the independent wrestling scene would help with that, but as a young (25 years old) African-American, it would behoove the company to try and find their "next black superstar". If you've been paying attention recently, WWE has been going out of their way to look for wrestlers to help them with various viewing demographics. They've been trying, for a couple years, to help boost the Latino/Latina viewership, and have been known to be searching for Asian wrestlers, as well as more from the United Kingdom. Having a black superstar could really give that jolt to the black viewership, as the company hasn't had a black main event guy since Bobby Lashley left the company five years ago, and even then, he was only a fringe main event player. WWE's overall push towards signing younger talent certainly adds to the possibility of them signing the guy.
The future is incredibly bright for Uhaa Nation. With all the potential in the world, and a hunger to reach that potential, I have no doubts whatsoever that big things are ahead for the man. I've made this prediction before, but had to put it on the back burner because of his injury, so I'll make it again right here and right now, with a slight twist..
Uhaa Nation will be a main event-level guy on the WWE roster before WrestleMania 32 rolls around.
Mark it down.
"It's only a matter of time before I show you why I'm the future of professional wrestling, and why they call me The One Man Nation, who is indestructible, with liberty and justice.. for no man." – Uhaa Nation
What do you think loyal readers? Is Uhaa Nation the next big thing? After reading Hustle’s entry, and watching some video clips, I’m sold. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Hustle’s prediction of seeing Uhaa Nation in the WWE before too long.
With only three days left, no more trivia questions. We’ll wrap the series up with TNA’s first black world champion, The World’s Strongest Man, and arguably one of the most decorated black wrestlers in the world today and Smackdown’s current GM. Thanks for reading as usual. See you tomorrow.
Day 24: Shelton Benjamin
I’m a little late with today’s entry in the series, sorry about that. Today was pretty hectic with family obligations, so it makes me appreciate those who have done dailies in the past even more. Just think about the streak that Hustle had, and how impressive that amount of work was. Anyway, we are in the last five days of this series, so if you’ve been keeping up, I give you a big hearty Thank You!
In relation to most of the talent we’ve looked at this month, Shelton Benjamin is a puppy in terms of experience. He debuted in 2000, the latest of anyone we’ve looked at so far, but he quickly came into his own. Shelton was an accomplished amateur wrestler at the University of Minnesota, where he met his future tag-team partner in OVW, Brock Lesnar. It was in 2000, after college, that he accepted a contract with the WWF/E and began his assignment in OVW, where he was once again met up with Lesnar, forming a tag team called the Minnesota Stretching Crew. They held the OVW Tag Titles on three different occasions, and were scheduled for a fourth when Lesnar got called to the main roster. He did win a fourth Tag Title, but it was shortly after that in 2002 when Shelton was called to the main roster as well.
It was there that Benjamin was teamed with someone he’d stay with for quite some time, Charlie Haas. He and Haas became the World’s Greatest Tag Team, being paired with Kurt Angle. They claimed the WWE Tag Titles on two different occasions, before the team was split up during the 2004 draft which saw Benjamin sent to Raw. Benjamin got his biggest push during this draft, as he began a feud with Triple H, a feud which saw him defeat Trips on three occasions. He continued his feud with the Evolution stable until a broken hand put him out of action.
When he came back from the injury, Benjamin’s push continued, and during the next couple of years he became the Intercontinental Champion three times before eventually turning up on the ECW roster. It was during this time that Shelton had dyed his hair blonde, reminiscent of former WWF/E superstar Butch Reed, and began calling himself The Gold Standard. For the next few years, Benjamin would be bounced back and forth from ECW and Smackdown as part of various drafts, and during his time on Smackdown he won the US Title from Matt Hardy. In April of 2010, Benjamin was released as part of the annual post-Wrestlemania spring cleaning.
Shelton competed on the independent circuit for a few months before reuniting with Charlie Haas in September of 2010 in Ring of Honor. In their run with Ring of Honor, The World’s Greatest Tag Team once again captured Tag Team gold, winning the RoH Tag Titles on two occasions. They feuded with some of the best RoH had to throw at them, including The Briscoe Brothers, The Kings of Wrestling, and the All Night Express. As part of a storyline, Benjamin was suspended from RoH for an attack on Rhett Titus and RoH officials, but in reality he was working in Japan for a stretch. Benjamin came back to RoH for a short time, but has since asked for and was granted his release from the organization.
During his time in Japan, he teamed with another former WWF/E black wrestler, MVP. They teamed on several occasions in the next year, as a team called Black Dynamite. He had not acquired any gold in New Japan Pro, but he did challenge for the Masato Tanaka for his NEVER Open Championship, but did so unsuccessfully. He continues to wrestle for New Japan Pro at this time, but rumours continue to swirl around Benjamin that he will be returning to the WWF/E at some point in the near future. He was even rumoured to be one of the surprise entrants in this year’s Royal Rumble, a rumour that proved to be false.
I will tell you one thing though; don’t ever play video games with Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin won the WWF/E’s annual Superstar Challenge for four straight years during Wrestlemania weekend before retiring in 2007 from the tournament. He is a beast with a video game controller, defeating many of his fellow wrestlers year after year. Time will tell if Shelton makes his way back to the WWF/E, but he has shown that he is an asset in both the tag team and singles divisions. Personally, I hope to see him back in the WWF/E in the near future.
No Trivia Question for tomorrow, as if everything works out as it should you’ll be getting your next guest writer- if you Believe the HIPE.
Day 23: Devon Dudley
23 days I’ve been doing this now, and it’s been quite a journey through the history of the black professional wrestler. With only 5 days left, there are so many greats I just won’t get to, so please understand that if I don’t get to a favorite of yours that it’s just time (except for New Jack). Today we’re going to take a look at one half of one of the greatest tag teams of all time, so Chair Shotters- GET THE TABLES!
8 ECW Tag Team Championships
10 WWF/E Tag Team Championships
2 IWGP New Japan Tag team Championships
3 TNA Tag Team Championships, 2 TNA TV Championships
Devon Dudley is one of the most decorated tag team wrestlers of all time, and that’s not even all of his accomplishments. As well as several others titles in various other organizations, and being named part of the Tag Team of the Year on two occasions, Devon has left a legacy that will forever be part of the professional wrestling landscape. Not too shabby for a guy that originally started his career under the gimmick of “A-Train.”
Devon started in ECW in 1996, with a character based on Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction.” He quickly got thrown into the mix with the existing Dudley clan, which at that point was close to a dozen members strong. The feud saw him feud with his soon to be partner, Buh Buh Ray Dudley, but eventually they joined forces and took out the remaining Dudley clan before becoming the most dominant tag team ins ECW history. The over-enthusiastic ECW crowds had a love/hate relationship with the Dudley Boyz, and at times were antagonized to the point of mayhem. There wasn’t a team that sparked a bigger reaction anywhere, let alone ECW. They feuded with the biggest and the best ECW had to offer before leaving ECW in 1999, after a disagreement with Paul Heyman over pay.
Devon and his brother debuted in the WWF/E in 1999, immediately making waves in what was at the time, a very strong tag-team division. In fact, during the Dudley’s time in the WWF/E, the tag-team division was probably the strongest it had ever been, with the likes of Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz, La Resistance, and more. It was during this run that Devon was a part of PWI’s Matches of the Year in 2000 and 2001- the famous Triple Threat TLC matches with Edge and Christian, and the Hardy’s. Their popularity was at an all-time high, so it only made sense for the WWE to split them up right?
During the 2002 draft, Devon went to Smackdown where he adopted a preacher gimmick, now going by the name of Brother Devon. It was here that the WWF/E was first introduced to his sidekick, the Deacon Batista. The split didn’t last very long, because at the end of 2002 Devon was reunited with his brother, where they remained a tag-team force until they left the WWF/E in 2005, again over a contract dispute. The WWF/E filed an injunction, prohibiting Devon and Buh Buh from using the Dudley name, so the future of the Dudleys was in question.
It wasn’t long after their departure that Devon and Buh Buh, now going by Team 3D, debuted in TNA wrestling. Again, they quickly established themselves as a dominant force in the tag-team division, feuding with America’s Most Wanted, Team Canada, and pretty much any other team that came through the TNA curtains. Eventually, the two would get into a feud with each other that saw Buh Buh turn on his brother, becoming the character of Bully Ray. Devon would go the singles route, and would capture his first major singles title by claiming the World TV Championship. It was during this reign, that Devon supposedly left TNA, with contract negotiations breaking down, but for anyone that watches TNA they know this was all a swerve.
In October of 2012, Devon was unmasked as a member of the Aces & Eights group which has been terrorizing TNA. As part of that group, he once again captured the TV Title from Samoa Joe. He and the group, consisting of DOC, Mike Knox, Tazz and others continue their weekly onslaught on the top TNA stars. Time will only tell what Aces & Eights true intentions are, but history has already shown that Devon Dudley is one of the greatest black professional wrestlers to ever step foot in the squared circle.
Day 24 Trivia Question
I once considered a career in comic book art. Who am I?
Day 22: Charles Wright
Did you know who I was talking about by the title of today’s column? Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to call him in the title, as today’s wrestler has had many, many gimmicks in his professional wrestling career, and we’re going to take a look at the most successful of them. So without further ado I bring you Day 22.
Charles Wright has had many faces in the world of professional wrestling; many more than he is famous for actually. When I first started researching him for this series, I found close to a dozen different personas that he wrestled under, but we most certainly don’t have the time and space to talk about all of them. When he first started, after being trained by Larry Sharpe, he ended up in the USWA working for Jerry Lawler. There, he went by the moniker of The Soultaker. He wrestled there for about two years, as well as in Japan before he ended up in the WWF/E thanks to a good friend of his, none other than the Undertaker.
It was there, in 1992, that Papa Shango was born- a voodoo witch doctor that cast spells on his opponents. His character was almost immediately thrust into the Main Event scene, as he involved himself in the Hulk Hogan/Sid Vicious feud at Wrestlemania VIII. Shango was supposed to interfere in the match after Sid took a Hogan legdrop, but he was late to the ring, and Sid had to do something that very few people had ever done, and that was kick out of Hogan’s finisher. After that, he feuded briefly with the Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart, before going back to the USWA as part of a working relationship with the WWF/E
There he received the USWA belt as Papa Shango, but was upset with the decision because he felt as though the USWA was done to pander to the predominantly black crowd that the USWA had. He complained, and ended up dropping the belt shortly after to Owen Hart.
He came back briefly to the WWF/E from 1994-1996, repacked as Kama, the Fighting Machine. It was a take on shoot fighting, and really played off the MMA style before that became popular. He feuded with his friend The Undertaker, but wasn’t successful in the feud and again left the company shortly after once again, but it was only a short year later that he was asked to return to participate in one of the most controversial angles of the Attitude Era, the Gang War.
A race war was breaking out in the WWF/E between The Nation of Domination, Los Boriquas, and DOA, and Wright was smack dab in the middle of it as Kama Mustafa. He would become known as “The Godfather” of the Nation, and along with The Rock, Ron Simmons, Mark Henry, and D-Lo Brown the Nation would have a good run until late 1998 when “The Godfather” that we know today was born.
Wright would come to the ring with his “hos”, girls from various strip clubs in the area, and offer them up to his opponents if they chose to leave the ring. He got a run as the Intercontinental Champion, and was actually the scheduled opponent of Owen Hart the night he died. During this time, the WWF/E was also involved in a debate with the Parents Television Council over the adult nature of the Attitude Era. To mock the PTC, the WWF/E created Right to Censor, a group of wrestlers who fought against indecency in the federation. Wright joined the group and became “The Goodfather” and wrestled in a shirt and tie. After the RTC disbanded, Wright reverted back to “The Godfather” gimmick, but it never caught on and eventually he left the WWF/E in 2002 to run a Gentleman’s Club.
He has appeared throughout the years in several cameo appearances in the WWF/E, most recently at this year’s Royal Rumble where he was eliminated by Dolph Ziggler. There were rumours he would be resurrecting the Papa Shango character but it was “The Godfather” that appeared. When asked about the popularity of that character he had this to say:
"Let me see, dress up like a voodoo man, put paint on your face, act like a jungle idiot or walk out with beautiful women? Come on, man! Which one would you choose? I am strictly entertainment, man. I am there to entertain the people. I like doing it. The people seem to enjoy it. There are a lot worse things out there than the old Godfather having fun and not hurting anybody."
While his career seemed full of racial stereotypes, Wright wasn’t fazed by what he was given. He went out, did his thing, and will be remembered as one of the more entertaining characters ever to step foot in a WWE ring.
Day 23 Trivia Question
My very first gimmick in wrestling used the same name as one used by Matt Bloom. Who am I?
Day 21: Norman Smiley
In 2012, the Columns Forum held its US vs. UK tournament, and in my qualifying columns I poked fun at the Brits, the first Thanksgiving, and finally at the man we’re going to look at today. Of course the entire column was in the spirit of the competition, as today’s wrestler has certainly entertained me throughout his time in the ring. Faithful readers, today we look at the creator of The Big Wiggle.
Norman started wrestling in 1985, after being trained by Boris and Dean Malenko. For the first decade of his wrestling career, he wrestled under the monikers of Black Magic, and as the heel wrestler Lord Henry Norman. He traveled through Florida, Mexico, and even had a brief stop in ECW. It wasn’t until 1997 that he was signed by WCW, where he primarily wrestled as an enhancement talent during his early days.
After jobbing for several months, Smiley came back slightly repackaged, and fans worldwide saw the emergence of Smiley’s signature dance, “The Big Wiggle”. He also began spanking his opponents during matches, and became a fan favorite. He teamed some with Gentleman Chris Adams, another Brit, with whom Smiley had become good friends with. Smiley’s popularity was rising, which made his heel turn all that surprising. He became the arrogant foreigner, a gimmick that transcends time, ripping on the ignorant American who frequented trailer parks and Waffle Houses. He insisted his name be spoken phonetically as Nor-MAHN Smi-LAY. During his heel turn, Smiley was a part of a feud with Chavo Guerrero that saw one of the weirdest endings when Smiley sent Chavo’s pet hobby horse Pepe into a wood chipper. Seriously, WCW would do anything during this time, including a feud over a wooden children’s toy.
In 1999, WCW started a Hardcore Division, in which Smiley became the reluctant star of. He was placed in hardcore matches he wanted no part of, coming to the ring in pads, helmets, and anything else he could find to cover himself with. In an interview, Smiley stated that he really didn’t like being a part of the hardcore matches, as he felt that his character had no place in the division, but he went along with the gimmick, and eventually became the 2-time Hardcore Champion, and a huge fan favorite. He feuded with the likes of Brian Knobs, Meng, and Terry Funk, somehow managing to keep his title.
"I felt stupid screaming in the ring, but the gimmick gave me a chance to crossover because I was already a wrestler. I became more noticed when that gimmick was started."
His time in WCW was not without some controversy however. During his tenure, a racial discrimination lawsuit was filed against WCW by former manager Sonny Onoo and Hardbody Harrison, claiming that WCW discriminated against non-white employees in both pay and in advancement opportunities. Onoo asked Norman Smiley to be a part of that lawsuit, a request that Smiley declined. Smiley noted in an interview that while he was happy where he was in the company, that he could see where the guys involved were coming from, and since he had just received a pay raise shortly before the lawsuit, he didn’t want to join them.
When WCW was bought by the WWF/E, Smiley was not asked to join the federation. He went back to the independent circuit, where he wrestled for a few years. In 2006, Smiley showed up in TNA for a few appearances, and even broke out “The Big Wiggle”. He wrestled for them on and off for a year or so, but his appearances never really amounted to much.
Smiley’s career has sort of gone full circle back to the WWF/E however, as he currently works as a trainer in NxT, the developmental territory for the WWF/E. While his in-ring career appears to be over, Norman Smiley continues to share his knowledge and experience to aid up and coming superstars in their quest for the shot at the biggest stage of them all.
Day 22 Trivia Question:
I was doing the MMA gimmick before MMA was cool. Who am I?